LOS ANGELES -- The Rams thought they had figured out an effective enough way to introduce their prized newbie quarterback: Back him with a stifling defense.
In their 10th game of the season, the Rams finally presented their golden boy, quarterback Jared Goff, on Sunday at the Coliseum against the Miami Dolphins. If the No. 1 overall pick’s debut was of the uneven variety, it appeared it would be good enough to earn the victory.
But the Rams' defense finally wobbled in the fourth quarter, then fell flat. The Dolphins were all too eager to capitalize, scoring their only points in the final quarter for a 14-10 comeback victory on a drizzly Southern California afternoon.
The Dolphins had averaged 29 points per game in their past four outings –- all victories -- but were kept out of the end zone until there was 4:02 left to play. The 10-yard scoring pass from quarterback Ryan Tannehill to Jarvis Landry was the first touchdown the Rams had allowed in 11 quarters.
The Rams' defense had dominated until that point. It sacked Tannehill four times, pressured him on several other plays and intercepted him once, and it frustrated running back Jay Ajayi all afternoon. The busiest guy on the field had been Dolphins punter Matt Darr, who was called on 10 times.
The Rams understandably played it very safe with Goff, seldom asking him to stand in the pocket long, in order to minimize his risk. His longest completion was for 21 yards, and that was a short pass that Tavon Austin turned into a nice gain.
But the Rams' defense seemed intent on making it as easy as possible for Goff, forcing the Dolphins into three-and-outs all afternoon. Or at least until the fourth quarter. Then all its invulnerability melted away, allowing two late touchdowns.
After the Dolphins ended the Rams’ hopes for their first shutout in two years, Miami came right back. A defense that would hardly bend was suddenly breaking. Tannehill found wide receiver DeVante Parker from 9 yards for the winning touchdown with 40 seconds left.
The Rams’ defense wobbled late and, as it turned out, too much.