The two top picks in the 2016 draft battled on Sunday as the Los Angeles Rams lost 35-43 to the Philadelphia Eagles. Sophomore quarterbacks Jared Goff and Carson Wentz built contending campaigns this season for their respective teams.
Both quarterbacks suffered in different ways during the contest. Goff had difficulty getting past the Eagles defense who made six QB hits and only allowed the Rams six first downs in the first half.
“We can’t afford to allow them to extend drives by things that we can control,” said Rams head coach Sean McVay. “I trust the football character of this team that those lessons that we’ll learn from this game will provide a great opportunity for us to move forward.”
Wentz took a harder blow. After making 23 passes for 291 yards and scoring four touchdowns, he tore his ACL and was ruled out for the season.
Goff made 16 throws out of 26 attempts for 199 yards, earning two touchdowns. Running back Todd Gurley had 13 carries for 96 yards and two touchdowns; rookie wide receiver Cooper Kupp had five catches for 118 yards and one touchdown. Safety John Johnson had 11 total tackles.
Running back Jay Ajayi made 15 carries for 78 yards, wideout Torrey Smith made six catches for 100 yards. Linebacker Nigel Bradham made six solo tackles.
On the third play of the game, corner Kayvon Webster picked off one of Wentz’s passes. After a 30-yard run, running back Todd Gurley charged home to put the Rams on the scoreboard in the first two minutes of the game.
The Eagles responded by rushing down the field. Wentz sent a pass to tight end Brent Celek to gain a touchdown and tie the game.
On their next possession, Philadelphia advanced down the field with wide receiver Nelson Agholor. Webster sustained an ankle injury and was ruled out of the contest with a torn Achilles. Wentz sent a pass to tight end Trey Burton on the next play and Philly scored again.
The Eagles had an offensive arsenal, moving the ball with Ajayi on the ground and Alshon Jeffery and Agholor by air. Burton caught a pass to score a touchdown, Philadelphia had 21 points.
The Rams rallied back with Cooper Kupp who made a 64-yard passing play and scored a touchdown four plays later. Eagles secured a 24-14 advantage at halftime with a field goal kick.
The Philadelphia defense was outstepped by Gurley, who gained 42 yards on three consecutive plays. A pass to Kupp got the Rams a first and goal. With a one-yard touchdown reception, wideout Sammy Watkins brought the Rams deficit to three points.
“We know they like to rush the passer a lot and get up field,” Gurley said. “We were able to use that as an advantage.”
Rams defense stiff armed the Eagles with blitz plays. Wide receiver Michael Thomas blocked Donnie Jones’ punt and defensive back Blake Countess rushed the ball to the end zone to give the Rams the lead.
Penalties on the Rams aided the Eagles down the field. Wentz rushed in a touchdown, but it was nullified due to a penalty on Philadelphia. Four plays later, Jeffery reclaimed the Eagles’ lead 31-28.
Early in the fourth, Gurley rushed in a touchdown and the Rams were ahead 35-31. Nick Foles took the reins for Wentz, who sustained a knee injury in his touchdown scramble. Foles connected with Jeffery and Torrey Smith, but was stopped at the Rams 25-yard line. Kicker Jake Elliot earned a field goal to close the Eagles deficit to one point.
Los Angeles got a costly turnover when Goff was sacked and fumbled. The Rams made up for the fumble with a strong red-zone defense. Elliot scored another field goal to edge up the Philly score to 37-35.
On the last play of the game, defensive end Brandon Graham recovered a fumble by wideout Tavon Austin to run in a touchdown.
The Rams will travel to Seattle to play the Seahawks on December 17.