Rams handle Tua Tagovailoa but not the Dolphins in 28-17 loss – Press Enterprise

As expected, a quarterback was overwhelmed and forced into errors by a smart and aggressive defense Sunday at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami.

Not as expected, that quarterback wasn’t the rookie making his much-anticipated first NFL start.

While the Dolphins’ Tua Tagovailoa showed his inexperience in his first NFL start, it was the Rams’ Jared Goff who was pressured into four first-half turnovers.

The two interceptions and two fumbles led to a 21-point second-quarter blitz by Miami that cost the Rams a 28-17 loss in front of a crowd limited by COVID-19 rules.

The Rams had given themselves a chance when Goff warmed up late and hit wide receiver Robert Woods for an 11-yard touchdown with 9:58 to play.

But in one last sign that this wasn’t their day, their attempt to pull within eight with a 48-yard field goal blew up when new kicker Kai Forbath missed badly, short and to the left.

The Rams (5-3) had come into the game on a high after routing the Chicago Bears on Monday night, their first win over a team with a winning record.

They had to like what they faced, with Aaron Donald ready to welcome the fifth overall draft pick to the NFL.

And it began so well for the Rams. Maybe too well.

The dream of Donald terrorizing Tagovailoa quickly became real when the defensive tackle’s strip sack and linebacker Leonard Floyd’s fumble recovery gave the Rams the ball at the Miami 15, and Woods took a Goff handoff and scored standing up around left end from the 4.

The Rams could have taken control early, but Miami’s pass-rush pressure forced Goff into a 1 for 7 start. Then Goff’s day got worse.

He was hit by defensive end Emmanuel Ogbah as he threw a pass toward wide receiver Cooper Kupp, and it was intercepted by defensive tackle Christian Wilkins at the Rams’ 33. Tagovailoa’s third complete pass of the short drive went for a 3-yard touchdown to wide receiver DeVante Parker and a 7-7 tie at the end of the first quarter.

Parker made the catch against cornerback David Long, who was playing because Jalen Ramsey was sidelined by what the Rams said was illness.

Then came the worst quarter of the Rams’ first half-season.

On the Miami 9 after Taylor Rapp forced a Myles Gaskin fumble, Goff dropped the ball when he was hit by Ogbah as he cocked his arm to throw. Linebacker Andrew Van Ginkel scooped it up and ran 78 yards for a touchdown to put the Dolphins up 14-7.

So began an eight-minute stretch that might haunt the Rams during the bye week before they play their next game Nov. 15 against Seattle at SoFi Stadium.

The Rams went three-and-out and Johnny Hekker punted. Jakeem Grant ran the punt back 88 yards for a touchdown and a 21-7 Dolphins lead.

Down to the Miami 27, Goff was hit by blitzing linebacker Jerome Baker as he threw for Gerald Everett, and the wobbler was intercepted by safety Eric Rowe.

The defense got the ball back. Only to see Goff fumble again as he was sacked by Shaq Lawson. Linebacker Kyle Van Noy’s runback went to the Rams’ 1, and Gaskin carried for the touchdown that made it 28-7 with 2:47 to go before the much-needed break.

The Rams did hold onto the ball and put a drive together before halftime, but settled for Forbath’s first L.A. field goal, a 23-yarder.

In the half, the Rams ran 30 more plays, gained 170 yards — and fell behind by 18 thanks to Goff’s four turnovers.

The defense shut down another opponent in the second half, and the offense didn’t commit any more turnovers, but they managed only Woods’ second touchdown of the day.

Goff finished 35 for 61 for 355 yards, the touchdown and two interceptions, translating into a 65.9 passer rating, his worst for any game in nearly a year.

Tagovailoa went 12 for 22 for 93 yards and a touchdown, an 80.3 rating.

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