Sean McVay is too well prepared each week to not know when his LA Rams will struggle, so I would assume he was elated to see his team grab an early 7-0 lead following a forced fumble by his best player on Tua Tagovailoa’s first dropback in his debut start. Unfortunately if his instincts were that the Rams would have a difficult time getting a win in Miami on Sunday, then he was proven correct shortly thereafter.
The Dolphins scored four touchdowns in under 13 minutes of game time in the first half and took a 28-7 lead following Jared Goff’s fourth turnover of the game. Goff threw two interceptions and lost two fumbles before LA and Miami even went into the locker room for halftime and the Dolphins scored 21 points off of those turnovers. There were also at least three more throws by Goff that could have been picked off and weren’t secured.
Goff was 15 of 32 for 136 yards at halftime and finished with 355 yards on 61 pass attempts; the only time he’s ever had more was in LA’s 55-40 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last season. He also had four turnovers in that game.
Despite a clear advantage with their defense against Tagovailoa’s first career start, the Rams allowed unforced errors to dominate their narrative this week and 28 points was more than enough for the Dolphins to keep Los Angeles down for good. Tagovailoa was held to 12 of 22 passing for 93 yards but was only sacked one time and didn’t make the self-destructive attempts and decisions that Goff was executing on the other side.
Miami gained 145 yards on 48 plays, an average of three yards per play, but won by 11 points. It is the first time that the Rams have lost a game when holding an opponent to under 150 yards since a 14-9 loss to the Seattle Seahawks in 2013. Prior to that, it hadn’t happened since a 10-7 loss to the New York Giants in 1981.
It is the third-fewest yards allowed by the Rams since Sean McVay arrived but the team is now 5-3 headed into the midseason bye week.
The Rams had 31 first downs compared to eight for the Dolphins; 7 of 17 on third down as compared to 3 of 12 for the Dolphins; ran almost twice as many plays as Miami with a 13-minute advantage in time of possession; had almost four times as many passing yards and more than twice as many rushing yards.
As they did against the Buffalo Bills when trailing 28-3, Sean McVay had his team run the football as if nothing was wrong and LA gained 131 yards on 21 carries. That included nine carries for 35 yards for rookie Cam Akers, eight carries for 47 yards for Darrell Henderson and 40 yards on 10 carries for Malcolm Brown. Few of those moments seemed to bother a Miami defense that, other than a 15-yard drive in the first quarter, held the Rams out of the end zone until a Robert Woods touchdown catch with 9:58 remaining.
Woods finished with 85 yards, his highest total since Week 1, and Cooper Kupp caught 11 passes for 110 yards, his highest total in the last 16 games dating back to last season. But Kupp needed a franchise record 21 targets to get there.
The Rams were playing without Jalen Ramsey, who exited after only a few snaps due to an illness and did not return. Aaron Donald had the forced fumble on Tagovailoa, plus the only sack on Tagovailoa. Taylor Rapp forced a fumble that was recovered by Troy Hill, but highlights don’t feel as bright in a game that was dominated by lowlights.
LA gets a bye next week and returns home to host the Seahawks in Week 10. Goff has played poorly in the last two calendar weeks, going 77 of 132 (58.3%), 673 yards, five touchdowns, three interceptions, three fumbles, 5.1 yards per attempt in the last three games. The Rams are averaging 19 points per game and are 1-2 in that time.
He and McVay have two weeks to figure out how to fix it.