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Rams

Rams still give themselves a chance to make playoffs

Rams coach Sean McVay looks on during a game against the Cowboys on Dec. 15 at AT&T Stadium.
Rams coach Sean McVay looks on during a game against the Cowboys on Dec. 15 at AT&T Stadium.
(Michael Ainsworth / Associated Press)

Forget about it.

No, not the playoffs. Not yet.

“Mathematically, you still give yourself a chance,” Rams coach Sean McVay said Monday as he and his players tried to quickly erase their memories of an embarrassing loss to the Dallas Cowboys.

The postseason equation for the Rams is simple to explain. But there is low probability that it will work in the Rams’ favor.

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The Rams (8-6) must defeat the San Francisco 49ers (11-3) on Saturday at Levi’s Stadium, and the Arizona Cardinals in the Dec. 29 season finale at the Coliseum. They also need the Minnesota Vikings (10-4) to lose home games against the Green Bay Packers and the Chicago Bears.

If all of that happens, the Rams will avoid missing the playoffs for the first time in McVay’s three seasons.

On Monday, Rams players sounded as if they were taking a page from the day-after playbook they utilized after the Baltimore Ravens routed them in late November on “Monday Night Football.” The Rams quickly put the defeat behind and came back six days later to defeat the Chicago Bears, creating optimism for a run to the playoffs.

The Rams followed that with a victory over the Seattle Seahawks, but the 44-21 loss to the Cowboys was not as close as the score indicated. So the Rams welcomed another short week that requires them to forget about the loss.

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“Perfect for a week like this coming off a game like we just had,” defensive lineman Michael Brockers said.

The short week, however, comes with one disadvantage: less time for injured players to heal.

Cornerback Troy Hill had right thumb surgery Monday. McVay said there was a possibility that Hill could play against the 49ers with a cast on his hand. If Hill does not play, Darious Williams would start in his place.

The Dallas Cowboys’ rout of the Rams could mean they’re peaking at the right time, and L.A.'s playoff hopes are all but sunk after a 44-21 loss.

Kicker Greg Zuerlein also is nursing a quad strain that could prevent him from playing Saturday. McVay said the Rams were in the process of reviewing potential free-agent kickers in case Zuerlein does not play.

Quarterback Jared Goff suffered a right thumb bruise against the Cowboys when his throwing hand hit offensive lineman Andrew Whitworth’s helmet after delivering a pass that was intercepted. McVay said Goff checked out fine Monday.

“He was able to kind of get through it,” McVay said, “and fortunately … he woke up and was feeling better.”

McVay needs Goff and all of his other players to perform better against the 49ers than they did against a Cowboys team that entered the game with a 6-7 record. Josh Reynolds said one thing was apparent as he and other Rams receivers watched a replay of the game on the plane ride home Sunday night.

“It wasn’t too much of the Cowboys,” he said, “other than they came out to play — and we didn’t.”

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Said Brockers: “Everybody kind of had their hand in the pit.”

For McVay, reviewing his team’s performance on a screen was as bad as living through it.

“Yeah, it wasn’t very good,” he said. “The expectation and the confidence that I do have in our players and in our team to be able to execute and just do the fundamental things that you have to be able to do to win in this league, we really just didn’t do.

“That’s not the norm for us.”

Now, after playing in the Super Bowl last season, the Rams are on the verge of possible playoff elimination unless they win out and get some help.

“There’s been a lot of different things that have occurred this season,” McVay said. “We’ve had some good moments, we’ve clearly had some moments that were not the most fun to endure. “

Etc.

Rams edge rusher Dante Fowler, acquired in a trade with the Jacksonville Jaguars in October 2018, reportedly won back more than $700,000 after an arbitrator recently ruled in favor of the NFL Players Assn., which had filed a grievance on behalf of Fowler and other Jaguars players, challenging the team’s right to fine them for missing appointments with a team trainer or physician. The arbitrator affirmed that the NFL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement does not allow teams to require rehabilitation or medical appointments be held at team facilities during the offseason. “The decision puts a stop to the blatant overreach by the Jaguars and emphasizes the voluntary nature of almost all football activities during the offseason,” the NFLPA said in a statement. Tweeted Fowler: “They literally hated me. I got it all back though! Thanks to the NFLPA.”… The Rams will have a walk-through Tuesday. They resume practice Wednesday.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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