It's been a while since the Rams dropped a game, but that's what happened on Sunday as the club fell 24-7 to the Vikings.
It was a tough road matchup — one with an electric atmosphere at U.S. Bank Stadium, combined with Minnesota's strong offensive and defensive attack. And while the Vikings got the best of the Rams on Sunday, there's a chance — and that's all it is at this point, a chance — that Los Angeles will see that team again for a meaningful matchup.
For now, here are five takeaways from Sunday.
1) Poor offensive output
The Rams came into Week 11 averaging 32.9 points per game, and the Vikings held them to only seven points — Los Angeles' lowest output of the season.
But it wasn't just points. The Rams had a rough time moving the ball against the vaunted Vikings defense all game. The visitors entered the final drive with just 200 total yards and 11 first downs. And the struggles are clear from the time of possession, which the Rams lost 22:38 to 37:22.
"From our side, seeing their defense, and seeing all the different looks they do, all the talent they have especially up front with the pass rush makes that team special and hard to beat," said quarterback Jared Goff, who finished 23-of-37 passing for 225 yards.
"We played a great team today, we knew the challenge we were up [against]," running back Todd Gurley said. "We just didn't make enough plays on offense, so we'll bounce back next week."
Gurley had only 37 yards on 15 carries, though he did have an six-yard touchdown run to give him a new career high with 11 total touchdowns in a season.
But with that as the Rams' only touchdown, the club clearly must get back to sustaining drives and scoring points to compete.
2) An old friend plays well for the other side
Case Keenum facing his old team was a storyline all week, the Minnesota quarterback was elusive and effective all game long. He completed 27 of his 38 passes for 280 yards and a touchdown — a 65-yard quick catch and run by wide receiver Adam Thielen.
Keenum also made plays with his feet, evading sacks and making defenders run around all game to chase him. On one play in the first half, Keenum stepped out of the way of outside linebacker Robert Quinn before ducking out of outside linebacker Connor Barwin's arms and delivering a pass for a 12-yard completion.
"They did a good job of getting the ball out quick, getting a good out route for five yards that keeps them ahead of the sticks," defensive lineman Michael Brockers said. "So, Case did a good job of getting out of the pocket, making some things happen. He knew us, he knew not to hold the ball a long time, he knew if he was going to make some plays it was going to have to be with his feet."
Goff visited with Keenum for a few moments both before and after the game, and had complimentary things to say about his former teammate.
"He played his tail off today, he played really well," Goff said. "Sitting on the sidelines like 'come on throw it to us, throw it to us,' and he wouldn't do it. He played really, really well and he deserves everything coming to him."
3) Injuries take their toll
Defending the Vikings' receivers is difficult enough with a healthy 46-man gameday roster. But that task becomes even taller when two defensive backs go down to injury.
That's what happened on Sunday, as both Kayvon Webster (concussion) and Nickell Robey-Coleman (thigh) left the game and did not return.
Both had made plays in the early going of the game — particularly Robey-Coleman, who stopped a screen in the backfield for a seven-yard loss.
"With Kayvon, he's in concussion protocol," McVay said Monday. "It seemed like today he was in good shape, so taking steps in the right direction and then with Nickell, we talked about his thigh injury and we'll monitor him as the week progresses, but those are the guys with the game yesterday."
With both Webster and Robey-Coleman out — and fourth cornerback Troy Hill inactive after being listed as questionable with a hamstring injury — Dominique Hatfield played 53 percent of the Rams' defensive snaps. The undrafted rookie out of Utah made a pair of tackles, according to the press box stats.
Hill, however, should be back for this week's game, McVay said on Monday.
Wide receiver Robert Woods, however, will be out for a couple weeks with a left shoulder injury.
4) Turnover margin remains critical
In the seven games the Rams have won this season, they've been ahead or tied in the turnover margin. In the three games they've lose, they've been behind.
It sounds simple, but there's a reason why McVay constantly harps on the fact that aside from points, the turnover margin is the biggest indicator of wins and losses in the NFL.
"Obviously, we had one turnover, they had none," Gurley said. "So, you know that's always going to determine the outcome of the game."
The Rams had not committed a giveaway since Week 7 against the Cardinals, playing two consecutive turnover-free games against the Giants and Texans. But in the second quarter, rookie wide receiver Cooper Kupp fumbled a reception on the one-yard line. Minnesota recovered, ending what looked like a promising scoring drive.
"They just popped the ball. Caught the ball out of the middle there and tried to turn and poke my head in. They just made a great play on it," Kupp said. "He was able to recover it and I need to do a better job of securing the ball."
"He's hard on himself, but he's a great player," Goff said of Kupp. "He makes smart plays and does more little things that go unnoticed. He can't be down on himself."
5) How will L.A. respond?
The Rams haven't dropped many games so far this season. But when they have, the team has found a way to bounce back well. After the Week 2 loss to Washington, Los Angeles ripped off consecutive victories over the 49ers and Cowboys. Then after losing to the Seahawks in Week 5, the Rams won four straight against the Jaguars, Cardinals, Giants, and Texans.
So after this loss to what is certainly one of the best teams in the league, how will the Rams respond?
"It's football. It's not like it's the first time we'll lose a game and it's not the last time we're going to lose a game," Gurley said. "We came up here, on the road and lost. Definitely needed that win, but it kind of is what it is now. We'll move on from it."
"Don't let this beat us twice," Brockers said. "This is a good team — they are a great team and we're a great team. It just wasn't our day, don't have our heads down, don't feel bad for yourself, you know, 'woe is me.' Just get together, come in next week and prepare like we always do for a game and come with our minds right."
Left tackle Andrew Whitworth has been to the playoffs a number of times with the Bengals and has been one of the key cogs in the Rams' offensive success this season. And that gives his take on the offense scoring on its first drive but then stalling the rest of the game a different perspective.
"It's frustrating, but, you know, the reality is we need it. We need some adversity," Whitworth said. "You know, it's not to say we didn't need to come back and win that game. But, you know what? Some of the adverse situations in that game — on the road in a really hard place to play against probably one of the best defenses in the league — to play the kind of game that we were in, and for this team to be in the game that we were in, I think it shows you that we're legit and that we're the real deal. And if we get this opportunity again in the playoffs, and get a chance to get in, then we'll be prepared for it. And that's the kind of games you're going to play. If you want to play after the regular season, if you want to play late in the year in big games, this is the atmosphere you're going to have to learn how to play and win in."
Check out the best shots from the Rams' Week 11 matchup with the Vikings in Minnesota.