THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. (AP) Rams owner Stan Kroenke presented the game ball to Sean McVay during the postgame celebration of Los Angeles’ season-opening blowout win over Indianapolis.
The 31-year-old coach knows exactly where he plans to store the ball: in the family room of his new home.
Just don’t call it the trophy room. McVay knows the Rams haven’t earned any of those yet.
”My grandpa (former 49ers executive John McVay) always jokes, because he’s got all these accolades and things he’s accomplished, but he’s one of the more humble guys you’ll ever meet, he says he’s got an `I Love Me’ room,” McVay said Monday. ”We’ll see if I can get enough stuff to (fill a room) like my grandpa did.”
McVay knows it’s wise for the Rams to stay humble, since a long season still looms ahead for a franchise that hasn’t made the playoffs since 2004 and isn’t widely expected to end that drought this fall.
Still, the Rams’ 46-9 victory over the short-handed Colts was a surprise, and it energized a franchise in competition with the Chargers for Los Angeles’ hearts and eyeballs.
”I don’t think you ever envision those types of games, but I think you felt like your team was focused and ready to go,” McVay said. ”I think they had a good feel even in the pregame (and) in the week of preparation, but in this league, you just never know. It’s a credit to the players.”
Jared Goff’s offense compiled 373 yards, which is more than the Rams managed in 15 of their 16 games last season while fielding the worst offense in the NFL for the second straight year. The Rams also hadn’t scored that many points since November 2014.
The Rams’ defense under new coordinator Wade Phillips not only allowed just nine points, but it scored 16 on a safety and two interception returns for touchdowns, becoming the first team in NFL history to do all three of those things in a season opener. The defense also didn’t allow the Colts to convert on any of their 10 third downs or one fourth down.
”I think we have a whole new character around this team,” defensive lineman Michael Brockers said. ”We don’t care about having the youngest (roster). We don’t care about having the youngest coach. We just care about winning games. … When you’ve got all three sides of the ball going and we’re flying around, it gives you that confidence, and you can feel it growing.”
The defense even did it without its best player: All-Pro lineman Aaron Donald stayed away from the Coliseum after ending his holdout Saturday. Donald didn’t want to be a distraction to his teammates, but he’s right back in the mix this week during practice and film study for this weekend’s visit from Washington.
Los Angeles still left a 37-point victory with plenty of areas for improvement. The Rams committed seven penalties, and McVay lamented the ineffectiveness of their running game, which got just 40 yards from Todd Gurley while averaging fewer than 2 yards per carry.
But for at least one week in September, the Rams are in first place in the NFC West. For a franchise that hasn’t had a winning season since McVay was a high school senior, that’s something to celebrate modestly.
”We know it’s not a perfect game,” McVay said. ”But there’s a lot of things that the players did a great job with.”
NOTES: The Rams accented their upbeat mood by signing defensive lineman Ethan Westbrooks and punter Johnny Hekker to contract extensions. Westbrooks, who got a one-year extension through 2018, has been valuable during the prolonged holdout of All-Pro lineman Aaron Donald, while Hekker is among the NFL’s best at his position, with a contract now running through 2022. … Starting CB Kayvon Webster is day to day after injuring his shoulder in the opener, McVay said. The Rams don’t know whether he’ll have to miss a game.
More AP NFL: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL