Sports

Rams’ lack of creating turnovers has become a big problem


It qualifies as more than a dry spell, goes well beyond a drought.

The Rams have not intercepted a pass or recovered a fumble in their last four games — all defeats. They have one turnover in their last eight games.

Safety Nick Scott intercepted a tipped pass in an Oct. 16 victory over the Carolina Panthers.

Since then, zilch for the Rams defense.

“It seems like forever,” Scott said Thursday. “Seems like a season ago.”

The defending Super Bowl-champion Rams are 3-7 and on the brink of elimination from playoff contention for many reasons.

The most obvious is an offense that has scored 16.8 points a game, which ranks 29th among 32 NFL teams. And with quarterback Matthew Stafford sidelined again because he is in concussion protocol, and star receiver Cooper Kupp out for at least three more games while recovering from ankle surgery, it is not on track to improve.

Yet the defense has not helped itself or the offense, failing to create turnovers that might have produced momentum, advantageous field position or immediate points.

The Rams have intercepted only five passes and recovered only three fumbles. Their minus-7 turnover differential ranks 30th in the league.

“It is bothersome,” defensive coordinator Raheem Morris said of the lack of turnovers, adding, “The few times when the technique and opportunity met, we haven’t been able to cash in.

“I told the guys … ‘You’ve got to need a turnover like you need oxygen … like we need air.’ That’s our life force.”

The defense has been gasping almost the entire season.

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In a season-opening loss to the Buffalo Bills, cornerback Troy Hill and outside linebacker Terrell Lewis intercepted passes and the Rams recovered two fumbles.

The next week against the Atlanta Falcons, the Rams recovered a fumble, rookie cornerback Decobie Durant returned an interception 51 yards, and cornerback Jalen Ramsey clinched a victory with a late interception.

The Rams did not create a turnover in the next three games.

Scott’s interception against the Panthers ended the streak. The Rams have not capitalized on a potential mistake since.

“We can’t talk about not getting them without talking about the missed opportunities,” Morris said, “the close but no cigar type of things.”

Linebacker Bobby Wagner played 10 seasons for Seattle Seahawks defenses known for aggressiveness and creating turnovers. He said players who excel at intercepting passes or forcing fumbles share a trait.

“They’re just obsessed with trying to find ways to get the ball,” he said, “and that’s kind of what we have to do.”

The Rams’ next opportunity comes Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs and star quarterback Patrick Mahomes.

Mahomes has passed for 28 touchdowns, with seven interceptions. The Chiefs have lost six fumbles.

Mahomes is not shy about taking chances. He delivers passes from all angles and creates problems for defenses by running.

“It could be an opportunity for more interceptions — or it could not,” Scott said. “He’s a guy that scrambles and makes a lot of plays on the run, and sometimes that involves a little bit of risk when you’re throwing at crazy arm angles and things like that.”

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Etc.

The Rams had a jog-through Thursday morning that was not open to reporters. … Quarterback John Wolford (neck) was a full participant, according to the Rams’ injury report. Coach Sean McVay and offensive coordinator Liam Coen have said that Bryce Perkins and Wolford will both get work before they decided upon a starter for Sunday’s game. Center Brian Allen (thumb) and offensive lineman Ty Nsehke (ankle) did not participate. Tight end Tyler Higbee (knee), receiver Allen Robinson (ankle), offensive lineman Matt Skura (knee) and linebacker Travin Howard (hip) were limited.

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