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The Good, the Bad and the Difference

It wasn’t enough to win, but the Rams have plenty to feel positive about after all

Los Angeles Rams v Buffalo Bills Photo by Timothy T Ludwig/Getty Images

Early in the third quarter, there were not that many “good” things to say about the LA Rams, unfortunately. Nearly by the end of the fourth, they had quite a lot. Ultimately the Buffalo Bills had the last “good” play they needed and they held off a 25-point comeback by the Rams to win 35-32 and LA drops to 2-1 on the season.

Giving up 35 points as well as some critical fourth quarter plays to Bills receiver Cole Beasley is far from the result that Sean McVay is looking for from his team. But scoring 32 and having the best defensive player in the NFL is worth adding to reasonable excitement for Rams fans in the near and long term future.

You can read the game recap or comments in the final score post but for now ...

Here is the good, the bad and the difference in Sunday’s game.

The Good

Cooper Kupp and Jared Goff, often

Despite the final result, Goff did look to be comfortable and in command for most of the game. He also may have had his worst decision and throw of the season and the Rams fell shy of victory but Goff scored three touchdowns and has still had few questionable mistakes through three games.

Kupp is just fantastic and finished with nine catches for 107 yards. I don’t know how many times he was covered by Tre’Davious White, but worth monitoring this week and in either case, Robert Woods also had a productive day.

Darrell Henderson is the back the Rams need

LA will happily take three or four replacements for Todd Gurley but Henderson has proven over the last two games that he is capable of being productive as a starter in that position. With Cam Akers unavailable and Malcolm Brown mostly off the field until the second half, Henderson posted a career-best rushing day and he’s been rolling since the fourth quarter last week.

A Rams interception courtesy of John Johnson’s inner-biceps

With star rookie safety Jordan Fuller out of the game early due to a shoulder injury, Johnson stepped up with one of the biggest plays for a Rams defensive player this season, ripping the ball out of Tyler Kroft’s hands for a fourth quarter pick that nearly gave the Rams the final advantage they needed.

Robert Woods is very good or “excellent” you might say

Woods had over 100 total yards and he remains the best dual-threat WR in the NFL.

Aaron Donald - 6 tackles, 3 TFL, 3 QB hits, 2 sacks

He’s good! He’s good! Ladies and gentleman, Aaron Donald is good! Donald’s 15 games with multiple sacks since 2014 ranks as the third most in the league in that time behind JJ Watt and Chandler Jones.

Josh Reynolds takes the > from Van Jefferson this week

I don’t have a bevy of Reynolds highlights but he caught four of five targets for 60 yards, Goff’s third favorite target of the day. Tyler Higbee caught two of two for 40, Gerald Everett caught two of two for 34, but rookie Van Jefferson stayed in the background this week. The second rounder had one target on the day. There’s nothing wrong with that, but I’m noting how that rotation worked against the Bills.

The Bad

DPI

Whether you agree or disagree with the call, it worked for Buffalo. When you’ve got a cornerback like Jalen Ramsey on your defense, it means that in high pressure situations the opposing quarterback could be more likely to attack your other defensive backs. That means high pressure situations for Darious Williams and Troy Hill. In this instance, Williams got beat by the rookie Gabe Davis and Josh Allen. However people want to judge the call, the result was the result.

Jared Goff throws second pick of the season

Here’s that target to Jefferson. Both interceptions by Goff this year were on throws to Jefferson, potentially just a coincidence.

3rd and 22

We don’t need to focus on the pass interference penalty to find reasons for LA’s collapse on the final defensive drive. Allen had 2nd and long and 3rd and long and fourth down and kept coming back in all those situations. You can’t have defensive lapses like this one in the fourth quarter if you want to seal in a 25-point comeback win.

Jordan Fuller not playing

Fuller left the game early with a shoulder injury and I believe did not return. Taylor Rapp took his place and when his name was called in the broadcast, it was often not for good reasons. It doesn’t necessarily mean Rapp was bad — we don’t know that yet — but we did know that Fuller had been very good in the first two games.

Two sacks slow down Rams in first half

Goff had only been sacked twice coming into the game but Buffalo got pressure on him early with two first half sacks. Goff was not sacked in the second half and that’s when the Rams put up 29 points.

Can’t stop Josh Allen

But Goff was not as good as Allen and frankly a lot of people are going to be asking this question now: Who is better than Josh Allen?

Allen finished with five total touchdowns and 311 passing yards.

Jalen Ramsey allows touchdown to Stefon Diggs

Ramsey has been dominant for most of this season but the Bills traded a first round pick for Stefon Diggs so that the offense could do things like this and score 35 points against a defense with Jalen Ramsey and Aaron Donald.

The Difference

Josh Allen.

Whether it was four straight touchdown drives after going three-and-out to open the game or putting up the plays necessary to win the game in the final four minutes, Allen was the difference for the Bills and the Rams on Sunday.

When drafted seventh overall out of Wyoming in 2018, many people who call themselves “experts” of these prospects jumped on a bandwagon to ridicule Buffalo for selecting an inaccurate quarterback from a small school program. Allen was among the NFL’s worst passers as a rookie and his QBR actually went down in year two despite taking the Bills to the playoffs and leading the NFL with five game-winning drives.

He now has two through three weeks of this season.

Allen has also thrown for 1,038 yards, 10 touchdowns and one interception with two rushing touchdowns and two fumbles lost through three games. There were people confused to see Allen ranked as the #87 player on the NFL Top 100 this summer. After his first three games of 2020 and a comeback win against the Rams, people might be confused if he’s not in the conversation as the best player in the league this month.