Matthew Stafford threw an interception returned for a score by cornerback DaRon Bland. Then, Ethan Evans had a punt blocked by Sam Williams into the end zone for a safety and Kavontae Turpin returned the ensuing kickoff 63 yards, setting up a 10-yard touchdown pass from Dak Prescott to CeeDee Lamb.

The three-minute sequence at the end of the first quarter and the start of the second quarter essentially decided the game for Los Angeles, as the Rams lost to the Dallas Cowboys on the road, 43-20. 

“Those were things that make it really difficult to overcome against an excellent team like that. But those are all things that you have to be able to look at, correct and move forward. And again, you take away the credit to the Cowboys for creating those mishaps on our end as well,” Rams head coach Sean McVay said after the game.

The loss dropped the Rams to 3-5 on the year. Even worse, the 35-year-old Stafford suffered a thumb injury in the second half and had to leave the game, replaced by backup Brett Rypien

McVay said Stafford suffered a thumb injury on his throwing hand while diving for the goal line on a two-point conversion pass reception from Tutu Atwell. McVay said Stafford will need further evaluation to determine the significance of the injury.

“It is his thumb,” McVay said. We’ll see what the significance of that injury is. But I don’t want to speculate until I have full clarification from the doctors. But obviously, he wasn’t able to return.”

The Rams have now lost three of their last four games and face another road contest against the Green Bay Packers next Sunday before the team’s bye week in Week 10. 

Stafford dealt with lingering elbow issues during training camp last season and suffered a season-ending bruised spinal cord in the second half of the year, missing the final seven games of the 2022 season. The Rams finished 2-5 in games Stafford was not under center. 

The Rams trailed 26-3 after Lamb’s touchdown with 12:50 left in the second quarter, and the Cowboys cruised from there. 

Stafford finished 13-of-22 for 162 yards, with a 20-yard touchdown to Ben Skowronek and the interception to Bland, his third interception returned for a touchdown this season. Stafford is tied for the league lead with eight interceptions this season.

Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn devised an effective scheme to limit big plays by receivers Puka Nacua and Cooper Kupp. They combined for just seven receptions for 64 yards on 17 targets and no scores. 

The Rams generated pressure defensively on Prescott early, sacking him on three of his first four drop back. One was negative because of a defensive illegal contact injury, with the Cowboys given a first down on the play.

Dak Prescott throws for 304 yards and four touchdowns in blowout win vs. Rams

Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald entered Sunday’s contest with just 2.5 sacks through seven games, but totaled two sacks and four tackles on the day. 

Rams head coach Sean McVay had lamented the inability of his team to play consistent, complementary football, with the offense, defense and special teams making plays in critical moments of the game. 

On Sunday against the Cowboys, the Rams failed miserably in all three phases, leaving McVay headed back to the drawing board with a week to prepare for his protégé, Packers head coach Matt LaFleur. 

Eric D. Williams has reported on the NFL for more than a decade, covering the Los Angeles Rams for Sports Illustrated, the Los Angeles Chargers for ESPN and the Seattle Seahawks for the Tacoma News Tribune. Follow him on Twitter at @eric_d_williams.

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