The Los Angeles Rams and Seattle Seahawks both walked into Thursday Night Football with records of 3-1. But the Rams – after making it all the way to the Super Bowl last year and achieving a near-perfect record last season – had much bigger expectations to live up to. A close loss of 29-30 proved that the NFC West will be a tight contest and Rams will need to step it up if they want to reach the top again. But is it even possible? Can the Rams be as good as they were last year? Here’s what we think.
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Thursday Night’s Game
Thursday was a big blow to the Rams. After winning the division two years in a row, this was surely a signal that they won’t be able to steamroll the NFC West this season. Their first loss – to the Tampa Bay Bucs – in Week 4 was disheartening, but this was a chance to turn things around. There were several make-or-break moments for the Rams in the game, including a 44-yard field goal miss by kicker Greg Zuerlein, but on Thursday, the Rams walked away with their second loss in a row. Down by one point late in the fourth quarter, they just weren’t able to make the comeback.
It was the Seahawks’ first win over the Rams in four meetings. Needless to say, Seattle fans were thrilled and made their excitement known.
But the higher-ups in LA seem to be big believers in the power of positive thinking. Rams owner Stan Kroenke said, “Hey, New England was 3-2 last year too.”
What About Todd Gurley?
Star running back Todd Gurley did his part to push his team ahead on Thursday, but in the end it wasn’t enough. He had two touchdowns, rushed for 51 yards, caught three passes, and had 15 carries and 18 touches – just short of his season-high 16 carries and 19 touches in Week 2 against the Saints. It was also his 15th game with multiple rushing touchdowns, setting a Rams franchise record.
At the end of the game, quarterback Jared Goff said, “It was great. It affected us positively. He did a great job. Ran the ball well.”
The Rams’ coaching staff have been holding Gurley back until this game, apparently looking to preserve him for later in the season. Well, they got him revved up for Thursday and he certainly performed, but it’s no secret that Gurley hates Thursday night games. Upon hearing his impressive stats from the night, Gurley responded, “I guess that’s cool. But it’s still a loss, so it don’t really matter.”
Despite all his contributions, Gurley also lost a fumble in the red zone, the fifth in his career.
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The Rams’ offensive line is stumbling through the season, and that might actually be a compliment – they’re the worst in the league right now. The O-line has been responsible for a couple of Goff’s fumbles, and simply put, they just need to play better. Andrew Whitworth, Austin Blythe, and Rob Havenstein all looked poor in Thursday’s game, and many of these guys are veteran players too, so there’s no excuse. As an example of just how bad they were, with just 20 seconds to go in the fourth quarter, center Brian Allen failed to snap the ball in time, causing the Rams a delay of game penalty and a loss of five yards. Just an inexcusable mistake.
Needless to say, things have gone downhill since John Sullivan and Roger Saffold left the team. Perhaps the most worrisome thing is that when the O-line can’t do its job properly, that explosive offense that the Rams have been known for really suffers. Last year, they were like a wall around Goff, whereas this year, Goff has struggled to adapt to the lack of protection. The previously surgical QB has four fumbles so far this season, not to mention six interceptions, the most in the league right now.
One guy who isn’t struggling? Cooper Kupp. He’s been called a “machine” and he’s certainly playing like one this season. Less than a year after tearing his ACL, the hard-working Rams wide receiver is better than ever. In fact, he’s looking like their best offensive player overall, with 32 catches and 388 receiving yards so far. Apparently, he used his time in rehab to improve his form and become a better runner, which has made him even faster than before (and yes, they’ve proven it with GPS).
According to Kupp, “When I started writing down my goals, I wanted to be as outlandish as possible … I set them outrageously high because I wanted to have an outrageous work ethic about how I went about my day.”
Sitting at third in the NFC West isn’t a good look for the Rams, especially in these days when the only surefire route to the playoffs seems to be winning your division. This is the first time in head coach Sean McVay’s stint with the Rams that they aren’t at least tied for the lead. And it doesn’t help that the San Francisco 49ers came out of the gate 3-0… that’s who the Rams play next Sunday.
One thing’s for sure – this season will be a battle for the Rams.
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