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Rams Can't Overcome Titans' Defensive Efforts in Week 9, Falling 28-16

The Rams dropped their second game of the season to the Titans, moving to a 7-2 record.

The Los Angeles Rams have gotten the better of their opponents in seven of their first eight games entering Monday night’s matchup against the Tennessee Titans. However, in Week 9, the Titans gave the Rams everything they could handle and more, as Tennessee cruised to a 28-16 victory at SoFi Stadium on primetime.

Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford was pressured consistently throughout the night as his offensive line, which only allowed seven sacks entering the game, permitted the Titans' pass rush to bring Stafford to the ground for five sacks while registering 11 quarterback hits.

Stafford didn’t practice all throughout the week due to a sore back and his limited reps combined with the relentless pressure he faced from Tennessee's defensive front, ultimately put a wrench into the Rams' offensive game plan.

Stafford threw two early interceptions that put the Rams in a position to play from behind for the majority of the contest. His first one came from inside the end zone when Stafford attempted to get off a pass with a defender draped all over him, nearly sacking him for a safety. The second interception came on the very next passing attempt that when Stafford locked onto his target and the route was jumped, resulting in a Titans' pick-six.

“I basically spotted them 14 points,” Stafford said after the game. “You can’t do that in the NFL, especially against a good team like that.”

The Rams scuffled to get going on offense, not looking like their normal self where four and five-touchdown games have become the norm in recent weeks. They settled for three field goals on the night, scoring their only touchdown in the final seconds of regulation.

Stafford finished his night completing 31 of 48 passes for 294 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions. And while the Titans' defense came up with crucial stops time and time again, the Rams did nothing to help themselves as they committed 12 penalties for 115 yards.

“I was probably trying to be a little bit too aggressive and hold onto it a little bit,” Stafford said, taking the blame himself for some of the sacks. “There’s a lot of things I can clean up to be better. I’ll take a hard look at myself, and know we’ll have a big opportunity on Monday night next week (on the road against the San Francisco 49ers) to go out and play well.”

From an efficiency standpoint – or lack thereof – the Rams were four of 15 on 3rd down attempts. The ability to sustain drives was just not to the same extent that they've shown in previous games. 

As for the Titans, they put together this performance without star running back Derrick Henry who underwent foot surgery during the week. They relied on a committee of running backs, which totaled two rushing touchdowns, combined with Ryan Tannehill's 143 passing yards and one touchdown.

“It’s a team that lost their most productive offensive player. The thing they needed in this game was for us to make mistakes,” Rams left tackle Andrew Whitworth said. “And that’s exactly what we did.”

Defensively, the Titans were led by Jeffrey Simmons and Denico Autry, who combined for nine tackles, four TFLs, 4.5 sacks, seven quarterback hits and two pass breakups. Ultimately, they were the difference in this game with their continual disruption upfront in impacting Stafford.

After the Rams rattled off four consecutive victories, this game will perhaps serve as a reality check. Now holding a 7-2 record, the Rams sit two games behind the Cardinals in the division standings due to Arizona holding the tiebreaker.

“I didn’t do a nearly good enough job for our football team tonight,” Rams coach Sean McVay said. “We were uncharacteristic with the penalties, the turnovers. The defense was giving us a chance."

In looking to rebound off a lopsided loss, the Rams will head to Santa Clara, CA and take on an NFC West divisional rival in the San Francisco 49ers on Monday Night Football. Kickoff is scheduled for Nov. 15 at 5:15 p.m.

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Nick Cothrel is the Publisher of Ram Digest. Follow Nick and Ram Digest on Twitter @NickCothrel & @RamDigestSI for more Rams coverage.