Updated: 7:25 p.m. PT
LOS ANGELES — The Rams had difficulty slowing down Washington's ground attack all game long, as the visitors amassed 385 total yards and possessed the ball for 36:19 to defeat Los Angeles, 27-20.
The Rams tied the game at 20 midway through the fourth quarter, and had a chance to even it once again after Washington scored a go-ahead touchdown with just under two minutes to play. But on 1st-and-10 from the Rams' 28, quarterback Jared Goff threw an interception to Washington linebacker Mason Foster, effectively ending the contest.
"It was just one of those deals — they did a good job playing vision defense," head coach Sean McVay said of the turnover. "Mason Foster made a flat break underneath on a quick-game concept that we had. I probably could have given us a better play, and we could have made a better decision with the football."
"Yeah, I think it was a good play by their defense," Goff said. "They covered it up pretty well. A play I probably should've got to the check down on, and [a play] I wish I wouldn't have made, obviously. Tough way to end it."
But Washington's ground game was Los Angeles' biggest issue on Sunday, as the home team surrendered 229 yards rushing. Washington averaged 5.9 yards per carry as a team, and had three different running backs finish with at least 67 yards.
"They executed really well in what they were doing and kind of caught us in some bad calls sometimes. And also, we just weren't playing physical enough to stop the run," middle linebacker Alec Ogletree said. "You don't do that, those are the kind of yards they're going to put up on you."
"We tried it and that's what we thought we had most success at, is running the football," Washington head coach Jay Gruden said. "From counters or powers, we have a lot of different schemes going at them — gaps, traps, warps, all that stuff, pitches, guys pulling. We have an athletic line — a powerful line — and it was great to show their versatility today."
The ground game started with running back Rob Kelley, who had 78 yards on 12 carries. Kelley, however, left the game with an injury to his ribs and did not return.
Chris Thompson and Samaje Perine picked up where Kelley left off, rushing three times for 77 yards and 21 times for 67 yards, respectively. Two of Thompson's three carries went for touchdowns — one seven yards, another 61 — and he also caught three passes for 29 yards.
Offensively, the Rams started out slow in the first quarter, but were able to get things going as the game continued. Goff finished 15-of-25 passing for 224 yards with a touchdown and an interception. Running back Todd Gurley had 88 yards on 16 carries and three receptions for 48 yards — giving him 136 yards on 19 touches. He also scored a rushing and receiving touchdown.
Both Gurley and Goff mentioned postgame that they noticed Washington wasn't covering Gurley much out on routes out of the backfield and tried to take advantage of it.
"[The receptions] just come when they happen," Gurley said. "They weren't really respecting — they weren't really guarding me at all on the check down. So just told Goff to be alert for me and he was able to hit me on a couple of them."
Gurley's best play was his touchdown catch, during which he hurdled a defender before keeping his balance and stretching the ball over the pylon for an 18-yard scoring strike.
"Just happens," Gurley said of the hurdle. "I don't really pay attention to it too much."
There were other positives to take out of the game — like tight end Gerald Everett's 69-yard reception to the right, and his 24-yard reception down the seam, both of which Goff complimented in his postgame press conference.
But ultimately, the Rams were on the wrong side of this game in part because penalties and turnovers set them back. Gurley fumbled on the first play of the Rams' third drive, giving Washington the ball back at the L.A. 30. And on Los Angeles' penultimate drive, wide receiver Robert Woods was flagged for both unnecessary roughness and offensive pass interference. The latter helped keep the Rams in field-goal range to tie the game instead of potentially scoring a touchdown to go ahead.
"One of them, just ran my route, linebacker just happened to run into me and got called for [offensive pass interference]," Woods said. "The other one, just got to be more controlled and stay in the game and just play within the whistle."
"That's part of that football character that we talk about all the time — taking full responsibility for your actions, for your performance, no excuses, no complaining," McVay said of Woods' comments. "And that's why Robert is one of those guys that we're counting on. We know that he will respond the right way and we expect our entire team to be able to do the same thing."
Check in-game photos of the Rams' matchup with the Washington Redskins at the Coliseum.
Washington got on the board first with a 41-yard field goal midway through the first quarter. Though the visitors had 3rd-and-17 on the Los Angeles 45, quarterback Kirk Cousins was able to neutralize strong pressure with a screen pass to wide receiver Jamison Crowder that gained 21 yards.
The visitors would later score a first-quarter touchdown in large part from Kelley gashing the Rams with runs of 19 and 21 yards to move down the field. But Thompson would finish the drive with a seven-yard run to give Washington a 10-0 advantage.
Gurley's fumble induced a sudden-change situation, with Washington beginning its drive deep in L.A. territory. But the Rams' defense held the visitors to a field goal, keeping the score within reach.
Down 13-0, Los Angeles' offense got going with Goff's 69-yard pass to Everett on 1st-and-10 from the 25. Goff called it an "off schedule" play, as he escaped a collapsing pocket to the right and noticed no one covering Everett on the right side.
"He took the correct angle up the field, and just gave him the ball and [he] ran down the field," Goff said. "He played really well today. The seam ball he caught, too, was really good — really, really good."
Gurley would complete the drive with a one-yard touchdown run, his second rushing touchdown of the season.
Kicker Greg Zuerlein connected on a 32-yard field goal later in the second quarter to bring the Rams within three. But Washington would get a quick touchdown to go into halftime up 20-10.
On 2nd-and-6 from the Washington 39, Cousins handed a draw play to Thompson and the running back went up the middle for a 61-yard touchdown.
Gurley's touchdown reception came early in the third quarter to cut Washington's lead to three. And after trading a few punts, the Rams got tricky on fourth down to extend what would be their game-tying drive in the fourth quarter.
On 4th-and-6 at the Washington 45, punter Johnny Hekker fielded the snap, then cocked fright his arm and fired a pass to wide receiver Josh Reynolds on the left side for a first down. But Reynolds wasn't done, evading defenders to move down the field for a 28-yard gain.
Zuerlein's 40-yard field goal evened the score at 20 with 7:16 left in the game. But Washington used a 10-play, 70-yard drive to to go up by seven and take 5:27 off the clock. Cornerback Trumaine Johnson left the field midway through the drive due to injury, though McVay said postgame it was a cramping issue and Johnson should be fine. But Johnson's absence was felt for the rest of the drive.
Cornerback Kevin Peterson replaced Johnson on the field and was matched up with wide receiver Ryan Grant on Kirk Cousins' game-winning 11-yard touchdown pass to the left side of the end zone.
"They made the plays, we didn't," McVay said. "We've got to look at ourselves in the mirror and see what we can do to get that thing fixed and move forward."
The Rams are now 1-1 in 2017, and will have a particularly quick turnaround this week as they head up to the Bay Area to face the 49ers on Thursday Night Football.
"We've got to look at ourselves — I've got to do a better job for our team as a whole," McVay said. "[This is] the first adversity that we've faced. We really get a chance to see how we'll respond on a short week, so we don't have much time to feel sorry for ourselves about this game."
"it's going to be a great challenge," McVay later added. "It sounds like they had a tough battle against an excellent Seattle team. And I've got a lot of respect of that coaching staff in San Francisco, and I know [49ers head coach] Kyle [Shanahan] will have his guys ready to go."