By Cedric Williams
The Los Angeles Rams were back at home on Sunday, playing in another showcase game and hoping to move up in the NFC playoff standings by pulling off a win over the visiting Philadelphia Eagles. Even though Sunday’s contest was without a doubt one of the most entertaining games of the entire NFL season, things just didn’t go as Los Angeles hoped in what turned out to be a 43-35 loss to the Eagles.
The Seattle Seahawks lost their game on Sunday to the Jacksonville Jaguars, so the Rams still hold sole possession of first place in the NFC West heading into next week’s showdown against the Seahawks up in Seattle. But Sunday’s performance was not a good one for the Rams, which is why we have mostly low marks for them in our gameday grades.
Overall, their numbers don’t look too bad. The Rams put up 307 yards, earned 17 first downs, and scored 35 points. But those numbers don’t tell the story of how inconsistent LA was as an offense on Sunday.
The Rams turned a quick, early Philly turnover into a quick, early touchdown for themselves, but then didn’t do anything of note until midway through the second quarter. After getting back into the game in the third quarter and eventually taking the lead in the fourth, the Rams couldn’t come through late in the game when all they needed was a field goal to retake the lead.
QB Jared Goff threw two touchdown passes, but finished with just 199 total yards passing on the day. RB Todd Gurley had two touchdowns of his own, but proved to be ineffective late in the game, when LA could’ve used his best to possibly put the game away.
Philadelphia came to town with the No. 1 ranked offense in the league. And unfortunately, LA didn’t do a whole lot to stop them from looking like the best offense in football on Sunday.
The Rams allowed the Eagles to put up over 400 total yards and 29 first downs, while also holding the ball for nearly 40 full minutes. LA gave up a season-worst 43 points, which was truly surprising considering the Rams hadn’t allowed any team to score as much as 30 points on them since Oct. 1.
Penalties were also a problem, as LA kept shooting itself in the foot with a number of bad fouls late in the game. There were personal foul calls against Trumaine Johnson, Aaron Donald and Samson Ebukam that each helped Philly keep scoring drives alive when it appeared the Rams had them stopped.
Special Teams: A
The one bright spot for the Rams on Sunday was their special teams units. They all played well, and even helped put up some points, thanks to a blocked punt by WR Michael Thomas, which was returned for a touchdown by DB Blake Countess.
K Greg Zuerlein was 5-for-5 on PATs, and P Johnny Hekker was fantastic, as he averaged 56.4 yards per punt, with three of his five boots finding their way inside the Philadelphia 20-yard line.
It’s hard to fault any team for having trouble stopping or even slowing down the high-flying Eagles offense. But the Rams’ lack of discipline, especially in the second half and late in the game, was as big a reason as any why LA couldn’t hold on against Philadelphia. And that lack of discipline has to fall on the coaching staff. The Rams players should know they need to keep their cool in what was a very intense ballgame. But even when the players lose their cool, it’s the coaches who should be there to remind them to keep their composure.
Up Next: The good thing about Sunday was the Rams didn’t lose any ground with Seattle also losing. But that sets up a huge game next week when LA heads up to the Pacific Northwest for a showdown with the rival Seahawks (8-5).