Rams hang on to beat the Chargers at SoFi
August 25, 2022
In their opening preseason game of the season, the Los Angeles Rams started the way they finished last season, hanging on for a 29-22 preseason win over the Los Angeles Chargers last Saturday at Sofi Stadium in Inglewood.
Rams' backup quarterback Bryce Perkins connected for two touchdown passes to wide receiver Lance McCutcheon, including an 11-yard touchdown pass with just over six minutes remaining that broke a 22-22 tie and gave the Rams the winning margin. The Rams then came up with an interception at their own eight-yard line to halt a late game scoring attempt by the Chargers.
In their last game of the 2021 season, the Rams won the Super Bowl, hanging on for a 23-20 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals, with their defense coming up with big plays late to win the game. That game was also played at SoFi Stadium and the Rams were the road team in the Super Bowl, as they were Saturday night against the Chargers. The Saturday night game was played before an announced crowd of 68,734.
With most of the starters sitting the preseason game out, this became a contest between the Rams and Chargers reserves. Perkins did enough to standout for the Rams, completing 10 of 17 passes for 133 yards and two touchdowns, with no interceptions. Perkins also led the Rams in rushing yardage, gaining 39 yards on 8 carries. McCutcheon had five receptions for 87 yards and two touchdowns.
The Chargers were led by their two backup quarterbacks, Chase Daniel, and Easton Stick. Daniel played in the first half, competing 11 of 17 passes for 117 yards and two touchdowns. Stick played in the second half and completed 16 of 23 passes for 119 yards, while also scoring on a 3-yard touchdown run. Charger head coach Brandon Staley thought both quarterbacks had a good night.
"I think both of our quarterbacks played well tonight, I thought they both moved the team, took care of the football, made good decision," Staley said. "That's the way they've been throughout camp. I think both of them have improved, and that's what we've been looking for. The next game, Easton is going to start the first half and Chase will take the second half. Those guys are in competition, but it's really healthy competition for our football team. We like our quarterback room a lot. I liked the way both of them played."
Charger wide receiver Joe Reed caught 4 passes for 61 yards, including a 41-yard touchdown pass from Daniel as the Chargers took an early 7-0 lead. Wide receiver Michael Bandy led the Chargers with seven receptions for 73 yards and one touchdown. The touchdown came on a beautifully run whip route where Bandy cut to the middle, stopped and cut back to the sideline and beat the secondary to the corner of the end zone for a 16-yard touchdown reception.
"Michael Bandy is one of us," Staley said. "He's having an outstanding camp. You can see the way his teammates feel about him when good things happen. Our team expects him to play that way because he's earned that on the practice field. He's having an outstanding camp. I'm proud of the way he played tonight."
The Chargers are deep at wide receiver and will have a difficult decision to make when it comes to Bandy, Reed, and some of the other receivers. Staley mentioned that "Joe (Reed) had some really big catches tonight. He's improved a lot as a player. He works extremely hard. He has had a quality camp so far. I'm certainly proud of the way he played tonight."
While it is always good to win football games, NFL preseason games are more about development than victories. The Chargers are playing a lot of young players and young players will make mistakes. Against the Rams, there were a lot of missed tackles on defense. The Chargers, like many NFL teams, do not do a lot of "live tackling" in practice. That showed up on the field against the Rams.
"It's that modern day question that every coach has to go through, every organization has to go through, because it's a big part of the game, getting guys on the ground," Staley said. "But the way it is now, it's just a topic that is always going to be up for debate. But the games give you that chance to get out there live and experience it. You take a lot of pride in teaching the best you can, but until they do it live to the ground, you have to learn your lessons. We learned some tonight."
The Chargers want to keep their players healthy for the start of the regular season and minimizing "live tackling" in training camp is the right decision, but it will lead to some uneven performances on defense in preseason but there were some good performances on defense in the game. Linebacker Troy Reeder led the Chargers with eight tackles, outside linebacker Chris Rumph II had four solo tackles, one sack, and two tackles for loss. Linebacker Damon Lloyd had five solo tackles and one tackle for loss.
Running backs Josh Kelley and Isaiah Spiller continued their battle for the #2 spot on the running back chart, with Kelley gaining 44 yards on six carries and Spiller gaining 44 yards on 11 touches. Both players have looked good running between the tackles and catching the ball out of the backfield. Staley added that, "Josh has done what he's done throughout camp, which is just be really steady and strong."
The Chargers will be in action next Saturday night, August 20th, at SoFi Stadium, taking on the Dallas Cowboys. The preseason game will begin at 7:00 pm local time and will be televised locally on KCBS-TV. The Cowboy's training camp is in Oxnard, about 60 miles from SoFi Stadium, so the team will be taking a bus trip to the game. The Cowboys have a talented roster, and this should be an entertaining game.