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Rams-Bills recap: LA shows offensive firepower, defensive lapses in wild loss

There are positive takeaways from the Rams loss, but also some questions regarding how they got there

NFL: Los Angeles Rams at Buffalo Bills Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

After 59 minutes and 35 seconds of craziness, the refs in Buffalo ultimately decided that the winner of the Rams-Bills matchup in Week 3 would be the home team. The Buffalo Bills beat the LA Rams 35-32 after a controversial fourth down penalty on Rams cornerback Darious Williams led to a Bills touchdown with :15 seconds remaining.

The Rams fall to 2-1 after they had erased a 25-point second half deficit but were unable to contain Buffalo quarterback Josh Allen for most of the day, including on his team’s game-winning 75-yard drive to take the ultimate lead.

Allen finished the day 24-of-33 for 311 yards with four touchdown passes, one interception and a fifth score coming via the ground. Despite another stellar performance by one of the NFL’s top rising stars, Los Angeles charged back from a 28-3 third quarter hole to take a 32-28 lead with 4:30 remaining in the game on a one-yard touchdown run by Darrell Henderson.

Goff ended the day 23-of-32 for 321 yards, two touchdowns, one interception and one rushing score of his own, while Henderson had 20 carries for 114 yards and a touchdown.

But after the Rams took the lead, Allen got the ball back at his own 25. He immediately found receiver Cole Beasley for 18 yards, then hit Beasley again on 3rd and 22 for a first down pickup and 2:31 remaining. Allen found Beasley for another 19 and went into the Rams red zone.

Allen then had a rare 15-yard offensive facemask penalty to setup an eventual fourth and eight from the LA 13.

One rookie I’ve been following closely since training camp is Bills fourth round rookie wide receiver Gabe Davis and Allen was following him closely on this play. Davis was immediately jammed at the line by Rams cornerback Darious Williams, who was called for defensive pass interference, giving Buffalo first and goal from the 3 with :15 seconds left.

For what it’s worth, Fox’s Mike Pereira said he agreed with the penalty.

Allen threw a touchdown pass to tight end Tyler Kroft, giving the Bills the 35-32 lead that would soon be the final score.

Beasley finished with six catches for 100 yards, while Davis had four for 81. Star offseason acquisition Stefon Diggs was held to 49 yards on four receptions and a touchdown, plus a key play to setup Allen for the DPI throw to Davis.

The Rams opened the game looking as primed for success on offense and defense as they had hoped for all week, forcing a three-and-out on the first series, then driving with ease to the Buffalo 24 yard line. However, a sack on Jared Goff forced a 53-yard field goal attempt by rookie Sam Sloman and the miss that followed may have signaled a disappointing first half to come for LA.

The Bills scored touchdowns on each of their next three drives, with Allen throwing two short scores to tight ends and rushing for one on his own. Conversely, Goff threw his worst pass of the season so far, leading to an interception for Buffalo cornerback Levi Wallace, a player “low-lighted” all week for his lackluster performance in the previous game.

The Rams did go on another 63-yard drive, Goff looked sharp for most of the first half as did the rest of the offense, but mistakes and quality play by Buffalo’s defense contained LA whenever they got onto the other half of the field. The Rams had 1st and 10 from the BUF 12 but two runs by Henderson were stopped for a total of no gain and Goff was under immediate pressure on third down, forcing a 30-yard field goal by Sloman.

The Bills led 21-3 at halftime. And it continued like that in the third quarter.

After crossing midfield on the first drive of the second half, Goff had three straight incompletions to turn the ball over on downs. Buffalo converted 3rd and 6 and 3rd and goal with passes by Allen, the latter of which turning into a Diggs touchdown against Jalen Ramsey to give the Bills a 25-point lead.

But it was not a lead that would last.

The Rams answered with an eight-play, 75 yard drive that resulted in a one-yard touchdown run by Goff, who completed three of four attempts on the drive for 47 yards. After forcing Allen into pressure and a poor decision by chucking it downfield to Kroft, the Rams got the ball right back when safety John Johnson ripped it from the tight end’s arms for an interception.

Three plays later, Robert Woods caught a pass from Goff near the line of scrimmage and zipped 25 yards downfield for another LA touchdown, cutting the lead to 28-17.

Woods finished with five catches for 74 yards and a touchdown, plus three carries for 30 yards. Kupp was dominant for most of the day, catching nine of 10 targets for 107 yards and a touchdown.

Perhaps no drive by Goff was more impressive though than in the fourth quarter, converting on 3rd and 11 and 3rd and 8, with Kupp gaining 17 on the former and Woods gaining 31 on the latter; Woods also had a 15-yard end around run on the drive, a signature play by LA’s offense by a premier player in both the pass and run game. Goff ended the drive 97-yard drive with a 16-yard touchdown to Kupp and a 2-point conversion to Tyler Higbee to cut the lead to 28-25 and more than 10 minutes remaining.

Not going unnoticed in the second half, a defensive performance led by Aaron Donald which forced the Bills to go INT, 0-yard drive that led to punt and a sack-strip-recovery of Allen by Donald to setup LA for their go-ahead score.

After a 23-yard pass from Goff to Josh Reynolds, the Rams ran it on five consecutive plays, culminating in Henderson’s one-yard touchdown run to give LA a 32-28 lead with 4:30 left in the game.

But despite many positives to come out of this game — scoring 32 points, coming back from a 25-point deficit, fantastic games by Kupp, Woods, Henderson, Johnson and Donald, who had six tackles and two sacks with another QB hit on top of that — the Rams did not get the final score they were hoping for or the one that many expected. Either when they were trailing or when they were leading.

The Rams return home next Sunday to host the 0-3 New York Giants, who lost 36-9 to the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday.