The Los Angeles Rams defeated the Indianapolis Colts 27-24 Sunday afternoon at Lucas Oil Stadium, moving to 2-0 on the young season.
LA led for most of the game, but the Colts had plenty of chances to build momentum and take control of the game. Ultimately, Indy came up short in the fourth quarter. This was a closer contest than most expected, and there were a number of up and down moments and individual performances:
Cooper Kupp, WR
The reliable Cooper Kupp was the engine of the Rams offense versus Indy, amassing 9 receptions for 163 yards and 2 touchdowns. In the first two games of the 2021 season Kupp has accumulated 16 catches for 271 yards and three scores. The three touchdowns already match his total from the entire 2020 season.
The Rams were trailing early in the fourth quarter and Kupp stepped up when the team needed him the most, connecting with quarterback Matthew Stafford for a 44-yard catch and run down the left sideline and then capping off the drive with a 10-yard touchdown grab on the following play.
Kupp has had a red-hot start in the team’s first two games, and it will be exciting to see what he can do in a full season with his new quarterback.
Jalen Ramsey, CB
It was a relatively quiet afternoon for LA’s star corner, but Jalen Ramsey intercepted backup quarterback Jacob Eason (who replaced the injured Carson Wentz) to essentially seal the victory for the Rams. Ramsey also made a couple of plays setting the edge and in the run game. This is a result of the veteran playing in the “star” position, which allows him to affect the game in ways a traditional outside corner likely would not.
Rushing Defense / Defensive Line
The most notable portion of LA’s defensive performance were the multiple goal line stands that made the difference in the final score.
On the opening drive of the game, the defense held tough to stop 3 consecutive runs from the 1 yard line and then OLB Leonard Floyd sacked Wentz on fourth down to end the drive.
On the third drive the Rams were backed up to their own 3-yard line. The defense once again stuffed Jonathan Taylor and then on the next play ILB Troy Reeder intercepted a shovel pass from Wentz to end the drive.
Troy Reeder said the goal-line shovel pass (the one he picked) was a scouted look.— Jourdan Rodrigue (@JourdanRodrigue) September 19, 2021
Taylor, who is one of the better runners in the NFL, finished the game with 15 attempts for 51 yards, which represents an average of 3.4 yards per carry. Nyheim Hines was not overly involved in this contest, recording 2 touches for 22 yards.
DT Sebastian Joseph-Day was a key driver of the run defense. Floyd had a couple of strong moments setting the edge, including being the first to hit Taylor on the goal line and slowing his momentum so the interior defensive line could make the play. Second-year player Jonah Williams also had a strong day and stood out at times in both the ground game and pass rush.
Aaron Donald drew a tough matchup against G Quenton Nelson, though LA’s star pass rusher still was able to affect the game and apply pressure to Wentz.
Wentz was under constant duress, though he was able to escape at times to make plays down the field. This was a very encouraging performance by the Los Angeles defensive.
Sony Michel, RB
Starter Darrell Henderson left the game in the second half with a rib injury and did not return, leaving the newly acquired Sony Michel and rookie Jake Funk to handle the running back duties. Michel was impressive in Henderson’s absence, displaying solid patience and vision on his way to rushing for 46 yards on 10 attempts (4.6 yard average).
Henderson was reliable early in the game, but the Rams didn’t get going on the ground until Michel came in to chew up the clock. Funk made appearances on third down but did not end up touching the ball outside of a few kick returns. The situation is still developing, but if Henderson misses much game time, the Rams will likely rotate between Michel and Funk depending on the situation.
Matt Orzech, LS; Nick Scott, S; Johhny Hecker, P
The Rams surrendered the lead in the fourth quarter to Indy, albeit short-lived, on a fumble when attempting a punt from their own end zone. Indy scored a touchdown on the play.
Special teams ace and safety Nick Scott initially lined up directly behind long snapper Matt Orzech and then shifted to his left. Orzech snapped the ball, which clipped Scott and bounced into the end zone. It is difficult to discern whether Scott failed to shift over far enough or if Orzech misfired the snap. Either way, punter Johnny Hecker should have fallen on the ball for a safety instead of picking the ball up and trying to make a play. This error by Hecker cost LA 5 points and the lead at the time (a safety would have maintained a 1-point Rams lead).
The Colts were a tough out Sunday afternoon, but this costly mistake gave Indy life late in the game when the Rams otherwise may have been able to put them away.
Hekker also had a shaky performance against Indianapolis, recording punts of 3 punts for a net total of 108 yards. This represents an average of only 36.3 yards, though Hekker did boot a 46-yard punt. After a 2020 season that was below expectations, the veteran is looking to bounce back in 2021. Fortunately for the Rams, it does not seem they will need to punt all too often.
Van Jefferson, WR
Second-year receiver Van Jefferson was targeted 3 times and recorded 1 reception 14 yards; however, it was the play that he did not make that earned him a spot on the “losers’ list.
Stafford hit Jefferson on a pass that was low and away from the nearest defender on what would have been a key third down conversion, but the ball squirted out at Jefferson hit the ground. LA was leading by 3 points at the time and a score on that drive might have been insurmountable for the Colts. Instead, Indy scored a touchdown on the very next play due to the aforementioned fumble by Orzech and/or Scott.
Kenny Young, ILB
Starting inside linebacker Kenny Young earned a penalty and was ejected from the game after making contract with an official. The mental error came in the red zone and gave the Colts a fresh set of downs (a taunting penalty on the Colts moved the ball backwards). This seemed to be a very emotional reaction, and veterans Donald and Ramsey spoke to the linebacker in the aftermath on the field.
Rookie ILB Ernest Jones replaced Young in most packages. It was a mild surprise that he earned the nod over veteran Travin Howard. Young should be careful to give the rookie too many opportunities, as Jones may be closer to taking over the starting role than was previously understood.
That was a dumb, selfish, emotional play by Kenny Young.— SeattleRams (@seattlerams_nfl) September 19, 2021
Overall, there are no style points in the NFL and a win is a win. Los Angeles moves to 2-0 on the season and will face a high-flying Tampa Bay Buccaneers team next Sunday at SoFi Stadium.
Listen: Rams-Colts INSTANT REACTION SHOW