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Sean McVay: The Rams' 'trajectory is pointing upward'

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  • By Adam Maya NFL.com
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They'll be back.

That was the sentiment surrounding the Los Angeles Rams after a bittersweet Wild Card loss to the Atlanta Falcons on Saturday at the Coliseum, the franchise's first in the building in nearly 40 years. It won't be that long before their next home playoff game. It could happen before they depart for their new stadium in 2020.

"Certainly we're not content with the way that this season ended," coach Sean McVay said in the aftermath of a 26-13 defeat, "but it doesn't take away the fact that our players and our group of coaches accomplished a lot of things where we feel like we're building a foundation where that trajectory is pointing upward for the Rams."

After an 11-win season, the NFC West champions have a lot to look forward to. They boast a young nucleus that saw several players put up career years. Running back Todd Gurley is an MVP candidate. Defensive end Aaron Donald is a Defensive Player of the Year candidate. Wide receiver Robert Woods looked rejuvenated after four years of obscurity in Buffalo. Cornerback Trumaine Johnson is a Pro Bowl alternate for the first time. And quarterback Jared Goff quieted "bust" murmurs with a promising second season.

"We have a good, strong core and good people, good players and good coaches," Goff said, after an uneven playoff debut.

Of course, he wasn't alone in that regard. The Rams' 31-year-old rookie coach headed a roster that featured only six players with postseason experience coming into Saturday. The butterflies were evident right out the gate. After leading the NFL in scoring in the regular season, the Rams collected just one first down over their first three possessions. Two other drives never commenced because of fumbled punt and kickoff returns. L.A. ultimately fell into a 13-0 hole that it mostly dug out of by halftime but ultimately succumbed to against last year's Super Bowl runner-up.

"I think you do have a lot of respect for experience and certainly this is an example that we can learn from," McVay said. "But, what I don't think is, is I don't think this game was too big for our players. We're a young football team, we didn't make enough plays tonight to be able to get it done, but I don't think that means it was too big for our guys. ... It's going to be great motivation as we go into the offseason program leading into next year."

For what it's worth, the scene at the Coliseum felt bigger, what with the largest announced attendance of the season (74,300) and a halftime performance from rapper Snoop Dogg, all present to witness the franchise's first playoff game played anywhere since 2005.

"It's very good to see coming from when I first got here," Goff said. "It was rocking today. We wanted to get it done for the fans, and ultimately we didn't. But we're glad they came out in full force today."

There's reason to believe they -- that is, the fans and the Rams -- after experiencing a seven-win turnaround under their wunderkind coach, could be in the same venue next January. And maybe they'll stay awhile longer.

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