Remember when the Patriots recorded their second-largest shutout win in team history a mere 72 hours ago?
Back in the same stadium Thursday night, New England's fortunes couldn't have been more different. Cam Newton was sacked four times and served up his first pick-six as a Patriot before being benched in a 24-3 loss to the Rams that has the team's path to the postseason on life support.
New England (6-7) is now below .500 later in the season than any point since 2000, Bill Belichick's first year as head coach and Drew Bledsoe's final year as the team's primary starting quarterback.
Los Angeles (9-4) never trailed, surpassing its point total from Super Bowl LIII on its opening drive with a 1-yard touchdown rush with 11:21 to go in the first quarter.
New England punted on each of its first two possessions, sandwiched around a Rams field goal, before Myles Bryant picked Goff off to give the Patriots some life at the LA 32-yard line.
But on the third play of the series, Newton was picked off by Kenny Young, who raced 79 yards for a score to give the Rams a 17-0 edge a mere 0:14 into the second quarter.
The Patriots moved right back into the red zone, aided by a kickoff out of bounds by the Rams which game the team possession at its own 40-yard line. Faced with a fourth-and-goal from the LA 2-yard line, Newton failed to score on a quarterback keeper which again deprived New England of points.
In all, the Patriots had four trips to the red zone and came away with only three points, a Nick Folk 29-yard field goal with 1:04 left in the first half.
New England punted on its first series of the second half, after with Los Angeles launched a 16-play, 90-yard scoring drive which finished off with a 2-yard pass from Goff to Cooper Kupp on first-and-goal -- one play after the Patriots were drawn off-sides on a field goal attempt.
Trailing 24-3, two more three-and-outs followed for the Patriots. Their next series resulted in a turnover on downs, prompting the switch to Jarrett Stidham at quarterback for the Patriots.
Newton finished 9 for 16 for 119 yards -- his most in a game in three weeks -- with an interception, while Stidham ultimately fared no better, completing 5 of 7 passes for just 27 yards and taking two sacks of his own.
Even if New England did a decent job holding Goff in check -- he was 16 for 25 for 137 yards, a touchdown and an interception -- it was ripped to shreds by rookie Cam Akers on the ground, who amassed 171 yards on 29 carries. The previous career high for Akers had been 84 yards rushing, set two weeks earlier against the 49ers.
Michael Brockers had two sacks for the Rams. Aaron Donald, the five-time All-Pro, two-time Defensive Player of the Year whom New England famously contained in Super Bowl LIII, had 1.5 sacks and another tackle for a loss for Los Angeles.
Damien Harris paced New England on the ground with 50 yards on 11 carries. N'Keal Harry's 49 yards on three catches led the Patriots; he had one remarkable 30-yard reception on a jump ball up the sideline from Newton in the third quarter, perhaps his finest catch in the NFL to date.
It was that kind of game tonight, looking for silver linings.
It'll be a long 10 days off for the Patriots, who'll return to Foxboro after their swing through southern California before playing their final road game of the season in Miami against the Dolphins on Sunday, Dec. 20. Suffice to say, it's a must-win.