The Rams made history on Sunday, ushering in a new era under head coach Sean McVay with a dominating performance over the Colts.
In the team’s season opener, the Los Angeles’ defense put up 16 of the team’s 46 points, outscoring the Indianapolis offense by seven. The performance marked the first time in NFL history that a defense has recorded two pick-sixes and a safety in Week 1 of the regular season.
The unit started off strong in the first quarter when cornerback Trumaine Johnson picked off quarterback Scott Tolzien on the Colts’ first pass of the day. After a tackle for loss by defensive tackle Tyrunn Walker, Indianapolis was backed into a passing situation on 3rd-and-10.
Johnson cut in front of Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton on what looked to be a deep out to the defense’s right and took the ball 39 yards to the house, marking his 17th career interception.
“Just trying to set the tone early,” Johnson said of his interception. “Coming in we wanted to score on defense and we did that. I was glad to make a play for this team.”
But Johnson wasn’t done yet. The Rams’ captain also forced his second turnover of the day at the end of the first quarter.
On 2nd-and-8 from the Indianapolis 25, Tolzien completed a short pass to Hilton. But when he attempted to gain a few extra yards after the completion, Johnson stripped the ball right out of Hilton’s hands and dove on it to give the home team an extra possession.
“Like I said we just come out and try to set the tone early,” he said. “It was a big play for us. We went down there and scored after that.”
In the third quarter, safety Lamarcus Joyner recorded a pick-six of his own, leaping high into the air and taking it into the end zone untouched to increase the Rams’ lead to 37-3. The interception was the first of his career.
Joyner credited defensive coordinator Wade Phillips’ new scheme with putting the secondary in the position to make big plays.
“When technique meets opportunity, you make the play and it’s up to Wade and his defensive scheme to put us in the right place,” he said. “And that’s what it’s been doing since preseason. We’re just capitalizing off the position that we’re put in.”
Check out in-game photos from the Rams' season opener against the Colts at the Coliseum.
Even after two picks and a series of big tackles, the defense continued to play lights out. With 9:18 remaining in the fourth quarter, outside linebacker Cory Littleton stripped running back Marlon Mack deep in Indianapolis territory and the ball rolled into the end zone. Indianapolis quarterback Jacoby Brissett fell on the ball and defensive end Morgan Fox touched him down for the safety.
Overall, the Rams’ defense allowed just 225 total yards and one touchdown. The defense also recorded five sacks. With its dominant performance, the unit was also able to take some pressure off of quarterback Jared Goff and the Rams’ offense.
“When we come away with the field goal to start the game and then for Trumaine Johnson to have the pick-six. Then when they end up getting a little something going offensively, here comes Lamarcus Joyner,” McVay said postgame. “So can’t say enough about the defensive effort as a whole. I thought they were consistently putting pressure on Tolzien all day and really loved the way those guys fly around. It was fun to watch.”
“When you get two defensive touchdowns, that’s fun and getting ‘Tru’ out there and Lamarcus make those plays is fun for us, it helps us, takes a little load off us,” Goff said. “And then ultimately we have fun as a group. We preach that, we preach execute and have fun and enjoy it and today we did.”