Check out in-game photos of the Rams' Week 11 matchup with the Minnesota Vikings.
MINNEAPOLIS — The Rams entered Sunday as the league's highest-scoring team, going up against the No. 5 team in scoring defense in the Vikings. And on this day, it was defense that got the best of the matchup, as Minnesota defeated Los Angeles, 24-7.
It's the first time this season the Rams have been held to under 10 points, and only the second time this season Los Angeles has scored fewer than 20 points in a game.
"Didn't do enough things to win the football game and it starts with me," head coach Sean McVay said postgame. "We talk about it every single week, why you have to be ready to go because it is a very humbling league and definitely got humbled today by a very good team."
The Rams managed only 254 total yards, 15 first downs, and finished 3-of-11 in third-down efficiency. Prior to Los Angeles' final possession late in the fourth quarter, the club had just 11 first downs and 200 yards of offense.
"Their defense is really good," quarterback Jared Goff said. "It's a really, really good football team — offensively, defensively, I mean everything. They were really good."
"Hats off to them. They are definitely a good team," running back Todd Gurley said. On the other side, the Vikings' offense was efficient all day led by former Ram Case Keenum. The home team ended the contest with 451 total yards, 27 first downs, and 7-of-14 in third-down efficiency.
Keenum was particularly effective against his old team, beating the Rams with a variety of quick rhythm passes. He also was able to use his feet to escape a collapsing pocket a few times and either find a completion or throw the ball away. Keenum finished 27-of-38 passing for 280 yards with a touchdown.
"Case did a good job of getting out of the pocket, making some things happen," defensive lineman Michael Brockers said. "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."
"He played his tail off today, he played really well," Goff said of his old teammate. "[I was] 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."
Injuries were also a factor in the contest, as cornerbacks Kayvon Webster (concussion) and Nickell Robey-Coleman (thigh) left the game and did not return. Troy Hill (hamstring) was also inactive for today's contest.
"We expect the guys if they do what they are asked to kind of step up and step in," McVay said. "We have confidence in those players. You see why they are good playmakers on the perimeter. They did a good job of making plays today and certainly it makes it difficult when you lose Nickell, and when you lose Kayvon, but we have a lot of confidence in some those younger corners to step up and contribute and compete in the right ways."
Wide receiver Robert Woods — who reached a new career high with 703 yards receiving after making eight receptions for 81 yards on Sunday — also suffered a shoulder injury. But because the injury occurred in late in the fourth quarter, McVay's only update was that Woods was having his shoulder checked out.
The game started well for Los Angeles, as the offense drove down the field and immediately scored to quiet an electric crowd. Goff completed four of his five passes on the possession for 50 yards — including a 23-yard
completion to rookie wideout Cooper Kupp off play action.
Gurley finished off the possession with an eight-yard touchdown run. His 11 total touchdowns in 2017 are a new career high.
That, however, would be the only touchdown the Rams would score on Sunday.
Minnesota tied the game early in the second quarter with the help of a short field and a bit of a Houdini act from Keenum. Los Angeles' offensive drive ended with a sack all the way back at the one-yard line, which put punter Johnny Hekker on the edge of the end zone for his kick. With a good return — and an illegal shift penalty — Minnesota began its possession on the Los Angeles 30.
Then on 2nd-and-5, Keenum evaded potential sacks by outside linebackers Robert Quinn and Connor Barwin to find wide receiver Adam Thielen for a 12-yard reception. Keenum had to first step up to avoid Quinn before he ducked out of Barwin's arms.
"I think there was some plays out there where we missed some sacks, we had plays in the backfield, really critical penalties," Brockers said. "When you have things like that it's just the signs of a bad day, I think that's what it was."
A few plays later, running back Latavius Murray ran up the middle for an eight-yard touchdown.
Later in the second quarter, Minnesota had a chance to take the lead but kicker Kai Forbath missed the 48-yard attempt wide right.
In response, Los Angeles put together a solid drive to get deep into Vikings territory. On 3rd-and-4 from the Minnesota 11, Goff connected with Kupp on a pass over the middle. But the rookie wideout fumbled just as he was nearing the one-yard line. That's where Minnesota recovered the loose ball for a game-changing turnover.
"They just popped the ball," Kupp said. "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."
"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. It's a long season, he makes so many plays, [so] I'm not worried about him."
Neither team could get much going for the rest of the first half, and the score stayed tied at seven at the break.
While Forbath's second field goal attempt of the day went off the left upright, Minnesota was able to get on the board midway through the fourth quarter after putting together a methodical drive. Murray scored his second touchdown of the day from two-yards out, giving the Vikings a 14-7 lead.
That didn't seem insurmountable, but Minnesota put the game on ice on its next drive. The Rams blitzed on 2nd-and-10 at the home team's 35. Keenum hit Thielen with a quick pass to the left, the wide receiver made a move, and he was off to the races for a 65-yard touchdown.
With the loss, the Rams are now 7-3 on the season. They'll be back at home to face the Saints next week.