October 26, 2020
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Despite a slow start, Jared Goff had one of his best passing days against a formidable defense in Buffalo. Photo by Los Angeles Rams

By Matt Barrero, Assistant Sports Editor

BUFFALO 35, LOS ANGELES 32

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. –

On a fourth-and-7 with 25 seconds left in the game, Rams cornerback Darious Williams was called for a pass interference penalty which allowed Bills quarterback Josh Allen to complete his fourth passing touchdown on the day just one play later and ending what should have been a Rams 25-point comeback and victory. 

“I hate it for our guys,” Rams head coach Sean McVay said in an interview with ESPN. “But we’re a mentally tough group, we’re going to use this as an opportunity to respond.”

At halftime Sunday afternoon, the Rams found themselves trailing 21-3. Halfway through the third quarter, Allen completed a 4-yard pass to wide receiver Stefon Diggs to increase the Buffalo lead to 25. The Bills were cruising and had their eyes set on starting 3-0 for a second consecutive season. With a little less than five minutes left in the third quarter, Jared Goff capped off an eight-play, 75-yard drive with his first rushing touchdown of the season.

On the following Buffalo series, Rams safety John Johnson III intercepted a deep pass from Allen intended for tight end Tyler Kroft and gave the offense excellent field position. Three plays later, Goff connected with wide receiver Robert Woods for a 25-yard touchdown pass and cut the Bills lead down to 11.

The Rams defense became a wrecking machine in the second half and allowed the offense to get right back into the game. Leonard Floyd would sack Allen and cause the Bills to punt right at the end of the third quarter. Goff led the offense back on the field and produced a 10 play, 97-yard drive which ended with a Cooper Kupp receiving touchdown and a successful two-point conversion to tight end Tyler Higbee. With about 10 minutes left in the game, the Rams had cut the Buffalo lead down to three.

With momentum well on their side, the Rams built the pressure on Allen and the Bills offense. Defensive tackle Aaron Donald sacked Allen twice on the same series and forced, and recovered, a fumble right around midfield giving the ball back to the offense with a little over seven minutes left in the game for a chance to take the lead.

Six plays later, running back Darrell Henderson Jr. did just that. With his 1-yard rush and an extra point by Sam Sloman, the Rams had their first lead of the day with four and a half minutes left to play.

It would all be for naught, as the Rams stifling defense would let up twice on Buffalo’s (eventual) game-winning drive allowing Allen and company to convert big plays late in the contest. After converting a third-and-22, the Bills faced a third-and-25 a few plays later and were able to shorten the yardage to a manageable, fourth-and-8. With the game on the line, Allen dropped back to pass and threw an incomplete pass to wideout Gabriel Davis. The Rams had appeared to take over on downs and would’ve been able to ice the game, but a late flag from the sideline official called the Rams for pass interference and the Bills would score one play later and win 35-32. The inability to make a big play when it mattered most proved to be the difference in the game.

OFFENSIVE PERFORMANCE –

Goff finished the day completing 23 of his 32 pass attempts for 321 yards, three total touchdowns and an interception. Henderson Jr. led the rushing attack, finishing with 20 carries for 114 yards and a touchdown. Kupp was the top receiver on the day finishing with nine catches for 107 yards and a touchdown. Woods contributed 74 yards receiving and a touchdown of his own.

DEFENSIVE PERFORMANCE –

Aaron Donald finally had a breakout game in the young season and finished the day with six total tackles (two for a loss), two sacks and recovered a fumble. Cornerback Troy Hill led the team with eight total tackles and Johnson III contributed seven total tackles of his own along with the timely interception.

FINAL THOUGHTS –

Jeez, Josh: Josh Allen earned his eight successful fourth-quarter comeback in just his third season of play.

Perfect No More: This was the Rams first loss in the Sean McVay era in a game that was played on the East Coast and started at 10:00 a.m. PST – they were 5-0 before this loss. Despite the loss, the Rams scored at least 30 points in such games, again.

Rams Second Half Play: The Rams are outscoring their opponents in the second half 52-20. While it is still early in the season, this consistency to put up big numbers late in the game will be the difference in wins and losses moving forward.

INJURIES –

Rams safety Jordan Fuller did not return to the game after sustaining a shoulder injury in the first half.

COMING UP –

The Rams will return to Los Angeles and host the New York Giants in a 1:05 p.m. PST start at SoFi Stadium next Sunday (10/4).

The Bills will look to keep their winning ways and try to improve to 4-0 when they travel to Sin City and face the Las Vegas Raiders at 1:25 p.m. PST next Sunday (10/4).

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