LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Rams have improved. And Sunday’s loss was a prime example.
The Rams had a chance to tie against Washington in the final two minutes despite struggling to stop the run and committing untimely mistakes on offense. The 27-20 loss is both a reminder of how far they have come and how far they still have to go to become consistent winners.
“We saw how we can fight back,” quarterback Jared Goff said. “We were down 13-nothing pretty early and couldn’t get much going offensively. Then we were able to get some big plays, come all the way back and get a chance to take the lead there, ultimately tied it with the field goal. And still had a chance to win at the end of the game. It’s good to know that we have that capability. With that being said, though, it wasn’t nearly where we could be.”
All the good feelings from their season-opening romp over the Indianapolis Colts seemed like they were erased when Washington took a 10-0 lead on the first play of the second quarter. Running back Todd Gurley lost a fumble on the next play from scrimmage, and it seemed inevitable that another of the woefully uncompetitive losses that defined the Rams’ disappointing first season back in Los Angeles was about to happen again.
But the defense held Washington to a 22-yard field goal, and Goff found tight end Gerald Everett for a 69-yard pass after breaking the pocket to start the ensuing drive. A potential 17-0 whitewashing had turned into a 13-7 fight in just a few plays.
The game was on, even after Chris Thompson took a delayed handoff 61 yards for a touchdown and a 20-10 Washington lead late in the second quarter.
“We got the weapons out there to make the plays, to make big plays to get ourselves back in the game,” Goff said. “It’s drastically improved. As long as we execute and take care of the ball good things will happen.”
However, the Rams failed on both accounts, and failed in their chance to start the season 2-0 for the first time since 2001. The defense allowed 229 yards rushing for the game and a 70-yard game-winning touchdown drive to Washington late in the fourth quarter.
Several Rams players could not explain the reason for those issues against the run despite the return of All-Pro lineman Aaron Donald until they reviewed the film, but defensive end Ethan Westbrooks attributed it to not maintaining gap integrity.
“It’s frustrating to lose, period,” Ogletree said. “We were definitely frustrated about giving up that amount of yards in the run game. When you don’t stop the run, you leave yourself open for a lot of stuff. They executed real well. Credit to them for coming in with a good game plan and doing the right thing, but we got a lot of work to do.”
The offense’s issues came down to penalties and turnovers.
Goff threw an interception with 1:37 remaining, as his lazy check down to Cooper Kupp was picked off. Wide receiver Robert Woods was called for two penalties on the drive where the Rams tied the game at 20 with 7:16 to play, including an offensive pass interference call that negated a completion to Gurley that would have given the offense first and goal at the 5-yard line.
Compared to last season’s Rams, who were blown out by 21 points or more in four of their last six games, cleaning up the self-inflicted errors is a task this group is hungry to address.
“There’s things we can fix,” Woods said. “There are details that cost us the game. If we fix that, I feel like we should be able to compete and win those games.”