FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- News leaked Sunday morning that Jeff Fisher has an extension in place to return as the Los Angeles Rams coach next season, and then his team showed how far away it is from becoming a legitimate contender.
For the second straight week, the Rams were blown out on the road. Seven days after giving up 49 points to the New Orleans Saints, they were thoroughly outplayed in a 26-10 loss to the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium. The Rams have dropped seven of their last eight games, putting them at 4-8 despite winning three of four to start the season.
"It’s just getting frustrating," Rams defensive end William Hayes said. "Week in and week out, everybody’s taking their turns making mistakes."
The Rams didn't find the end zone until less than two minutes remained in the game, when rookie quarterback Jared Goff completed a 66-yard pass to Kenny Britt on fourth-and-11 and then went to him for a 1-yard touchdown pass after a scramble.
Heading into the two-minute warning, the Rams had compiled five first downs and gained 96 yards from scrimmage.
The Patriots, who reached 10 wins for the 15th time in the last 16 seasons, operated like a well-oiled machine despite being without dynamic tight end Rob Gronkowski. The Rams, now one loss away from clinching their 10th consecutive losing season, looked like a team that needs to provide a lot more help for Goff and needs to clean up a lot of mistakes.
"They're one of 32 teams just like we are," Rams running back Todd Gurley said of the Patriots, who held him to a mere 38 rushing yards. "There's no excuse for us to go out there and play like we did."
Britt and Brian Quick dropped catchable first-down passes in both the first and second halves. So did Rams tight end Lance Kendricks, who came across the field, let Goff's pass bounce off his hands and get intercepted by cornerback Malcolm Butler. That gave the Patriots the ball at the Rams' 30, which the Pats turned into their second score. The Patriots' first score came on their first drive, on fourth-and-1, when LeGarrette Blount bounced to the outside, found space up the sideline and benefited from bad pursuit by Rams safety Maurice Alexander on a 43-yard run.
The Rams finished the first half with one first down and 25 yards from scrimmage while missing out on opportunities to create turnovers after a muffed punt and a tipped pass. The Patriots then honored their Super Bowl XXXVI win over the then-St. Louis Rams with a halftime ceremony and never let the current Rams get closer than two scores thereafter.
By the end of it,Tom Brady had notched his 201st career win, an NFL record for quarterbacks that includes the postseason.
Goff -- 14-of-32, 161 yards, one touchdown, two interceptions and continually hurried -- was still seeking his first.
"We had a lot of errors across the board," Goff said. "Offensively, myself and everybody, really."
The Rams now have to win out to give themselves even a chance at the playoffs, a destination they have not reached since the 2004 season. Fisher notched his last playoff victory in 2004, on Jan. 3 with the Tennessee Titans. Since then, 35 different head coaches have won at least one playoff game. The Patriots' coach, Bill Belichick, has won 19.
In his last three games against Belichick's Patriots, Fisher's teams have been outscored 130-17.
"If you want to win football games, you need to play all three phases like the Patriots did," said Fisher, who confirmed his extension and said it was signed "well before the season started." "They played good offense, they played good defense and matched up with our special teams. Until we can put the three phases together, offensively and defensively, it's hard to win games."