By Cedric Williams
Last week, the upstart Los Angeles Rams looked just about ready for prime time with a thrilling 35-30 road victory over the Dallas Cowboys. But this week, LA looked more like a team that’s still rebuilding, as it kept tripping over its own feet—or, more accurately—kept coughing up the ball in a 16-10 loss to the NFC West rival Seattle Seahawks.
This should’ve been a match-up of two great defenses, and for the most part it was. Except the Rams offense provided the Seahawks defense with way too much help by turning the ball over five times, including two interceptions and a lost fumble by quarterback Jared Goff. Todd Gurley lost a fumble and so did Tavon Austin, and all of them hurt.
That’s why we’ve got mostly low marks for the Rams following Sunday’s loss:
Coming into Sunday, the Rams were the highest-scoring team in the league. But on this day, turnovers and mistakes proved to be too costly.
And the sad part is, the Rams actually moved the ball pretty well against Seattle’s highly-regarded “Legion of Boom” defense. LA finished the day with 375 total yards, 21 first downs, and four trips into the red zone. Unfortunately, the Rams could only muster 10 points, including going 0-for-4 in those trips into the Seattle red zone.
The Rams defense was terrific on Sunday, as it held Seattle’s offense to just 241 yards, including a mere 62 rushing yards on 25 attempts (that’s barely 2.5 yards per carry). The Rams also forced two turnovers and sacked Seahawks’ QB Russell Wilson three times to keep its club in the game.
Hybrid LB Mark Barron was especially good on Sunday, piling up a game-high 15 tackles (12 of the solo variety) to lead the Rams “D”.
Special Teams: C-
It was not likely that K Greg Zuerlein was going to match or somehow top last week’s record-breaking seven field goals on Sunday, but his miss of a 36-yarder at the beginning of the third quarter, which would’ve given the Rams the lead, proved to be a killer. Even with all the turnovers, if LA had gotten those three points, they would’ve only needed three more at the end to tie, instead of being forced to go for a last-second touchdown.
Now we’re not saying Sunday’s loss was Zuerlein’s fault—far from it—but on a day when his team needed him to be perfect, he wasn’t. And that did play a part in the loss.
Tavon Austin’s muffed punt and subsequent benching as the Rams’ primary punt return man played a part in the loss as well.
It’s hard to blame the coach when the players turn the ball over five times and lose a game that appeared to be very winnable. But there will always be some blame for the coaches when a team loses: Why didn’t they do this? Why didn’t they try that? Why didn’t anybody throw the ball anywhere near Sammy Watkins’ vicinity for the first 50 minutes of the game?
Those are the types of questions that get asked when a team on a hot streak suddenly lays an egg in a big game against a divisional opponent. Fortunately, the chance for the Rams to redeem themselves comes next week when they go on the road to play the Jacksonville Jaguars, which earned one of its biggest wins of recent memory when it stomped Pittsburgh 30-9 on Sunday.
Then in two weeks, the Rams will be back in the division with a game at The Coliseum against the Arizona Cardinals.
“We turned the ball over five times today,” Rams head coach Sean McVay said. “That’s not a recipe for winning football. That’s not something we can afford to do if we expect to win games moving forward.”