It was a team effort.
The Rams misfired on offense, failed to shut down the Chargers’ running game and were sabotaged by their own special teams in Saturday night’s exhibition of sloppy football in Anaheim Stadium.
The Chargers took a 17-7 halftime lead, withstood a T.J. Rubley comeback try and went on to a 23-17 victory over the Rams before 41,368.
“Obviously, we have a ways to go,” Coach Chuck Knox said. “We were shaky offensively in the first half. We had a hard time getting across the 50 at times.”
Said quarterback Jim Everett: “Last week we were really concentrating on our running game and we tried to come in this week and concentrate a little more on our passing game. We had a few new guys on the line, and that was a little shaky, and I was back there not feeling as comfortable as I should.
“We’ll shore everything up and get things solid. That’s why you have preseason. We have time to get ready, and I’m not too concerned.”
Rubley tried to save the show with a second-half performance that included a three-yard touchdown pass to tight end Pat Carter.
But in the end, there were just too many mistakes for the Rams to overcome.
In the fourth quarter the Rams called timeout and inserted their starting defensive unit into the game with the Chargers at the Rams’ 29-yard line. The result: a 29-yard touchdown pass from John Friesz to Shawn Jefferson, who beat Pat Terrell and Todd Lyght.
Meanwhile, it was difficult at times to determine whom Everett considered his prime target.
If it hadn’t been the first quarter, his throw downfield in the general direction of tight end Troy Drayton might have been mistaken for a desperation effort. Charger safety Floyd Fields waited for Everett’s pass like an infielder parked under a pop fly, and then dropped it.
The Rams were penalized 10 yards on the play for holding.
“I definitely shouldn’t have thrown it,” Everett said. “I was getting hit in the leg when I threw it.”
Although the Chargers were playing without three-fourths of their starting defensive line, Everett appeared rushed during his half of play. Four of his first five passes fell incomplete.
Everett completed nine of 19 passes for 71 yards, and his longest completion of the night covered 13 yards.
In the first quarter, after Everett failed to move the Rams, Charger quarterback Stan Humphries avoided a hard rush from Ram end Robert Young, rolled right and threw left toward Jefferson. Charger wide receiver Anthony Miller stepped in front of Jefferson, caught the ball and gained 43 yards to the Rams’ 15.
On second and nine from the Ram 14, Humphries located Jefferson, who had eluded Ram safety Pat Terrell, in the end zone for a 10-0 lead.
Safety Michael Stewart intercepted a Humphries pass at the Charger 33 in the second quarter to keep the Rams in the game. Running back Anthony Thompson’s one-yard dive five plays later put the Rams on the scoreboard.
Thompson, however, suffered a broken right hand on the play and will undergo surgery today.
The Chargers then began handing the ball to rookie Natrone Means. Means ran six times for 42 yards, including a one-yard plunge to the end zone for a 17-7 lead with 38 seconds to play in the first half.
Humphries played completed eight of 12 passes for 97 yards before surrendering the offense to Friesz in the second half.
The Rams moved to within a field goal of the Chargers on Rubley’s scoring throw to Carter, but the Chargers scored on fourth and one in the fourth quarter when Friesz went deep to Jefferson.
“We were expecting them to run the ball, get a measurement and try to get a first down,” said Sean Gilbert, Ram defensive lineman. “But I guess that’s how it is when you’re hungry.”