The Texans historic trip to Los Angeles didn't finish quite the way Texans fans hoped. The 7-2 Los Angeles Rams are one of the hottest teams in the NFL and the Texans ran into that buzz saw on the road in the Rams' own building. Well, the one they're borrowing for the time being, anyway. Regardless, let's get into observations from Sunday, for better or worse.
- The Coliseum is definitely worth the trip, at least once in a sports fans life. I love the history of the game and being in the Coliseum on Sunday was a cool feeling. That said, once is good enough for me.
- Texans fans showed up in droves, again, covering a significant portion of the lower bowl on the Texans side of the field. When the Texans made big plays, especially in the first half, I could hear the din behind me from those Texans fans on hand.
- Rams defensive stalwart Aaron Donald showed exactly why he's arguably the best interior player on the planet within the first series of the game. Just like he did the week prior against New York Jets, he had a strip sack to give the Rams the ball two minutes into the game. The Texans defense responded, though, holding the Rams to only a field goal, thankfully.
- In fact, that was theme of the first half, the Texans defense rising up to keep the Rams out of the end zone. The Rams kicked three field goals during the half, one after that Donald strip sack, one after a pair of Todd Gurley big plays and one at the end of the half.
- Jadeveon Clowney showed once again that he's one of the most disruptive forces in the NFL. He was a pure menace on Sunday, darting into the backfield, repeatedly, for highlight plays. He finished with three tackles, one sack, three tackles for a loss and a quarterback hit. It was obvious that the Rams game planned to slow him down, but struggled to do that throughout the day.
- There are times, though, that teams try to get cute with Clowney and it comically works against them. In the first half, the Rams wanted to run toss crack. Typically with this play, an outside receiver comes in motion or lines up tight to the tackle and/or tight end. Then, he cracks down/blocks down on the contain player, while linemen pull around that block to spring the running back outside. Unfortunately for poor Cooper Kupp, he was the receiver charged with blocking Clowney on that play. He knew immediately that it was a bad idea and Clowney ran right over him as if Kupp wasn't even there to tackle Rams running back Todd Gurley for a loss.
- One other bright spot was the play of outside linebacker Brennan Scarlett. Keep in mind that he doesn't always play outside linebacker - he'll line up all over the formation, including over the center to rush the quarterback. I think one of his sacks may have come from that alignment. The second-year player from Cal/Stanford had the best game of his career, posting two sacks, three tackles for a loss and two quarterback hits. He chased down Rams quarterback (former Cal teammate too) Jared Goff for one of his sacks and, on the other sack, he relentlessly kept pursuing Goff as he held the ball looking for an open receiver. Scarlett can be a player that continues to flourish for this team over the last seven weeks, when this team needs pass rush and pressure more than ever.
- Hopefully Will Fuller V is going to be okay after taking a brutal hit from Rams safety Lamarcus Joyner. That one happened about 15 yards from me and I heard it through my headphones. On the previous play, Joyner was the single safety high and couldn't make a play on a slant route to DeAndre Hopkins. The Texans star receiver caught the slant on the run for a big gain as Joyner eventually helped on the tackle down the field. So, on the next play, Joyner adjusted his depth and was in perfect position to drill Fuller just as he made an attempt to catch the ball.
- Going into the game, it was clear that the Rams were/are a streaky team. Points come in bunches or not at all, but when the dam breaks, it's trouble. That's what the Texans found out. The Texans were down two and driving with about 10 minutes or so left in the quarter. Then, like a great knockout artist, the Rams went 94-yard bomb touchdown, a drive without a touchdown, a short two-play touchdown drive after a Pharoh Cooper punt return, sack fumble and another touchdown. In eight minutes of game action, a 9-7 game turned into a 30-7 "what the heck just happened?" turnaround.
- At half, the Texans had run for 78 yards on 17 carries. Gurley was held to 19 yards on seven carries. The Texans had thrown for 127 yards. It was a half that the Texans didn't so much as dominate, but they had significant control. The difference was in turnovers. A strip sack led to three Rams points. A Mark Barron interception took three (or more) Texans points off the board. Tack on a Texans missed field goal and the Rams were lucky to only be down...uh, I mean, ahead 9-7. It should've been a Texans 17-3 or 13-6 lead, at worst, at the half but those three key plays gave the Rams a 9-7 lead. Frustrating game to say the least.
- The tough part of not having that lead heading into the second half was that the Texans had to get away from the running game that was successful in the first half. If they'd had a lead, they could've withstood a bit of an onslaught to be able to continue to run the rock in the third quarter. But, at 16-7 or 23-7, the Texans couldn't be as devoted to the run game, although there are no guarantees that the run game would've stayed cranked up. I still would've taken my chances.
- The Texans defense finished with 10 tackles for a loss. That's a significant number for this defense, unfortunately, it didn't lead to the win everyone wanted.
I don't know that I have much more to say about Los Angeles, the Coliseum, the Rams or the Texans 33-7 loss, so I'll leave it right there. A huge thanks to the Texans fans that made their way out to Los Angeles to support the organization. See ya on Sunday for the Andre Johnson celebration vs. the Cardinals.
The Texans faced the Rams in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.