The St. Louis Rams faced the Kansas City Chiefs at home for their final preseason game in what is known as the Governor’s Cup game. The winner gets to keep a trophy along with bragging rites until the next time the two teams meet. This game was a wild ride for fans from the first series and stayed that way all game long. Even though the Rams finish preseason by losing this one 24-17 with a record of 0-4, they played a hard fought battle and stayed in the game until the end.
Crazy from the start
The Rams would start the game on offense and have about as bad of start as a team could imagine. Right from the start ROG Demetrius Rhaney was called for a false start. This was followed by a deflected pass by TE Jared Cook which would end up falling into the open hands of a KC defender, returned to around the 5 yard line, fumbled and recovered by KC. The Chief’s wasted no time getting into the endzone and with all of 39 seconds taken off the clock, the Rams were already trailing 7-0.
Barring the bad first series, the Rams came back on their next series of possessions and showed that they were not going to roll over and die. They were there to play. This series started off a little “interesting” as WR Tavon Austin came out of the huddle fired up–and fooled absolutely no one that he was about to get the ball. One “attempted” block later by WR Kenny Britt and Tavon’s screen pass was good for about a 5 yard loss. He didn’t have to wait long to redeem himself though. The very next play was a screen to the opposite side. In what looked like yet another failed screen by Tavon; which had 3-4 defenders immediately in front of him, found him reversing field and tearing off a 43 yard run.
In what has been one of the preseason’s more interesting turn of events, Isaiah Pead has been out performing the starters and continued to have yet another great game. Where Austin left off, Pead took up the reigns for this second series push. He had a couple really nice rushes and finished the drive with a game tying touchdown. The Rams were back in the hunt.
The Chief’s would get the ball, but it was the Ram’s defense that would force a quick out. During this series, OLB Alec Ogletree would have a stop in the backfield where he appeared to have been shot out of a cannon. He was in the backfield so fast, the announcers were giving credit to other defenders, not even realizing the fact that he was even in on the play, much less the one who would get credit with the stop.
Case Keenum would come in at QB and Nick Foles’ day would be done. Keenum would go 3 and out ending with a Johnny Hekker punt. The Chief’s chance to take back the lead would be cut short by an absolutely beautiful 28 yard pick 6 by FS Cody Davis. Davis (who must have been channeling his inner Janoris Jenkins), read the play, jumped the route and made a spectacular leaping catch on a dead run. He ran untouched into the endzone giving the Rams a 14-7 lead to end the 1st quarter.
The second quarter
Second quarter would see the Chiefs tie the game at 14-14 with a nice pass to Conley who made a nice play despite tight coverage by CB Lamarcus Joyner. Case Keenum retired for the day and Austin Davis would come in and take over for the Rams at QB. It became pretty clear that the Rams don’t trust Austin Davis to pass the ball. In a series of nothing but running plays, they finally stalled mid field and the Chief’s took over after a failed 4th down conversion.
The highlights of the series were that the OL seemed to be holding up much better than they had so far this preseason, and Pead continued to look impressive and move the ball. Even Chase Reynolds got in on the action and had a nice run.
During the course of the game, the Rams’ defense really started to step up their game. They were getting hits on the Chief’s QBs all afternoon, but despite that, the Chiefs still managed to move the ball down the field. They would end up scoring another field goal after the next series putting the Chiefs up 17-14.
The battle would continue. Sean Mannion would come in to replace Davis and kicker Greg Zuerlein would eventually add a 57 yard field goal to his tally of long distant boots. It was about this time I noticed something was “different”. It finally hit me. They were almost to the half and the Rams only had around 4 penalties for 35 yards AND they were still in the game! It almost makes one wonder if that might be related. The score was tied once again, 17-17.
The second half
As the second half rolled in, the Chiefs finally bring in their second QB of the game, while the Rams were already down to the fourth QB on the field and giving their new rookie some extended playing time. Both would struggle to different degrees as the defenses really ramped up efforts, and hits, the second half. This was turning into one of the more physical games I have seen in quite a while.
The Chiefs were the only ones who would have a score the second half. The Rams would have no less than 3 missed tackles on that score. One of the few times in the game, but it would allow the Chiefs to get what would eventually be the winning touchdown and making the score 24-17.
