Any realistic chances at a repeat long ago dissipated for the Los Angeles Rams, but the math has finally caught up to the reality for last season's Super Bowl champions.
The Rams were officially eliminated from postseason contention Monday night with their 24-12 loss to the host Green Bay Packers. With three weeks remaining in the season, the Rams tied the 1999 Denver Broncos for the earliest elimination of any defending Super Bowl champion in history, according to NFL Research.
"I mean this has been a real struggle in a lot of instances, a lot of adversity that we've gone through, but I think what we've seen from our guys is they're going to continue to battle, they're gonna finish up these last three games the right way, with the right mindset and mentality, and we'll compete to the best of our ability," Rams head coach Sean McVay said after the game. "That's all I know how to do, and I trust that that's exactly what we'll do collectively as a group.
A little more than a week after Baker Mayfield arrived and delivered a stupendous come-from-behind win over the Las Vegas Raiders, reality set in once again Monday in regard to just how trying a campaign this has been for last season's champs.
Plagued by injuries to quarterback Matthew Stafford, wide receiver Cooper Kupp, defensive lineman Aaron Donald and myriad others -- perhaps most notably an ever-changing offensive line -- the Rams have looked nothing like their Super Bowl selves from a year ago.
Los Angeles lost its seventh game in its last eight, dropping it to 4-10 to ensure the franchise's first double-digit losing season since 2016. Those 10 losses also match the '99 Broncos for the most by a reigning Super Bowl champ.
Problems were apparent earlier than the aforementioned six-game skid that preceded Mayfield's heroics, though, as the Rams lost three of their first five.
McVay's offense sputtered and the Donald-led defense was hardly as fearsome as it'd been a year prior.
The Rams' defeat Monday marks just the fourth time in history in which a defending Super Bowl champion has been eliminated from playoff contention with more than one week remaining in the season.
Winter is still coming on the calendar, but it's already arrived for the Rams' 2022 season.