Rams collapse at home again in 22-21 loss to rival 49ers
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Of all the indignities in the Los Angeles Rams’ latest comprehensive collapse Saturday, the identity of their opponent was the worst part.
The Rams (4-11) have now lost twice during their homecoming season to their biggest rivals, the San Francisco 49ers.
And the Niners haven’t beaten anybody else all season long.
Los Angeles lost its sixth straight game in humiliating fashion at the Coliseum, blowing a 14-point lead in the fourth quarter of a 22-21 defeat . Colin Kaepernick rallied the Niners (2-13) for two late touchdowns, capped by a 2-point conversion run with 31 seconds left to set off wild celebrations among the healthy contingent of Bay Area fans gathered in the Southland.
“It’s horrible,” Pro Bowl defensive tackle Aaron Donald said. “Don’t know what else to say. We’re just losing. Just got to keep trying to find ways to finish games. Definitely frustrating, man. Kind of tired of going home mad every week.”
After a 3-1 start in September, the Rams have lost all hope of an encouraging return to California with 10 losses in their last 11 games. But now they’ve also ceded state supremacy in the NFC to a team that could still end up with the NFL’s worst record and the No. 1 draft pick.
Oh, and the Rams don’t even get to keep their pick after this debacle. That’s going to Tennessee as part of last season’s trade to draft quarterback Jared Goff, who dropped to 0-6 as an NFL starter after a 90-yard, two-interception passing performance against the 49ers, his favorite boyhood team.
“I’m really trying to hope these (bad) days and these games will be ultimately really good for us in the future, and I think they will be,” said Goff, who went 11 of 24. “I really think they will. I’m optimistic about them, and have confidence in myself and my team, and understand I need to be better. We all need to be better.”
Interim coach John Fassel left the Coliseum with much the same expression of weary disbelief once worn by Jeff Fisher, who was fired after the Rams’ last home game, a 42-14 thrashing by Atlanta two weeks ago.
While the Rams have undeniable talent on defense and special teams, their inept offense has dragged the rest of this team to the depths of 10 losses in its last 11 games.
Los Angeles managed 177 yards of total offense against the Niners’ mediocre defense. That’s 101 yards fewer than the Rams’ average, which was already the NFL’s worst.
The Rams scored three touchdowns in a home game for the first time all season, yet all three scores were set up on short fields by the Rams’ defense and special teams. Los Angeles managed only 65 yards of offense in the final three quarters. Its overworked defense finally caved in, echoing a fourth-quarter home collapse against the Dolphins last month.
“We didn’t finish,” cornerback Trumaine Johnson said. “It reminded me of the Miami game. Playing good all game, and then the last few possessions, it’s like we give up. The whole team, including myself. I don’t know, I really don’t know. It’s frustrating as a player just not finishing games, man. Up 21-7 with our defense, it should be game over. Just not finishing games.”
Even after scoring a season-high 21 points at home, Los Angeles lost its fifth straight game in the Coliseum since its ballyhooed opening victory over Seattle.
One bad season won’t destroy the wellspring of support that remained in Southern California during the Rams’ 21-year sojourn in St. Louis. But the Rams’ new coaching staff faces even more work than anybody anticipated a few months ago if it hopes to make this team into a Hollywood attraction.
Goff recognizes his central role in the work ahead, and he addressed Rams fans directly in his postgame news conference.
“I promise you guys it will get fixed,” Goff said. “Everything in my heart and soul to get it all fixed. ... I don’t think we have bad players. I don’t think we have bad coaches. We just need to put it all together, and ultimately it’s on us, and it’s on me. It comes back to the quarterback every time. I need to be better. Every day in practice, I need to be better, and every day on Sundays I need to be better.
“I promise everyone out there, all of the Rams fans, I’m going to do everything I can, everything in me, to make that happen, to get this thing fixed.”
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