The Los Angeles Rams were narrowly defeated by the Washington Redskins 27-20 at the LA Memorial Coliseum on Sunday. Tom Green gives us his views on the game from a Rams perspective.
1 – Discipline cost the Rams
A big reason why the LA Rams lost last Sunday was a lack of discipline at crucial moments in the game. Throughout the entire game, the Rams gave up seven penalties which cost them 75 yards, resulting in promising offensive drives ending in field goals and punts rather than touchdowns. A great example of this was the Rams first offensive drive of the fourth quarter which ended in a 40-yard field goal because of three penalties.
The first penalty occurred when Todd Gurley had a 5-yard run on 3rd and one at the 50-yard line. Robert Woods was flagged for unnecessary roughness for pushing and shoving a Redskins defensive back away from the play. This resulted in the Rams having a first down on their own 40-yard line and effectively having to repeat a set of downs which undid all of Gurley’s good work to put the offense in good field position.
Later in the same drive, Woods was flagged for pass interference after he ran into the Redskins defensive backs on a 2nd and seven play at the Redskins 14-yard line. This made it nearly impossible for the Rams to convert this hard work into a touchdown. The final penalty of this drive came on 3rd and 15 when the Rams were called back for offensive holding by Rob Havenstein (the penalty was declined, but it is worth mentioning) which set up a 40-yard field goal.
Because of all these penalties, the Rams lost a total of 35 offensive yards on the drive which would have resulted in a touchdown if the other plays on the drive were played out in the same way. It would have also given them a 4-point lead which would have changed the dynamic of the game and put Kirk Cousins under serious pressure to perform, not to mention given Goff less pressure in the final drive of the game.
2 – Gurley recreated rookie season form
Todd Gurley III was the Rams main offensive threat and is starting to recreate the form he had in his rookie season, where he rushed for 1106 yards. Against the Redskins, Gurley averaged 5.5 yards per carry and finished the game with 88 rushing yards and a 1-yard rushing touchdown in the middle of the second quarter. He was also a threat through the air and scored his second receiving touchdown of the season when he hurdled Bashaud Breeland on his way to an 18-yard receiving touchdown.
This was also Gurley‘s first 80+ yard game since the Rams week three victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2016 and it has been nearly two years since he rushed for over 100 yards in a single game. This game is definitely a step in the right direction for Gurley III but he will need more big performances like this to keep the press off his back and attract more fans to the games.
3 – D-Line and Secondary were not in sync
The Rams are rightfully considered to have one of the best defenses in the NFL, but they were not on the top of their game on Sunday. At stages during the game, the secondary and defensive lines appeared to be out of sync with one another.
In the first half, the Redskins running back core consisting of Rob Kelly, Chris Thompson, and Samaje Perine punished the Rams D by finding huge holes in the field to exploit whilst the linebackers and defensive lineman ran into each other on multiple occasions.
After the halftime break, the Rams had fixed their assignments on run plays but were unable to defend on passing plays due to a lack of fit starting cornerbacks to deal with the threat posed by Jordan Reed and Jamison Crowder.
Extra Point – Where are the fans?
The LA Memorial Coliseum was half full for a second consecutive week as the city of Los Angeles did not back the Rams in the stands. The Coliseum has the largest capacity of any stadium in the NFL (93,605 to be precise), and although the team is performing well on the field, the fans just have not shown up to the games in the same way other teams have.
Many have argued that this has something to do with the city’s lack of hunger for football as the Chargers have also had dismal attendances (this week they were unable to fill a 30,000 seater stadium for their game against the Dolphins) but this simply is not true.
24 hours before the Rams game against the Redskins, the USC Trojans beat the Texas Longhorns in front of 85,000 fans under the lights at the Coliseum. Fortunately for the Rams, the new stadium being built in Inglewood will only hold 70,000 people which should mean that the stadium is not half full. For those who are interested here are highlights of the aforementioned USC-Texas game.