Editor’s note: This is the Friday Sept. 9 edition of the “Game Day with Kevin Modesti” newsletter. To receive the newsletter in your inbox, sign up here.
Good morning. The Rams’ performance on opening night doesn’t look any better the next day.
We could distract ourselves with other sports headlines:
- The challenge for the Chargers’ defense Sunday vs. the Raiders.
- What we’ve learned and still have to find out about USC as it plays at Stanford tomorrow.
- How UCLA came to schedule tomorrow’s home game against HBCU Alabama State.
- Why former All-Star Joey Gallo is embracing his role on the Dodgers’ bench.
- The childhood bond between Angels Luis Rengifo and José Suarez.
- A lawsuit by two young Dominican players claims the Angels reneged on an agreement to sign them.
- And all of last night’s CIF Southern Section high school football scores.
But we’re going to have to face up to last night and figure out what it means, pronto.
Even allowing for the fact the Rams were playing a strong and motivated opponent in the Buffalo Bills, the defending champions weren’t themselves in a 31-10 loss at SoFi Stadium as Matthew Stafford threw three interceptions and got sacked seven times and the defense allowed three touchdown passes.
The Rams’ 21-point loss was the worst ever by a defending champion starting the season at home, as Gilbert Manzano noted. At least Rams fans got to cheer the pre-game unveiling of the 2021 Rams’ Super Bowl banner above the south end zone before the reality of 2022 broke up the party, Todd Harmonson wrote. Columnist Jim Alexander included this among other explanations: “Maybe the Rams’ problem was just that they were playing a team with its own Super Bowl ambitions and the talent to pull it off.”
L.A. Times columnist Bill Plaschke let them have it: “The Rams opened their 2022 season as if they were still sweating out that boozy championship parade.”
As much as NFL coaches and players preach that each new season is separate and different, the Rams surely hoped to enjoy some carryover of the magicof their Super Bowl championship run.
Instead it’s a new year, indeed.
Next Sunday, when the Rams host the Falcons, Sean McVay will go into a game with a losing record (even if it’s only 0-1) for the first time in his six seasons as a head coach. The Rams team that was on top of the NFL before kickoff yesterday is looking up at the league now. Especially, up at the Bills, and if the Bills really are this good, the Rams could be looking up at them all the way to next February’s Super Bowl.
Last night did nothing to put aside the training-camp concerns about the health of Stafford’s throwing arm (and the rest of him, after all those sacks), the running backs’ quality and depth, an offensive line with two new starters, and the damage from losing outside linebacker Von Miller to the Bills.
But an optimist says this slap in the face is just what the Rams needed. It might be a totally new year. Or it’s November 2021 all over again.
November is when the Rams lost three straight games to playoff-bound opponents in a hail of Stafford turnovers and sacks and found themselves two games behind the Arizona Cardinals in the NFC West.
What happened next is why that banner went up last night: The Rams figured it out. They lived up to their proud talk of “resiliency.” They reeled off nine wins in 10 games, the last three with late scoring drives in the playoffs and Super Bowl.
Is it back to the future for this year’s Rams? Did they need last night’s embarrassment to get them going? Do they need this morning’s standings to shake them awake?
They’ll have every opportunity to bounce back, and if they can’t handle the Falcons, then they’ve got problems.
• Angels open a series against the Astros at Houston (5:10 p.m., BSW) with Michael Lorenzen returning to the mound after shoulder trouble.
• Dodgers’ magic number is six as they begin a series in San Diego (6:40 p.m., SNLA). They could clinch a playoff spot Saturday and clinch the division Sunday on the Padres’ grass.
• Friday night high school football games of note include Los Alamitos (No. 9 in Calpreps’ state rankings) at Servite (16), Warren (22) at Serra of Gardena (15), and JSerra(26) at Centennial (3).
• Del Mar (3 p.m.) runs an eight-race card to start the final weekend of its season.
How does the Rams’ one-sided loss to the Bills last night affect your opinion of the reigning Super Bowl champions? Email your response to KModesti@scng.com.
They basically have a garage door separating the interview room from the #Rams locker room and you can hear Sean McVay screaming at his team.
— Joe Reedy (@joereedy) September 9, 2022
– Associated Press sportswriter Joe Reedy (@joereedy) on the scene at SoFi Stadium as reporters waited for the coach to come out for a press conference after the Rams’ loss to the Bills.
Yeah, this is kind of how the whole game felt.
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