LOS ANGELES (AP) – After the final whistle of the Rams’ fourth consecutive victory, Robert Woods looked up into the stands and felt the love from thousands of frenzied Los Angeles fans who stuck around for another blowout win.
“Keep coming out to the Coliseum, and we’re going to keep winning for y’all!” Woods shouted.
After a false start to their franchise’s homecoming last season, the Rams are on a roll.
And the Houston Texans are the latest opponent to get flattened.
Woods caught two of Jared Goff’s three touchdown passes during a dominant third quarter, and the Rams returned after a month away from home with a 33-7 victory over Houston on Sunday.
After struggling to a 9-7 lead during a quiet first half for the NFL’s highest-scoring team, the Rams (7-2) ran away with a series of big throws by Goff, who passed for a career-high 355 yards with no interceptions.
The defense also shut out Houston in the second half on the way to the Rams’ best start since 2001, when they went 8-1 in St. Louis on the way to the Super Bowl. The Rams are on their longest winning streak since 2003, which was also their last winning season.
“The first half was a little shaky,” Goff acknowledged. “There’s some throws I would like back. We just couldn’t really get into a rhythm. In the second half, we figured it out.”
Did they ever: Woods caught a 94-yard TD pass to break it open before Sammy Watkins and Woods made TD catches 19 seconds apart late in the third quarter, with a fumble caused by rookie Rams linebacker Samson Ekubam sandwiched between them. Woods finished with eight catches for 171 yards, including the 12-yard TD that essentially sealed it.
The Rams’ 4-12 homecoming season tested the interest of LA fans who had been hurt by this franchise before, but coach Sean McVay’s Rams are definitely worth watching. A franchise with 13 consecutive non-winning seasons is just two victories away from breaking that streak.
“Hey, I’ve never been 7-2 before, so I feel good,” fourth-year Rams defensive lineman Aaron Donald said.
NFL scoring leader Greg Zuerlein kicked four field goals for the Rams, who hadn’t played in LA since early October thanks to two East Coast road trips, a bye and a “home” game in London. Los Angeles kept its momentum going against the Texans with a 205-yard third quarter on the way to scoring at least 27 points for the eighth time in nine games.
Bruce Ellington caught a 26-yard TD pass for the Texans (3-6), who have lost three straight and four of five.
Tom Savage passed for 221 yards with two interceptions for Houston, which lost its second straight since losing rookie quarterback Deshaun Watson for the season with a knee injury. Houston also is without defensive superstar J.J. Watt.
“I haven’t done a good job coaching this team this year, and that was my message to the team,” Texans coach Bill O’Brien said. “I have to figure out how to coach this team better and try to get them to play better.”
Donald forced a fumble on Houston’s opening possession while sacking Savage, his college teammate at Pitt. But the Rams couldn’t get in the end zone early, and they trailed for the first time since Oct. 15 when the Texans made a 75-yard drive in the second quarter capped by Ellington’s untouched catch-and-run TD.
Houston had the chance for more points late in the first half, but Mark Barron made an interception at the Los Angeles 10.
“We didn’t put the defense in some good situations there at the end of the half to give them those three points, especially with the interception,” Savage said. “I was seeing everything clear. I’m confident in myself, so I think we just watch it and see what we can improve.”
Texans receiver Will Fuller injured his ribs while receiving a huge hit from Rams S Lamarcus Joyner in the first half. He didn’t return.
Woods’ 94-yarder was the longest play of his five-year NFL career. It was also the Rams’ longest pass play since 1964 – including the entire Greatest Show on Turf era in St. Louis, when Kurt Warner and Isaac Bruce led a peerless passing offense.
Zuerlein surpassed his previous career high when he made his 27th field goal of the season shortly before halftime, and he added another in the second half. The sure-footed veteran has missed just one field goal all season.
Texans: The NFC West portion of the schedule continues with a visit next Sunday from the Arizona Cardinals, who will be on extra rest after playing Thursday.
Rams: A trip to Minnesota for a showdown between 7-2 teams next Sunday. They’ll face former Los Angeles QB Case Keenum and the Vikings.
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