Rams step up pressure to handle Panthers

INGLEWOOD (News4usonline) – Going into the team’s bye week, the Los Angeles Rams needed a spark. The Rams needed to get their offense on track. In back-to-back losses to the Dallas Cowboys and the San Francisco 49ers, the Rams’ offense was anything but on track.

For the greater part of the first half against the Carolina Panthers, the Rams’ offense wasn’t clicking as head coach Sean McVay may have wanted and was largely ineffective in moving the football. Quarterback Matthew Stafford threw a pick-six for a touchdown that allowed the Panthers to take a lead into the locker room at halftime.  

Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay is in game mode on the sidelines watching his team play the Carolina Panthers at SoFi Stadium on Oct. 16, 2022. Photo credit: News4usonline

The Rams didn’t have continuity or any kind of flow to their offense through the first and second quarters. Stafford had passed for 70 yards in the half, something he probably can do in his sleep. The run game showed some promise (58 yards) but moving the chains still came at a premium.

The Panthers took advantage of all of this and led 10-7 at intermission. 

The lights must have come on or something during their brief hiatus period because the Rams’ offense had a different vibe in the second half. Los Angeles began moving the chains more fluidly. By the fourth quarter, the Rams had leapfrogged the Panthers on the scoreboard with a 24-10 advantage.

That eventually turned out to be the final margin of the game, and the Rams snapped that losing streak and now go into their bye period with a .500 mark at 3-3. Afterward, McVay talked about what got the offense going in the second half.  

Nick Scott (33) of the Los Angeles Rams closes in on Carolina Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey (22) to make the tackle. Scott and the Rams prevailed with a 24-10 win against McCaffrey and the Panthers at SoFi Stadium on Oct. 16, 2022. Photo credit: News4usonline

 “I think really just kind of like what we’ve talked about, it’s the simple answer. But it really is about just staying on track,” McVay said. “You’re efficient with some early downs. I thought (QB) Matthew (Stafford) did a great job with some of the play action in the movement game on some of those early downs. (I) thought our screen game was pretty effective. I thought the one to (WR) Cooper (Kupp) on the third and long was a big one, where you got 22-yards.” 

“It was good to be able to get (RB) Ronnie Rivers involved, got (RB) Malcolm (Brown) involved in the screen game,” McVay added. “So those are things that are going to be key and critical, really for any good offense to be able to stay ahead of the sticks where you’re not in some of those third and longs. We can’t have delays. We can’t have some of those false starts. Those are the things that good teams don’t do that. We got to continue to clean that up. I’m not pleased with that, but I was pleased with a lot of other stuff.”

Rams offensive lineman Alaric Jackson said it’s a great feeling for the team to get this win.   

“It feels amazing for the most part,” Jackson said. “To come off of two losses, being down a little bit, and now we’re back in our groove. So, it feels good.”

The offensive unit of the Rams has struggled to hit its groove all season. In the two games prior to the Rams playing the Carolina Panthers, the Rams’ offense hit a wall when it comes to scoring points. The Rams came into their NFC matchup against the Panthers determined to end their two-game losing streak.

In those two games against the 49ers (9 points) and the Cowboys (10 points), the Rams put up 19 points combined. With the faltering Panthers coming into town to play this contest at SoFi Stadium, this would be a great opportunity for the Rams to get their offensive swag back.

In the NFL, though, nothing is really for certain. There are no gimme wins in the league. Not against any team. It doesn’t matter that the Panthers have the worst offense in the NFL. 

The Rams still had to go out and win. The game turned out to be a rugged slugfest for the Rams as the Panthers would not give an inch to the Super Bowl champions. Eventually, the Rams overcame their slow start to collect their third win of the season.

“I think we had it coming,” safety Nick Scott said. “We had a couple of weeks where, you know, we didn’t play up to our standards, but we had a great week of preparation, great week of practice. [The] captains stood up and were real vocal this week and got us in the right mindset. So, we were due for a win.”   

Nothing came easy for the Rams against Carolina. Then again, nothing has come easy all season long for Los Angeles. To get an idea of the difficulty the Rams had on offense against Carolina, checking out the stat sheet from the first half serves as a strong indicator of the struggles Los Angeles has had moving the football the past several games. 

Getting physical: Darrell Henderson Jr. (27) of the Los Angeles Rams tries to drive past a wall of Carolina Panthers defenders during an NFC matchup played at SoFi Stadium on Oct. 16, 2022. Photo credit: News4usonline

This was not the prettiest win the Rams managed to achieve, but it still counts in the win column. It was clear that the only real strategy the Panthers had was to run Christian McCaffrey left. Then run him right. When he wasn’t too busy running the football, McCaffrey did just about everything else for Carolina except line up under center.    

That seemed to be the strategy the Panthers had going into their ballgame. With their quarterback situation in tatters now, the Panthers took the opportunity to put an emphasis on running the football.

For the Rams, it really didn’t matter what the Panthers did. The main thing that McVay and his team wanted more than anything was to get a win before they went into their weeklong mini excursion.

“We get to enjoy the bye week, but we know that when we come back it’s time to really kick it in gear, you know, play better than we’ve played,” linebacker Ernest Jones said.