LA Rams spoil Raiders’ return to Coliseum with 19-15 win
LOS ANGELES (AP) — Sean McVay and Jon Gruden both knew they’ve got to coach against each other in a real game just 23 days after the Rams’ preseason visit from the Raiders.
So while the Raiders’ return to the Coliseum was a thrill for their faithful Southern California fan base, the Rams’ young coach and his veteran role model both made sure the action on the field was as meaningless as possible.
Rookie John Kelly rushed for 56 yards and a touchdown, and the Rams welcomed the Raiders back to LA with a 19-15 preseason victory over Oakland on Saturday.
Chris Warren rushed for 110 yards and a touchdown for the Raiders in their return to the venerable stadium that was their home for 13 seasons during their largely successful tenure in Los Angeles. Their passionate local following turned out in force, filling the 95-year-old arena with black jerseys and loud cheers.
“It was awesome being back here,” Gruden said. “If you understand the Raiders, they have had a history here, a championship history here. There are still a lot of fans that remember those teams, and rightfully so.”
But both teams rested nearly all of their presumptive starters and used no significant parts of their playbook, thanks in part to a weird NFL scheduling decision that forced these teams to play an exhibition three weeks before they meet in their Monday night regular-season opener in Oakland.
“I’ve never been in a preseason game like this,” Gruden said. “This is tough, in our first training camp as a football team, to have our second (preseason game) against a team we open up with.
“I don’t know in the history of the NFL if that’s ever happened. I’m not going to sit up here and cry about it, because it’s the same for them as it is us. But we didn’t want to play our starters, and we didn’t want them to hear our audibles and hand signals. I don’t think they wanted us to get a feel for them either, so it was a strange ballgame.”
Although both coaches revealed as little about their teams as possible, McVay still relished his first chance to face Gruden, who employed McVay as a 22-year-old assistant wide receivers coach on his final staff with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2008. McVay frequently cites Gruden and his brother, Jay, as major influences on his coaching style and mentality.
“Everybody knows what a huge amount of respect I have for Jon, and how great he’s been to me over the course of my coaching career,” McVay said. “(But) they were pretty regulated. Very similar in terms of the approach by both teams. Very vanilla.”
The Rams’ backups dominated the Raiders’ reserves in the first half, taking a 13-0 lead while holding Oakland to 58 yards and one first down. Oakland trailed 16-0 before mounting a rally, but the Raiders failed on their second 2-point conversion attempt of the day following Griff Whalen’s 10-yard TD catch with 9:52 to play.
“I was going to do everything humanly possible to avoid overtime today, yes,” Gruden said.
Sam Ficken then hit his second field goal for the Rams with 5:46 left.
“It’s definitely different, because it’s not their starters out there, and you want to save stuff for later,” said Rams linebacker Samson Ebukam, one of the few likely regular-season starters who played significant snaps. “You still want to do your best, though.”
The Raiders’ offense didn’t record its second first down of the day until late in the third quarter, but Warren capped the 75-yard drive with a 3-yard TD run. The undrafted free-agent running back from Texas had 86 yards in his preseason debut against Detroit.
“It’s about showing I can play in the league and make the most of my opportunities,” Warren said. “I didn’t expect to play as much as I did. It was nice to get some good pops in. I was able to get some yards after contact.”
Al Davis moved the Raiders from Oakland to Los Angeles in 1982, and their home crowds at the Coliseum quickly developed a reputation for rowdiness and occasional violence. But the Raiders also won the hearts of a generation of Los Angeles football fans with their swagger and success, including a Super Bowl title in their second season in town.
The Rams spent the 1980s in Anaheim, further opening the way for the Raiders to become Generation X’s favorite team in LA.
Both franchises moved after the 1994 season, and the Rams returned home two years ago. The Raiders missed out on the chance to return to LA when the Chargers made their move last year, but the Raiders will be only about 260 miles from Los Angeles when they move to Las Vegas in 2020, making it even easier for LA’s silver-and-black fans to back their team.
Warren was the clearest standout on a discouraging day for Oakland’s offense. Gruden was blunt, calling it “flat-out embarrassing, honestly.”
E.J. Manuel went 10 for 16 for 89 yards and a touchdown, but also fumbled for the second straight week. The Raiders’ backup offensive line struggled to keep the Rams’ pressure off Manuel and Connor Cook, who went 6 for 12.
Rams backup QB Sean Mannion rebounded from a rocky preseason debut last week in Baltimore, going 10 of 16 for 84 yards while completing passes to eight receivers. Third-stringer Brandon Allen wasn’t as sharp, going 6 for 11 and throwing a terrible interception in the fourth quarter to put Oakland in position for its second TD.
Raiders: K Eddie Pineiro didn’t play because of a groin injury. … CB Shareece Wright injured his hamstring during the game.
There were no apparent protests during the national anthem.
Raiders: Host the Green Bay Packers on Aug. 24.
Rams: Host the Houston Texans on Aug. 25.