Play together. Pray together. 🙏🏽 #TENvsLAR pic.twitter.com/w9Jr5FgIqU— Tennessee Titans (@Titans) November 8, 2021
Rams vs. Titans score: Tennessee's defense rattles Matthew Stafford, rolls to big 'Sunday Night Football' win
Jeffery Simmons helped lead the charge for the Titans
So much for the Rams proving in prime time that they belong atop the list of Super Bowl contenders. Los Angeles played host to "Sunday Night Football" in Week 9, but Sunday's prime-time affair belonged almost exclusively to the visiting Titans. While Ryan Tannehill and an offense featuring Adrian Peterson among fill-ins for the injured Derrick Henry did not always explode, Tennessee's defense definitely did, with Jeffery Simmons and Co. disrupting Matthew Stafford early and often to headline a 28-16 rout at SoFi Stadium.
Tennessee has now won five straight to improve to 7-2, perhaps solidifying itself as the new favorite in the AFC. The Rams, meanwhile, are now 7-2 and officially behind the red-hot Cardinals in the NFC West.
Here are some immediate takeaways from Sunday night's big Titans win:
Why the Titans won
On a night that started feisty and physical on both sides, they were opportunistic amid the early punches: after a deep-ball pick prematurely ended their first drive, they held the Rams to a field goal and then, a few series later, forced Stafford into back-to-back interceptions deep in his own territory. Simmons wrecked things up front, rattling Stafford out of the gate, while Denico Autry and Harold Landry also stepped up to collapse the pocket. The front-seven heat took pressure off a secondary that had surprisingly little trouble containing Cooper Kupp and Co. for much of the night. And offensively, while Tannehill and their post-Henry running game lacked pizzazz, they successfully grinded it out when they needed to, outmuscling L.A. throughout the evening.
Why the Rams lost
Stafford has been an MVP candidate all year, headlining the Rams' high-flying attack, but against the Titans, he looked an awful lot like the guy who spent so many years ducking and covering and forcing things in Detroit. His protection was poor, no doubt, with Austin Corbett and the Rams' interior frequently folding at the will of Simmons and the rest of Mike Vrabel's front. But the QB wasn't great himself, either, missing open downfield shots and throwing a pair of really ill-advised passes that ended up giving Tennessee the turnover advantage. Kupp and Robert Woods showed up too late (as did Sean McVay's fourth-down play-calling), and the run game didn't really make a difference. Defensively, Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey did their usual thing, but penalties and perhaps a shade of indifference left them vulnerable in the final stages of the game, too.
As soon as Stafford threw a pick-six, the Titans actually appeared poised to win this. The Rams led 3-0 when Stafford was first picked off, with David Long Jr. nabbing his throw and setting up a quick Geoff Swaim score. Trailing 7-3, though, on the first play of the ensuing drive, he inexplicably fired a short one toward Woods with multiple cover men in the area, and Kevin Byard had no problem returning the pick 24 yards for the score. The 14-3 hole proved too deep to overcome.
Play of the game
It has to be the play in which Stafford got whipped around and pulled a Carson Wentz, gifting a pick to the opponent near his own end zone -- a play that defined a night full of Titans-led disruptions:
The INT that set up the @titans touchdown!— NFL (@NFL) November 8, 2021
📺: #TENvsLAR on NBC
📱: https://t.co/ZIukbFRRGH pic.twitter.com/0k8TYpNBmz
The Titans (7-2) will return home in Week 10 after their big prime-time win, this time to face the Saints (5-3), who just lost a narrow one to the Falcons. The Rams (7-2), meanwhile, will hit the road for an important NFC West showdown with the 49ers (3-5), who just fell to the Cardinals, on "Monday Night Football."
