Baker Mayfield’s short-lived magic touch expired.
So did the Rams’ near-impossible playoff hopes.
Both were frozen Monday night following a 24-12 loss to the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field.
On a night when it was 15 degrees at kickoff — with a windchill factor of seven — the defending Super Bowl champion RamsIt dropped to 4-10, and it was finally official:
The Rams are unlikely to pull off a miracle, and still play in the playoffs.
Sean McVay could have envisioned that the Rams would be 4-10 after winning the title.
“You certainly can’t,” he said, “but this is the reality that we’re in. And this is where we’re at.”
The Rams’ fate had been apparent for weeks as a seemingly endless stream of offensive linemen continued to fall and star players such as quarterback Matthew Stafford, receiver Cooper Kupp and defensive lineman Aaron Donald suffered injuries.
With a brilliant performance against the Las Vegas Raiders, Mayfield gave the Rams hope. But that faded into the darkness and chill of perhaps the NFL’s most iconic stadium.
It was only right that the Rams were defeated in frigid conditions.
The harsh reality is that Super Bowl LVI’s winners are well on their way to one the greatest post-championship nosedives NFL history.
The Rams have missed the playoffs for only the second consecutive year since McVay, then 30, was hired.
It was 2019, and not coincidentally, after the Rams lost to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LIII.
However, this Super Bowl hangover is mild compared to the rest of the season.
“There have been a lot of things that I’ve kind of thought about that I think can make sense of why you’ve gotten here,” McVay said. “But it still doesn’t make it any easier and it’s a very humbling season for sure.”
In the season opener, the Rams were beaten by the Buffalo Bills. They never recovered.
“Feels a little weird, not going to the playoffs as a Ram,” cornerback Jalen Ramsey said. “It sucks, but it’s part of it. You’re not going to have a winning season every single year.”
Aaron Rodgers, Packers quarterback, was the league’s most valuable player. He completed 22 of 30 passes, 229 yards, and an interception to improve the Packers’ record to 6-8. This kept McVay from losing against Packers coach Matt LaFleur who is a close friend and former Rams assistant.
McVay was defeated by Mayfield again after losing a divisional round playoff game with Jared Goff as quarterback in the 2020 season.
Mayfield completed 12 of 21 passes, accumulating 111 yards and one touchdown. He was intercepted once and thrown five times.
“Just one of those games where not a whole lot was going our way,” Mayfield said.
Monday night was quite different from Dec. 8, when Mayfield led the Rams to victory, two days after he was released by waivers from Carolina Panthers.
The No. The No. 1 pick in the 2018 draft led late scoring drives that included one that ran 98 yards without timeouts and lasted less than two minutes.
Mayfield returned to Lambeau Field for his first appearance since Dec. 25, last year, when he was playing for the Cleveland Browns. He had four interceptions in that 24-22 loss. Mayfield kept his team focused even though he was in the game.
Monday’s halftime score was 10-6 for the Packers. AJ Dillon ran a short touchdown and scored a field goal, while the Rams only managed two field goals.
The Packers moved to the nine-yard line in the third quarter when Rodgers came out firing. Cobie Durant, a rookie cornerback in the Packers’ defense, intercepted a third down pass in the endzone. Ramsey was penalized for illegal touch, and Dillon capitalized on the extra opportunity to score his second touchdown.
Mayfield responded with a touchdown pass from Tyler Higbee to tight end Tyler Higbee. However, Matt Gay failed to make the extra-point attempt and the Rams were left with a 24-12 deficit.
With 13 minutes remaining, the Rams took the ball back and Mayfield had a chance to make a comeback.
Rasul Douglas, Packers cornerback, intercepted Mayfield’s pass and ended any threat. The Rams then forced Mayfield to fumble on the next possession. Mayfield had just 11 minutes remaining.
“When we got it back, just thinking the same thing,” Mayfield said. “‘One play at time. Let’s see what we can do.’”
A pass-interference penalty against Packers resulted was a 40 yard gain, but Mayfield or the Rams were unable to capitalize.
Rodgers directed a meticulous drive to finish the nine remaining minutes, and the Rams were done. The Packers drove to two yards and ran out the clock.
“Just one of those years for us,” linebacker Ernest Jones said.
Three games remain for the Rams. The Rams will play the Chargers and Denver Broncos in their next two games at SoFi Stadium before ending the season at Seattle.
Only pride is all they have.
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