The 2020 LA Rams had the best defense in the NFL, but they also ran into a few easy matchups like this one against the Washington Football Team. It wasn’t just that Washington had a bad offense last season — the defense proved how special they can be by carrying Football Team to the playoffs — but clearly Ron Rivera rushed Alex Smith into a situation he wasn’t ready for when the Rams ended up getting to face off against a quarterback who hadn’t played a game in two years.
Smith had barely even practice before returning to the field against Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey as his first test.
However, the Rams also had wins over the likes of Tom Brady, Russell Wilson, Dak Prescott, and Kyler Murray, so let’s not forget those games as we’re reviewing this one. LA didn’t just ‘beat’ Smith and company, they absolutely dominated them.
Week 1 - Win over the Cowboys
Week 2 - Win over the Eagles
Week 3 - Loss to the Bills
Week 4 - Win over the Giants
Week 5 - (3-1) LA Rams at (1-3) Washington Football Team
Important Personnel Notes:
- After 4 weeks, Washington opted to bench quarterback Dwayne Haskins and give Kyle Allen his first start of the season.
- Allen was replaced by Alex Smith after 13 attempts, Smith’s first game appearance since suffering a broken leg in 2018.
- Jordan Fuller returned after missing previous game.
- Troy Reeder started in place of injured Micah Kiser.
- Darrell Henderson led backs with 29 snaps, followed by 26 for Malcolm Brown, and 13 for Cam Akers.
- Terrell Lewis made his NFL debut, playing in 14 defensive snaps and one on special teams. He recorded no stats.
LA’s reign of terror in the first quarter continued against Washington, as they scored touchdowns on each of their first three drives:
- The opening drive went 76 yards and resulted in a Henderson touchdown after 10 plays.
- The second drive went 75 yards and resulted in a Robert Woods touchdown after four plays.
- The third drive went 83 yards and resulted in a Jared Goff touchdown after nine plays.
Goff completed his first seven passes, though six of those attempts were ‘short’ throws. Twice on the first drive, Gerald Everett completed a third down. Goff did have this deep throw:
Midway through the second quarter, the Rams were up 21-7, then Allen lost 10 yards on a sack by Aaron Donald. Washington finally forced LA to punt, but on the next drive, Allen was sacked by Jalen Ramsey — a flag was thrown for ‘lowering the head to initiate contact’ — and Allen was replaced by Smith.
Three plays later, Smith was also sacked by Donald.
Goff then threw an interception to Washington defensive back Kendall Fuller and Smith managed to help get Football Team into range for a Dustin Hopkins field goal as the first half expired.
The game was 20-10 at halftime, but the “feel good story” for Smith was all but over by then: Washington had three drives in the third quarter and they lost 14 yards on nine plays, with the Rams forcing three three-and-outs.
If you think that was bad, Washington also failed to generate a single first down in the fourth quarter, too. The Football Team had four drives in the fourth, resulting in a total of eight yards, three punts, and one turnover on downs.
In sum, Washington had seven second half drives, six punts, and they had a total of -5 yards. It’s hard to sum up anything more ‘key’ than the fact that Washington entered last season without a viable quarterback — yet they also somehow won the NFC East. I know how bad the division was last season, Washington only went 7-9, but it’s remarkable that this same Week 5 team that was historically inept, also managed to make the playoffs.
The Rams held Alex Smith to 9-of-17 passing, 37 yards, forced one fumble, and sacked him six times. But he also just had no business being on a football field that day.
Final Score: Rams 30, Football Team 10
Up next: at San Francisco 49ers