The short turnaround was supposed to be a good thing, a chance to forget the mistake-filled defeat four days before.
Wipe the slate clean. Start anew.
But the Rams are now in a hole.
A 30-29 loss to the Seattle Seahawks on Thursday night at CenturyLink Field dropped the Rams’ record to 3-2.
The Rams were in position to win when they drove from their seven-yard line to the Seahawks’ 26, but Greg Zuerlein missed a 44-yard field-goal attempt with 11 seconds to go, causing the crowd of 68,988 Seahawks diehards to breathe a sigh of relief.
The loss came only four days after the Rams lost to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 55-40, at the Coliseum.
All of a sudden, a Rams team regarded as a contender to return to the Super Bowl looks as if it could possibly be caught in a malaise that has struck countless teams the season after they lost in the Super Bowl.
It’s still early of course. There is plenty of time for the Rams to bounce back and make another run.
But it won’t be easy.
Next week the Rams play the San Francisco 49ers, who are 3-0 going into their home game Monday against the Cleveland Browns. Rams coach Sean McVay and his players did not sound too concerned.
“There a lot of things to look forward to,” McVay said. “Is it disappointing? Absolutely.
“But it’s not something that’s going to be debilitating and going to prohibit our ability to move forward as a team.”
Quarterback Jared Goff pointed out that the New England Patriots — losers of the Super Bowl at the end of the 2017 season — started last season 3-2 before making a run to the Super Bowl, where they defeated the Rams.
“We’re still 3-2, we’re in a good spot,” said Goff, who passed for 395 yards and a touchdown, with an interception. “We’ve been the right side of [close games] more times than not in the last couple years.”
Running back Todd Gurley is not worried.
“Were fine,” said Gurley, who rushed for 51 yards and two touchdowns in 15 carries. “We had two losses at the end of the season last year still made the playoffs. It doesn’t matter how you start. No one remembers who was 4-0, 8-0. It’s about making it to January.”
But several players acknowledged there was work to do.
“We just got to wake up and realize we lost two in a row,” receiver Robert Woods said, noting that the Rams have a few days off this weekend before getting ready for the 49ers. “Get your mind right and your body right and really get ready and just focus. Pay attention to what’s going on.”
Said safety John Johnson: “Back to the drawing board.”
The Rams won here two years ago with a rout that tipped the balance of power in the NFC West. They also won a close game last year that sent them on their way to a second consecutive division title.
But to win a third they will have to do a better job against Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson.
The eighth-year pro, who signed a massive contract extension before the season, kept plays alive and completed 17 of 23 passes for 268 yards and four touchdowns. He also rushed for 32 yards in eight carries.
“He stole the show tonight,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said.
Or, as Rams linebacker Cory Littleton said, “Russell was Russell.”
The Rams trailed, 14-13, at halftime but came out fast to start the third quarter and went ahead on Gurley’s first touchdown. The teams traded touchdowns, and the Rams led, 26-21, when officials ruled that Goff came up short of the goal line on a two-point conversion try.
After a Seattle field goal, Zuerlein’s third field goal increased the Rams lead to 29-24.
The Seahawks took the lead on Wilson’s five-yard touchdown pass to running back Chris Carson with 2:28 left.
Seattle, 4-1, seemingly foiled the Rams last chance when safety Tedric Thompson intercepted a pass late in the final minutes, but the Rams got the ball back for one more chance before Zuerlein missed the field-goal attempt.
Zuerlein said the snap and hold were perfect.
“I felt fine,” he said. “It just didn’t happen that time.”
Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald is confident the Rams will bounce back.
“We’re fine,” Donald said. “It’s still early in the season. There ain’t nothing to panic about. Got a lot more football left.”