Todd Gurley stood in front of his locker, trying to contain his frustration.
He did not yell. Nor did he rant. At times, the Rams running back quietly struggled to find the words.
But he could not contain himself. Sunday’s humiliating 42-14 loss to the Atlanta Falcons appeared to push Gurley to a breaking point.
“It looked like a middle-school offense out there,” he said.
The Rams’ offense, abysmal the entire season, was only one of myriad problems that plagued the spiraling team in its eighth defeat in nine games. The loss dropped the Rams’ record to 4-9 and further turned up the heat on embattled Coach Jeff Fisher.
The Rams committed five turnovers — including muffing the opening kickoff — and the Falcons turned four of the miscues into touchdowns, two on passes by Matt Ryan.
Rookie quarterback Jared Goff had two passes intercepted. One was returned for a touchdown. Falcons linebacker Vic Beasley also stripped Goff of the ball and ran for a touchdown.
Fans booed throughout the game before most headed to the exits early in the second half.
“I feel responsible for this,” Fisher said of the losses during a postgame news conference.
A few minutes earlier, Fisher had walked off the field toward the Coliseum tunnel.
With a Rams security official flanked to his right and a grinning Falcons player trailing on his left, Fisher wore a grimace. The stadium scoreboard behind him in the gloaming of the peristyle end told the story.
Fisher did not look back as he approached the tunnel entrance, but a question certainly followed him:
Was the beat-down the last time Fisher will coach the Rams at the Coliseum?
The loss ensured the Rams’ 13th consecutive non-winning season. It also was Fisher’s 165th career defeat, tying him with Dan Reeves for most by a coach in NFL history. He could become the record-holder as soon as Thursday night in Seattle.
And the Rams are clearly searching for something to play for with three games left.
“I don’t care if we’re out the playoffs or not, I don’t care, just come up, show up and play,” said Gurley, who rushed for 61 yards and a touchdown in 16 carries. “That’s why we play this game. Show up and play.”
Does Gurley feel everyone has been doing that?
“I don’t. I really don’t,” he said. “Just going through the motions, I feel like everyone is just playing to get through.”
Gurley’s frustration was evident on the sideline during the first half. The Falcons had scored on the pick-six earlier in the second quarter and Gurley was later observed jawing at Goff and a coach on the sideline. He also left for the locker room well ahead of the rest of the team at halftime.
It has been a long year for the struggling Gurley, who was the NFL’s offensive rookie of the year last season.
Asked how frustrating it was on offense with the turnovers, Gurley said, “I’m gonna just be quiet. My momma said if you ain’t got nothing good to say, don’t say it at all. I’ll just leave it at that.”
The Rams have been mired in frustration since they began sliding after a 3-1 start. As of late, they also cannot escape controversy.
First came the Eric Dickerson sideline-pass saga. Then Fisher and General Manager Les Snead, recipients of two-year contract extensions still not publicly acknowledged by the Rams, scrambled to dispute a report that described a rift between them and a toxic relationship.
“There’s an awareness about it, it’s all over the TV,” cornerback Trumaine Johnson said of the outside noise, “but you still have to zone it out and try to go out there and compete and win games.”
Falcons linebacker Vic Beasley Jr. strips the ball from Rams quarterback Jared Goff, subsequently returning the fumble for a touchdown during the third quarter.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Coach Jeff Fisher leaves the field after the Rams’ 42-14 loss to the Atlanta Falcons on Dec. 11 at the Coliseum.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Referee Clete Blakeman checks on Jared Goff,of the Los Angeles Rams, after he took a hit during their blowout loss to the Atlanta Falcons.(Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times)
Jared Goff apears to be shaken up after scoring a touchdown during the fourth quarter.(Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times)
Jared Goff is wrapped up by Falcons Ra’Shede Hageman during second half.(Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times)
Rams Lance Kendricks looks downfield after breaking the tackle of Falcons Deion Jones.(Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times)
Rams receiver Brian Quick hauls in a long pass over Falcons cornerback Deji Olatoye for an apparent touchdown in the fourth quarter at the Coliseum. The play was nullified as Quick was penalized for offensive pass interference.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Rams safety Maurice Alexander is knocked cold after he delivers a helmet to helmet tackle on Falcons receiver Nick Williams during third quarter action.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Falcons safety Ricardo Allen intercepts a first quarter pass from Rams quarterback Jared Goff.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Rams Trumaine Johnson prays for Maurice Alexander after he collided with a Falcons player.(Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times)
Rams safety Maurice Alexander is examined on the field after apparently losing consciousness after a helmet to helmet blow against Falcons receiver Nick Williams.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Rams quarterback Jared Goff hangs his head as Falcons lineback Vic Beasley Jr. returns his fumble for a third quarter touchdown.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Rams quarterback Jared Goff fumbles the ball as he’s sacked by Rams linebacker Vic Beasley Jr., who recoverd the ball and returned it for a third-quarter touchdown.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Falcons linebacker Vic Beasley Jr. avoids a tackle attempt by Rams offensive lineman Rob Havenstein as he returns a fumble 21 yards for a touchdown.(Shotgun Spratling / Los Angeles Times)
Rams receiver Brian Quick is upended near the goal line by Falcons cornerback Brian Poole after making a catch during a third quarter.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Falcons running back Tevin Coleman is dragged down by Rams defensive back Mike Jordan as safety Maurice Alexander closes in on the play during third quarter action.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Rams defensive back Mike Jordan makes a tackle against Falcons wide receiver Taylor Gabriel.(Shotgun Spratling / Los Angeles Times)
Rams quarterback Jared Goff is sacked by Falcons linebacker Philip Wheeler during third-quarter action.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Rams running back Todd Gurley twists out of the grasp of Falcons defensive tackle Jonathan Babineaux during third-quarter action.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Falcons tight end Levine Toilolo jumps over Rams safety T.J. McDonald after a reception during the first half.(Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times)
Falcons linebacker Deion Jones intercepts a pass by Jared Goff during second-quarter play.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Falcons linebacker Deion Jones (45) celebrates with teammate Brooks Reed after scoring on a 33-yard interception return during the second quarter.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Falcons receiver Justin Hardy scores on a three-yard reception against Rams defensive back Mike Jordan on Atlanta’s first offensive play after L.A. fumbled the opening kickoff.(Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times)
Rams returner Michael Thomas fumbles the opening kickoff, with the Falcons eventually recovering the ball on the three-yard line.(Rick Loomis / Los Angeles Times)
Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan leads a team huddle before taking the field against the Rams.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Sunday’s loss only added to the maelstrom.
“Eventually something has to change,” offensive lineman Rodger Saffold said, adding, “Right now, the coaches are coaching their [rear ends] off. If we can’t execute then they get blamed.
“I’m sick of hearing that. It’s up to us.”
Middle linebacker Alec Ogletree defended Fisher.
“Somebody needs somebody to blame,” he said, “but I feel like it’s us, as players out on the field. . . . All we can do is go out and play our best and try and win games for him.”
So what must the Rams do to get over the hump?
“I really don’t know,” Gurley said. “I really, really, really, really, really, really, really, really don’t know. We’re all trying to figure that out.”