Matthew Stafford was unable to escape.
At the start of Sunday night’s game against the Tennessee Titans, the Rams’ quarterback was fired twice in consecutive games. He also had intercepted passes in two straight games, one of which was returned for a touchdown.
It didn’t sound like the talk of the NFL’s most valuable players at all, and it was like Jared Goff during those stretches when former Rams quarterback made coach Sean McVeigh’s blood boil and melted hair gel.
Stafford is considered one of the best defenders in the NFL. But this time, the pit was larger than the one dug for the $ 5 billion SoFi stadium.
The Rams’ four-game winning streak ended in a 28-16 defeat to 71,785 spectators.
“I felt like I was comfortable in the second half,” Stafford said. “But at that moment I did too much damage, though at the beginning of that game, to get us out of it.”
The high-profile Rams attack that looked so good at the start of the season against the Chicago Bears and a big win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at SoFi Stadium?
He made a senseless landing with less than 30 seconds left.
“I don’t think it reflects the type of football team that we are,” McVeigh said. “We had a tough night. And it really seemed like it was the story of the night. “
As it was over, the Rams’ prospects for the LVI Super Bowl at Sophie Stadium were suddenly hazy, like the fog that had creeped into the stadium before the match.
The Rams dropped to 7-2 ahead of an NFC West game the following Monday night against the San Francisco 49ers at Levi Stadium. This is the Rams’ last game before the open date, and it probably won’t take place soon enough.
The Titans were supposed to be thwarted by the absence of star running backing Derrick Henry, who had overtaken rivals for more than two seasons.
But they didn’t need him.
Not on the night that Titans line-backs Jeffrey Simmons and Denico Autry were running in circles around – and right through – the Rams’ offensive lines.
Stafford was fired five times. The Rams were fined 12 times for 115 yards.
“In this game, they needed us to be wrong,” said striker Andrew Whitworth. “This is exactly what happened.”
Due to the stiffness in the back, Stafford did not train on Wednesday and Thursday and was limited to Friday.
Stafford said he would be fine, and McVeigh reiterated that he didn’t care because the 13-year-old had a history of handling and playing through injury.
But Stafford did not look the same as against the Titans, who won their fifth straight game and improved to 7-2.
“Was Matthew playing some uncharacteristic plays? Yeah, ”McVeigh said. “But I’m not going to say that this is the result of what happened.”
And Stafford too.
“It didn’t feel like it was a problem,” he said.
The Rams lost 21-3 at half-time after two interceptions from Stafford. Titans defender Ryan Tannehill converted the first pass to a touchdown, while defender Kevin Byard returned the second for a touchdown.
“I basically noticed them 14 points,” Stafford said. “Can’t do this in the NFL.”
But Stafford appears to have started acting in the third quarter.
On his first Rams possession, he rode his team’s 84 yards, pairing up with Robert Woods, Van Jefferson and tight end Tyler Higby for a sizable win before finding Higby for an obvious short touchdown pass.
But after checking, officials determined that Higby had gone out of bounds before catching a pass. The Rams were content with a shot for a field goal, which reduced the deficit to 15 points.
Stafford was sacked again at the end of the third quarter, but Matt Gay’s 54-yard goal in the first game of the fourth quarter cut the deficit to 21-9.
With seven minutes left, Stafford feigned a pass and rolled to the left. He stumbled and was then knocked down by midfielder Bud Dupree as his pass was incomplete. Stafford limped to the Rams sideline, McVeigh shook his head desperately.
The Titans, assisted by two rough passes, then kicked off the drive that culminated in a touchdown by Adrian Peterson one yard away to seal the win.
Stafford made a pass from a three-yard touchdown to running Sonia Michel with 24 seconds left when the Rams avoided the embarrassment of failing to score a touchdown.
Stafford said he will “take a close look at myself” and improve before Monday Night Football against the 49ers. Just as the Rams recovered from a defeat to the Arizona Cardinals, Stafford expects them to do the same after that defeat.
“I’ve been doing this for a long time,” he said. “I played a lot of good games. I used to have a lot of bad games.
“I know what it takes to come out and play well next week. I think our team knows; we did it earlier this year, we plan to do it again. “