Champion Rams super disappointing in lopsided loss to Cowboys

It still might not officially qualify as a Super Bowl hangover.

But the Rams are dazed. hitless. They are on the verge of a crash, if not a complete collapse.

A team that announced its intention to “play it back” and become the first team to repeat as Super Bowl champions in almost two decades appears to have come away empty-handed.

And coach Sean McVay and his staff are dealing with a major headache after the Dallas Cowboys beat the Rams 22-10 at SoFi Stadium on Sunday.

A crowd of 74,154 loyal Cowboys watched as the Rams lost their second straight game, falling to 2-3.

Consider this: Aside from starting this season with a blowout loss to the Buffalo Bills, the Rams have never been below .500 since McVay’s hiring in 2017.

“It’s not a good movie right now,” McVay said.

It was a horror show for a coach who has guided the Rams to two Super Bowl trips and four playoff appearances in five seasons.

Quarterback Matthew Stafford continues to make game-changing turnovers. The offense can hardly score touchdowns. The injury line is a shambles as Stafford is under constant pressure and a rushed attack fails to materialise.

The defense failed to make a turnover for the third year in a row.

And the Cowboys became the second team to block a Rams punt this season.

“This is a challenging time right now,” McVay said.

It must certainly be for Stafford.

A week after the San Francisco 49ers sacked the quarterback seven times, Cowboys All-Pro linebacker Micah Parsons fomented a stampede that sacked Stafford five times, hit him 11 times and repeatedly had him slowly walking to the sidelines.

“Everyone has to close the gap up front, starting with us,” said left tackle Joe Noteboom. “We just have to take on a little more responsibility and help him.”

Tutu Atwell caught a 54-yard pass and fellow wide receiver Cooper Kupp converted a short reception into a 75-yard touchdown, but those were the lone Rams highlights.

Rams receiver Cooper Kupp breaks away from the Cowboys defense and scores a 75-yard touchdown in the second quarter.

Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp breaks away from the Cowboys defense and scores a 75-yard touchdown in the second quarter.

(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

“Other than that, there really wasn’t much to write home about,” McVay said before correcting himself. “There was nothing to write home about.”

Stafford, who had an intercepted pass and lost two fumbles, would likely struggle to hold a pen after the beating he endured.

Trouble began in the first series when Cowboys end Dorance Armstrong fired Stafford and forced a fumble. End DeMarcus Lawrence scooped the ball and returned it 19 yards for a touchdown. In the following series, Armstrong blocked a Riley Dixon punt to set up a field goal.

The Rams managed to take a 10-9 lead on Kupp’s touchdown in the second quarter, but the Cowboys shut them out for the rest of the game.

A week after scoring just three field goals in a 24-9 win over the 49ers, the Rams faltered again and again. Even ultra-reliable kicker Matt Gay missed a field goal attempt for the first time this season.

“We have to find a way to get the ball into the end zone,” said Stafford, who couldn’t repeat last season’s quick start.

In the first five games of the 2021 season, Stafford passed 12 touchdowns with three interceptions. He has five touchdowns with seven interceptions this season.

Last week after Stafford lost a fumble and the 49ers returned an interception for a game-winning touchdown, McVay said Stafford played “excellently.”

On Sunday, McVay said others had to play better around Stafford.

“I love Matthew Stafford,” McVay said. “I’ll ride with this guy until the end of time.”

Stafford said he would look inside. He declined to assign blame.

“In the NFL, the margins to win are very small,” he said, “and our margins are really, really small right now.”

The Rams will play the struggling Carolina Panthers at SoFi Stadium on Sunday, so maybe McVay and the team can find a remedy for their distress and solve their offensive problems before heading out on an open date.

“Whatever it is,” running back Cam Akers said, “we’ve got to get it under control.”

There’s no need to panic, said security officer Nick Scott.

“If we panic and try to overtrain and overdo it and the guys try to overdo it, then we’re just going to keep burying ourselves,” he said.

There is “a lot of football left,” McVay said, but the Rams’ urgency needs to increase this week.

“Try to get to 3-3,” he said, “and then we need to be able to do a lot of things about the bye to clean this thing up.” Champion Rams super disappointing in lopsided loss to Cowboys

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