The Los Angeles Rams fell short against their new crosstown rivals, the Los Angeles Chargers, 21-19 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
Fans were excited on both sides as a fair amount of starters took to the field Saturday evening, on a night that could’ve easily been overshadowed by the super Mayweather vs. McGregor fight.
Philip Rivers returned to action, seemingly in prime form on his lone two drives of the night, showcasing a perfect 158.3 passer rating. Rivers finished the game 6-for-6 for 85 yards, highlighted by an on target 45-yard strike to Travis Benjamin for a touchdown.
Chargers Head Coach, Anthony Lynn took an even-keeled approach following his team’s steady offensive performance and pinpointed Philip Rivers specifically.
“When he’s on the field, he’s a leader and gets us in the right place, right positions and we move the ball. Our first unit has moved the ball well this preseason, he said.”
“I never like to overreact either way, good or bad,” Lynn said. Obviously, we’ve had some good drives, but we’ve got a long way to go, a lot room to improve, but it’s been a positive training camp and preseason so far.”
On the Rams side, Jared Goff was coming off an impressive, efficient performance against the Oakland Raiders last weekend, finishing the game 16-for 20 for 160 yards and a touchdown.
Saturday, Goff struggled early as Chargers defensive end Joey Bosa caused a strip-sack that was returned by linebacker Melvin Ingram, 76-yards to the house, pushing the Rams deficit to 14-0.
Goff’s next possession was a horrific, overly thrown ball intended for receiver Sammy Watkins, but came in reach of Chargers defensive back Jason Verrett, who snagged an easy interception.
Verrett spoke about his first return to the field, since tearing his ACL last October, and admitted it was emotional for him.
“I’m going to keep it 100 [percent] with you all. I got a little teary eyed during the National Anthem. I’ve been away from the game for so long,” said Verrett.
“It felt good,” said Verrett. Melvin [Ingram] got a turnover earlier in the game and I got another one, man. It was good to be out there.”
Rams Head Coach Sean McVay understood that Goff should’ve made some better reads, but nevertheless, lost no faith in his quarterback going forward.
“Absolutely have to be better, I know he feels the same exact way, but these are plays that he has made before,” McVay said. “It’s about how we can all collectively be on the same page and consistently make those good plays, over and over again.”
With Goff and rest of the Rams starters most likely being shut down for week four’s final preseason game against the Green Bay Packers, Goff finished the preseason 24-for-32 for 250 total yards over three-games.
There were some positives in the second half for the Rams, as backup quarterback, Sean Mannion connected with standout rookie receiver, Josh Reynolds on a 38-yard rainbow for a touchdown.
Mannion finished his solid performance going 16-for-29 for 214 total yards, with his two favorite targets being, Reynolds and Pharoh Cooper, as the two combined for eight receptions on 141 total yards.
A Travis Coons’ fourth quarter 53-yard field goal ultimately made the score 21-19, still in favor of the Chargers, giving the Rams their first loss of the preseason.
As for the battle of Los Angeles label, Rams rookie defensive back from the University of Utah’, Dominique Hatfield put that to rest with his own beliefs.
“Me personally, and I’m pretty sure the rest of the guys feel this way, it’s not a fight for L.A.,” said Hatfield. “They did better today but it’s not a battle for LA, the home team is the Rams.”