‘Rams House’ becomes ‘Cowboys House’ during embarrassing loss

“Who is house?”

“Cowboys!”

That was her answer. That’s what they shouted. That’s what a building full of Dallas Cowboys fans sounded like at SoFi Stadium on Sunday afternoon, and it was embarrassing.

Not only have the defending Super Bowl champions lost their mojo, but they’ve passed down their signature chant to insane misfits, and it’s been humiliating.

Even without their $40 million quarterback, the Cowboys marched into Inglewood, flattened the Rams with their yellow shorts, celebrated with thousands of jeering blue jerseys, and it was humiliating.

The Cowboys won 22-10, and while that may not be the exact low point of coach Sean McVay’s six-year tenure here, it does square with the ranks.

They have a losing record (2-3) this deep in the season for the first time under McVay. Under McVay, they’re dead boring for the first time. Under McVay, for the first time, they seem completely clueless.

“There wasn’t much to write home about … there wasn’t anything to write home about,” McVay said.

But if one still insists on writing home about that afternoon, the writing can be done in one word.

Help!

The Rams just lost to a Cowboys team led not by quarterback Dak Prescott but by a waiver wire backup named Cooper Rush, and they did so in front of a stadium full of visiting fans who roared at every misguided move.

The Rams lost a fumble that became a Cowboys touchdown. They had blocked a punt that eventually became a Cowboys field goal. They gave up a 57-yard touchdown run through prospective Hall of Famer defensemen. They botched an estate that had been kept alive with a bold counterfeit punt. They botched a possession that started on the Cowboys’ 29-yard line. They missed a field goal in the fourth quarter that would have kept them within striking distance.

The Cowboys' Israel Mukuamu celebrates after the Rams' Matt Gay missed a field goal in the fourth quarter.

The Cowboys’ Israel Mukuamu celebrates after the Rams’ Matt Gay missed a field goal in the fourth quarter.

(Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times)

They couldn’t run (38 yards), they couldn’t protect (five sacks), and they couldn’t score (one touchdown in their last nine quarters).

Combined with last week’s poor performance against the San Francisco 49ers, this marks the first time a McVay Rams team has gone under 20 points in consecutive games.

With the baseball playoffs starting down the road, it’s fair to wonder about the position of McVay’s fastball. Because at the moment he has apparently lost his composure.

“It’s not good enough right now,” McVay said of the recent results. “I will never pretend that it is.”

No need to pretend. While it seemed like virtually every Rams season ticket holder sold their tickets to Cowboys fans, they were certainly watching from home and were certainly just as disgusted as the trotting, dejected Rams.

The game began with a fumble from Matthew Stafford, who was thrown back 19 yards for a DeMarcus Lawrence touchdown.

The game ended with a Stafford interception at the goal line, Malik Hooker rolled to the floor in celebration, Stafford lay motionless on the floor and all of Inglewood seemed to be standing and cheering.

They were bookends of pain pinching an afternoon of pain.

“This is a bit of an adversity that we’re facing right now,” McVay said.

On a day when the Cowboys gained just 239 total yards and Rush completed just 10 passes for 102 yards, the adversity was largely a Rams creation.

Your reaction to that early Cowboys scoop-and-score? The Rams’ subsequent possession ended with Dorance Armstrong flying through the line again to block Riley Dixon’s punt, resulting in Brett Maher’s 33-yard field goal for a 9-0.

For the Rams, it was a day when nobody seemed to block anyone. It doesn’t help that they’re missing three starters on offense, but that doesn’t explain the complete lack of commitment.

“Sometimes you get a guy or two who doesn’t do their job right, it’s difficult to make things work,” said tight end Tyler Higbee.

One, two… 10, 11… who’s counting at this point?

The Rams appeared close to reaching the end zone on their third drive after Stafford threw a beautiful 54-yard pass into the arms of Tutu Atwell for the former second-round draft pick’s first career catch . But Cam Akers was stuffed and Stafford was hampered and the Rams’ drive faltered, resulting in a 29-yard field goal from Matt Gay.

“We have to be able to play football efficiently…if we don’t play football efficiently then we have problems protecting ourselves,” McVay said. “I love Matthew Stafford, he comes out and does everything in his power for this team. He needs help. We have to be able to help him.”

The Rams recovered from the missed touchdown opportunity a few possessions later when Kupp reached out and snatched a Stafford pass down the middle and ran through the defense to complete a 75-yard touchdown pass. At this point, early in the second quarter, the Rams were actually leading 10-9.

But the euphoria didn’t last as the Cowboys scored three games later on a 57-yard touchdown rush by Tony Pollard that included three missed tackles and several huge holes.

The game never felt really tight again. Every offensive series apparently ended with a bad pass to Cooper Kupp. Every defensive streak was fraught with missed tackles and pressure that even Rush couldn’t shake. And like seemingly every Rams game this season, the ending was punctuated with a question.

What happened to this team?

One can speak of a Super Bowl hangover, but the Rams should have sweated it out long ago, right? It’s a missing piece, but they still have two of the best offense and defense in the league, right?

What they appear to lack is the individual commitment to the culture of selflessness and sacrifice that propelled this team to a championship just nine months ago. Maybe it’s the distractions that come with being a champion in Hollywood, but apparently not everyone is focused on the job. McVay hinted as much in his post-game interview and vowed to fix the issue.

“This is a challenging time right now but I can assure you of one thing,” he said, “we will keep swinging. We will keep fighting.”

It’s going to be an uphill slog. Andrew Whitworth is not coming out of retirement. Van Jefferson won’t be back from his knee surgery for at least a couple of weeks. And does anyone think Odell Beckham Jr. will return to this mess once he recovers?

All of this and in addition to their divisional schedule, the Rams still have to play in Tampa Bay, in Kansas City and in Green Bay, as well as face the Chargers in a “road” game at SoFi.

“It’s not a good movie right now, we’re not used to that,” McVay said. “But history is not yet written.”

The Rams can only hope things get better. Much better. Like right now.

https://www.latimes.com/sports/rams/story/2022-10-09/column-plaschke-analyzes-rams-vs-cowboys ‘Rams House’ becomes ‘Cowboys House’ during embarrassing loss

Emma Bowman

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