It was enjoyable whereas it lasted.
The reigning Tremendous Bowl champion Rams dropped to the underside of the NFC West with an unpleasant thud Sunday, a stunningly swift plunge even for a crew that was certain to face the bodily and psychological challenges that often observe a title run.
Their lifeless play in a 27-17 loss to Arizona led to their third straight defeat and fifth within the final six, leaving them a sorry 3-6 as they crossed the midway level of a season that isn’t going to finish with one other playoff celebration. They had been booed off the sphere at halftime at SoFi Stadium. Their efficiency deserved it.
How far the mighty have fallen. “It sucks. It really does,” extensive receiver Ben Skowronek mentioned.
Coach Sean McVay, hailed as a boy genius final season for being so inventive with the offense whereas guiding the Rams to a championship on the precocious age of 36, seemed and appeared like every other over-stressed, veteran coach who can’t cease the bleeding.
He described himself as “humbled” by being examined and stretched in methods he hadn’t skilled earlier than. Sunday was a main instance.
“Not a lot of positives that you can take away from this. It’s tough. It stinks,” he mentioned. “There’s just a lot of different reasons that we’re in this position.”
He ought to have identified what sort of day it could be when backup quarterback John Wolford, making his second profession begin as a result of Matthew Stafford remained in concussion protocols, engineered a 14-play drive on the Rams’ first possession however produced solely a area objective.
The Rams didn’t rating once more till 4 minutes and 24 seconds remained within the third quarter, on a four-yard run by Darrell Henderson Jr. that reduce the Cardinals’ result in 17-10.
The Cardinals responded with a nine-yard landing run by operating again James Conner early within the fourth for a 27-10 lead after Budda Baker had intercepted a move supposed for Skowronek and took the Cardinals to the Rams’ 25-yard line.
“There’s no moral victories. We didn’t get the win. But at least we battled,” mentioned Wolford, who often was changed by third-string quarterback Bryce Perkins as McVay tried to create a spark that by no means appeared.
The Rams have scored 20 or extra factors solely thrice this season. They didn’t rating that many in any of their final three video games, in opposition to the 49ers, Tampa Bay, and Arizona. They’ve been outscored 200-148 general.
If it is a Tremendous Bowl hangover, no aspirin will treatment it.
“I don’t think anything necessarily surprises you in this league,” McVay mentioned. “There’s been a lot of different things that have gone on, none of which gives us a reason to do anything but try to be able to figure it out. Try to get guys to play to their highest potential.
“But there has certainly been a lot of different elements that have led us to this point right here, and we’re going to continue to compete. We’ve got eight games left, for sure, and that’s where our focus and concentration will be.”
Accidents have performed a big half of their struggles, particularly on the ever-changing offensive line. Dropping extensive receiver Cooper Kupp to an damage early within the fourth quarter is one other blow to an already skinny offense. Stafford’s absence Sunday harm them, too, although they’ve had hassle scoring when he was within the lineup.
McVay pointed to continuity and execution as key points that have to be improved however acknowledged he hasn’t seen issues get higher just lately. There’s not a number of time to search out the fitting schemes that may permit the Rams to acquit themselves higher offensively and hold them on essentially the most distant fringes of playoff rivalry, if that’s even potential.
“It’s not a good movie and I’m a part of it right now and we’ve got to be able to figure out how to make it better, how to improve,” he mentioned. “How do we play better, more complementary football? And whatever that means in terms of the results we’ve just got to be able to have a better product out there. Start to see some improvement. And that’s the challenging thing, is there really hasn’t been examples of that occurring.”
Every little thing that may go fallacious appears to be going fallacious for them after a season when a lot went proper.
“Yeah, but I feel like we can turn it around, though,” mentioned extensive receiver Van Jefferson, who scored the late landing that made the rating barely extra respectable. “Of course, winning the Super Bowl was great for us but I feel like we can turn it around and we can get on a win streak here.”
That sounded distinctly like wishful pondering within the somber quiet of the Rams’ locker room.
“I’m never going to run away from the responsibility that I share with our team, our players, our coaches to be right here,” McVay mentioned, “but there’s things I know we can do to be able to get better and I refuse to think anything else other than that. But I also want to see some of those things start to come to life and bear some fruit and we’ve got to be able to do that.”
Anyway, it was enjoyable whereas it lasted.