Defending champion Rams humiliated by Bills in opening game

INGLEWOOD, Calif. (AP) — Sean McVay knows that one of the prizes of longevity in the NFL is that he will end up going through a lot of good and bad as a coach.

He hasn’t had too many bad experiences, but Thursday night was definitely one of them.

The Rams’ 31-10 loss to the Buffalo Bills marked the first time in six openers that McVay had been on the losing side. Reporters could hear McVay yelling at his team after the game, including a few expletives, as only a retractable door separates the locker room from the post-game interview room.

There was a reason McVay was furious. It is only the fifth time the Rams have lost by at least 21 points since he took over as coach in 2017. It was also the second-worst defeat by a defending Super Bowl champion, with Baltimore’s 49-27 loss in Denver in 2013 setting the standard.

The defeat also caused McVay to utter a word he has rarely used: humble.

“It was a very humbling night, but one where you look yourself in the mirror and say you need to get better,” McVay said. “I feel like I’m abandoning a lot of people I care about. We are going to solve this.”

The Rams had problems on both sides of the ball. Matthew Stafford has been sacked seven times, only the third time in his 14-year career that he has gone down so many times.

With the retirement of Andrew Whitworth and the departure of Austin Corbett, Los Angeles has two new starters in left tackle Joe Noteboom and right guard Coleman Shelton. Buffalo did not blitz once and one of their seven sacks came with just three pass rushers.

“Frankly, just be a man in it. You look at it, understand what went wrong and do what you need to do to address the issues,” said right-wing tackle Rob Havenstein.

Stafford, who completed 29 of 42 passes for 240 yards with a touchdown and three interceptions, said he should do better by throwing it earlier, but also pointed out that he saw the Bills play a schedule he didn’t like too much. often see.

“Not many people play nickel safety the same side cover three. It wasn’t earth-shattering stuff, but we haven’t gotten that in a long time,” Stafford said. “I don’t feel like that was a reason we stuck with it or anything like that.”

Defensively, the Rams were lousy on the third-down conversions, letting Bills receivers gain 114 yards after the catch. Josh Allen had only thrown one pass over 15 yards in the first three quarters before connecting with Gabriel Davis for 47 yards in the first game of the fourth quarter and Stefon Diggs for a 53-yard touchdown play, making it a touchdown lead of three. halfway through the fourth.

“I think this was humiliating. Obviously everyone is frustrated because it’s not how you want to come out,” said linebacker Bobby Wagner. “We should just be locked up. Things like this happen the first few games. It’s not just any person or anything like that. We all need to defend better.”

Defending Super Bowl champions dropped to 45-11-1 in openers. McVay wasn’t ready to declare that his team had a championship hangover. Los Angeles will host Atlanta on September 18 for the road games against Arizona and San Francisco.

“It’s too early to say that. We’re not going to use that as an excuse,” he said. “I don’t want to take credit for what they’ve done.”