Despite scoring just one touchdown and committing five turnovers, the Rams still had a chance to win in the final minute of Sunday's 16-10 loss to the Seahawks.
Though the Rams trailed for the majority of the second half, the game never seemed out of reach. And with just over a minute on the clock, the Rams took over at their own 25-yard line for a final shot at a fourth-quarter comeback.
In what was an uncharacteristic day for the Los Angeles offense, quarterback Jared Goff had already thrown two interceptions and lost a fumble, running back Todd Gurley had been limited to just 50 yards from scrimmage, and the unit had failed to score on three of four trips to the red zone.
But even through such adversity, the Rams seemed back seemed to find something for the contest's last drive. Prior to the first play of their final series, head coach Sean McVay pulled his quarterback aside, later saying he told Goff, "We've got confidence, let's go execute to the best of our ability and give ourselves a chance to go out and win this football game."
And execute he did.
With 67 seconds on the clock and no timeouts, quarterback Jared Goff began the drive with a 35-yard completion to tight end Tyler Higbee.
Then on 2nd-and-10 from the Seattle 40-yard line, Goff hit wide receiver Robert Woods on a 20-yard strike to take Los Angeles back into the red zone. And with 17 seconds left on the clock, it seemed as if the momentum was finally in the Rams' favor.
"We expected to win," Woods said of the final drive. "[Goff] marched down the ball, threw a key pass to me and Higbee, and set us up great. We had enough time and opportunity to make the play and that's what you want from your quarterback is [someone] that's never phased. Whatever time is left on the clock, we're driving down and trying to score."
After a spike and an incomplete pass to Gurley on the offense's left, Goff targeted wide receiver Cooper Kupp on a pass towards the middle of the end zone. And while the receiver has come to be known for his sure-handedness, Kupp's diving grab came up short as he failed to haul in the game winning touchdown.
"It is what it is," Kupp said postgame. "We're playing in the NFL, you're expected to make those plays and my expectations are no different. I expected to make that play. I can't say anything about whether it was behind me or a one-handed catch, [but] if I'm putting my hands on the ball, I've got to make that play."
Goff came to Kupp yet again on 4th-and-10, on what looked like a similar play. But this time, Kupp was well covered and the pass fell short. The Rams were forced to turn the ball over on downs.
The quarterback said he told Kupp after the drop that there was a reason he went his way with the football.
"Well I told him, 'I could've picked anyone to throw it to and I picked you,'" Goff said. "'It's because you're a
good player, a guy that we trust and a guy that we believe in.' Told him not to get to down on himself, he's a very serious kid and a very good player, and someone who knows he wants to make that play. But I just told him, 'Don't worry about it, it's a long season and we're going to have so many more situations throughout our career together, just like that.'"
Even in the loss, McVay praised Goff's improvement in game-winning drive situations like the one he faced on Sunday. In Week 2, the Rams had a similar opportunity to win the game against Washington on the final drive. That day, Goff's first pass was an interception, sealing the loss.
"I think you look at the last time we were in that situation — on the first play — we turn the ball over," McVay said. "Then this one, he gave us a chance. I thought he made a couple of big throws down the stretch and whether we were able to get it done or not, he put us in a position to do that, so I think that was definitely an improvement."
"But again, anytime you don't get the result, it's disappointing for our team," he continued. "What I love about this locker room is we've got a bunch of high character people that will look at themselves critically, figure out how they can improve, be a part of the solution and continue to stay connected as a team."