Rams offense lacked pizzazz, but late TD and defensive stand save win over Giants
No razzle-dazzle. Little misdirection. Not much imagination.
For three quarters, the Rams offense looked nothing like the unit that entered Sunday against the winless New York Giants averaging nearly 30 points a game.
And then, when the Rams got the ball with less than 10 minutes left, coach Sean McVay finally appeared to recapture his play-calling rhythm.
Receiver Cooper Kupp turned a mid-range pass from Jared Goff into a long touchdown, and a late interception by cornerback Darious Williams helped the Rams hold off the Giants for a 17-9 victory at SoFi Stadium.
The Rams improved to 3-1 with a tougher-than-expected victory over one of the NFL’s remaining winless teams. After the game, as both teams left the field, Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey and Giants receiver Golden Tate scuffled and fell to the turf before teammates pulled them apart.
Though the game lacked pizazz, the Rams finished the first quarter of the season with one of the best records.
“Three and one is great,” said Goff, who passed for 200 yards and touchdown. “It’s better than 2-2, 1-3 or 0-4, but you would love to be 4-0.”
The Seattle Seahawks and the Buffalo Bills are 4-0. The Kansas City Chiefs and Green Bay Packers are 3-0 going into Monday night games.
After the Rams defeated the Dallas Cowboys and the Philadelphia Eagles, a loss to the Bills ruined their perfect start. But they bounced back with a victory that keeps them among early contenders for a playoff spot.
The Rams play three of their next four games on the road, starting next Sunday at Washington. They open NFC West play the following week against the San Francisco 49ers at Levi’s Stadium, and then play host to the Chicago Bears before traveling again to play the Miami Dolphins.
McVay and his players sounded confident after the victory over the Giants.
“This is nowhere near our best on both sides of the ball,” said Williams, who also had a key interception against the Eagles, “and I just see a ton of growth happening in this next 12 games.”
Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey and Giants receiver Golden Tate competed aggressively on the field and scuffled after the game, having to be pulled apart.
The Rams went into Sunday ranked third in rushing and seventh in scoring, but the Giants outgained them, 295-240. The Rams, who were averaging 170 yards rushing a game, managed only 58 against a Giants defense that gave up 36 points in a loss to the 49ers the previous week.
“By no means are we going to undersell the fact that we can walk off the field with a W,” Kupp said. “But at the same time we have a bad taste in our mouth, just as an offense, how we executed today.”
Tight end Gerald Everett scored a two-yard touchdown on a jet sweep to cap the Rams’ opening drive. McVay thereafter appeared to shy from the creative play-calling that has been a hallmark for most of his three-plus seasons with the Rams.
“We were probably a little bit more conservative than I would have liked to have been offensively, but we couldn’t get anything going in the run game,” McVay said. “We just really never were able to get into a rhythm outside of that first drive.”
The Rams led 10-6 at halftime, and the Giants pulled within a point with a field goal early in the fourth quarter.
The Rams got the ball with 9 minutes 46 seconds left, and McVay and Goff rediscovered their rhythm. Goff had completed five of six passes during the drive before he faced third and three at the Rams’ 45-yard line.
Goff connected with Kupp over the middle for about 20 yards, and Kupp dashed to the end zone for a 55-yard score.
Darious Williams’ spectacular, final-minute interception annihilated the Giants’ hopes of victory in the Rams’ 17-9 win on Sunday.
“We knew we needed a drive to win,” Goff said. “We were disappointed about how the rest of the game went but we needed it there and we got it done.”
The Rams stopped the Giants on downs on the ensuing possession but were unable to run out the clock, putting the defense back on the field with more than two minutes left.
Quarterback Daniel Jones led the Giants inside the Rams’ 20 with a pass to tight end Evan Engram and two dynamic scrambles. But Williams dived in front of receiver Damion Ratley and intercepted a pass to secure the victory.
The Rams made mistakes “here and there,” defensive tackle Aaron Donald said. But being 3-1 is a good start as the Rams prepare for the rest of the season.
“I’d rather build off and fix the things off a win,” he said, “than off a loss.”
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