It was supposed to be a special evening for the Los Angeles Rams, considering they were elated to welcome their two latest and biggest acquisitions since trading for Matthew Stafford in the offseason. It was the debut of both future Hall of Fame pass rusher Von Miller and three-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. in a Rams uniform, and under the bright lights of ESPN's "Monday Night Football," and against a bitter NFC West rival in the San Francisco 49ers. The problem for the Rams is the Niners couldn't have cared less, effectively dismantling Sean McVay's group for basically the entire game.
The 31-10 final score doesn't truly tell the story of just how awful the Rams played, considering Stafford threw two interceptions that nearly ballooned to as many as five on the evening, and while Cooper Kupp did what Cooper Kupp usually does, he also joined others in having critical third-down drops that stalled drives.
And then there was ill-advised fake field goal attempt, the inability to take down Jimmy Garoppolo (the only sack on the evening belonged to safety Taylor Rapp), and the face wideout Deebo Samuel and running back Elijah Mitchell treated the entire Rams defense like bowling pins.
"They played better than us in all phases of the game," Beckham told media after the game, via the team's website. "That's the moral of the story. If you're trying to find what happened -- they just outplayed us.
"... I was excited and I felt like I was ready for the moment. ... It just wasn't our night. There's no way around it, it just wasn't our night, in all three phases of the game. They ran the ball well, they stopped us on offense and they just beat us."
Beckham, who is still working to learn the playbook, finished with limited playing time and was only able to grab two catches on three targets for a total of 18 yards. He'll now have two weeks to prepare for his next test in a Rams uniform, considering the coming bye week, but if the 49ers were supposed to be the quiz, the Green Bay Packers in Week 12 will be the semester exam.
"Lick your wounds and get ready for one of the best teams in the NFL, Green Bay at Lambeau," Beckham added.
Things didn't go any better for Miller, from an individual standpoint, in his first game since being traded from the Denver Broncos. He finished with only three tackles on the evening, no sacks and no quarterback hits, in a game that saw Garoppolo drop back only 19 times -- partly due to the pregame plan of head coach Kyle Shanahan and additionally due to the 49ers enjoying a lead that grew more and more as the game went on.
Still, while Miller hates the outcome, his excitement didn't suffer a dent.
"Definitely not fun losing, but I had fun tonight," Miller said. "it was 'Monday Night Football' and the atmosphere was crazy. We didn't have too many rushes, but the ones we did have, the two or three that we did have, I'm excited to play with 99. ... Losing is not what you want to do, but I'm excited to be here.
"I'm excited to rush with 99 and I'm excited to see what we can do going forward."
The operative wording there is "going forward," because there's no longer anything easy about the Rams schedule.
They'll face the Packers at Lambeau Field next, and their remaining games include the Arizona Cardinals, Seattle Seahawks (who'll play the Rams like it's the Super Bowl), Minnesota Vikings, Baltimore Ravens and another bout with the 49ers that closes out the regular season. And given what just happened on Monday night, and what's happened around the league in 2021, they don't have the luxury of overlooking the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 13, either. The Rams have officially arrived at a turning point in their season, and time will tell which direction they take from here.
They're not lacking for firepower, even with Robert Woods on injured reserve, and in another year in which they've gone all-in with their moves -- it's time for it all to start paying off big.