LOS ANGELES (CNS) – Jared Goff threw three touchdown passes in the third quarter and the Los Angeles Rams defense had four takeaways in a 33-7 victory over the Houston Texans Sunday at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.
The Rams led 9-7 at halftime, then broke the game open with three touchdowns in four possessions. Goff threw a 94-yard touchdown pass to Robert Woods, a 17-yard touchdown pass to Sammy Watkins two possessions later and a 12-yard touchdown pass to Woods on the next possession.
The Rams offense “was not very good in the first half and it starts with me,” coach Sean McVay said. “I’ve got to do a much better job putting our players in better situations.” McVay credited the third-quarter outburst to the offense being “able to get into a rhythm.”
“We really kind of hurt ourselves with some negative plays and then you get into some third-and-longs,” McVay said. “I think we avoided those third-and-longs and you’re in third and more manageable where the ball can come out in the rhythm and timing that you prefer to operate with.”
The Rams converted six of 16 third downs, 38 percent, including three of seven in the second half. They were unsuccessful on their only fourth down conversion, a first-half pass by punter Johnny Hekker to Pharoh Cooper that was one yard short of a first down.
The first touchdown pass to Woods was the third-longest pass in franchise history.
“The ball was on the money,” said Woods, whose 171 receiving yards and two touchdown receptions were the most of his five-season NFL career while his eight receptions were two off his career high. “Jared Goff put it right in the palm of my hands so I was just able to catch it and run.”
Goff completed 25 of 37 passes for 355 yards, the most of his 17-game NFL career, as the Rams improved to 7-2, their best start in the first nine games of the season since 2001 when they started 8-1 and advanced to the Super Bowl.
The winning streak is the Rams longest since a seven-game streak in 2003. This is the sixth time this season the Rams have scored 30 or more points, the most since in a season since 2003 when they scored 30 or more seven times in a 16-game schedule.
The Rams outgained the Texans, 443-283 yards and led 19-17 in first downs and 31:31-28:29 in time of possession before a crowd announced at 60,032. The Rams defense sacked Houston quarterback Tom Savage three times, twice forcing fumbles the Rams recovered. Savage also had two passe intercepted.
“You’re never going to win a game with four turnovers,” said Savage, who has a 1-4 record as a starter, all over the past two seasons. “I can’t promise you that, but I’m pretty confident that you’re not going to win a game with four turnovers.”
The Rams scored after three of the Texans’ four turnovers. The first of Greg Zuerlein’s four field goals came four plays after Aaron Donald sacked Savage for a nine-yard loss and forced a fumble, which was recovered by Matt Longacre at the Houston 20-yard line. Longacre returned the fumble eight yards to the Texans 12-yard line. Zuerlein’s 27-yard field goal three minutes, 50 seconds into the game and opened the scoring.
Zuerlein’s 50-yard field goal with 14 seconds left in the first half that gave the Rams a 9-7 lead came 10 plays after linebacker Mark Barron intercepted a pass by Savage at the Rams 10-yard line and returned the ball 15 yards to the Rams 25-yard line. Zuerlein also kicked a 33-yard field goal 4:43 into the second quarter that increased the Rams lead to 6-0.
Woods’ second touchdown came one play after Samson Ebukam sacked Savage and forced a fumble which Rams defensive tackle Tyrunn Walker recovered at the Texans’ 15-yard line and returned to their 12-yard line.
The Rams ran out the final 4:34 after defensive back Blake Countess intercepted a Savage pass at the Rams 6-yard line and returned the ball 19 yards to their 25-yard line.
Savage completed 18 of 36 passes for 221 yards and had two pass intercepted as Houston (3-6) lost its third consecutive game and second after quarterback Deshaun Watson suffered a season-ending knee injury.
The Texans converted four of 12 third downs and were stopped on their only fourth down conversion attempt. Houston was scoreless on each of its three trips to the red zone.
“We didn’t play well,” Texans coach Bill O’Brien said. “We’ve done some good things at some times during the year but been very inconsistent and that’s a mark of a coach that needs to do a better job.”
Savage said the team’s recent losses are not O’Brien’s fault.
“We just got to execute better,” said Savage, who completed a 26-yard pass to Bruce Ellington 6:31 before halftime for the first half’s only touchdown. Savage completed four of five passes for 67 yards on the eight-play, 75-yard touchdown drive.