The Los Angeles Rams did all kinds of things to not win this game and these things will be explored, don’t worry. They had the Baltimore Ravens under their grasp multiple times. However, a lot of their errors were exacerbated by the fact that the officiating was horrendous in this game. They refused to call holding on the Ravens offensive line all day, missed a fumble, missed a pass interference at the end of regulation, briefly allowed John Harbaugh to challenge an already confirmed touchdown, and on the Ravens game-clinching punt they missed a BLATANT BLOCK IN THE BACK.
It’s truly maddening.
That said, the Rams shouldn’t have allowed the refs to decide the game like that. They blew it multiple times against one of the best teams in the league.
On one hand, the Rams did go toe-to-toe with the number one team in the AFC, and on the road, in bad weather no less. On the other, the Rams can’t afford any more losses if they want to go to the playoffs.
It sucks but luckily the Rams next three games are SUPER WINNABLE. Today’s game was the best and worst of the Rams in one heart-attack-inducing game.
The Secondary Relapsed
Today was a rough day for the young secondary. Jordan Fuller had one of his worst games as he was caught out of position several times against the Ravens receivers. Lamar Jackson was able to hit receivers in clutch spots. In the first quarter the Ravens first two touchdowns came from blown coverages on downfield bombs.
The front seven struggled to generate consistent pressure, although many were being held repeatedly they still did a bad job containing Lamar Jackson. Byron Young and Ernest Jones sacked him but there were too many drives that were extended because they couldn’t bring him down.
The Red Zone Offense was SHAKY
On one hand, Matthew Stafford (23/41, 294 yards, 3 TDs) was great today. The throws he made were undeniable and he also didn’t turn the ball over. On the other hand, in the red zone, the play-calling was atrocious and, fortunately, Stafford made it work.
Kyren Williams (25 carries, 114 yards) was gashing the Ravens defense and YET Sean McVay decided to call three pass plays in the red zone and settled for the field goal. He’d do it again and again, being bailed out by a borderline lights-out Stafford.
Apparently, the headset had issues. Which is why McVay had to burn a touchdown on the Rams’ game-tying drive but they shouldn’t have been in that position in the first place. DeMarcus Robinson (more on him later) saved an awful pass by Stafford from being intercepted in the end zone because McVay wanted the kill shot too badly.
Davis Allen and Demarcus Robinson are COMING ON
The biggest surprise offensively was the emergence of fifth-round rookie Davis Allen (4 catches 50 yards and a TD). He came in when Hunter Long went down with an injury and he immediately made an impact. He picked up a key third down by launching himself over defenders. He caught a touchdown in the red zone to take back the lead in the second quarter, and he gave that position the shot in the arm it desperately needed.
Allen more explosive than Tyler Higbee and his hands actually work. The Rams might have finally found a tight end that can be counted on. Unfortunately, he did have a bad drop on third down in overtime but the play-calling (more on that later) was deeply flawed anyway.
Demarcus Robinson had a great day against his former team. He had three catches for 46 yards and, for the second game in a row, scored a late touchdown. He also saved Stafford’s ass by swatting down a potential Marlon Humphrey pick. He’s become a reliable third option and could potentially take Tutu Atwell‘s snaps especially after Atwell left the game with a possible concussion.
Sean McVay Can’t Get Out of His Own Way
Not only did McVay suck in the red zone today but throughout the second half made terrible calls that stalled drives until Stafford was able to take over late in the fourth. The Rams came out of the half trying to force the pass and that led to a three-and-out. It’s mind-bottling why he refuses to stick to what works unless he absolutely has to.
He called too many screens that weren’t set up correctly as Joe Noteboom is a far cry from the injured Rob Havenstein. He struggled to compensate for the line missing their veteran tackle and that caused negative plays throughout the second half giving the Ravens too many chances to come back.
In overtime, he called one run play and then quickly abandoned it yet again which, of course, forced the Rams to punt. His clock management also cratered today, especially on the final drive and in OT. If there were issues with the headset, fine, but he can’t have drives stall out because of a delay of game penalty. They went from 3rd and 4 in OT to 3rd and nine. Can’t have that.
Cooper Kupp is BACK
He’s still hurt but COOOOOOOP was amazing today. He had 8 catches for 115 yards and a TD. His yards after the catch were key. He put on a vintage performance where he spun out defenders and walked the tightrope extending drives. It was one of his best games all season and while he was gutting it out he proved he’s not washed. Coop and Puka Nacua (5 catches 84 yards) were at their most complimentary. Puka had a bad drop in the fourth but made up for it big time on the next drive and balled out as a blocker as well.
Special Teams Remains a Travesty
Yes, the refs missed the block in the back on the punt return touchdown, and if that was the special teams unit’s only error then fine. However, they were awful in coverage all day. Austin Trammell had two muffed fair catches that he was lucky enough to recover. They cost Ethan Evans a pin at the one-yard line because they were sloppy, and they didn’t execute the safety punt return well enough. It’s baffling that McVay hasn’t been able to find a special teams coordinator who can get that part of the ball game to execute. On the plus side, Evans was amazing and Lucas Havirisk saved his job for another week. He was terrific.
Can The Los Angeles Rams Still Make The Playoffs?
The Rams went into a rainy Baltimore and almost stole one. If not for their own miscues and bad officiating they’d be 7-6 and in a playoff spot. Now they are 6-7 and need to close out 2023 with three wins to keep pace with Green Bay. Luckily Seattle and Minnesota are imploding. The Rams are right there and they’ve done a great job getting the most out of their young talent but they have to put it together if they’re going to be more than a fun story this season.