The Los Angeles Rams were held to two field goals in six first-half possessions with John Wolford at quarterback and scored one offensive touchdown in the second half with Bryce Perkins at quarterback in a 24-20 loss to the Houston Texans Friday evening in a preseason game at SoFi Stadium.

Facing Houston’s first- and second-team defensive players while playing with second- and third-stringers, Wolford completed 14 of 22 passes for 142 yards and was sacked five times. The Rams converted one of nine third downs under Wolford, needing seven or more yards to convert seven times.

Perkins completed 11 of 13 passes for 123 yards and was sacked once. The Rams converted two of five third down under Perkins, needing seven or more yards to convert once.

The Rams opened the scoring on their second possession when Matt Gay kicked a 43-yard field goal. Wolford began the eight-play, 55-yard drive by completing 22- and 21-yard passes to undrafted rookie receiver Lance McCutcheon and receiver Landen Akers, who played two games for the Rams last season but did not catch a pass.

Gay kicked a 36-yard field goal on the Rams’ sixth possession, 40 seconds before halftime, four plays after rookie cornerback Derion Kendrick, a sixth-round draft choice from Georgia, recovered a fumble by running back Rex Burkhead on a pass from Davis Mills at Houston’s 35-yard line and returned the ball 15 yards.

Mills threw an 18-yard touchdown pass to receiver Nico Collins with one second left in the first half, one play after completing a 32-yard pass to Phillip Dorsett and rookie safety Russ Yeast, a seventh-round draft choice from Kansas State, was penalized 15 yards for unnecessary roughness.

The Texans (2-0) increased their lead to 14-6 on their second possession of the second half on Kyle Allen’s 6-yard touchdown pass to rookie tight end Teagan Quitoriano, a fifth-round draft choice from Oregon State.

The Rams (1-1) cut the deficit to 14-13 two minutes, 47 seconds later, when Chester Rogers fumbled a punt by Riley Dixon at the Rams’ 8-yard line, the ball was recovered by undrafted rookie tight end Roger Carter Jr., who ran into the end zone. Perkins’ run for a 2-point conversion was nullified by a holding penalty by third-year tight end Brycen Hopkins and the Rams had to settle for a conversion kick by Gay.

Houston increased its lead to 17-13 with 12:46 left to play on a 42-yard field goal by Ka’imi Fairburn, a former UCLA standout.

The Rams regained the lead with 5:11 remaining on a 7-yard touchdown run by Trey Regas, who played one game for the Las Vegas Raiders as a rookie in 2021. Perkins completed all six of his passes on the drive for 54 yards.

The Texans took the ensuing kickoff and drove 82 yards on eight plays plus a penalty, with Jeff Driskel throwing the game-winning 8-yard touchdown pass to tight end Mason Schreck with 1:05 left to play, two plays after a 46-yard pass interference penalty against third-year defensive back Tyler Hall.

Driskel ran twice for 24 yards on the drive, including a 14-yard scramble on a third-and-15 play that began at Houston’s 25-yard line and completed two-of-two passes for 9 yards.

The Rams began the final drive on their own 25-yard line with 1:05 to play. Three passes by Perkins and a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty advanced the ball to Houston’s 39-yard line with 12 seconds to play.

McCutcheon caught a pass from Perkins, but instead of going out of bounds to stop the clock continued to run toward the end zone, fumbled the ball at the Texans’ 12-yard line with Houston defensive back Grayland Arnold recovering at the 9-yard line as time expired.

The Rams outgained the Texans 275 yards to 274, led 31:08-28:52 in time of possession but trailed 20-19 in first downs, in front of a crowd announced at 70,554. In the first half, the Rams outgained Houston 134-105, led 9-8 in first downs and 18:39-11:21 in time of possession.

Mills completed 10 of 17 passes for 96 yards and one touchdown and was sacked twice. Allen completed nine of 12 passes for 71 yards and one touchdown. Driskel completed all three of his passes for 17 yards.

Wolford was playing in the preseason for the first time since the 2019 preseason finale, coincidentally against Houston. The 2020 preseason was canceled in an attempt to guard against the spread of the coronavirus.

Coach Sean McVay said Wednesday he would deviate from his usual practice of not playing starters or other key players in preseason games to avoid the possibility of injuries to give Wolford an opportunity for “valuable experience” if an injury to Matthew Stafford forces Wolford to play in the regular season.

“If he did have to do something, we feel like this would be the best opportunity for John to get in there, get into a rhythm and routine,” McVay told reporters Wednesday at the Rams’ training facility at California Lutheran University. “It was really just something that kind of just thinking about what’s the best way to set up John for the most success. We felt like him playing this week would be that.”

Wolford was playing for the first time since Dec. 5 when he handed off in each of the Rams’ final five offensive plays in a 37-7 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars. He also played in two other games in 2021, throwing two incomplete passes with one interception in a 38-11 victory over the New York Giants Oct. 17 and completing one of two passes for five yards in a 38-22 victory over the Texans Oct. 31.

Wolford’s most extensive official appearance since signing with the Rams in 2019 came in the 2020 regular-season finale, when he started in place of the injured Jared Goff and completed 22 of 38 passes for 231 yards with one interception in an 18-7 victory over the Arizona Cardinals that assured the Rams of a playoff berth.

The Rams would have been assured of a playoff berth even if they had lost that Jan. 3, 2021 because of the Chicago Bears’ 35-16 loss to the Green Bay Packers in a game that began at the same time as the Rams’ game.

Wolford also started the Rams’ wild-card round playoff game six days later but left the game on the Rams’ second possession when he suffered a neck injury that caused him to be taken to a hospital. Wolford was able to return to Lumen Field in time to join his teammates in locker room celebrating in the 30-20 upset victory over the Seattle Seahawks.

Wolford signed with the Rams after starting seven of eight games for the Arizona Hotshots of the Alliance of American Football which folded eight games into its inaugural season. He was fourth on the Rams’ depth chart during his first training camp.

Wolford was a four-year starter at Wake Forest and spent the 2018 season on the New York Jets’ practice squad.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.