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Offense doesn't hold up its end as Rams fall to Bills, ending three-game win streak

Offense doesn't hold up its end as Rams fall to Bills, ending three-game win streak
Rams running back Todd Gurley, right, battles Bills cornerback Stephon Gilmore for possession after a second-half fumble. Gurley fumbled twice in the game; he recovered this one but lost the other. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

The Rams nearly perfected a formula for success during their three-game win streak.

Force multiple turnovers, produce just enough offense, add in a key special-teams play or two and then count on the defense to make a huge stop at the end.

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On Sunday, the Rams needed the offense to come through with a late clutch drive or play.

It failed to materialize, and the Buffalo Bills ruined the Rams' homecoming by handing them a 30-19 defeat at the Coliseum.

The Rams committed two turnovers that led to touchdowns, and quarterback Tyrod Taylor and running back LeSean McCoy had big days for the Bills.

Not that the Rams are overly concerned after falling to 3-2.

"We have every reason to be OK with where we are," Coach Jeff Fisher said.

The Rams began the day tied atop the NFC West. But the loss dropped them into second place behind 3-1 Seattle, which had a bye.

Now they will head to Detroit to face the Lions, and then to London to play the New York Giants before a bye. The Rams won't play at the Coliseum again until Nov. 6 when they meet the Carolina Panthers.

Where they will be when they return is difficult to predict.

Are the Rams a team that will once again play tough in the division and stumble against unfamiliar opponents? Or will they find a way to produce during an eight-game stretch against non-division opponents.

Like Fisher, Rams players sounded as if there was no reason to worry.

"One thing I learned in this league," veteran tight end Cory Harkey said. "It's never as bad as it seems and it's never as good as it seems. It's definitely not a time to panic."

Said veteran defensive end Eugene Sims: "Everybody's still confident about this team. Nobody's down."

The Rams, however, do have cause for concern.

They played Sunday without injured defensive linemen Robert Quinn, William Hayes and Michael Brockers, and the Bills took full advantage.

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Taylor passed for two touchdowns and McCoy ran for 150 yards, cutting back against the grain for several long gains.

"We let him break us," Rams tackle Aaron Donald said of McCoy, "We let him run all over us."

And by them.

"We just kind of made up some stuff," middle linebacker Alec Ogletree said, "and they took advantage of our miscues."

The Rams also probably lost Trumaine Johnson for a while after the franchise cornerback suffered an ankle injury.

But the defense, for the most part, probably played well enough for the Rams to win. It just could not overcome mistakes by the offense.

Quarterback Case Keenum had two passes intercepted by Nickell Robey-Coleman, and the former USC cornerback returned the first one 41 yards for a  touchdown that put the Bills ahead for good in the third quarter.

"It was a bad decision," Keenum said, adding, "The game came down to one or two plays and that was the one play that I want back."

Running back Todd Gurley rushed for a touchdown but fumbled twice. The first led to a Bills touchdown.

"I can't turn the ball over," Gurley said. "I have to hold onto the ball."

And the Rams were forced to settle for four Greg Zuerlein field goals, three after they had penetrated inside the 20-yard line.

"Three points is good," receiver Tavon Austin said, "but three points is not going to win too many big games, and that's what it showed today."

Despite the offense's problems, the Rams still were in position to win when they got the ball with 4 minutes 35 seconds left, trailing 23-19.

A Gurley reception and run netted five yards and Keenum's third-down pass was tipped incomplete.

Punter Johnny Hekker came on, seemingly with a chance to flip the field and with three timeouts remaining.

But Fisher called for a fake punt.

The ball was snapped directly to receiver Bradley Marquez, who ran to his right but was tackled short of the first down.

Fisher took responsibility for the call.

"We practiced it all week," he said. "We had the look, and it didn't work."

The Bills took over, and McCoy broke off another long run to set up Taylor's touchdown pass to Marquise Goodwin, sealing the victory.

So it's on the road again for the Rams.

Players said they would regroup with a long-term goal in mind.

"We'll just move on to the next game," receiver Kenny Britt said, "continue to do what we do and win the division."

gary.klein@latimes.com

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