Playing in front of fans a big deal for Rams and Chargers

INGLEWOOD (News4usonline) – Good news for football aficionados. The fans are back. The final score of the preseason game between the Los Angeles Rams and Los Angeles Chargers doesn’t really matter when you consider the grand scheme of life.

The fact that there was a pro football game played in front of fans is a much bigger deal than what players took the game off and who played.

Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert didn’t take the field. Neither did wide receiver Keenan Allen, edge rusher Joey Bosa, center Corey Linsley, safety Derwin James and other notable Chargers.

For the Rams, quarterback Matthew Stafford, cornerback Jalen Ramsey and defensive lineman Aaron Donald also had the night.

Aug. 14, 2021. Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Tutu Atwell (15) heads downfield for yards after the catch in a preseason game against the Los Angeles Chargers. Chargers defender Uchenna Nwosu (42) is in pursuit. Photo credit: Mark Hammond/News4usonline

The Chargers got a pair of field goals and a late touchdown run by running back Darius Bradwell to beat the Rams, 13-6. Chargers quarterbacks Chase Daniel (15 of 24 passing, 104 yards) and Easton Stick (7 of 7 passing, 63 yards) had a productive evening as did Rams’ signal-callers Bryce Perkins (7 of 10, 42 yards, TD) and Devlin Hodges (11 of 19, 85 yards).   

Nice numbers but you can throw away the stat sheet once the regular season starts. The game won’t count in the regular season standings for either team.

When you consider that the NFL is now playing a 17-game regular season schedule instead of 16, coaches are more apt to rest their starters and key players in the preseason, especially if it is the first contest of an extended year.

That’s besides the point.   

Rams-Chargers. Chargers-Rams. That is something that has a nice ring to it. For the first time since SoFi Stadium was erected, fans were able to watch an NFL game played live. The Rams and Chargers did the honors by playing their first preseason game in front of their fans.

Aug. 14, 2021. Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Jason Moore (11) finds himself in a tight vice between Jack Gervase (39) and another Los Angeles Rams defender. The Chargers defeated the Rams, 13-6, in an NFL preseason game played at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California. Photo credit: Mark Hammond/News4usonline

“It was outstanding, really,” Rams head coach Sean McVay said. “You just realized how much the fans create that energy, that atmosphere that makes this game so special. And being here last year in the absence of fans, you really appreciate it even that much more. It gives you that perspective. It was really exciting tonight. Looking forward to seeing another good atmosphere next week against Las Vegas. And then I can’t lie but you’re getting really excited about what September 12 is going to look like.”

Indeed, it was a good day for football. The buzz in the building was evident by the number of fans that showed up on the second Saturday in August to digest football being played by backups and players trying to make the 53-player roster.

Just having fans in the building is a big win for the NFL and for the rest of Los Angeles County and the state of California.

 Last year, there was nothing for the average football fan except watching games being played on television. For 17 months, as the nation and the rest of the world have grappled with the Covid-19 pandemic, watching a football game live was nothing more than a moot point.

It was a luxury to even have football being played in the middle of the pandemic. Thanks to medical science and technology with assistance from the public, football has come back with a big bang. It’s a beautiful sight to see the liveliness of the entertainment spectrum of football working together.

Of course, you had the players. You had the cheerleaders. The component of fans is what makes a contest a contest with all of the cheering, booing and celebratory atmosphere they carry with them. Looking at the Rams-Chargers game was looking at the best in America.

Perkins, who also rushed for 23 yards on four carries for the Rams, talked a little about what it was like being out on the field in front of fans. 

“I mean, it’s electric,” Perkins said. “You can hear it. It’s crazy because last year we didn’t have fans. And the one game I was on the field active, you could feel kind of a different energy change being on the field with no fans and being on the field with fans. It just makes playing that much better. We feed off the energy of the fans and it’s a beautiful stadium. It’s even more beautiful when it’s packed out.”

It’s pretty unbelievable to think where we’ve come from as a country.

Aug. 14, 2014. Los Angeles Chargers running back Justin Jackson (22) gets tripped up by a Los Angeles Rams defender during preseason action. Photo credit: Mark Hammond/News4usonline

The strides that the league, the medical field and those working furiously to bring a sense of normalcy back to our country illustrate the vigor and persistence that Americans carry with them to get it right.

It is really difficult to put into the right words of the opportunity of seeing this all unfold into reality. Chargers head coach Brandon Staley knows what’s it like to get an opportunity. Staley worked under McVay as the Rams defensive coordinator in 2020.

Staley was the driving force behind the league’s No. 1 defense. That one season as defensive coordinator for the Rams served as an audition tape for Staley to become a first-time head coach. Going up the Rams in his coaching debut turned out to be something out a fairytale book.

So, obviously the two men exchanged pleasantries after the game. When asked about their conversation, Staley said it was short.

“It’s so brief. There’s so much to say but so little time,” Staley said. “But congratulations, and it was really great to see him and all the guys tonight. And I’ve got a lot of respect for that team. And it was good for our first test to be against a team like that.”

Featured Image Caption: Aug. 14, 2021. The Los Angeles Rams and the Los Angeles Chargers engage in a NFL preseason game at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, California. Photo credit: Mark Hammond/News4usonline

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