Rams Vs. Bengals- Week 3: What Went Well, What Didn’t

In Los Angeles Rams vs. Bengals, the Rams lost their bragging rights for the moment over Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals after the team lost in a frustrating fashion on Monday Night Football. Sure, the team still has Super Bowl LVI, but now they also have a list of problems to fix going into Week 4 on a short week. Before turning the page, though, here’s a look at the few things that went well and what needs to be fixed moving forward.

Rams Vs. Bengals: What Went Well, What Didn’t

NFL: Los Angeles Rams at Cincinnati Bengals
Rams vs. Bengals: Katie Stratman-USA TODAY Sports

What Went Well: Defense

Sure, they didn’t quite dominate the game, but holding the Bengals to under 20 points was a job well done. Ahkello Witherspoon‘s interception was as clutch as it gets in the fourth quarter to give the Rams offense one last chance. While Ja’Marr Chase had as good of a game as he’s had all season, points win games and the Bengals were ultimately kept in check and gave the offense a chance to win.

That said, one big teaching point remains. Aaron Donald was spotted smiling on the sideline during the Bengals’ final kneeldowns, which is a bad look for the team. Of course, smiling for an unknown reason on the sideline doesn’t mean that losing the game wasn’t painful for Donald. That said, as a leader of the team, he cannot give any appearance that losing is permittable. That is especially true considering the recent history between the two teams and being on the short end of the stick to fall below .500.

Syndication: The Enquirer
Rams vs. Bengals: Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK

What Didn’t: Offense

Before Week 1, fans feared the worst without Cooper Kupp. Week 1 calmed those fears after Puka Nacua tore up the Seattle Seahawks secondary. The Rams won the game 30-13. Then, in Week 2, the offense took a step back in a losing effort against the San Francisco 49ers by a score of 23-30. Now, in Week 3, they managed to put up just 16 points.

The offense has hit a wall and now appears to be in the same hole that fans had feared going into the season. The offense went one for 11 on third down and the most frustrating thing for fans was an unwillingness to adjust down the line. Matthew Stafford lived and died by the deep prayer ball in the fourth quarter and the offense did the latter as the game went on.

Joseph Noteboom had been nursing an injury for quite some time heading into the contest and he eventually exited near the end of the game. That’s when the pass rush took over and the offense truly went quietly into the night when it mattered most.

Stafford has thrown for two touchdowns and four interceptions this season. Backup Jets quarterback Zach Wilson has the same ratio. At this point, his chances of hitting 40 touchdowns like in 2021 are already down badly. In the fourth quarter when the Rams were down 10 points, he was also spotted not looking at the tablet or communicating with his teammates. He needs to be preparing for the next series when on the sidelines, especially in a tight game. Of course, it wasn’t all on him.

Puka Nacua was nowhere to be found compared to his massive contributions in the first two games. He can’t be expected to be the cornerstone of the offense three games into his career on a weekly basis, but the game also proved that he was human.

Above all, it proved that the Rams still need Cooper Kupp. Kupp is the last wild card that could act as a shot of adrenaline for the offense. If he doesn’t arrive on time in Week 5 ready to play, darker days could be ahead.

Additional Reading On Rams vs. Bengals:

The Rams Skinny Podcast: Immediate Reaction

Los Angeles Rams Fall To Bengals: Sean McVay Blew A Winnable Game

Syndication: The Enquirer
Rams vs. Bengals: Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK

What Else Didn’t: Coaching Decisions

Sean McVay doesn’t get a pass for the result of the game, either. In the fourth quarter on a 4th and 5, down 10 points, he elected to punt to the Bengals. The game was essentially over at that moment. This was the coach who would go for it on fourth down with Jared Goff to simply be able to run out the clock. With the game on the line in 2023, he got conservative. Next time, he needs to identify that the scarier option might be the only path to victory at the moment and act as such.

It also falls on Sean McVay’s shoulders to stop Matthew Stafford from throwing deep too many times. If the defense is playing deep, throw it underneath.

It doesn’t get much easier for the Rams in Week 4 as the team is set to play the Indianapolis Colts. The Colts just defeated the Baltimore Ravens, so the team needs to make a plan to address the concerns presented here. If the team loses again, they’ll be 1-3 after a 1-0 start. Put simply, they’ll be skidding to some and free-falling to others.