Texans dominated by Rams: ‘They whooped our butts’

Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford and coach Sean McVay enjoyed a rare luxury Sunday against the hapless Texans, being able to take the Most Valuable Player candidate out of the game after three quarters while holding a commanding lead.

Once wide receiver Robert Woods scored on a 16-yard touchdown run to boost the Rams’ lead to 38-0 heading into the fourth quarter, Stafford’s day was done as he was replaced by backup John Wolford.

Although the 1-7 Texans scored 22 unanswered points and had 246 yards of total offense in the fourth quarter, the belated comeback attempt had no chance of overtaking the 7-1 Rams and this 38-22 loss marks the Texans’ seventh consecutive defeat.

“Our coaches would all tell you it's a champagne problem to be in those spots, but that's usually when I'm the biggest basket case, because it's how do you really manage it?” McVay said. “You want to be smart with your starters.”

The Texans don’t get to enjoy these kind of luxuries. Their reality is being embarrassed repeatedly, losing their last three games to the Rams, Arizona Cardinals and Indianapolis Colts by a combined margin of 100-29.

So, having Stafford taken out of the game early after passing for 305 yards and three touchdown passes is what the Texans have to endure.

“If that’s what they’re able to do, I don't blame them,” said Texans defensive end Jon Greenard, one of the few bright spots on a last-place team as he recorded his seventh sack of the season. “To our defense, too, we need to make sure they don't get to that point. I mean, I don't care who they put in there.

“We should never let it get to the point where they put the backup in. I take it as a chip on my shoulder. Obviously, they did it. We made a couple of stops. We need to get to a point where they don't get to that, that's all I can say about that. It can always get worse. That's the thing we've always got to have in the back of our head. That's why you see that little pop, that little juice towards the end, because we've seen how it could get worse."

The Rams were able to rest several key players in the fourth quarter, and Texans coach David Culley said he couldn’t think of another instance when the starting quarterback wasn’t needed in the fourth quarter during his coaching career.

That’s how uncompetitive the Texans were against the Rams, a trendy Super Bowl contender. The Texans are on their longest losing streak since losing their final 14 games of the 2013 season when coach Gary Kubiak was fired and later replaced by Bill O’Brien.

“That's a very good football team, they whooped our butts,” Culley said. “It's very disappointing. It's frustrating. We're going to keep coaching it just like we've been doing. I'm disappointed and I'm frustrated, but I'm not discouraged with this football team.

“Simply because I saw at the end there that, first of all, they're not going to quit. We've just got to play better. We've got to coach better, and we've got to continue to play better. We know what that process is. We know what we have to do. We're not there yet. We're going to keep coaching. We're going to keep coaching.”

Rams running back Darrell Henderson rushed for 90 yards and one touchdown on 14 carries, averaging 6.4 yards per run and also caught a touchdown pass.

Texans safety Lonnie Johnson Jr. ripped off his helmet in frustration after missing a tackle on wide receiver Cooper Kupp’s 52-yard catch-and-run that set up a touchdown. Johnson was replaced briefly by Eric Murray, but went back into the game. Cupp caught seven passes for 115 yards and a score.

Johnson and Culley had a brief chat on the sideline.

“I was just encouraging him there: 'Hey, be where you need to be, do what you need to do, things are happening,'" Culley said. "And obviously later he went back in and played.”

The Texans’ offense had its issues, too. After trading its leading rusher, Mark Ingram, to the New Orleans Saints for a 2024 seventh-round draft pick, the Texans rushed for just 44 yards 14 carries with Rex Burkhead leading the team with 21 yards on four carries and one touchdown. Scottie Phillips’ season debut netted just 11 yards on five carries. And rookie quarterback Davis Mills was sacked five times, hit nine times and threw one interception on a poorly thrown pass intended for wide receiver Danny Amendola. The Texans were penalized six times.

“The same thing we’ve had before, miscommunication, guys not being where they should be,” Culley said. “ As I said before, it’s just about our penalties and those kinds of things. We've got to keep coaching that, and we haven't done a good job of preventing that from happening. It doesn't matter who is back there when we're doing that.”

The Texans didn’t give up, at least there’s that.

“Yes, losing is never easy,” Burkhead said. “ It is tough. And as a team we look for things to improve upon every single day, every game. And just try and find things we can build on. At the end of the game you saw a lot of fight in guys. You didn't see a lot of heads down on the sideline.

“You could still see the look in people's eyes like there was still that fight, there was still that instinct to go out and do whatever we could to impact the game and put ourselves in a position to win and be successful.”

Aaron Wilson has covered the NFL for 20 seasons, including the Texans, Baltimore Ravens, Tennessee Titans and Jacksonville Jaguars. He has previously written for The Houston Chronicle and The Baltimore Sun. He’s on Twitter: @AaronWilson_NFL and Instagram: @aaronwilson7128.

Los Angeles Rams v Houston Texans

Photo: Getty Images

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