Rams Clobber Saints 27-9
Face Cleveland Browns on Sunday Night
September 19, 2019
It should be stated that the Los Angeles Rams have never been out of first place in the NFC West during the Sean McVay era. That streak will be put to the test this weekend as the 2-0 Rams take on the Cleveland Browns (1-1) at FirstEnergy Stadium in a Sunday Night Football clash. The Rams 27-9 victory over the New Orleans Saints last Sunday allowed them to remain tied with Seattle and San Francisco for the early division lead.
"It really doesn't affect our preparation. I think it is a little bit unique," said McVay when asked about facing two opponents back-to-back that played on Monday Night Football the previous game. The Saints had played on MNF last week. "We'll leave on a Saturday, go the day before because we've had some success. We like doing some of those things that came up last year playing on Sunday night on the road as well."
The Rams also announced just prior to Sunday's game with the Saints that they had reached a 20-year partnering agreement between LA Stadium and Entertainment District at Hollywood Park and SoFi, a digital personal finance company. SoFi is now exclusive naming rights partner of the new SoFi Stadium, the future home of the Los Angeles chargers and the Los Angeles Rams.
"Customer service and the fan experience is tantamount to everything we'll do at SoFi Stadium," said Rams owner Stan Kroenke. "It was critical for us to find a tech-focused partner who is on the cutting edge and genuinely understands the needs of all of our constituents and who challenges us to think in creative ways to make every visitor to SoFi Stadium and Hollywood Park feel special and at home."
Under McVay, the Rams are 14-3 in regular season road games and a perfect 8-0 in regular season games against AFC opponents. McVay's Cleveland counterpart, Freddie Kitchens, was named the Browns head coach earlier this year after originally have joined the team in January 2018. He promoted as offensive coordinator last October.
The Browns have undergone drastic changes since drafting quarterback Baker Mayfield as the NFL's top draft choice last year. Mayfield led Cleveland to their first win in 19 games in his NFL debut. He threw 27 touchdowns in his 13 starts for the Browns in 2018. Mayfield broke Peyton Manning and Russell Wilson's NFL rookie passing touchdown record by one. The Browns were a very respectable 6-7 in his starts last season.
The Browns additional talent acquisitions in the off season has turned the franchise into a legitimate playoff contender. They traded for star wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. in March and added star running back Kareem Hunt via free agency. Hunt will not be available until NFL Week 9 when he finishes serving his eight-game league suspension.
Defensively, the Browns are led by defensive end Myles Garrett, who has 20.5 sacks over the past two seasons. They also added defensive end Oliver Vernon, who has recorded 51 sacks over the past seven seasons with the Miami Dolphins and the New York Giants. Last season the Browns gave up 392 total points compared to 384 yielded by the Rams.
Last Sunday's win over New Orleans took an unfortunate turn for the Saints and the NFL. During the first quarter quarterback Drew Brees had to leave the game due to a ligament issue he suffered when his throwing hand it Aaron Donald's huge gloved paw on pass rush. Brees underwent surgery on Wednesday in Los Angeles and is expected to be out for at least six weeks.
Once backup quarterback Teddy Bridgewater took over for Brees, it was all over for the Saints at the newly renovated L.A. Coliseum. A crowd of over 70,000 watched as the Rams defense and special teams were the entertainment and answer in the first half. Meanwhile the offense sputtered early under quarterback Jared Goff, relying on two field goals by Greg Zuerlein for a 6-3 halftime lead.
The talk of the game was reserved for Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp, who brought down the Rams House with a scintillating 66-yard catch and run that evoked images of Crazy Legs Hirsch, the dynamic Pro and College Hall of Fame wide receiver who lit up the Coliseum for the Rams from 1949 to 1957.
Kupp caught a short pass eight yards past the line of scrimmage, ran across midfield, stiff-armed cornerback Marshon Lattimore, broke several tackles, cut back left in open field, cut back right and was finally tackled inches from the goal line. Jared Goff punched it in with a quarterback sneak one play later for the final 27-9 lead with 8:37 on the clock.
"I was shocked. I thought, he's showing off some speed now, he looks good," said Goff. "Broke that guy off pretty good in the open field and was able to make a play. I'm bummed he didn't get the touchdown and I had to steal it from him, but it was a good play, really good play."
Former USC Trojan and Green Bay Packer linebacker Clay Matthews also celebrated his L.A. home reunion by sacking Bridgewater in the third quarter with the Rams clinging to a 13-6 lead. "Coming back home was obviously very nostalgic for me," said Matthews... now obviously being a part of the Rams organization, with all the improvements and just feeling like I was back home continuing the clichés. It's nice to come full circle."