Ryan L. Fox
Two seasons ago, the New England Patriots and Los Angeles Rams squared off with another in Super Bowl LIII as it pitted a young up-and-coming coach in Sean McVay against the seasoned and future Hall-of-Famer coach in Bill Belichick. The Patriots ended up dominating and smothering the Rams for the game on the final score of 13-3 as many
Fast forward to 2020, the McVay-led Rams hosted the Belichick-led Patriots in a Week 14 match-up at home in SoFI Stadium. Coming off a 45-0 drubbing of the Los Angeles Chargers in the same stadium this past Sunday, the Patriots had elected to stay in LA (they practiced at UCLA during the week) and were simply just waiting to play again against the Rams on Thursday night.
But instead of getting the LA Sweep, the Patriots found themselves in a game where they were just simply outmuscled, outplayed, and were so thoroughly beaten and the so-called ‘Path to the Playoffs’ became even muddier.
The Rams began the game with the ball, letting the opening kickoff bounce into the endzone for the touchback and getting the ball on their own 25.
On the first play from scrimmage, QB Jarred Goff found TE Tyler Higbee for a 25-yard catch and run to midfield. Two plays later, RB Cam Akers ran left side down before being forced out at the New England 10. The Rams then grinded the ball down to the New England 1 where on 4th and goal at the 1, Goff dove over the goalline for the score. K Matt Gay booted the PAT through as the Rams took the early 7-0 lead with 11:21 left in the 1st quarter.
Following a Patriots punt, the Rams got the ball back on their own 25. Again Goff lead the team down the field against the Patriots defense. But an intentional grounding penalty on 1st and 10 from the New England 25 ultimately caused the drive to stall out. The Rams ultimately settled for a field as Gay’s 35-yard attempt sailed through the uprights as the score was 10-0 with 5:16 left in the 1st quarter.
After forcing the Patriots to punt again, the Rams were looking for another their 3rd scoring drive of the game. But Goff’s pass to WR Robert Woods was picked off by Patriots CB Myles Bryant at the Los Angeles 32 as the rookie CB returned it for what seemed to be a Pick 6. But on official replays, the referees deemed Bryant was down by contact back at the 32. The touchdown was wiped out but the Patriots offense was set up with terrific field position.
The Patriots looked to take advantage of the short field like they had in the previous 2 games of theirs. But on 2nd and 9 from the Los Angeles 19, QB Cam Newton tried to find RB Damien Harris for a screen pass. Instead he found Rams LB Kenny Young, who proceeded to outrun everybody for the 79-yard Pick 6. Gay’s PAT made the score 17-0 with 14:46 left in the 2nd quarter.
Luckily for the visitors, Gay’s kickoff went out of bounds which put the ball on the New England 40. Looking to bounce back after the Pick 6, the Patriots offense went to work. The offense ended up running the ball on nearly all of their plays (11 plays were running plays compared to 1 pass play) as they got all the way down to the Los Angeles 2. Facing a 4th and goal from the 2, coach Bill Belichick elected to go for it rather than settle for a field goal. The gamble blew up in his face as Newton was tackled for a 2-yard loss, turning the ball over on downs and ruining a 12-play drive that nearly took 8 minutes off the clock.
The Patriots were able to score their first points of the game on their next possession. A 29-yard field goal by K Nick Folk made it 17-3 with 1:04 left in the quarter. Ultimately, Folk’s field goal ended up being the only scoring the Patriots were able to do as they went into halftime down 2 touchdowns but were getting the ball back to start the 2nd half.
Much to the dismay of Patriots, they ended up punting on their opening possession of the 2nd half.
The Rams got the ball back on their own 10 as Goff and the offense went to work for their first possession of the 2nd half. The Rams then proceeded to grind the ball and the clock, relying heavily on the ground gave for nearly the entire way. They also were able to convert two 4th and short plays along the way, with the second 4th and short being converted due to a neutral zone infraction by the Patriots defense at the New England 4. With 1st and goal at the New England 2, Goff dropped back as he found WR Cooper Kupp for the 2-yard touchdown, capping a 16-play drive that took almost 10 minutes (9:58 to be exact) off the clock. Gay’s PAT made 24-3 with 1:33 left in the 3rd quarter.
The Rams defense then went on to stifle the Patriots offense and bewilder Newton. The Patriots QB was sacked on multiple times and just couldn’t connect with his receivers. In fact, Newton ended up getting pulled with 10:12 left in the game and replaced with backup QB Jarrett Stidham.
