Rams Defeat Falcons 37-10
Face Winless Bengals in London
October 24, 2019
Just what the doctor ordered for the ailing Los Angeles Rams... a week on the road to the East Coast followed by a romp across the Atlantic Ocean for good measure. The Rams much-needed 37-10 victory over the maligned 1-6 Falcons last Sunday in Atlanta was likely a precursor to this weekend's "home" clash against the winless 0-7 Cincinnati Bengals at Wembley Stadium, located in north west London, England.
The rather comfortable win over the Falcons was welcome relief after the Rams recent three-game losing streak sounded alarms for the first time in the Sean McVay era, now in his third season as head coach. The previous week's 20-7 loss to the San Francisco 49ers and injuries prompted a rash of notable trades earlier in the week. That resulted in the Rams acquiring one of the best defensive players in the league.
The trade for cornerback Jalen Ramsey set a fire under the team that had lost its bravado and way. Last Tuesday, the Rams gave away two first-round draft picks and one fourth-rounder to the Jacksonville Jaguars to take a disgruntled Ramsey, ranked 17th in the NFL's Top Players of 2018, off their hands. Incredibly, the Rams had traded away cornerback Marcus Peters earlier in the day before moves to acquire Ramsey had materialized.
Rams general manager Les Snead on Peters: "He's one of the most authentic human beings I've ever met. He's going to continue making impacts both on the field and off the field. Nothing but respect for that human being. It's always tough and I'm pulling for him."
"Ultimately, when we were able to move Marcus and, let's call it, increase our salary cap room because of that move, it did actually make us a viable player in trading for Jalen Ramsey."
Snead also traded for offensive lineman Austin Corbett earlier that Tuesday because the team was going to put offensive tackle Joe Noteboom on injured reserve due to ACL and MCL injuries suffered against the 49ers.
Despite not playing since Week 3 with the Jaguars and only practicing a few times with the Rams, Ramsey played the third most percentage of defensive snaps against Atlanta. He played in 65 percent of the total defensive plays, 36 of 55, only behind defensive tackle Aaron Donald (67%) and linebacker Dante Fowler (78%). Fowler was Ramsey's teammate at Jacksonville before he was traded to the Rams last October.
Backup quarterback, Blake Bortles, also a former Jaguar, signed with the Rams in March after Jacksonville signed quarterback Nick Foles to be their starter. Bortles was the No. 3 overall pick in the 2014 NFL Draft, Fowler was the third overall pick in the 2015 NFL draft and Ramsey was the fifth overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft.
Fowler wrecked havoc on the Falcons backfield while Ramsey was assigned to cover Atlanta All-Pro wide receiver Julio Jones. Fowler led the Rams in tackles with seven, including six solo tackles, three tackles for loss, one forced fumble and three quarterback sacks. Ramsey have four tackles, all assisted and one forced fumble. He "held" Jones to six catches on nine targets for 93 yards including a 39 yarder.
With Ramsey on the field the Rams felt like and actually were an attacking defense rather than the reactive one they had transformed into. Much of that a result of being on the field too long and continually being down on the scoreboard due to the team's poor offensive showing this season.
"He's (Fowler) demonstrated just he's got a knack for making plays and then he plays tough, he plays physical. I think that showed up yesterday, which is a good thing for us," said McVay.
Aaron Donald also had an excellent showing with one sack, one forced and recovered fumble. Donald's sack put Falcon quarterback Matt Ryan on the sidelines with an ankle injury in the fourth quarter. Earlier in the season Donald put New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees on the injured list for six weeks with an injured hand that required surgery.
The Rams held the Falcons offense to 224 total yards, recovered two of four forced fumbles, had five quarterback sacks and only allowed three of 11 third down conversions. Darious Williams recovered a fumble on a punt return by Russell Gage for a touchdown with seconds left in the game. The Rams are also without the luxury of injured cornerback Aqib Talib, out until December.
The Rams offense returned to life with Goff completing 22 of 37 passes for 268 yards, two touchdowns and more importantly: no interceptions or fumbles. Goff used four primary receivers: Robert Woods – 5 catches, 80 yards; Brandin Cooks – 4 catches, 59 yards; Gerald Everett – 4 catches, 50 yards and one touchdown; and Cooper Kupp – six catches for 50 yards.
The Rams running attack, led by Todd Gurley and rookie backup Darrell Henderson, gained only 90 yards on 36 carries including a one-yard keeper for touchdown by Goff. The good news for the Rams is the offensive plays were very balanced: 36 rushing attempts compared to 38 passing attempts.
The bad news is the continuing decline in rushing yards for Gurley, arguably the NFL's best runner for the past two seasons (until November, 2018). He had 18 carries for 41 yards and one eye-catching 13-yard touchdown reception that gave the Rams their first lead at 10-3 in the second quarter.
The Bengals are coming off a 27-17 loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars. They are 27th in the league in offense and last in team defense. The Bengals are giving up 430.9 yards per game and give up an average of 6.4 yards per offensive play. Quarterback Andy Dalton, now in his ninth season with the Bengals, is 14th in total passing yards but has only thrown eight touchdowns and eight interceptions, third highest in the league.
The traveling to London has almost become routine for this Rams squad, their third game in England over the past four seasons.
"It's going to be a normal week for us just in terms of getting into your Monday rhythm and getting ready for a Sunday game, just being in Atlanta. We did something similar... when we played Jacksonville a couple of years ago, and then leading into playing Arizona in London," said McVay.
"The only difference is, I think it's beneficial, really, to get the entire plan in before you end up traveling. So, you kind of expedite your install plans before you take that long flight, so that guys are not having to learn stuff once you get to London for Friday, Saturday and Sunday."