Were these the old days, the Rams might have the satisfaction of burning the game film from Sunday’s 20-3 debacle at Lambeau Field. They could have destroyed the evidence and warmed their hands on a chilly and damp Wisconsin evening.
Instead, they’ve got to live with the high-definition reality of a lopsided loss to the three-win Green Bay Packers, who were on a four-game losing slide.
“It was a humbling game,” said Rams coach Sean McVay, whose team has lost three in a row.
Told of that assessment, receiver Cooper Kupp said, “Humbling’s a word. Crappy would be good too.”
Reduced to spectator status was quarterback Matthew Stafford, who didn’t practice all week because of his injured thumb and who might need even more time than the upcoming off week to recover.
Taking his place was the lightly experienced Brett Rypien, whose previous three starts came over the course of the last three seasons with the Denver Broncos. He occasionally made a play, completing 13 of 28 passes for 130 yards, but had a difficult time gathering any momentum.
Late in the first half, the Rams’ answer to a balanced offense was three first downs — one passing, one rushing and one by penalty.
“It’s frustrating to say the least,” Rypien said. “I can’t really put my finger on it, but I never really felt like we were able to get over the hump and get rolling.”
The rain didn’t help. It started as a sprinkle but developed into a steady drizzle as the game wore on. Rypien put on a glove and longer cleats but was quick to say the wet weather wasn’t an excuse. He expected more of himself.
The teams combined for five fumbles, losing three, and the Packers were nothing special on offense either. When Green Bay’s Aaron Jones crossed the goal line in the second quarter, it was the first time since Week 2 that the Packers scored a first-half touchdown.
“It’s not perfect — it’s never going to be perfect — but I think just the position we were able to put ourselves in and come out with a win, it definitely is going to help us,” Packers quarterback Jordan Love said.
As Fox noted on its broadcast, the Packers had the NFL’s most prolific offense during the three decades between 1992 and 2022, spanning the eras of quarterbacks Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers. But these Packers came into Week 9 ranked 25th in offense.
But all was forgiven Sunday, as Green Bay fans relished their soggy celebration. Packers coach Matt LaFleur, onetime Rams offensive coordinator under McVay, improved his record to 4-0 against his buddy and ex-boss. The Rams last won at Green Bay 17 years ago, back when they called St. Louis home.
“There weren’t a lot of good things you can say we’d be able to build on,” McVay said. “There were a lot of different reasons for that. … We’ll reset and figure out what are the things we can do to try to be more consistent and execute at a higher level. We’ve seen ourselves do that, but today was certainly not one of those days.”
Part of the credit for the Rams’ anemic output of 187 yards has to go to Packers defensive coordinator Joe Barry, a defensive assistant coach under McVay from 2017 through 2020. Before that, the two worked together in Washington.
“[Barry] has an understanding of how we operate offensively,” Kupp said. “How we do things, some of our rules. A DC who has been with an offensive coordinator or a head coach for that time and is now calling plays against him, he’s gonna have a feel for some of that stuff.”
The Rams will get their week off, followed by two NFC West games — home against Seattle, at Arizona — then games against two tough AFC North opponents, home against Cleveland and at Baltimore. This is not an easy stretch, especially for a 3-6 team tumbling toward irrelevance.
Getting Stafford back is key, although there’s no telling when that will happen.
“I’m hopeful,” McVay said. “I don’t know enough about exactly where we’re at in regards to recovery, ability to grip the ball. I’m optimistic. I’ll leave that door open.”
Kupp believes Stafford will be back as soon as it’s advisable — and maybe even sooner than that.
“Matthew’s the toughest guy I’ve ever met,” Kupp said. “I know he’s going to do everything he can to be back out there on the field. Whenever he’s on the field I’m sure it will be sooner than anyone else wants him to be on the field. I know he’s going to push the envelope on that thing.”
Kupp said he’s seen this franchise rebound strong before.
“We’ve got the right people in this building to know,” he said, “that this is a bye week not a season’s-over week.”
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.