The New England Patriots are back below .500 on the season and their playoff hopes are all but dashed following the 24-3 loss to the Los Angeles Rams, who move to 9-4 on the year with the win. Last week, Bill Belichick's club was the team doing the thrashing but the roles changed in the Week 14 opener as the Rams dominated from the jump, quickly running out to the 17-0 lead and never looked back.
Cam Akers continued his ascent as Los Angeles' top back, notching a career-high 171 yards rushing. On the first drive of the night, the rookie running back accounted for 41 yards on the ground to set up a Jared Goff rushing score. Akers continued that strong play throughout the game as he not only churned yards for L.A. but helped dominate time of possession.
The back-breaker in the first half that blew this game open was a pick-six by Cam Newton at the Los Angeles 19 yard line at the 14:46 mark of the second quarter. New England had just picked off Goff and was in a great position to cut into the 10-0 L.A. lead, but that turnover from Newton eliminated any shot of the Patriots making this game close. In the second half, Akers led a 16-play drive that chewed up nearly ten minutes of clock and culminated in a Goff touchdown pass to Cooper Kupp, which served as the cherry on top of this latest win for Sean McVay and company.
Newton finished with 119 yards passing and that interception before being benched for Jarrett Stidham midway through the fourth quarter. The second-year quarterback completed five passes for 27 yards to finish the game. Meanwhile, Goff had 137 yards passing, two touchdowns (one passing, one rushing), and a pick.
From here, the Patriots will head back to the east coast and visit the Miami Dolphins down at Hard Rock Stadium for a divisional head-to-head. The Rams will also take on another AFC East foe as the winless New York Jets will be the latest team to come through SoFi Stadium in Week 15.
Why the Rams Won
The Rams were dominant from the get-go in running the football and containing the anemic Patriots offense. Cam Akers had the best rushing performance for a rookie running back for the Rams since Jerome Bettis rushed for 212 yards in 1993. Akers finished with 29 carries for 171 yards — both career-highs.
The Rams defense held the Patriots to 3-of-12 on third down and 0-for-4 on red zone opportunities. New England had just 211 yards and averaged 3.9 yards per play. Los Angeles lived up to its reputation as one of the best defenses in the NFL.
Why the Patriots Lost
New England was dominated throughout the game, specifically on offense — which was smothered by the Rams defense. The Patriots failed to score a touchdown on all four red zone possessions, thanks to a nonexistent pass offense. New England had 113 net passing yards and averaged 3.9 yards per attempt. Cam Newton was replaced in the fourth quarter by Jarrett Stidham as the Patriots quarterback completed just 9 of 16 passes for 119 yards and an interception. New England's offensive line didn't help, allowing six sacks to the Rams in the second half.
The Rams dominated the opening quarter and built a 10-0 lead, even though the Patriots had a chance to get back in the game. A Jared Goff interception in his own territory set the Patriots up with a short field to get a quick score — but Cam Newton and the offense were unable to capitalize.
On the first play of the second quarter, Newton threw a pass in the direction of Damien Harris that was intercepted by Kenny Young — a ball he took 79 yards to the end zone to give Los Angeles a 17-0 lead.
The Patriots had little life on offense prior to that point, but that interception essentially sealed the victory.
Play of the Game
The Rams defense came up huge on multiple occasions throughout the night, but this play demonstrated the dominance Los Angeles had up front. On a fourth-and-goal at the Rams' 2-yard line, Cam Newton attempted to pitch the ball to Damien Harris — but the Rams defense read the play like a book. Justin Hollins immediately sniffed the pitch out and tackled Newton before he could get the ball out of his hands, holding the Patriots to no points and preserving the Rams' 17-0 lead.
New England was 0-for-3 in the red zone, with Hollins' goal line stop being the backbreaker.
The Rams will have 10 days before a home showdown against the New York Jets on Sunday, December 20. The Patriots have a road game against the Miami Dolphins on the same day in Week 15.