On Sunday, the New England Patriots delivered a Hollywood blockbuster, in their 45-0 dismantling of the Los Angeles Chargers.
Much to the dismay of Patriots Nation, they would follow up their efforts with a veritable flop just five days later against the Los Angeles Rams.
Los Angeles’ quarterback Jared Goff both rushed and passed for a touchdown. Rookie running back Cam Akers rushed for 171 yards in a breakout performance, as the Rams dominated the Patriots with a 24-3 victory on Thursday night.
For the Patriots, it was a dismal performance on both offense and defense. While the defense struggled mightily to stop the run, Cam Newton struggled to navigate the Patriots passing attack, going 9 of 16 passing for 119 yards, while throwing his first pick-six of the season. Patriots head coach Bill Belichick replaced Newton early in the fourth quarter with Jarrett Stidham, who went 5 of 7 on three ineffective series. As a result, the Patriots were held without an offensive touchdown. This season marks the first time since 2003 that the Pats have been held without an offensive score in multiple games.
Despite their strong play in recent weeks, the Patriots have seven losses for the first time since 2002, officially ending their NFL-record streak of 17 straight seasons with at least 10 victories. Perhaps most alarming is that New England endangered its push for a 12th straight playoff berth.
ON THE FIELD
The Rams would strike first in this contest, riding the legs of Cam Akers. Jared Goff would cap a 6-play 75 yard drive with a dive for the touchdown, giving Los Angeles a 7-0 lead. Rams kicker Matt Gay added to the Rams lead, making a 35-yard field goal wit 5:16 left in the first quarter.
The Patriots appeared to find new life in the closing moments of the first quarter. Goff’s pass, intended for receiver Robert Woods, was intercepted by Pats’ cornerback Myles Bryant at Rams’ 32 yard-line. After taking the ball out of Woods’ hands, Bryant rose to his feet and made the 32-yard run to the endzone, where the play was initially ruled a touchdown, However, the Replay Official review determined that Bryant was down. Thus, the touchdown was reversed, while the interception stood.
Unfortunately, the Patriots could not capitalize on the Rams’ miscue. Los Angeles linebacker, Kenny Young, opened the second quarter by picking off a poor throw by Cam Newton. Young took it all the way back for his first NFL touchdown, giving the Rams a 17-0 lead. New England would close the half, earning their only points of the game on a Nick Folk 29-yard field goal.
The Rams earned the final points of this contest late in the third quarter on a 16-play, 90-yard drive, culminating in a 2-yard touchdown pass from Goff to receiver Cooper Kupp. Los Angeles would maintain its 24-3 lead for the remainder of the game.
Patriots S Adrian Phillips injured his hand during the closing moments of the second quarter. Phillips returned to the game in the second half.
Patriots RB Damien Harris left the field in the fourth quarter, after suffering a back injury.
The Patriots travel to Miami for a showdown with the divisional rival Dolphins on Sunday, Dec. 20.
-Mike D’Abate is a Managing Editor and Columnist for Full Press Coverage. He covers the New England Patriots and provides NFL editorial content. He is also the host of the Locked On Patriots podcast. Follow him on Twitter @mdabateFPC