Week 1 of the 2020 NFL season is officially in the books and the Los Angeles Rams got off to a good start as they beat the Dallas Cowboys, 20-17, to move to 1-0.
The Rams were considered to be underdogs in this game due to all the turnover from the offseason and a Cowboys team that possessed explosive offensive options. However, the defense under first-year defensive coordinator Brandon Staley was impressive in their debut, managing to hold Dallas to only three points in the second half.
Aside from the win, the game was also meaningful because it was the debut of SoFi Stadium, the new home for the Rams and Los Angeles Chargers. However, Rams fans were unable to enjoy the stadium for Week 1 due to the ongoing coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, creating an odd playing atmosphere that the players had to adjust to.
According to Lindsey Thiry of ESPN, the fanless stadium made the game against the Cowboys feel like an extension of the offseason rather than an actual game to Rams star Aaron Donald:
Aaron Donald, who recorded his first sack of the season Sunday, said the season opener felt “like a more intense scrimmage” because there were no fans. “You make a play and it’s a high five, you don’t have the crowd to celebrate to…. Football is football at the end of the day, it just felt more like a little league game back when I was 6,7 years old playing. The only thing that wasn’t there was my mom and dad screaming, “AARON.”
Donald was his normal game-wrecking self, constantly getting pressure on Dak Prescott and basically living in the Dallas backfield for most of the night. Donald’s dominating performances often get the Rams faithful going, but the defensive lineman had to rely on his teammates to create the hype and cheering he is used to hearing.
The NFL left it up to the teams to determine seating capacity for their home games and the Rams and Chargers made the smart decision to hold games without fans until further notice. The ongoing health crisis is a serious matter and the teams are doing their part to ensure that risk of infection is brought to a minimum.
The number of cases in Los Angeles is currently too high for comfort, meaning that it is anyone’s guess when fans will be able to partake in events at SoFi. While that is unfortunate, people will still get the chance to watch Donald terrorize opposing offensive lines albeit from the safety of their homes.