With 5:50 remaining in the first quarter of their 37-20 loss to the Arizona Cardinals in Week 4, the Los Angeles Rams got the ball back with a 7-3 deficit following a 41-yard touchdown pass from Kyler Murray to over-the-head-of-David-Long-Jr. On the first play of the drive, Darrell Henderson ran for a 15-yard gain.
Then Matthew Stafford completed his next two passes, followed by five Rams runs that gained a total of 37 yards, setting up first-and-10 at the Arizona 14. There was 1:00 minute left in the quarter when the play started, and :52 seconds remaining when Stafford found Van Jefferson for a 14-yard score to give LA the lead back.
If only the Rams didn’t need to participate in the quarter that would come next.
Over the next five minutes of game time, the Cardinals outscored the LA Rams 14-0, including a 14-yard touchdown pass from Murray to tight end Maxx Williams, a fumble by Sony Michel on the next play from scrimmage, and a James Conner touchdown run two minutes later.
LA had a one-minute drive that ended in a punt when they got the ball back down by 11 points, and they only managed to get three points before the half after Stafford’s offense stalled inside Arizona’s 5-yard line; Stafford’s two attempts to find Cooper Kupp in the end zone fell incomplete and Sean McVay settled for a 22-yard field goal by Matt Gay.
The Cardinals also added a field goal before half, making the second quarter score 17-3 in favor of Arizona, and the halftime score 24-13.
Too much for McVay and Stafford to overcome in the second half and an unfortunate continuation of an unsettling trend in the Rams’ second quarter efforts this season.
The Rams have run 59 offensive plays in the second quarter — more than the 54 plays in the first quarter or the 53 plays in the third quarter — but they’ve averaged only 1.9 yards per carry (roughly half the average of their next-worst effort and much worse than the 5.0 of the first quarter — and they have not done much better through the air.
Stafford is 23-of-38 for 258 yards with two touchdowns and one interception in the second quarter. He is averaging 6.8 yards per attempt and 6.5 adjusted net yards per attempt in the second quarter, which is all much worse than what we’ve seen in quarters 1, 3, and 4.
Stafford has a 136.6 passer rating in the fourth quarter, but we also saw him pad his stats a little bit with a late meaningless touchdown that didn’t effect the game.
The player who is most-targeted in the second quarter is obviously Kupp, who has caught seven of 14 attempts for 102 yards with a touchdown. Meanwhile, Robert Woods has been targeted six times in the second, catching three passes for 28 yards and rushing it twice for four yards gained; the disappearance of Woods is a mystery to be solved for the entire season though, not just one quarter.
Second quarter stats:
As it currently stands, the LA Rams offense ranks:
- 27th in yards per play in the second quarter
- 25th in first downs
- 28th in completion percentage
- 24th in passer rating
- 32nd in yards per carry
- 31st in first downs by rushing attempts
- 30th in total yards
This same Rams offense in the first quarter is:
- 3rd in total yards
- 1st in yards per play
- 5th in passer rating
- 13th in YPC
And Stafford leads all NFL QBs in fourth quarter passer rating.
Things don’t improve much in the second quarter when you turn the attention to LA’s defense. On defense, the Rams rank in the second quarter is:
- 32nd in rushing attempts against (teams have already carried it 36 times against the Rams in four 2nd quarters)
- 22nd in yards per play allowed
- 32nd in first downs allowed
- 29th in passing completions allowed
- Teams have run more plays against the Rams in the 2nd quarter than against any other team in the NFL: 86 plays, 475 yards, 34-of-48 passing, 36 carries for 164 yards and three touchdowns.
Just imagine those numbers above are for ONE GAME because that’s essentially what you’re getting from four quarters.
Yet this is also the best team in the NFL in arguably any other quarter. The Rams have outscored opponents by 20 points in the first quarter (only the Bills have a higher margin) and they are +10 for the second half of games so far, but LA’s -14 in the second quarter (Chicago outscored them 7-3, Indianapolis outscored them 6-3, but the Rams outscored the Bucs 14-7) is the ninth-worst in the league and most teams doing worse (Lions, Jets, Dolphins, Giants...) are bad teams. What’s LA’s excuse?
Sometimes players will brag about giving 110% or 1000%, but right now the LA Rams need to figure out how they can stop giving only 75%.