Mannion would have his opportunities, but unlike his first 2 games, this one and the one last week, he struggled. The first part of the second quarter was mainly due to trying to force balls into too tight of areas and his receivers were getting lit up. Late in the game, it would end polar opposite. During the final minutes of the game and the Rams’ last drive, Mannion was throwing perfect passes. He had 3 passes in a row and every one hit his receivers in the hands and 3 passes in a row they were dropped. The Chiefs would end the game downing the ball. Fisher decided not to stop the clock by using his remaining timeouts.
Although the Rams didn’t win this game, a lot of positives happened. The biggest would have to be in the penalty department, as in the lack of them compared to previous weeks. The did have a rash of them late in the game, but overall, did a much better job overall.
The second impression I left the game with was, “WOW! The secondary and LBs really had a pretty solid game and these guys can get seriously physical!” What was even more interesting was when I look back and see who were the ones that were laying those hits. Maurice “Mo” Alexander, Cody Davis, and Christian Bryant all had some particularly brutal hits at one point or another. I’d go further and say this may have been Cody Davis’ best game he’s ever played as a Ram. It was definitely the one where he had the biggest impact on a game.
This doesn’t mean the defense’s front line wasn’t causing havoc. As a matter of fact, two of them are going to make for some seriously difficult decisions for the Rams FO when it comes to cut time. Louis Trinca-Pasat and Matt Longacre are especially going to be difficult decisions as both have proven they are worth keeping around, but most agree that only 1 of them are projected to make the team or practice squad. Trinca-Pasat leads the team in tackles for the preseason and had the team commenting that they are doing analytics to see what is allowing him to obtain all those tackles. Longacre leads the team in QB pressures and this game was no different. Both of these guys should be turning a lot of heads. The only question for me is, “Will they be the Rams, or another team”? Tough decisions coming.
The offensive line has really struggled this preseason trying to overcome injury to one starter, changes of assigned positions, and the amount of rookies as starters all being a large part of that. They weren’t perfect, but appeared to be much further along in development this week. Especially in QB pressure and sacks.
One last thing to add to the overall impressions would be about the offense’s receiving corp. It appears that Chris Givens and Tavon Austin are poised to be a large part of this year’s plays. It’s been a mixed bag of results, but when they worked, they worked well and allowed for large chunks of gains on the field. What isn’t so great is the continued decline of TE Jared Cook and the unspectacular game Kenny Britt had. Cook has struggled all preseason it dropped passes. Especially those which would be for first downs or TDs. I wish someone would tell him, “Butterfingers are for Cooks to have in the kitchen, not the field”. He’s also reverted back to not being able to block it seems. Kenny Britt had his struggles with both those issues too. He looked like Davin Joseph on Tavon Austin’s first screen play. The only thing he could have done worse would have been to push the guy into Tavon.
What I liked about the game
I already mentioned a few of these in the observations area, but here’s a comprehensive list.
- The defense, especially the second half–BRUTAL
- The OL seems to be finding their stride
- Cody Davis played like a man possessed
- The secondary really limited mistakes and the coverage was much better this week
- Isaiah Pead’s runs and TD. A former #2 draft pick who’s been considered a bust in most circles and who has struggled his entire career with fumbles has managed to really stand out this preseason
- Malcolm Brown continues to impress
- Gregg Williams defense appears to finally be clicking and before regular season!
- Frank Cignetti’s offense isn’t fancy, but so far has shown it has possibilities and appears to be headed in the right direction
- There seemed to be a different vibe this week. Almost like the team was more focused
- Seeing Brian Quick on the field for the first time after injury
- The blocked passes during the game
- Overall better discipline with less penalties
- Greg Zuerlein’s 57 yard FG
What I didn’t like
- Jared Cook continues to suffer from dropped balls and poor blocking
- Kenny Britt looking like Jared Cook this game
- Eugene Sims’ taking out KCs QB earning a personal foul after a nice batted pass
- The missed tackles which allowed the game winning TD.
- Dropped passes
- Late game penalties
- Sean Mannion regressed the past 2 weeks
- Rams finish preseason 0-4
The Rams played tough this week and showed significant improvements. They talked a lot about already looking ahead to the Seattle game on Sept 13th. I am hoping they truly are hiding the brunt of the offense and can catch the Seahawks off guard in the season home game opener. I’m a lot more hopeful after this game than I was following the previous three.
The offense is showing some spark and I am hoping that catches fire early and rages throughout the season. I think this year it is critical that the vets step up and contribute early and often. The defense should be able to keep the Rams in every game they play, but the offense still needs to find consistency in the line and in production.
Well, that wraps up my take and I’d love to hear yours. Make sure you leave your comments below. Please share your thoughts with us and the rest of the community.