The Los Angeles Rams may have been coming off a loss in Week 2 to the San Francisco 49ers, but they had a lot to feel encouraged about as they played them evenly up until the fourth quarter.
Going into Monday Night Football in Week 3, the Rams had some optimism they could sneak a win against the Cincinnati Bengals, who entered the night 0-2. However, the offense cooled off and they would fall to Cincinnati 19-16 and drop to 1-2 on the season.
There weren’t a lot of positive takeaways from the Super Bowl LVI rematch as Los Angeles suffered from untimely penalties and poor pass protection. The Rams also saw a couple of their starting offensive linemen get hurt which led to Matthew Stafford having to throw under duress on nearly every passing down.
Things got off to a positive start for L.A. as they had a near-touchdown count after Tutu Atwell took a handoff 22 yards before barely stepping out of bounds. The Rams had been one of the best red zone offenses in the league, but were unfortunately bottled up and had to settle for a field goal.
Joe Burrow didn’t look 100 percent healthy as he was questionable all week with a calf injury and he visibly struggled to move around the pocket. The Rams defense did well to contain Burrow and the passing game, but Stafford and the offense continued to struggle to move the football through the air.
The Rams’ QB1 also was picked off twice, with the first one coming off a tip ball and the second an ill-advised throw on the move when facing pressure. Ahkello Witherspoon was able to get an incredible pick on Burrow, but it amounted to nothing as L.A. was forced to punt.
Los Angeles’ offense took a nosedive when Alaric Jackson was ruled out with a thigh injury and backup left tackle Zach Thomas couldn’t hold up against Trey Hendrickson, who continually got the best of him. Stafford wound up taking six sacks, more than double what he had endured in their two previous games.
In the last two minutes, Stafford managed to hit Puka Nacua for a 37-yard strike that set up an Atwell touchdown, but the on-side kick failed and the Bengals would kneel it out.
Tyler Higbee was perhaps the lone bright spot as he recorded five receptions for 71 yards, and Nacua added five receptions for 72 yards. Meanwhile, Kyren Williams only had 10 rush attempts that went for 38 yards.
Defensively, Aaron Donald did manage to record a sack and two tackles for loss but the pass rush continued to leave much to be desired, especially with the Bengals prioritizing getting the ball out quickly in order to protect Burrow.
Up next for the Rams
The Rams will again be on the road in Week 3 when they play the Indianapolis Colts, who are coming off an emotional win against the Baltimore Ravens. Although young, Indianapolis is a competitive bunch and Los Angeles will need to come prepared to snap their losing streak.
Rookie quarterback Anthony Richardson missed Week 3 with a concussion but could very well be back in the lineup, so the Rams will need to prepare to stop the duel-threat signal-caller.