Rams still control fate in NFC West after tough loss

THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (AP) The Los Angeles Rams have not lost consecutive games this season under Sean McVay, something the first-year coach attributes to the team’s mental toughness.

That resolve will be tested next week against the Seattle Seahawks after Sunday’s 43-35 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, a seven-day span that could decide whether the Rams host a playoff game for the first time since the 2003 season in St. Louis.

”The thing that you have liked about this team so much is they have always responded the right way after we haven’t gotten the outcomes that we like,” McVay said Monday. ”I think we are a mentally tough team. We are a connected team that stays together. We’ll respond and bounce back the right way.”

A win over the Eagles would have given the Rams (9-4) a two-game lead in the NFC West over the Seahawks, who lost 30-24 at the Jacksonville Jaguars. Seattle holds the head-to-head tiebreaker after its 16-10 win in Los Angeles on Oct. 8.

The Rams also could have gained a tiebreaker over the Eagles in the push for a first-round bye. They hold the edge over the NFC South-leading New Orleans Saints thanks to a 26-20 win on Nov. 26.

Instead, the division title could easily come down to the outcome in Seattle. A loss would leave the Rams needing the Seahawks to lose at least one of their final two games.

Facing the Seahawks might be the best way to get over a loss in a playoff-type atmosphere.

”We’ve got a great opportunity with the things that took place yesterday to still be in first place in our division and go to a great Seattle team and get a chance to try to go win our 10th game and try to stay on top in the division,” McVay said. ”It’s going to be a great challenge. There’s still a lot to play for. In spite of the disappointing outcome, our guys certainly aren’t discouraged.”

The Rams will head to the Pacific Northwest will injury concerns on the offensive line and at defensive back. Left tackle Andrew Whitworth and right tackle Rob Havenstein are both dealing with MCL sprains that McVay described as ”mild.” Whitworth returned to the game after getting hurt in the first half. Havenstein left early in the fourth quarter.

”They’ll be day to day,” McVay said. ”Fortunately for us, it didn’t result in something that was going to be season-ending.”

To address their secondary after losing cornerback Kayvon Webster for the season with a ruptured Achilles tendon, the Rams re-signed cornerback Dominique Hatfield to the practice squad. Hatfield, an undrafted rookie who has appeared in 11 games, was waived from the active roster on Saturday.

There was a bit of positive news, as cornerback Trumaine Johnson is not in concussion protocol. Instead, it was a stinger that knocked Johnson out against the Eagles.

NOTES: Wide receiver Robert Woods and outside linebacker Connor Barwin will both return to practice on Wednesday. Woods has missed four games with a shoulder injury, while Barwin has missed two games after having surgery on his broken forearm.

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