Adrian Peterson gave his father his game jersey from tonight's win. #TENvsLAR pic.twitter.com/tiiUujkOSI— Tennessee Titans (@Titans) November 8, 2021
Under the lights on SNF ⤵️— Los Angeles Rams (@RamsNFL) November 8, 2021
"6-0 they are against teams who were in the playoffs last year so tells you what this team is."@JacCollinsworth about the @Titans on Sunday Night Football Final on @peacockTV. pic.twitter.com/aobji7QNOk— Sunday Night Football on NBC (@SNFonNBC) November 8, 2021
"Tonight was not the reflection of who we are."— Los Angeles Rams (@RamsNFL) November 8, 2021
🎥 HC Sean McVay at the podium pic.twitter.com/vMi1ntq02e
Joy. Bliss. Defense. @Titans— James Roday Rodriguez (@JamesRoday) November 8, 2021
Sunday Night is for Simmons @GrindSimmons94 pic.twitter.com/9G9ybh9aHU— Tennessee Titans (@Titans) November 8, 2021
LIVE Postgame Press Conference: Coach Vrabel, QB Ryan Tannehill and selected players https://t.co/wmcJ47Vm8K— Tennessee Titans (@Titans) November 8, 2021
#Titans dominate Rams in 28-16 win on Sunday Night Football @LGUS Game Recap 📰 » https://t.co/RqASKtFFvf— Tennessee Titans (@Titans) November 8, 2021
W 🤫 #TENvsLAR pic.twitter.com/e90M12KmBw— Tennessee Titans (@Titans) November 8, 2021
🚨LIVE: HC Sean McVay + players react after matchup against Titans on SNF https://t.co/lInMRROUcw— Los Angeles Rams (@RamsNFL) November 8, 2021
Not the result we wanted. Onto the next.— Los Angeles Rams (@RamsNFL) November 8, 2021
Once upon a time in Hollywood #TENvsLAR pic.twitter.com/GvLcghTEEP— Tennessee Titans (@Titans) November 8, 2021
Turning the page to Week 10. pic.twitter.com/pszRdXYqQA— Los Angeles Rams (@RamsNFL) November 8, 2021
Hey @KyleBrandt! On behalf of #Titans fans, on @gmfb tomorrow we want you to talk all that trash!!! You nailed it! #TitanUp pic.twitter.com/G6VpbrWLAT— Mandisa (@mandisaofficial) November 8, 2021
Sony is in for the TD! pic.twitter.com/ZaFHCKsFcZ— Los Angeles Rams (@RamsNFL) November 8, 2021
Not the best night for the Rams, folks. Great night for the Titans, spurred on by that two-play sequence in the second quarter where they picked off Stafford twice.
Stafford looking for Kupp in the red zone now. Not sure why they didn't go to that earlier, when the game was actually in the balance.
The Rams will drop to 7-2 and effectively fall two games back of Arizona because the Cardinals (8-1) own the tiebreaker due to their win over the Rams earlier this season. The Titans will also move to 7-2, and maintain control of the No. 1 seed in the AFC.
.@CooperKupp now has over 1⃣0⃣0⃣0⃣ receiving yards through nine games 🤝 pic.twitter.com/MYzGHFORl3— Los Angeles Rams (@RamsNFL) November 8, 2021
ALL DAY. ALL NIGHT. @AdrianPeterson— Tennessee Titans (@Titans) November 8, 2021
📺: Watch #TENvsLAR on @SNFonNBC pic.twitter.com/xZhBtDX9iD
Peterson falls into the end zone, the Titans go up by three scores, and an incredible strange day in the NFL is looking at another strange result, given, ya know, Derrick Henry is out.
TEN scores.— Los Angeles Rams (@RamsNFL) November 8, 2021
Titans lead 28-9 with 3:00 left to play.
Love the aggressiveness from the Titans to keep passing here. Put another score on the board and put the game away.
What on earth is happening to the Rams here?
Wow. Aaron Donald gets called for roughing the passer on a play where Tannehill was throwing the ball away. And that is a REALLY soft call.
Nice job by Peterson to bounce that to the outside after initially running into his lineman's back. Got a few extra yards.
Stafford booting to his left and didn't have anyone open, had to basically flip it into the air, and then he went down and looked like he tweaked something in his leg. Not great.
FOURTH DOWN STOP #TENvsLAR pic.twitter.com/4AnD0fQMFl— Tennessee Titans (@Titans) November 8, 2021
The Rams don't line Kupp up in the backfield as often as they do Woods, but they almost always try to get him the ball when they do. Right there it was to set up two shots at an "and-short" conversion.