Rams pick off another win despite a lack of offense in 9-6 victory over Jets
Alec Ogletree was still thinking about the one that got away.
The Rams middle linebacker missed a chance to pick off a pass early in the fourth quarter against the New York Jets on Sunday. And his teammates let him know about it.
“They were like, ‘You know, you dropped an interception’ and all that stuff,” Ogletree said.
So when another opportunity presented itself with the game’s outcome — and perhaps the Rams’ season — hanging in the balance, Ogletree grabbed it.
Actually, he ripped a ball from the hands of a receiver for a turnover that secured the Rams’ ugly 9-6 victory at MetLife Stadium.
“You have to fight and scrap all the way to the end,” Ogletree said.
Especially when your team’s offense is seemingly incapable of reaching the end zone.
For the second time this season, the Rams won with three field goals, a stellar defensive effort and a game-saving play by Ogletree.
In Week 2, Ogletree forced a fumble in the final seconds against the Seattle Seahawks to key a 9-3 victory and the start of a three-game winning streak.
The feeling in the aftermath of that mid-September win was that the offense would catch up with, or at least balance, the defensive effort required to win games.
It has not happened.
Sunday’s victory ended the Rams’ four-game losing streak and improved their record to 4-5. They have scored two touchdowns in the last 12 quarters.
“Well,” Coach Jeff Fisher said, “a win’s a win.”
That’s true, but the Rams’ formula for seeking them remains shaky.
The defense continues to hold up its end. It made things tough on Jets quarterback Bryce Petty in his first start and gave up only one touchdown for the third game in a row.
Johnny Hekker and the punt-coverage unit repeatedly flipped field position after numerous three-and-outs and stalled drives. And Greg Zuerlein converted all of his field-goal attempts.
But the offense failed to score a touchdown, even after setting itself up with first-and-goal opportunities from the one- and seven-yard lines.
Nor did any other Rams player.
“We know what we’re gonna get from the defense every Sunday,” Cunningham said. “So if we can put this thing together, we can get on a run.”
Said Gurley: “It’s like if we can get a win this way, just imagine if we did the stuff right.”
Other offensive players said they must take the onus off defensive playmakers.
“If we get touchdowns, it lets them go and it turns them loose,” right tackle Rob Havenstein said. “We have to … turn it on, turn us loose and be a force in the offense just as much as the defense.”
Fisher refuses to pin the Rams’ offensive struggles on quarterback Case Keenum. He repeated again Sunday that Keenum was not the issue — “I’m not placing that on the quarterback’s shoulders,” Fisher said — and that he was not considering a change to No. 1 draft pick Jared Goff.
“It’s always a possibility when [Goff’s] time comes,” Fisher said.
With the offense still struggling a week after fans at the Coliseum booed and chanted “We want Goff,” Keenum was happy to emerge with a victory that kept the Rams in contention for a playoff spot.
“At the end of the year, they never ask how,” he said. “They ask how many.’’
But Keenum acknowledged the offense’s struggles and inability to score touchdowns.
“It’s the same story, different ballgame,” he said. “We have to execute in those situations.”
There’s no place to go but up after scoring six points in Bryce Petty’s first start.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Rams linebacker Alec Ogletree waves to fans as he heads to the locker room with the game ball in his helmet after helping seal a 9-6 victory over the Jets with an interception.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Jets running back Bilal Powell is tackled by Rams safety Maruice Alexander late in the fourth quarter.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Rams linebacker Alec Ogletree wrestles the ball from Jets receiver Quincy Enunwa to seal a 9-6 win.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Rams defense flips Jets running back Bilal Powell during a second quarter run.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Rams kicker Greg Zuerlein kicks a go-ahead field goal to cap a fourth quarter drive, giving LA a 9-6 lead.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Rams quarterback Case Keenum is sacked by Jets lineman Steve McLendon during third quarter action.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Rams running back Todd Gurley breaks through for a long fourth quarter gain.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Rams quarterback Case Keenum scrambles out of the pocket and away from Jets defensive lineman Leonard Williams during a third quarter drive.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Rams running back Todd Gurley breaks an attempted tackle by Jets safety Marcus Gilchrest during a fourth quarter drive.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Rams running back Benny Cunningham is pushed out of bounds just short of the goal line by Jets safety Marcus Gilchrest during first half action.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Rams running back Todd Gurley is upended by Jets cornerback Darryl Roberts during the second half action.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Jets receiver Brandon Marshall (15) flips the ball to running back Bilal Powell, who runs it in for a second-quarter touchdown.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Rams receiver Tavon Austin breaks the tackle of Jets linebacker Julian Stanford during a second half drive.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Linebacker Cory Littleton, 58, runs on to the field with Rams defensive players to play the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
Kenny Britt, 18, leads and the rest of the Rams receivers huddle before taking the field to play the New York Jets.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
That has not been a problem for Ogletree.
With two minutes left and the Jets driving toward a potential tying field goal or go-ahead touchdown, Petty passed over the middle to Quincy Enunwa. Ogletree and the receiver grabbed the ball at the same time.
The Rams had forced only one turnover during their losing streak so the defensive focus in practice last week was centered on catching balls and ripping them from the hands of offensive players.
Ogletree did both on the pivotal play against the Jets.
“It was a fight for the ball and it could have gone either way,” Rams cornerback Trumaine Johnson said. “Tree wanted that ball more, and I’m glad he got it.”
The Rams remain in third place in the NFC West. The victory kept them within striking distance of the first-place Seahawks, who played the New England Patriots on Sunday night.
The Rams play the Miami Dolphins in another non-division game on Sunday at the Coliseum.
“We’re still in the hunt,” Johnson said.
They will need an offense that scores points to remain so.
Follow Gary Klein on Twitter @LATimesklein
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