Los Angeles Rams Defense Strong Second Half Spoils Jon Gruden’s Return

Los Angeles Rams Defense
OAKLAND, CA - SEPTEMBER 10: Jalen Richard #30 of the Oakland Raiders is tackled by Ndamukong Suh #93 and the Los Angeles Rams during their NFL game at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum on September 10, 2018 in Oakland, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

After the off-seasons the Los Angeles Rams and Oakland Raiders had, it would be hard for any NFL fan to ignore this matchup. In Oakland, talk centered on Jon Gruden’s return, no Khalil Mack, a new coaching staff and a plethora of new players on the roster. And for Los Angeles, they had the highest scoring offense last season and acquired the likes of Marcus Peters, Aqib Talib and Ndamukong Suh to create one of the most dangerous teams on paper. With all the new faces on the field, it was the Rams who came out victorious by a score of 33-13. Let’s take a look at how the Rams came away with a win on Monday night.

Los Angeles Rams Defense Shuts the Door on Oakland in the Second Half

Struggles Early On

It was not all easygoing for defensive coordinator Wade Phillips in the first half. The Raiders marched the ball 75 yards on the opening drive and Marshawn Lynch found the end zone on a 10-yard run. The Raiders would eventually rack up 224 total yards of offense in the first half and the Rams showed no signs of being able to slow them down.

Derek Carr was getting the ball out quickly and efficiently and the Rams had no answer for tight end Jared Cook, who finished the game with nine receptions and 180 yards. Lynch was having a lot of success running the ball as well thanks to a great push by the offensive line. Oakland Colisuem got loud as it looked like Gruden’s offense was outsmarting Phillips’ defense.

Flags, Flags and more Flags

Neither Gruden nor Sean McVay will be happy about all the penalties that were called on their teams Monday night. The two teams combined for 19 penalties that totalled up 225 yards, eight of which were called on the Rams for 70 yards. Some of those penalties stalled promising drives, one of which was a holding call on John Sullivan that drove them out of field goal range and forced them to punt in the third quarter. The Rams averaged only 6.5 penalties in 2017. McVay expects his veteran squad to be better in that category.

Flipping the Switch in the 3rd Quarter

The Raiders were held to just eight plays and 17 yards total in the third quarter as the Rams defense began to flex their muscle. Lynch was being held to minimal gains and the pass rush of Aaron Donald, Michael Brockers and John Franklin-Meyers were starting to make Carr uncomfortable in the pocket.

On the other side of the ball, McVay’s offense began to pick up the tempo. This caused a lot of confusion on the Raiders defense. Gurley was gashing a tired Raiders defensive line. Wide receivers Cooper Kupp and Brandin Cooks were starting to get behind the Oakland secondary. These two things really opened up the field for Jared Goff. The Rams scored a field goal and touchdown to take a 20-13 lead into the fourth quarter.

Littleton, Peters Seal the Deal

The Raiders had two possessions late in the game to try and come back down two scores, but both drives ended in interceptions. After a huge chunk play to Cook over the middle, Carr made a bad decision. He floated an easy interception right to the hands of Cory Littleton. He was sitting in zone coverage underneath Jordy Nelson. After the Rams settled for a field goal, the Raiders still had another shot to drive down and score. However, Peters jumped a pass that was intended for Cook and took it all the way back for six points, officially putting an end to any potential Raiders comeback.

Scoring Recap

First Quarter

  • Lynch capped off a seven play, 75-yard drive with a 10-yard touchdown run. 7-0 Raiders.
  • Goff connected with Gurley on a shuffle pass, who scored from 19 yards out. 7-7 tie.

Second Quarter

  • The Raiders drove the ball 69 yards on 12 plays and settled for a 24-yard field goal converted by Mike Nugent. 10-7 Raiders.
  • Sparked by a costly passing interference penalty on Oakland, the Rams found themselves in the red zone and came away with a 20-yard field goal by Greg Zuerlein. 10-10 tie.
  • Cook and Jalen Richard inspired an 11-play drive with under three minutes to go that ended in a 48-yard field goal by Mike Nugent. 13-10. Raiders.

Third Quarter

  • Gurley led the Rams down the field on the opening possession of the second half. This led to a 28-yard field goal by Zuerlein. 13-13 tie.
  • Goff and the Rams offense only needed four plays to march down 58 yards. He connected with Kupp on an 8-yard pass. 20-13 Rams.

Fourth Quarter

  • The Rams chewed off plenty of clock with an 11-play drive, capitalizing on a 55-yard field goal by Zuerlein. 23-13 Rams.
  • After the interception by Littleton, the Rams settled for a 20-yard field goal to pad their lead. 26-13 Rams.
  • Carr throws over the middle to Cook but Peters read the pass. He jumped it and took it to the house for six. 33-13 Rams.

Quick Hits

  • Littleton had a phenomenal game leading the team with13 tackles and an interception leading the Rams defense to victory.
  • Despite the new acquisitions, it was John Johnson III who was the most active cornerback in Monday night’s game. He recorded nine tackles and an interception.
  • Neither Donald nor Suh recorded a sack. Their presence was felt on numerous occasions pushing the pocket up on Carr.
  • The Rams did not need to punt often, but Johnny Hekker came up big booming two 50+ yard punts pinning the Raiders inside the 20-yard line both times.
  • Much like 2017, Gurley did a little bith of everything on Monday night. He rushed for 108 yards. He also had three receptions for 39 yards and a touchdown.
  • The Third down defense was lackluster at times. The Raiders went 5 of 11 on third down conversions.

Main Photo:
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