The Rams lost their second game of the regular season against the Buffalo Bills in the LA Coliseum on Sunday, their first regular season loss in the city of angels since 1994. Tom Green reports…
1. Under strength defense couldn’t contain Bills running game
The Rams defense was struck by injuries in the build up to the game as three of the four D-line starters (Robert Quinn, William Hayes and Michael Brockers) were on Injured Reserve. This had a huge impact as the Rams struggled to penetrate through the offensive line which gave Tyrod Taylor and LeSean McCoy time to execute offensive plays. It also didn’t help that the secondary was unable to contain the run which allowed the Bills to play more freely.
It wasn’t an entirely negative performance for the defense as Ethan Westbrooks was able to record a sack and for the majority of the game the Bills passing game was ineffective with the exception of the two touchdown passes which were in the red zone due to pressure on the pocket. Mark Barron also had a good game as he made 8 tackles despite at times being over powered by McCoy (who weighs about the same Barron but has a lower centre of gravity due to the height difference).
Jeff Fisher and Gregg Williams should have their starting defensive line back from injury for next weeks game away to the 2-3 Detroit Lions which should be an easier game defensively for the Rams. However, based on this weeks performance, the secondary will have to step up if the Rams have any chance of a winning season.
2. The Offense weren’t able to make plays when it mattered most
The offense was looking good for large periods of the game but they were unable to make plays in critical situations. The Bills successfully stopped Todd Gurley for the majority of the game not allowing him to make big plays with the exception of a 16 yard rush and a touchdown from the one yard line.
This meant that the Rams were forced to throw the football for most of the game. Case Keenum looked effective for most of the game. He threw for 271 yards but in the second half he needed to make big plays and unfortunately for the Rams he threw 2 interceptions when they were within a score of the Bills. One of them was a pick 6 in the 3rd quarter when he was trying to hit Pharoah Cooper on an corner route to the 45 yard line.
Tavon Austin had a good game for the Rams this week as coach Fisher started to use him a lot more than he has done in previous weeks. He rushed for 26 yards on just three attempts which included a 9 yard carry from the tailback position. He was also able to make 59 yards from 7 receptions which included a 31 yard pass from Keenum. This was the most effective Rams offensive play in terms of yardage.
Kenny Britt‘s performance is also worth a mention because once again he proved to be a reliable target for Keenum making 5 receptions for 75 yards.
However, the offensive line once again was penetrated on multiple occassions which included 4 sacks (some were from up the middle of the line itself). This isn’t helping the Rams whose offense struggles enough without the offensive line making basic mistakes such as leaving a blitzer unblocked between the the guard and the centre.
3. Mixed day for Special Teams
This wouldn’t be a Uncle Sam Sports Rams report without mentioning Greg Zuerlein who is now one of only five kickers who haven’t missed a field goal or extra point attempt this season. His 54 yarder this week was also the longest successful field goal by any of the 5 (he is joint first with Adam Vinatieri of the Indianapolis Colts who also kicked a 54 yarder).
The Rams punt and kick off cover units were also brutally effective this week only giving up 23 yards per play throughout the game. However, the Rams tried to pull off a fake punt in the 4th quarter to get them back in the game but it didn’t work. Bradley Marquez just wasn’t quick enough to make the play but it is good to see the Fisher taking risks with his special teams this year.
The Extra Point. Coty Sensabaugh is gone
Coty Sensabaugh was signed for the Rams in the offseason and was given a $19 million deal which was terminated earlier this week. With the fast development of Troy Hill and the return of E.J. Gaines, Senasabaugh was no longer needed. As I mentioned before in the first quarter review, Sensabaugh was being paid four times the amount he was at Tennessee but was not performing any better than he was with the Titans. Hopefully this will allow Fisher to bring in some players to sort out the problems with the offensive line.
Game ball to…
LeSean McCoy (Buffalo Bills)