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Rams

Rams, with Seahawks up Thursday, cram to learn lessons from loss to Buccaneers

Rams coach Sean McVay and quarterback Jared Goff.
Rams coach Sean McVay and quarterback Jared Goff know the heavy reliance on the passing game wasn’t an ideal strategy against the Buccaneers.
(Getty Images)

The day after did not offer much opportunity for solace, but it apparently did satisfy the Rams’ appetite for perspective.

The Rams play the Seattle Seahawks on Thursday night in Seattle. That meant putting behind their surprising 55-40 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday.

“You almost take a piece of that little humble pie,” defensive tackle Michael Brockers said in the locker room Monday.

Brockers was assessing the mood of a team that began the season regarded as a contender to return to the Super Bowl. The Rams, the two-time defending NFC West champions, lived up the billing by winning their first three games.

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But the turnover- and penalty-filled performance against the Buccaneers showed the Rams they need to do more than just show up to win games.

After a loss like that, “You’ve got to sit down and kind of gather yourself,” Brockers said.

The Rams’ Marcus Peters was checked for a concussion, Taylor Rapp injured an ankle and Bryce Hager had a neck/shoulder injury against the Buccaneers.

That’s what quarterback Jared Goff appeared to have done before his weekly news conference. Goff had three passes intercepted and lost a fumble against the Buccaneers, who converted each turnover into a touchdown.

“It’s something that kind of created a little bit more urgency with everyone,” Goff said of the loss.

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Coach Sean McVay does not have much time to tinker with an offense that was all but devoid of a rushing threat against the Buccaneers. Star running back Todd Gurley scored two touchdowns but had only five carries. He caught seven passes.

“The approach and the way that we ended up kind of wanting to attack those guys ended up being a little bit altered just based on the way the flow of the game played out,” McVay said. “He gets involved, he has a couple touchdowns, has seven catches.

“You could see we did want to try and get him involved early. And really, any touch that we can get the ball in Todd’s hands we feel like is a good thing.”

But McVay must find a way to balance the running and passing games to avoid being one-dimensional.

Goff completed 45 of 68 passes for 517 yards — all career bests — but he and McVay both acknowledged those numbers were problematic.

“That’s never an ideal approach,” McVay said.

Said Goff: “That’s not a world we want to live in. It’s not built for success that way.”

The extraordinarily high number of pass attempts is a new issue. The Rams’ penchant for slow starts is not.

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They overcame them in victories over the Carolina Panthers, New Orleans Saints and Cleveland Browns. But a 21-0 deficit against the Buccaneers proved insurmountable, as it nearly always will against any team.

“Again, like we’ve been saying for the last couple of weeks, just starting off a little bit quicker,” Goff said when asked what could be learned from Sunday’s defeat.

The Rams also must clean up mistakes that led to penalties. Much focus has been placed on center Brian Allen and left guard Joe Noteboom, both first-year starters, but veteran offensive linemen Andrew Whitworth, Rob Havenstein and Austin Blythe combined for five of the Rams’ 13 penalties.

“It’s about our offense doing a better job of not beating ourselves,” McVay said, adding, “Something that we’ll look at and make sure that we try to get corrected.”

It won’t get easier for the Rams on Thursday night at CenturyLink Field, one of the NFL’s loudest stadiums.

The Rams’ defense could be short-handed against a Seahawks team that improved to 3-1 with a victory over the Arizona Cardinals.

Cornerback Marcus Peters, who was evaluated for a concussion after he was hit at the conclusion of an interception return for a touchdown, was cleared and “he’ll be in good shape,” McVay said. But starting inside linebacker Bryce Hager (shoulder) and rookie safety Taylor Rapp (ankle) probably will be game-time decisions, he said. If Hager cannot play, rookie Troy Reeder could start in his place.

Goff reiterated that with a 3-1 record, the Rams are “fine” and in a “great place” as they head to Seattle for their first NFC West game.

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“I’ve certainly been a part of a lot worse than this and I know a lot of the guys on this team have as well,” he said. “You look at it with good perspective. ... We’ve got a nice division game this week to get a chance to go up there to Seattle and hopefully do some good things.”

Etc.

The Rams did not practice or have a walkthrough Monday. They will have two walkthroughs Tuesday. ... Peters was not listed on the Rams’ initial injury report. But because Peters did not return to the game against the Buccaneers, by rule, the NFL directed the Rams to add him, a team spokesman said. Peters was listed because of a facial bruise.


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