Rams can’t find rhythm against Bills

INGLEWOOD, Calif. (News4usonline) – The season opener for the Los Angeles Rams was not a good look for the Super Bowl LVI champs. The Rams, playing the visiting Buffalo Bills, looked and played like they were two steps slower than their counterparts in the Thursday Night Football game played at SoFi Stadium.

 The end result reflected this reality.

Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp (10) gets sandwiched between two Buffalo Bills defenders in a Thursday Night Football matchup between the two teams on Sept. 8, 2022. Kupp finished the game with 13 catches for 128 yards and one touchdown in the Rams’ 31-10 defeat at SoFi Stadium. Photo by Mark Hammond/News4usonline

“Well, tonight was a humbling night,” Rams head coach Sean McVay said after his team absorbed a 31-10 defeat. “I think anytime that you start to accumulate a little bit more experience, there’s always going to be first for everything. Whether it’s losing when you’re leading at halftime, whatever it is. But, my favorite part about sports is the opportunity to respond. This is just chapter one of a guaranteed 17 chapters that we have. I’m looking forward to coming out, swinging with these guys to the best of our ability.” 

The Rams were outplayed from start to finish by the Bills. It was more like the Rams were dominated in all three phases. Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford hit the turf seven times from sacks delivered by Buffalo’s defense.

Adding to Stafford’s quarterbacking woes was the veteran signal-caller throwing three interceptions on the night. Though he finished the game with a respectable stat line of completing 29 of 41 passes for 240 yards and a touchdown, Stafford said he can improve his play.

“I can play more efficient, try to get the ball out quicker, get it to those guys in better spots so we’re catching and running with it,” Stafford remarked. “They were doing a nice job of playing deep to short and the better ball I can get to those guys, the quicker they can turn and run with it. I can just try to play within myself as much as I possibly can, don’t try to force anything in any situation, and then just keep leading and keep fighting.”  

Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) goes back to pass against the Buffalo Bills in a Thursday Night Football game played at SoFi Stadium on Sept. 8, 2022. Photo by Mark Hammond/News4usonline

After playing well in the first half to hold Buffalo’s offense to just 10 points, the Rams’ defense allowed Josh Allen and the Bills to add three more scores in the second half. As a result, the Rams were humbled in their season and home opener.

It was a tough night to navigate for the Super Bowl champions. In all four quarters, the offense of the Rams struggled. Stafford was not able to find any type of rhythm. The run game was nearly nonexistent. Defensively, the Rams flipped the Bills into coughing up three turnovers in the first half.

Those takeaways disappeared over the last two quarters, and the Rams’ defense wound up surrendering 21 second-half points.

“I think we had some outstanding individual efforts to be able to create those turnovers,” McVay said. “They did a good job of being able to make some plays. They were incredibly efficient on third downs and hats off to them. But I love the way that our guys continue to battle, continue to compete. I think that shows the character of this group and we’re going to respond.” 

For safety Nick Scott, creating those turnovers is something the Rams must continue to thrive at doing.

“I just think we’ve got to do a better job continuing to get those opps [opportunities],” Scott said after the game. “You’ve got to force turnovers; you don’t just get them. We were rolling. On the other side of that, those guys were doing a good job not putting us in…Josh Allen wasn’t putting them in bad position in terms of the ball. We still just got to go and do our thing, try to take them away as best we can, and get those opps [opportunities].”   

Los Angeles Rams defenders surround Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen (17) in a Thursday Night Football game played at SoFi Stadium on Sept. 8, 2022. Photo by Mark Hammond/News4usonline

Speaking of Allen, the Bills quarterback completed 26 of 31 passes for 297 yards and three touchdowns against the Rams. For good measure, Allen, who is nifty at running the football, gained another 56 yards on the ground on 10 carries.

“I like winning,” Allen said about having to run the football as many times as he did. “Whatever I’m asked to do, I’m willing to do. And again, limiting the hits, obviously sliding getting out of bounds. The utmost importance there, the best ability is availability. But again, when I’m called upon to do something for my team, I’m willing to do it.”  

Despite turning the ball over three times in the first half, the Bills kept moving the chains and getting big plays when they counted. Without a Van Jefferson in the lineup to stretch the field, Stafford had a hard time going deep to his other receivers.

After being tied 10-10 at the half and being down just seven points at the end of the third quarter, winning the game was still very much in play for the Rams. The Bills took away any type of suspense on how the game would end when they scored 14 unanswered points in the final period.  

“I think that this was humbling,” linebacker Bobby Wagner said. “I think, obviously, everybody’s frustrated. This is not you want to come out and start the season, but it’s 16 more games.”