THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (AP) — The Los Angeles Rams didn’t really aspire to perfection, and they didn’t appear to be overly crushed when their unbeaten start to the season ended in New Orleans.
The Rams definitely dream of the Super Bowl, and coach Sean McVay believes their quest will get a major boost from the minor setback of Sunday’s 45-35 loss to the powerhouse Saints.
“The sense we got from our players is that if anything, it creates an added sense of urgency,” McVay said Monday night at the team’s training complex. “You know, that feeling in your gut where you wake up and you’re just sick because you didn’t get the result that you wanted is something that you can’t create unless you do end up losing. We try to be consistent whether you win or lose, but there is something that is created just based on not getting the result that you wanted.”
The Rams are 8-1 with a new reason to work hard after they failed for the first time in their remarkable season. Los Angeles’ defense largely couldn’t slow down Drew Brees and Alvin Kamara, while the Rams’ high-octane offense couldn’t quite keep up on the scoreboard despite rallying from a 21-point deficit to tie it.
Afterward, several Rams players expressed a backhanded relief that the specter of a perfect season no longer hangs over the head of a franchise that is less than two years removed from a 4-12 finish. Defensive lineman Michael Brockers said LA’s first loss “might be a blessing in disguise.”
And McVay left the Superdome with plenty of teachable moments on video.
Many of those lowlights occurred while the Rams fell behind 35-14 late in the first half. Those 35 points are the most allowed in a half by the Rams defense since 2008 — and that’s saying something, since 2008 was the second of 10 consecutive losing seasons for this club.
McVay praised cornerback Marcus Peters for taking responsibility for his mistakes in coverage, but the coach also realizes the blame must be shared across the roster after giving up a season-worst 487 yards.
“I think with the expectations that our defense has, and that we have for them, they would expect to be better,” McVay said. “But there’s a lot of credit that needs to go to the Saints. They’re one of the top offenses in the league for a reason. … It’s a great tape for us to be able to look at, figure out what we can do as a defensive group to be able to respond the right way (and) use it as a chance to learn from it.”
The Rams’ 8-0 start was the franchise’s best since 1969, and one loss hasn’t stopped their historic turnaround. This franchise has won more than eight games just once in the previous 14 seasons — and that was last season, when McVay led the Rams to a seven-game improvement from 2016 with an 11-5 regular-season record.
After the loss in New Orleans, several Rams also noted they have never lost back-to-back regular-season games under McVay. A visit from the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday is a chance for the Rams to keep that standard intact while essentially ending the NFC West race before mid-November.
“Can’t wait to get back out and get another opportunity to compete and try to erase this feeling that you do have,” McVay said. “I feel like our building shares that same feeling. We’re excited about getting to work.”
NOTES: The Rams added rookie OLB Ogbo Okoronkwo to their active roster and waived linebacker Trevon Young. Okoronkwo had foot surgery and went on the physically unable to perform list before training camp, which meant Los Angeles had to decide Monday whether to activate the fifth-round pick or put him on injured reserve. McVay hasn’t decided how much Okoronkwo will play this season, but the coach was “intrigued” by what he saw in practice over the last three weeks. “He’s done some things that we felt like were positive, were encouraging,” McVay said. … The Rams have no new injuries from their trip, McVay said. LB Matt Longacre was evaluated for a concussion during the game in New Orleans, but he returned to action.