Sometimes after a Rams loss – as recently as Week 3 at the Bills – head coach Sean McVay will say they're not going to let an opponent beat them twice – basically a mindset to not let one week's loss affect the following week's preparation and result.
Applying a similar approach to Los Angeles' Week 6 loss at San Francisco, L.A. can accomplish that through self-inspection. The consensus from McVay and Rams players who spoke after the game was that the result was dictated more by the Rams "beating themselves" than the way the 49ers were executing at Levi's Stadium.
Compared to that defeat in Buffalo, offensive lineman Andrew Whitworth said Sunday night's in Santa Clara "is even easier to come back and play your best." Whereas Whitworth felt the game in Buffalo was decided by things out of their control, the Rams can only point to themselves for Sunday's night's outcome.
"Because it's really one where we can simply say, 'look in the mirror, we did this to ourselves,'" Whitworth said. "A lot of just silly things that we shouldn't mess up and things that are routine plays that we can make."
There were multiple examples that reinforced Whitworth's assessment.
The opening drive featured atypical execution, ending with the Rams not at least putting themselves in position to score for the first time this season. Previously, they had scored touchdowns on four of their five opening drives, and the lone drive they didn't, there were still in a position to score points.
Quarterback Jared Goff and wide receiver Cooper Kupp misconnected on two normally routine plays for them – a deep pass down the seam which required Kupp to adjust after Goff threw the ball over his outside shoulder instead of his inside shoulder, and a 2-yard touchdown pass that is typically hauled in by Kupp.
There was also confusion among Rams defenders about whether 49ers wide receiver Deebo Samuel was down after the first six yards of what turned into a 35-yard catch-and-run off a shovel pass. The broadcast replay showed Samuel's knees never touched the ground, and the momentum-changing play on the first drive of the game helped set up a 7-0 lead for San Francisco.
"That's on us," Donald said. "We pretty much beat ourselves and put ourselves in bad situations throughout the game."
Whitworth even used himself as an example, pointing to his two false-start penalties. According to Pro Football Reference, he had committed only six such penalties through his first three seasons with the Rams.
"It's a great chance for us to look in the mirror and get better," Goff said. "We have another big game next Monday night, but yeah, a lot of stuff to work on, a lot of stuff to be better at."
That kind of recognition is what Whitworth said can make losses like Sunday night's one of the best to learn from. If the players recognize their mistakes are correctable and that if they do their part and execute, it results in success for the team.
"A lot of uncharacteristic things we made," McVay said. "We had a lot of our players that we count on that didn't come through in some situations that they typically do, but it's a great learning opportunity for us."
The Los Angeles Rams take on the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday Night Football for the first divisional matchup of the 2020 season!