Five Observations From Rams’ Week 3 Loss To Bills
Jared Goff

The Los Angeles Rams traveled to the East Coast for the second time in as many weeks in Week 3, looking to stay undefeated against a solid Buffalo Bills team.

Unfortunately, the Rams came out flat, falling behind 28-3 in the third quarter, which seemed impossible to overcome. In impressive fashion though, L.A. scored 29 unanswered points to take a 32-28 lead in the fourth quarter.

All they needed was one more stop of Josh Allen and the Bills’ offense, and despite multiple opportunities, they were unable to do so. After a questionable pass interference call on Darius Williams on a fourth-down incompletion in the red zone that would have ended the game and secured a comeback victory for the Rams, Allen was able to find a wide-open tight end, Tyler Kroft, for the game-winning touchdown to secure the 35-32 victory for the Bills.

The roller coaster of a game was filled with both positives and negatives for Sean McVay and the Rams, but ultimately, they fall to 2-1 and go back to the drawing board before hosting an 0-3 New York Giants team next weekend. Before looking ahead though, here are five observations from Sunday’s game against the Bills:

Rams continued to fight

The first half of this game against the Bills reminded me of a Monday night game the Rams played against Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens last season when L.A. got embarrassed by a score of 45-6.

Nothing was going right for the Rams in this one and they found themselves down by 25 points midway through the third quarter against a good team on the other side of the country. Everything about that looked like the Rams would just call it a week, pack it in and fall to 2-1 before beginning the easy part of their schedule.

But…the Rams did not quit.

The defense finally got some stops, including a questionable interception by John Johnson III and a sack/fumble of Allen by Aaron Donald. Additionally, the offense got going as well. The Rams scored touchdowns on their final four drives to take the lead with 4:30 to go in the game.

Erasing that deficit was incredibly impressive, but ultimately, it wasn’t enough. The Rams’ defense had multiple opportunities to put the game on ice but ran out of gas. There was a third-and-22 that Buffalo converted on one play, and another third-and-25 that they converted on two thanks to the pass interference penalty.

The Rams have benefitted from a few pass interference calls in the last few years, so it’s fine, Buffalo can have this one. The way L.A. battled back though, despite coming up short, was really cool to see and bodes well for them moving forward.

Red zone and kicking woes need to get fixed

Alright, let’s look into how the Rams got behind 28-3 in the first place. As far as the offense goes, the Rams were moving the ball all day, even when they weren’t scoring points.

On the Rams’ first drive, they worked it all the way down to the Bills’ 24-yard line. Instead of at least coming away with a field goal though, Jared Goff took back-to-back sacks (which can’t happen) and then rookie kicker Samuel Sloman missed a 53-yarder. It is clear that the kicking game is going to be a problem for the Rams, so it is on the offense to not put Sloman in that type of situation.

Then on their next two drives, the Rams drove it down the field again, resulting in one made field goal and an interception by Goff. Those were the Rams’ only three drives of the first half. They moved the ball all three times, getting close to the red zone, but could not punch the ball into the end zone and only came away with three total points. That is not a recipe for success against a good team, and has become a theme for the Rams.

Now, they did improve in the second half on their four touchdown drives, which was good to see. Whether it comes down to playcalling or just flat out executing though, the Rams need to be better in plus territory to finish out drives.

Secondary needs to be better

Allen is having a breakout season for the Bills, and credit to him for playing another great game. But for a lot of the day, the Rams’ secondary made it way too easy for him.

It felt like the Bills’ receivers were open all day, and the result was Allen completing an impressive 24-of-33 passes for 311 yards and four touchdowns. Part of it falls on the Rams’ pass rush as well because as soon as they started getting pressure on Allen in the second half, he started to make some mistakes.

But this Rams secondary outside of Jalen Ramsey was one of the biggest question marks going into the season. Guys like Williams and Troy Hill played well in the first two weeks, but Allen was targeting them with ease in this one.

Teams have made it clear that the best way to neutralize Ramsey’s impact is just to not throw the ball his way, which means that Williams and Hill are going to be targeted all year long. So they better improve quickly, because the more they struggle, the more teams are going to throw the ball in their direction.

Additionally, one of the biggest surprises for the Rams this year has been the emergence of rookie safety Jordan Fuller. He was great in Weeks 1 and 2, but suffered a shoulder injury against the Bills and was out for most of the game. With Cole Beasley abusing Hill to the tune of six receptions for 100 yards, perhaps the Rams could have used Fuller’s help in the middle of the field.

Rams stayed committed to Henderson and run game

A lot of the Rams’ success offensively comes off the run game and play-action pass. Because of that, it is imperative that they stay committed to the run, even if they are behind in games.

That wasn’t the case in 2019 as with Todd Gurley struggling, McVay went away from him in the second half most of the time.

Despite being down 28-3 to the Bills though, McVay did not abandon the run game. Darrell Henderson had a breakout game in Week 2 and he looked great again in this one, carrying the ball 20 times for a career-high 114 yards and a touchdown.

He was a big reason why the Rams had so much success offensively in the second half, giving L.A. chunk gains on first and second down and opening up the pass game on third down.

McVay has said that they will have a committee at running back this season, but if Henderson can continue to run the ball the way he has the last two weeks, he certainly looks like a bell-cow back that the Rams can ride to success this season.

Aaron Donald continues to be the best

Donald’s greatness is obviously well-documented, but WOW, was he amazing in the second half of this game. Donald finished with six total tackles (five solo), including two sacks, three tackles for loss, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.

He was in Allen’s face the entire second half despite consistently seeing double teams, and the sacks and turnover he forced were a big reason the Rams were able to make their way back. It seems that every week, Donald does something incredible like this:

Donald is already on his way to a third NFL Defensive Player of the Year award in the last four seasons. He is simply one of the best defensive players ever, and thankfully, he plays for the Rams and we get to watch his greatness on a weekly basis.

Bonus observation: Rams’ schedule is about to get easier

The Rams have faced three quality opponents the first three weeks, with two coming on the other side of the country. Luckily though, they are 2-1 and about to enter the easy part of their schedule.

The next two weeks, the Rams play the Giants at home and the Washington Football Team on the road. Should be two easy wins. They then travel to take on a banged-up San Francisco 49ers team before hosting the Chicago Bears and traveling to play the Miami Dolphins. If they play the way their capable of, then it is not out of the question that the Rams go into their bye with a 7-1 or 6-2 record.