Today’s Rams vs Steelers game was incredibly frustrating! The Los Angeles Rams led in total yards, rushing yards, and passing yards. They led in time of possession, first downs, and third down efficiency, AND YET they lost. Furthermore, Kenny Pickett of the Steelers didn’t have 100 yards passing at the half. So what happened?
Well, like most of the Rams’ losses this year, they shot themselves in the foot one too many times and cost themselves a win. Sean McVay made errors, Matthew Stafford made errors, Cooper Kupp had the dropsies, and yes, Real Time with Brett Maher might get canceled in LA as he personally cost the Rams seven points by kicking as if loan sharks were going to take his pub.
Sure, there’s an officiating element to this game and since the league can’t fine bloggers, they were awful and deserve to be punished. But, the Rams made mistakes that put their fate in the hands of the officials in the first place. This game was annoying and certainly one that they’d like a mulligan on.
Rams Vs Steelers: Rams Cost Themselves A Win Against Pittsburgh
Hendo Is Back Baby!
The Rams running back room underwent a dramatic overhaul after both Kyren Williams and Ronnie Rivers were placed on IR. They signed both Darrell Henderson and Myles Gaskin off the street and Royce Freeman got promoted from practice squad back to game day back.
The running back by committee was largely a success given how slapdash it was. Darrell Henderson had 61 yards and a touchdown and Royce Freeman led the day with an almost nice 68 yards. Sean McVay did a better job at investing in the running game although he’s still annoyingly willing to abandon the run when things get tough.
Also, given how bad the Steelers defense was against the run he should’ve run more. But this was a big improvement over last week where he seemingly ran the ball at gunpoint.
Darrell Henderson proved he’s still got it and there’s no telling how successful he can be with more than 10 minutes in practice. Next week gives the Rams a well-rested Dallas defense so vaya con dios on that one.
Cooper Kupp Can’t Have An Off Day
On one hand, Tutu Atwell scored a hard-earned touchdown before halftime and Puka Nacua was AWESOME registering eight catches for 154 yards. On the other hand, Cooper Kupp had only two catches for 29 yards.
One could attribute it to the defense making sure Kupp wasn’t going to beat them and they made life difficult for him but, Kupp had an uncharacteristic case of the dropsies today. If they got more out of Kupp perhaps they manage to score more than zero points in the fourth quarter. He did catch the two-point conversion following Henderson’s touchdown but other than that he made a minimal impact.
They also need to try harder at getting Tutu more than one catch a game and Tyler Higbee needs to stop dropping balls at the worst possible time.
The Defense Has To Play Four Quarters
The defense was pretty good during the first half. The Steelers had under 100 yards of offense and it looked like Raheem Morris took Matt Canada’s lunch money. But, as anyone who’s had any fantasy equity in the Steelers knows, the Steelers offense can absolutely suck for pretty much the whole game and then pull magic out of their asses like they are a naked magician.
Following an absolutely idiotic Stafford pick to start the second half, the Rams let Jaylen Warren waltz into the end zone. Najee Harris would do his own waltzing in the fourth quarter.
Derion Kendrick somehow kept his starting job following an off-the-field issue but one could argue his on-the-field play for most of the year is more egregious than what happened last Sunday night. He routinely allowed the Steelers receivers, be it Diontae Johnson, George Pickens, or worst of all, Allen Robinson to beat him. Sure, he’s not the only one, but he’s by far the one member of the secondary that teams continually pick on.
Now, he’s not the only culprit. The entire defense melted down in the fourth quarter. The penalties real or phantom seemingly piled up and they of course gave up two fourth-quarter touchdowns.
On the bright side, Michael Hoecht got both of the Rams’ sacks and he led the defense team in tackles. On the flip side, his four tackles we tied with Quentin Lake and Cobie Durant with four. That’s not great, nor is the fact that the pass rush should’ve been WAY more productive given that the Steelers line was easier to get into than a screening of “Expend4bles”.
The defense is young and they need a veteran pass rusher yesterday but that doesn’t excuse their personnel from cratering at the worst possible time. It isn’t a “FIRE RAHEEM” situation but there seems to be a fundamental issue with the Rams in the fourth quarter be it stamina, heart, or just an inability to clamp down in crunch time.
Unfortunately, it’s something that only experience can fix at this point, but something that would help would be for the offense to not wilt in the second half of games.
Brett Maher Needs To Go
The Rams lost by seven points today which as stated earlier is the exact amount of points Brett Maher personally took off the board. He’s been shaky all year long and today was his worst game as a Ram.
He missed a field goal in the first quarter, a PAT in the second quarter, and an absolute momentum-killing field goal in the third quarter. Not only did he cost them points but by missing those kicks he put the defense against the wall in terms of field position.
Sure, one could argue that McVay shouldn’t have settled for kicks when it was clear that Maher didn’t have it today but also, a coach should be able to trust their kicker.
Sean McVay Needs To Get Out Of His Own Way
Sigh…every week one of the league’s best coaches and also one of its most confounding. He blew his second-half time outs preventing them from challenging a crucial play near the end of the game. His play-calling coming out of the half was misguided and while Stafford shouldn’t have thrown that pick, they also shouldn’t have been throwing.
The Rams looked sloppy pretty much the whole way through and that starts from McVay. He says all the right things at the end of games and didn’t take the bait when asked about the officiating, but he needs to be better.
He’s demonstrated that he can squeeze as much juice as he can from a roster that people left for dead in August. They’ve shown they can be a playoff team but not when they routinely do stupid things or take multiple quarters to get their act together.
The play-calling needs to be more balanced and he needs to chill out and stick to the plan even when things get dire. His instinct is to throw his way out of a deficit even when there’s plenty of time. That has to stop. The running game was working today and yet he still feels compelled to air it out.
The Rams could be 5-2 but they keep playing both the other team and themselves. When they stick to what works good things happen and it’s baffling that they don’t get it.