By Cedric Williams
Coming off a thrilling 46-9 win over the hapless Indianapolis Colts last week, the Los Angeles Rams had a chance to begin a season 2-0 for the first time in nearly two decades if the club could handle business against the visiting Washington Redskins. Unfortunately, the Rams weren’t able to come through on Sunday and lost to the Redskins, 27-20.
Things started slowly for the Rams, as Washington took control early. But LA found its stride a bit in the second half and was able to rally.
On Sunday though, the Redskins were the better club. They proved it by pulling out what could’ve been a devastating loss for them, while at the same time handing the Rams a frustrating first loss of the season.
And it’s because of that frustration that we find ourselves handing out mostly average to below average marks for the Rams following a performance that wasn’t terrible, but could’ve been a whole lot better.
The Rams offense didn’t look nearly as sharp this week as it did last week when the club out gained Indianapolis 373 yards to just 225 yards. The Rams did put up 332 yards, but most of that came after a disappointing first half, which saw the entire team struggle throughout as it fell behind 20-10 to a Washington team that got pummeled by Philadelphia last week.
They were lucky to be that close, thanks mostly to a sensational catch and run by Todd Gurley, which helped set up LA’s first score of the game. In fact, Gurley was the one offensive player for Los Angeles who did shine on Sunday, as he gained 88 yards rushing (with a more than five yards per carry average) and another 38 yards receiving, while also scoring both Rams touchdowns.
Defensively, the Rams had trouble trying to slow the Redskins down all day. Washington finished with 385 total yards of offense, no turnovers, and controlled the ball for more than 36 minutes of the game.
Even though the Rams managed to tie the score midway through the fourth quarter, the defense was unable to make it matter. The Redskins went right down the field on a 10-play, 70-yard drive—which took more than five minutes off the clock—to take the lead. It seemed like most of the big plays and almost all of the key plays went Washington’s way—especially in the run game, where the Redskins gashed the Rams all day for a total of 229 yards.
Special Teams: A-
The one place where the Rams seemed to control the game was on special teams. Kicker Greg Zuerlein was perfect on all four of his kicks (two field goals and two PATS), including a 40-yard FG that tied the game in the fourth quarter.
Punter Johnny Hekker was sensational as usual, with his biggest contribution coming on another razzle dazzle fake punt, which helped set up the tying field goal by Zuerlein. Hekker’s 28-yard pass to rookie receiver Josh Reynolds actually looked like it might put the Rams in position to take the lead, as it moved the ball deep into Redskins territory. But the Rams offense stalled thanks to a couple of penalties, and was forced to only go for the tie.
On one hand, the Rams coaches didn’t seem like they had their team ready to play, or at least not ready to play the Redskins. But once the club fell behind, the coaching staff seemed to make most of the necessary changes and adjustments it needed to get the team back into the game.
Up Next: After last week’s blowout victory over the Colts, a comeback win this week to get to 2-0 would’ve been a nice way for LA to begin its season. Instead, the Rams will have to go back to the drawing board, and with only a few days to do it. The club will play its first road game on Thursday night against the San Francisco 49ers.