Professional Sports

SPORTS DIGEST: Rams improve to 6-2 at season’s halfway point

Who are these guys?

You see them on television wearing the blue and gold helmets. They look like the Rams but they don’t play like the Rams. Well, they don’t play like last year’s Rams.

This team scores touchdowns. In bunches. And plays defense.

With a 51-17 victory over the New York Giants Nov. 5, the Rams moved into first place all by themselves in the NFC West with a 6-2 record.

Halfway through the season, the Rams have scored 263 points, more than they scored in 16 games last season. Did anybody see this coming? Not me.

I figured the Rams would be like the Lakers: show a little bit of improvement as the young players (and young coach) matured; raise the win total from four to six, maybe seven.

The season is only half over and the Rams have some tough games coming up (the Philadelphia Eagles with Carson Wentz at quarterback in the Coliseum Dec. 10), but the Rams are one of the most surprising teams in the National Football League this season and head coach Sean McVay could be on his way to coach of the year.

Against the Giants this past week, the team was overwhelming. The Rams outgained the Giants by 154 yards, won the turnover battle 3-0, and dominated on special teams as well.

Second-year quarterback Jared Goff established career high in yards with 311 and touchdown passes with four.

In the second quarter, the Rams turned a third-and-33 situation into a 52-yard scoring play when Goff hit Robert Woods with a screen pass to the left side. Woods showed some of the form he had at USC by going practically untouched through a Giant defense that wasn’t playing with much fire.

Later in the first half, Goff hooked by deep with Sammy Watkins on a 67-yard scoring play. The ball was in the air more than 50 yards and hit Watkins in perfect stride.

On defense, the Rams recovered two fumbles, intercepted a pass and made life miserable for Giants quarterback Eli Manning.

Aaron Donald is in shape and is again a formidable force on the defensive line, but the Rams have other standouts on defense as well in lineman Michael Brockers, linebackers Connor Barwin, Alex Ogletree and Mark Barron, and defensive back Trumaine Johnson.

On special teams, placekicker Greg Zuerlein leads the league in points and Johnny hecker is among the top punters in the league, even though he is getting fewer chances to ply his craft this season.

He punted only twice against the Giants.

On Nov. 12, the Rams return to the Coliseum for the first time since Oct. 8 to play the Houston Texans at 1:05 p.m.

The Texans lost their starting quarterback, rookie DeShaun Watson, last week in practice, but are still playing for a playoff spot. It will be interesting to see how the Rams fare back at home. Another win, and the bandwagon fans who jumped off the Dodgers bus last week may find a new local team to cheer for.

A BAD ENDING: Then there were the Dodgers. So close (one game) to their first World Series title in 29 years. And yet so far.

Yu Darvish just didn’t have it. Pure and simple. Maybe he was tipping his pitches to the Houston Astros.

Whatever happened, the Astros lit him up for five runs in less than two innings, the Dodgers bats went cold and the Astros won the World Series by winning game seven 5-1.

Those fans wanting manager Dave Roberts’ head for starting Darvish in the seventh game don’t realize that was why Darvish was here in the first place. So Clayton Kershaw wouldn’t have to pitch game seven on two days rest.

The Dodgers had plenty of chances to get back into game seven. They just failed to get clutch hits. The bullpen, with Kershaw pitching four innings himself, shut down the Astros the last seven innings in what was one of the most exciting World Series in years.

Game five, in which Kershaw blew leads of 4-0 and 7-4, was the craziest baseball game I have ever seen. The Astros won that won and three nights later they won again to win their first World Series ever. Tip your hat to the champions and go get them next year is the only way Dodgers fans can look at things.