For a brief moment, Stidham was able to jolt some life back into the lifeless Pats offense. He was able to get them down to the Los Angeles 16. Faced with a 4th and 4 from the Los Angeles 16, Belichick elected to forgo the field goal and kept the offense out on the field. Stidham’s pace to rookie TE Devin Asiasi was broken up by Rams CB Troy Hill, forcing another turnover on downs. That would be the last scoring chance for the Patriots for the remainder of the game.
It then just became a punting match between the two teams as the Rams were perfectly content of simply sitting on their lead and running out the clock.
The Patriots had one last possession late in the 4th quarter at midfield. But rather than try to throw the ball, the Patriots ran 4 consecutive running plays for a net total of 9 yards and that was it.
Goff took the knee in victory formation for the final play of the game as the Rams began to celebrate their 24-3
Against the Chargers, it seemed like the Patriots could do nothing wrong.
Against the Rams, it seemed that the Patriots could not do anything right.
It was a thorough beating that took all the air out from underneath the teams’ sails and brought them crashing down to Earth after they were soaring high after their blowout victory over the Chargers.
The loss also marked the first time since 2002 that the Patriots would not get double-digit victories in a season as well as nearly bury ‘Path to the Playoffs’ that many fans and media people believed the team was still on. Now the team will spend the next 10 days licking their wounds before heading down to Miami for their final game on their 3-game road trip as well as begin a 3-game stint with their divisional rivals to close out the 2020 NFL season.
Notable Patriots Players Statistical Standouts
RB Damien Harris – 11carries for 50 yards (5.0 yards per carry)
WR N’Keal Harry - 3 catches (on 4 targets) for 49 yards
WR Jakobi Meyers- 4 catches (on 5 targets) for 47 yards
P Jake Bailey - 6 punts for 310 yards (~51.7 yards per punt) with 4 punts within the 20-yard line
LB Ja’Whaun Bentley – 9 tackles (5 solo, 4 assists)
S Adrian Phillips – 10 tackles (8 solo, 2 assists)
Numbers! Numbers! Numbers!
.909 – The winning percentage of Patriots on 3-day’s rest since 2009 (10-1) after going into their
3 - The number of turnover on downs the Patriots offense had for the game
14 – The number of interceptions by Patriots QBs this year (Newton 10, Stidham 2, Hoyer 1), the most in a single season since 2005
171 - The number of rushing yards by Rams rookie RB Cam Akers, the most rushing yards by a rookie RB allowed by the Patriots in a single game in franchise history
118.8 - The average rushing yards per game allowed by the Patriots for the season (18th overall)
150.9 - The average rushing yards per game by the Patriots offense (3rd overall)
107 - The number of rushing yards by the Patriots for the entire game
71 - The number of yards on P Jake Bailey’s punt in the 4th quarter, the longest of his career
6 - The number of sacks allowed by the Patriots offensive line (Newton 4, Stidham 2), the most allowed in a single game this season.
Did You Know That...
- The Rams’ 24-3 victory over the Patriots ended a 6-game losing streak, which included 2 Super Bowl appearances (Super Bowl XXXVI and Super Bowl LIII). The last time the Rams beat the Patriots was in a Week 10 showdown back in the old Foxborough Stadium on November 18, 2001 (Rams won 24-17). The last time the Rams beat the Patriots at home was in a Week 15 match-up back on December 13, 1998 (Rams won 32-18). In both instances, the Los Angeles Rams were the St. Louis Rams. The last time that the Patriots lost to the Los Angeles Rams in LA was back in Week 2 of the 1992 season (Rams won 14-0)
- According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Patriots became the 2nd team in NFL history to win a game by 45+ points and then lose their next game by 20+ points within a single season (they had beaten the Chargers 45-0 this past Sunday). The first NFL team to do so were the 1973 Atlanta Falcons when they won by 55 points against the New Orleans Saints in Week 1 (62-7) and then lost to the Los Angeles Rams by 31 points in Week 2 (31-0) and then by 25 points to the Detroit Lions in Week 2 (31-6)
- With the loss to the Rams, the Patriots will not have double-digit wins for the first time since 2002 where they finished 9-7 for the season and ultimately missed the playoffs. This snaps a 17-season consecutive streak of 10 or more wins in a season, which was an NFL record. The loss also snaps a 9-game winning streak )stemming back from Week 11 during the 2008 season) where the Patriots had 3-days rest in between games played
- After playing the Rams, the Patriots now have a 1-3 record against teams against the NFC West (Arizona Cardinals, San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks, Los Angeles Rams). This marks the 2nd time since the 2002 NFL Division Alignment that the Patriots had a losing record against the NFC West. The first time was back in 2012 when they went 1-3 against NFC West that year too (lost to the Cardinals (20-18) and 49ers (41-34) at home, lost to the Seahawks (24-23) on the road in Seattle, and beat the Rams (45-7) in Wembley Stadium in London, England)
- This was the second time this year the Patriots offense was held under 10 points for an entire game (the first time was back in Week 7 when they lost to the 49ers 33-6). The last time this happened in a season was back in during the 2006 NFL season where the lost 17-7 at home to the Denver Broncos in Week 3 and 21-0 on the road to the Miami Dolphins in Week 14.
