Closing out the 2019 preseason on the road, the Los Angeles Rams defeated the Houston Texans 22-10 Thursday night at NRG Stadium. While several of L.A.’s starters traveled, many did not play. Still, that opened up opportunities for some of the same Rams' reserves at key positions to produce once again.
With that in mind, here are five instant takeaways from the exhibition matchup.
1) WOLFORD GETS THE OFFENSE MOVING
A pair of deep completions to WR KhaDarel Hodge helped set up a 12-yard touchdown pass to TE Kendall Blanton for the Rams’ first points, tying the contest at 7-7 late in the first quarter.
Both Allen and Wolford led drives deep into opposing territory last week against the Broncos, but just like last week it was Wolford playmaking that ultimately got the Rams into the endzone. Wolford’s 15-yard touchdown pass to WR Nsimba Webster in the fourth quarter gave him a hand in two Rams’ touchdowns Thursday night.
2) HODGE HOLDS HIS OWN
It was alluded to in the first takeaway, but Hodge also enjoyed a productive day for the Rams offense.
An 18-yard catch and 19-yard grab on the Rams’ second drive aided Wolford in successfully extending plays during the series. He paced Los Angeles’ receivers with a team-high five receptions for 76 yards.
Hodge has performed well in back-to-back preseasons and was arguably the Rams’ most consistent wide receiver on Thursday.
The Rams take on the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium in the final preseason game of 2019.
3) DEFENSE STRUGGLES TO CONTAIN WEBB AT TIMES, BUT ALSO CREATES EXPECTED TAKEAWAYS
Texans QB Joe Webb III had one of the strongest arms of the preseason with 534 total passing yards through the first three games. His 7.0 yards per carry also proved he was capable of making plays with his legs. Against the Rams’ defense, he did both.
A 32-yard scramble on 4thand 6 set up Houston at the Los Angeles 5-yard line, leading to a 5-yard touchdown pass by Webb to TE Jerell Adams for the first points of the contest.
To Los Angeles’ credit, it did continue a trend that was also illustrated of Webb not being immune from mistakes thanks to LB Ogbo Okoronkwo’s first-half strip-sack and DB Ramon Richard’s second-half interception.
4) BRANDON ALLEN’S POSITIVE SECOND-HALF RESPONSE
Competing with Wolford for QB3, Allen had a forgetful first half but made up for it early in the second half.
Allen had two interceptions in the first half, coming on his second and third offensive drives under center. With Allen getting the first snaps at QB, L.A. also went 3-and-out on its first offensive drive.
However, would bounce back late in the third quarter by engineering a 12-play, 59-yard scoring drive capped off by 5-yard touchdown run and ensuing 2-point conversion from RB Justin Davis. The series took early six and half minutes off the clock and helped the Rams retake the lead.
5) OKORONKWO SHINES AGAIN
Since making his Rams debut in Hawaii against the Cowboys, LB Ogbonnia Okoronkwo has been one of Los Angeles’ most consistent pass-rushers of the preseason. Thursday was no different.
In addition to the aforementioned strip-sack, the Oklahoma product added another early in the fourth quarter. The resulting seven-yard loss forced the Texans into a 3rd-and-long situation, eventually punting.
Heading into the preseason finale, Okoronkwo had three QB hits but was still seeking his first sack.