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Despite disappointing end to the season, players optimistic about 2019 and beyond

The mood was somber as Rams players sat arrayed on seven different podiums in the underbelly of Atlanta's Mercedes-Benz Stadium, following a 13-3 loss to the Patriots in Super Bowl LIII.

Occasionally an announcement would blare that a Patriots player was available at a podium next door. Or that Super Bowl LIII MVP Julian Edelman was going to speak in a special room reserved just for him and New England head coach Bill Belichick.

Los Angeles' players answered question after question about what went wrong in Sunday's game — a contest that came 17 years to the day after the Rams' last Super Bowl appearance, where these two franchises met and had the same ultimate result.

"Well, they did a great job with battling back and forth," wide receiver Brandin Cooks said. "And they made the plays. We had some opportunities there and we got to capitalize, capitalize on our turnovers, capitalize on our opportunities and we just didn't do that to the max today."

"They made a play and we didn't," defensive tackle Aaron Donald said. "As I said, it was a big game and they executed. We just didn't so we need to find a way to keep working, find a way to get better. We just have to learn from it."

"They hardly scored, and we were in this game up until the ending of the fourth quarter," linebacker Cory Littleton said. "We were doing everything just fine and we just made mistakes at the end and they capitalized."

While the Rams all took their turns in taking accountability for their own roles in the loss, quarterback Jared Goff was particularly hard on himself. Like head coach Sean McVay, Goff described himself as feeling "numb" after the game — and he looked it. The 24-year-old quarterback got sacked four times and was hit a total of 12 times, an obvious symptom of Los Angeles' offensive struggles on Sunday.

Goff finished the Super Bowl 19-of-38 passing for 229 yards with an interception.

"We're trying to process it all, but we know what happened. We got outplayed. We got completely outplayed," Goff said. "Like I said, for an offense like we know we're capable of being, for them to do what they did to us is so impressive, and we tip our cap to them. At the same time, we left so much out there on the field. That's so hard to take right now, and I'm mad at myself. I wish I would have done some things differently. I wish I could go back and make some plays, but that's all stuff I can learn from and use moving forward."

Taking the loss as a lesson — that was also a common theme in each interview. Left tackle Andrew Whitworth said he feels like there's plenty Goff can learn from his first Super Bowl outing, especially given his age.

"I think any experience that you get to go through and move forward is one that you can learn from," Whitworth said. "I'm a guy who believes in adversity and what it can do to you, it's just how you respond to it. For him, I think it would be important for him to respond the right way, which knowing the kid, I know that he will. This will make him a stronger player and I have no doubt in this franchise and Sean and the direction they're headed. Jared is going to be a special football player."

"I think you know what to expect," said punter Johnny Hekker, who set a Super Bowl record with his 65-yard boot in the contest. "It was such a new experience, the media craziness and coming out a week early and having a whole other week to prepare. Now you have that experience and you can hopefully scratch and claw back into another one and have a way to make a bigger impact on the next game and win it."

So even though, as Donald put it, "Any time that you lose, you are going to be down," there is reason to be optimistic that the Rams have the tools in place to learn from each lesson the Super Bowl provided.

Check out behind the scenes photos from the Super Bowl picture day.

Given all of Los Angeles talented pieces — both in terms of players and coaches — the men on those podiums felt the team has a chance to be back in the big game next year.

"Yeah, we have a great team," running back Todd Gurley said. "We have a great leader in coach [McVay]. Like I said, we are just starting. When we start back up, just take it one day at a time. Obviously, it's not the outcome we wanted, but we had a hell of a year — NFC champs. We just didn't get the job done."

"You do realize that the team we just got beat by was in a similar situation last year," Goff said. "There is no moral victory or anything good out of this, but you do realize we have a good team. We have a lot of good players coming back, good coaches. I have so much faith in Sean and everyone on the staff and in each other. It just sucks that we didn't get it done tonight, and they were better than us."

"Yes, for sure — we have the coaches, too," Donald said. "All we can do is get better, that is all I can say. I know that I am going to get better. I am going to find ways to break down the film better and when teams slow me down, what I have to do to try and beat that. Just have to learn from it, keep working and, like I said, we will be back. We will be back for sure."

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