Heading into the season finale against the Arizona Cardinals, the Los Angeles Rams had voiced much confidence about ending the year on a high note.
However, that thought quickly dissipated in another disappointing blowout loss with the Cardinals cruising to a 44-6 victory on Sunday afternoon at the Los Angeles Coliseum.
It was a game that became a completely one-sided affair from the get-go with Los Angeles struggling to get anything going offensively producing just 123 total yards while earning only nine first downs on 14 total drives despite holding a time of possession edge at 32 to 28 minutes. They also failed to score an offensive touchdown in a game for the fifth time this season.
In fact, the Rams had notched just 77 offensive yards in the first half, including negative four yards on their first drives in the opening quarter. In spite of these struggles, they were able to stay within 16-6 at the half due to several big plays, including a blocked punt by Chase Reynolds. However, Arizona blew the gates open blanking Los Angeles 28-0 in the second half behind two of the three touchdown passes in the game from Carson Palmer, who also finished with 255 yards on 20-of-38 completed passes.
It was yet another stumbling block for Rams rookie quarterback Jared Goff, who had just 120 yards on 13-of-20 completed passes along with being sacked seven times before being pulled out of the game in the fourth quarter. According to Pro Football Focus, Goff was under pressure on 17 of his 27 dropbacks while attempting just three passes that went further than 10 yards from the line of scrimmage.
“They were bringing it," Goff said of the Cardinals' defense. "Obviously, they had nothing to lose just like us, so they were going to bring a lot of pressure. We kind of expected that and we wanted to pick it up better than we did. That group up front, I don’t care what anyone says about them. Those guys up front gave me everything they had. Unfortunately, it didn’t work out, but I’m very appreciative and very happy for those guys.”
The game also turned out to be another disappointing outing from Todd Gurley, who closed out the season with just 40 rushing yards on 14 carries along with a team-leading 37 receiving yards on four catches. It marked the 10th time that he finished below 60 rushing yards along without recording a touchdown.
Despite his personal struggles this season, Gurley was proud of the way the team stayed united throughout the disappointing campaign.
“We knew things weren’t going our way. We just stuck together," Gurley said, who finished with 885 rushing yards on the year. "It wasn’t an ‘Awe man, offense – you need to do this. Defense, you need to do that.’ Obviously, as an offense, we know what we needed to do. But, we just stuck together as a family, and that’s what we break it down on.
"At the end of the day, we might not have had the season we wanted, but I love every single one of these guys in here, and they bring it every week.”
This also turned out to be a sour end for interim head coach John Fassel, who lost all three games under his watch. It was an especially painful defeat given what he believed was a strong week of practice heading into the season finale.
“It hurts bad. I was expecting to win," Fassel said. "Anytime you lose hurts, but it hurts to lose in the fashion that we did because people are going to ask ‘did the team quit, did they not prepare, did they not care?’ I will just say, in my opinion, whether it's correct or whether it’s naïve, preparation this week was great. There wasn’t any lack of energy, there wasn’t anybody that was late and obviously, today, we just weren’t good enough."
The Rams finished the 2016 season with a 4-12 record, which was the fifth-worst mark in the league. This included dropping 11 of their last 12 games.