The Rams’ record fell to 7-2 with a 28-16 defeat by the Tennessee Titans at SoFi Stadium.
Here’s what we learned from the Rams’ loss:
Matthew Stafford occasionally will have bad games
Look, we can all agree that Stafford has been as good — and at times better — than coach Sean McVay and general manager Les Snead thought when they breathlessly pursued the trade that brought him to Los Angeles.
Stafford might very well lead the Rams to Super Bowl LVI at SoFi Stadium. He could be voted the NFL most valuable player.
But Sunday’s game was another reminder Stafford is not perfect.
He looked out of sorts on numerous passes, including one that was intercepted and set up a Titans touchdown. His next pass, thrown as he was being tackled for a possible safety, was intercepted and returned for a touchdown.
“I’ve just got to make a better decision there,” he said. “I mean, I’ve been doing this long enough to know that I can’t just throw one right down the middle there.”
Stafford said the back stiffness that sidelined him for practice last week was not an issue. He appeared to suffer an ankle injury Sunday but said he would be fine.
The offensive line struggled protecting Stafford
Titans defensive linemen Jeffery Simmons and Denico Autry constantly invaded the Rams backfield to sack Stafford, knock down passes and generally wreak havoc.
Simmons recorded three sacks in the first half. On one, he produced enough force to knock guard David Edwards into Stafford. Autry had 1 ½ sacks and batted away two passes.
The line was not at fault for every sack. The Titans secondary blanketed receivers and Stafford at times held the ball too long.
Don’t let Jalen Ramsey’s stellar play get lost in a loss
Ramsey continues to make a case for consideration as the NFL defensive player of the year.
The star cornerback ended the Titans’ first possession by intercepting a pass by Ryan Tannehill, setting the stage for a possible touchdown drive. But the Rams were forced to settle for a field goal that gave them a first-quarter lead before Stafford’s second-quarter meltdown.
Ramsey made plays and influenced others all over the field for a defense that played well but could not overcome the offense’s struggles.
Penalties are most costly by the dozen
The Rams went into the game as the least-penalized team in the league.
Then they went out and committed a season-high 12 penalties for 115 yards.
Ramsey drew two penalties. Aaron Donald another. Both offensive tackles — Andrew Whitworth and Rob Havenstein — were flagged.
The Rams’ previous high for penalties was seven against the New York Giants, a team so weakened at the time by injuries that the Rams still won easily.
Nearly doubling that total against a winning team such as the Titans was a formula for defeat.
Von Miller needs at least another week
There was much anticipation about how Miller would bolster the Rams’ pass rush, but the star outside linebacker, acquired via a trade with the Denver Broncos on Nov. 1, was inactive because he is still recovering from an ankle injury.
Donald and Leonard Floyd each recorded a sack, and Greg Gaines and Obo Okoronkwo combined for another.
After the game, McVay said the Rams were going to be “smart” about when Miller might play. The Rams play the San Francisco 49ers on Nov. 15 at Levi’s Stadium.
“He’s doing everything in his power to be ready to go,” McVay said.
Special teams might be coming along
Kicker Matt Gay continued to perform well, making all three of his field-goal attempts, including one from 54 yards. Gay has made 17 of 18 field-goal attempts.
Johnny Hekker averaged 49.8 yards for four punts. Hekker placed one kick inside the three-yard line, but the game official announced that it was ruled a touchback because it was downed by a player whose foot was in the end zone.
The Rams did not fall victim to an onside kick, ending a two-game streak.
Receiver Cooper Kupp continued to fair-catch punts. But receiver J.J. Koski also made his debut as a punt returner.