The Los Angeles Rams and head coach Sean McVay had a serious opportunity on Monday night against the Cincinnati Bengals. With a win, they could have established themselves as a serious team on a national scale while also putting the Bengals into an 0-3 hole that would have been very difficult to climb out of.
The Rams defense was holding firm for two and a half quarters, leaving Cincinnati with just two field goals. But the Rams offense struggled to gain any momentum, only securing three field goals for a 9-6 lead midway through the third. Then a 14-yard run from Joe Mixon broke open the Bengals scoring. They would ultimately end up with a 19-9 lead.
The Rams scored a touchdown in the final minutes to bring the final score to 19-16, but the result was firmly on the Bengals side for much of the fourth quarter. McVay gave his honest thoughts on the Rams performance after falling to 1-2 on the season with their second consecutive loss, according to Jacob Benge of Associated Press:
“There (were) just a lot of self-inflicted wounds,” McVay said.
McVay was particularly upset because he felt the Rams had a chance to win the game even with some of the self-inflicted wounds.
“It did feel like we were in striking distance,” McVay said. “I thought the defense kept us in the game the whole night, and I thought it was really unfortunate, especially early on where we had to settle for field goals where we had some of the looks and some of the opportunities to be able to execute and we just weren’t able to get it done.”
But as McVay has said at multiple points already this season, he is chalking things up to a learning opportunity for a younger team.
“There was frustration,” McVay said. “There was a lot of things that just weren’t good enough tonight and a lot of things that we can learn from. This is a long season and fortunately for us, we get a chance to be able to learn on a short week and be able to get an opportunity to go compete against Indianapolis this week.”
The Rams are already seeing some difficulties as they reset expectations from their usual championship mindset. McVay has done an excellent job keeping the Rams competitive, but losses in close games are going to come more frequently than they have in past years.
Puka Nacua joins Stafford and Kupp
Rams rookie wide receiver Puka Nacua, after two record-breaking performances to begin his career, joined the famous ‘Breakfast Club’ started by Matthew Stafford and Cooper Kupp during the quarterback’s first season in L.A.
Hopefully, Nacua can learn some valuable lessons that turns his elite start into consistent production long-term.