Hearts lost in S.F last year, too

THE RAMS’ running game was nearly missing in action against the 49ers on Monday (Brevin Townsell/Rams).

By Pete Zarustica with wire service reports

Sports being what they are, with a “what have you done for me lately” mind set, you’d think that Monday’s 24-9 loss by the Los Angeles Rams to the San Francisco 49ers was the final game of a winless season.

While it’s true that the Rams (3-3) played under their abilities up north, it’s hardly fair to ring down the season on any hopes for a repeat to the Super Bowl this season.

“I’m not sitting here going to make excuses for why we have or haven’t done the things that are in alignment with the expectations we have,” McVay told the Associated Press

“But there’s a lot of football to be played. The story isn’t written yet. We do have a say in how that story is written … (and) I’ve got a good sense for this team. We’ve got a great mental makeup, and we’ve just got to continue to battle and stay in the moment.”

Let’s not forget that the Rams looked like lambs against the Niners last year, losing by three touchdowns in their first showdown, then falling again in overtime before finally squeezing by their rivals by a field goal in the NFC championship game.

And a close study of Monday’s game came down to three close calls plays that could have gone either way: a key dropped pass by the always reliable Cooper Kupp and an interception of and lost fumble by Matthew Stafford.

Those results can befall any team. What’s a little more more systemic is the Rams’ lack of an effective running offense. They gained only 57 yards against the Niners on Monday; the absence of a viable running attack allowed the home team to concentrate on pass coverage, leading to seven sacks of Mr. Stafford.

Just as the passing attack is supposed to set up the run, the reverse is true also. Unimaginative off-tackle rushes into the heart of a strong SF defense yielded little and forced the Rams into 48 passing attempts.

The Rams have the tools to put this mess behind them and there’s a good opportunity to put their smarts to the test next week against the Dallas Cowboys (3-1).

A victory by the Rams would have Texas fans moaning “What have the Cowboys done for us lately?”

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