In spite of themselves, the Los Angeles Rams beat the Colts in overtime. Rams vs. Colts was 23-0 at the half and somehow the Rams completely melted down in the second half. Both versions of the Rams were on display, the balanced team that can move down the field at will, and the conservative/pass-happy team that keeps finding new rakes to step on.
The last five minutes were as excruciating as the entirety of Monday’s loss to the Bengals. But Matthew Stafford reminded everyone that he can still lead a game-winning drive. He did so while playing through immense pain.
The game was a microcosm of the Rams’ entire season, thrilling, frustrating, depressing, and joyous. They’re building something great and their young guys are producing ahead of schedule, but there’s still a lot of work to do.
Bad McVay Almost Murdered Good McVay
Sean McVay did his usual act of falling on his sword and telling everyone he needed to look inward and be better. For the first half, it felt like he did. Kyren Williams had 25 carries for 103 yards and two touchdowns and Ronnie Rivers even got 49 yards, giving the Rams a one-two punch they’ve desperately needed.
Stafford wasn’t asked to do everything for most of the first half either. Unfortunately, McVay fell off the wagon and went on a bad habit bender that allowed them to blow a 23-point lead. His play-calling got conservative to the point where it landed its own show on Newsmax.
After the Colts scored their first touchdown and annoyingly got a two-point conversion, McVay went deeper into his relapse and played not to lose, and when you play not to lose, you never win. He of course stopped running the ball and Stafford started getting beaten like he was Mick Foley. Stafford injured his hip and when it was clear he was having trouble moving McVay didn’t adjust his play-calling until the overtime drive.
The offense couldn’t find the end zone until Puka Nacua scored in overtime. It’s not clear what’s going on with McVay this season but Mike LaFleur or someone on that staff needs to give him an intervention.
The Defense Also Fell Apart Late
On one hand, the defense pitched a first-half shut out and Aaron Donald was able to cause havoc all day. Byron Young and Kobie Turner are really learning a lot under Donald and are getting better every week.
The secondary particularly the safeties were strong in coverage for most of the day particularly Jordan Fuller and Russ Yeast. Ahkello Witherspoon had a forced fumble and had a clutch pass deflection in the fourth quarter. On the other hand, they got absolutely smoked by Drew Ogletree in the second half and in general, really struggle against tight ends.
Michael Hoecht should absolutely not be in pass coverage anymore because he keeps getting beat. The front seven struggled to contain Anthony Richardson and whether it was due to the offense cratering or the Colts simply being too uptempo, they looked worn out.
The pass rush while effective wasn’t consistent enough, again, especially in the second half. They did do something smart and played Donald more on the edge so he got to be unleashed this week. The front seven continues to struggle in the red zone and the secondary seemed confused when the Colts ran multiple tight end sets. The defense bailed the Rams out in the final two minutes but they shouldn’t have given up 23 second-half points.
It should also be noted that Brett Maher whiffed on two field goals either of which would’ve prevented the comeback.
Puka Nacua is Truly Special
Puka has been the biggest steal of this draft class. His 9 catches, 163 yards, and first career touchdown were incredible. He’s done Cooper Kupp impersonations all season and this was his best yet. He’s even setting records like Kupp has. His 39 receptions surpassed Anquan Boldin‘s receptions in as many games back in 2003 and also passed Boldin in yards. He’s having an otherworldly rookie season and the Rams have desperately needed it as outside of Tutu Atwell they haven’t found much else on offense.
Tyler Higbee did have 64 yards today but also had some massive drops in crunch time. Atwell was held to 24 yards and Van Jefferson continues to play himself into becoming a comp pick next year. Puka should only get better once Kupp returns next week and that should terrify every single defense the rest of the year.
Rams vs. Colts Recap: In Conclusion
As nauseating as this game was, the Rams gave their young team a ton of character-building moments. Sure, they should’ve won this game by well over 23 points but that’s largely on McVay, with that said, the Rams recovered from their Tom Petty-style free fall in dramatic fashion.
The offensive line succeeded without Alaric Jackson in the lineup and Kevin Dotson did a solid job in his Rams debut. It wasn’t pretty but the Rams won their second game on the road and that’s further proof that Week 1 wasn’t a mirage. This team is for real, they just have to get out of their own way first.