While we get closer and closer to the end of the season, this part of the Postgame Notebook is something that Patriots fans should keep an eye on the most.
Going into Week 14, the Patriots’ playoff chances were as followed:
According to the NY Times NFL PCG (Playoff Chance Generator), the Patriots had a 14% chance of making the playoffs, a 2% chance of winning the AFC East, and less than 1% chance of getting a first-round bye & making the Super Bowl.
According to FiveThirtyEight.com, the Patriots Patriots had a 13% chance of making the playoffs, a 2% chance of winning the AFC East, a 0% chance of getting a first-round bye, and less than 1% chance of making the Super Bowl.
Now if the Patriots were able to get business done and win against the Rams, they would have had a 22% chance of making the playoffs according to the NY Times and a 28% chance of according to FiveThirtyEight.com (they also would have had a 6% chance if the game ended in a tie).
Alas, that wasn’t the case.
With the loss to the Rams, the Patriots now have a 6% chance of making the postseason with less than a 1% chance of winning the AFC East, securing a first-round bye, and making the Super Bowl according to the NY Times PCG. According to the FiveThirtyEight.com PCG, the Patriots playoff chances dropped to 4% with no changes in their chances of winning
All these numbers are subject to change because this was the first game to be played in Week 14. There’s still a slew of game box scores that Pats fans should keep an eye on (i.e. Chiefs-Dolphins, Colts-Raiders) but it is not looking so bright to making that postseason cut, even with the addition of another playoff spot.
Fox Fist Bump
Last game, the Fox Fist Bumps were flying all over the place.
This time around, there’s a No-Fly Ordinance on fist bumps.
The Meatball of the Game
Oi vey! Where do I begin?
How about a big meatball for the Patriots offensive line! Good lord, I never seen such ineptitude and uninspiring play from them this entire year until now. They allowed 6 sacks and 10 QB hits for the entire game and allowed Newton and Stidham to be under pressure almost
Next, I wanna give a giant meatball to the Patriots run defense.
HOW. COULD. YOU. LET. THE. RAMS. RUN. ALL. OVER. YOU?! Cam Akers looked like the second-coming of Eric Dickerson for Christ sakes! He ran all over the Patriots defense to the tune of 171 yards on 29 carries and nearly had 6 yards PER FREAKING CARRY (approximately 5.9 yards per carry but you get the point). As mentioned above in ‘Did You Know That…’, those 171 yards was the most rushing yards allowed by an opposing running back in franchise history! So, in layman's terms, this was a historically bad performance in defending the run by the Patriots.
And I wanna take a giant meatball, yank down Belichick’s mask, and shove it right in his fat, wrinkly mouth! I get why he went for it on 4th and goal from the 2 in the 2nd quarter. You are down 17-0 and just need a touchdown to stay in it.
But tell me something oh Scowly One, why did you decide to kick the field goal later on in the same quarter when it was 4th and 2 from the Los Angeles 11 but then go around and forgo the easy field goal in the 3rd quarter to go for it on 4th and 4 from the Los Angeles 16? Just take the damn points whenever you can and only go for it when you are all out of options.
And can you do me a solid and tell me what the hell was going through that thick skull of yours when you decided to just run up the middle instead of trying to chuck the ball down the field on your last possession of the game? It’s bad enough you ran the ball up the middle on all those plays but there was a lack of urgency and effort to hurry up. You had the ball at the 50 with just under 1:45 left in game. At least try to make an attempt to score a touchdown to show you still care instead of just going on your back like a beaten dog!
Good God man, have some pride will ya!
Play of the Game
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