After another loss, Rams appear out of sync and headed the wrong direction
LOS ANGELES — Jared Goff asserted himself as an MVP candidate, and the Los Angeles Rams made a prime-time statement that they were Super Bowl favorites.
That was a month ago, in a thrilling victory over the Kansas City Chiefs.
On Sunday, the Rams continued a downward trend in an uninspiring 30-23 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles (7-7) at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
It was their first loss at home this season, and the first time in Sean McVay’s two seasons as coach that the Rams (11-3) have dropped back-to-back games. They previously were the only team in the league to not lose back-to-back the last two seasons.
“These last couple weeks we’re doing things that are totally uncharacteristic of what good football teams do,” McVay said after the game. “Everybody has a hand in this.”
Goff, for a third consecutive week, was under pressure and turned the ball over. Todd Gurley II, a week after McVay failed to utilize him in a loss to the Chicago Bears, had the bulk of his work in the first half, but disappeared in the second. The defense couldn’t slow down backup Eagles quarterback Nick Foles, who started in place of Carson Wentz. And even the typically sound special teams had a late-game blunder.
“Doing stuff that’s not us,” Gurley said. “So we need to get back to ourselves.”
McVay, who shouldered most of the blame for the loss against the Bears, took responsibility again Sunday night. But the 32-year-old coach also was firm that players needed to perform at a higher level.
“It’s guys that are making mistakes that we typically haven’t seen,” McVay said. “We’ve all got to do better, and it starts with me.”
The Monday Night showdown against the Chiefs last month is now a distant memory. After that victory, players scattered for a bye week.
They haven’t been the same since. The Rams scored 54 points against the Chiefs. In the last three games, they’ve scored 59 total points.
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Part of the issue is self-inflicted. But perhaps a more concerning trend is their opponents’ newfound ability to slow down their offensive machine.
“Teams are doing different things to us,” Goff said. “Teams are trying out different things and we just need to find a way to respond.”
The Rams outlasted the Detroit Lions behind two fourth-quarter touchdowns from Gurley to clinch the NFC West in Week 13, but traveled to Chicago last week and were shut down by the Bears in a loss that players and coaches said was humbling.
On Sunday, the Eagles — a 13.5-point underdog and without Wentz — appeared more physical, and played with more urgency than the Rams, who earlier in the day learned that they could not secure a first-round bye with a win, after the Bears defeated Green Bay Packers.
Goff completed 35 of 54 passes for 339 yards, with two interceptions. For the third time this season, and in consecutive games, he did not pass for a touchdown.
In the week leading up to the game, Goff emphasized a need to eliminate turnovers.
Through 11 games this season, he was intercepted only six times, but in the last three games, Goff has had seven passes intercepted. Over the last two games, Goff was 2-of-13 with four interceptions on passes that traveled at least 15 yards downfield, according to ESPN Stats and Information.
Sean McVay expresses his frustration after the Rams’ loss to the Eagles, saying that they have to figure out their mistakes in a hurry.
“Just continue to take care of the ball, I need to do a better job at that,” Goff said. “But at the same time, I feel like I’ve grown and learned and made strides in a positive direction regardless of what has happened, but need to be better.”
Sunday, Gurley rushed for 48 yards and two touchdowns on 12 carries and caught 10 passes for 76 yards. After only 14 touches in the loss to the Bears, Gurley was involved early. He had more touches this week, but the Rams still struggled to find a rhythm in the running game and Gurley missed parts of the third quarter because of a knee injury.
“I returned, so I was fine,” Gurley said. McVay said that they would “Get [Gurley’s knee] checked out.”
Two games remain the regular season. The Rams travel to face the Arizona Cardinals next Sunday, before returning home for a regular-season finale against the San Francisco 49ers.
McVay didn’t have many answers for the Rams’ recent downturn. But there was one thing he knew for certain.
“We’ve got to be able to figure this out,” McVay said. “And figure it out fast.”