After a 21-year stint in St. Louis, the Rams are officially moving back west, to the the city the franchise called its home from 1946 to 1994: Los Angeles. The New England Patriots are not scheduled to play a game in Los Angeles until the 2020 season – or 28 years after they last played a game there. Overall, the Patriots have traveled to Los Angeles five times: twice to play against the Raiders, who were located in the city from 1982 to 1994, and three times to visit the Rams.
With the Rams now moving back to the nation’s second-largest market, let’s take the time to look back at those three games.
The first of New England’s road games against the Los Angeles Rams was played in week 15 of the 1983 season in Anaheim Stadium, about 30 miles southeast of the team’s future stadium in Inglewood. The Patriots were 7-7 entering the game, while the Rams had an 8-6 record. The home team scored first when wide receiver George Farmer was able to get behind the defense for a long touchdown reception in the first quarter.
However, it was all Patriots from that point on. The offense, led by quarterback Tony Eason, was able to score in each remaining quarter to take a 21-7 lead, as fullback Mosi Tatupu scored three touchdowns. The offense, despite scoring thrice, was far from spectacular that day – it was the defense that stole the show: the unit had three sacks, one interception (by linebacker Don Blackmon) and six fumble recoveries. Therefore, despite turning the ball over three times themselves, the Patriots were able to leave Los Angeles with a 21-7 win.
Three years later, in week 11 of the 1986 season, New England returned to the City of Angels. The game between the 7-3 Patriots, who were the reigning AFC Champion, and the 7-3 Rams started well for the visitors. Thanks to two Tony Franklin field goals and a punt-block-return touchdown by defensive back Rod McSwain, New England took a 13-0 lead midway through the second quarter. The home team, however, fought back and by the time both teams entered the locker room, the Patriots led by only two points, 16-14.
The Rams would ultimately take a 28-16 fourth-quarter lead but coach Raymond Berry's Patriots fought back, scoring two touchdowns to win 30-28. Both scores were passes from Eason to wide receiver Irving Fryar: the first one with seven minutes left, the second one a 25-yard pass on the last play of the game. Fellow wide receiver Stanley Morgan tipped the ball and Fryar was able to haul it in for the game-winning score.
Six years after the thrilling last-second win, the Patriots returned to Los Angeles for the final time. While their prior trips to the West Coast were successful, the last one wasn’t – just like the team’s entire 2-14 1992 season. While the defense was able to keep New England in the game for most of the day, the offense was unable to find any rhythm and momentum: the unit gave the ball away five times – four of the giveaways were interceptions by quarterback Hugh Millen – as the Patriots were shut out during the 14-0 loss.
With the NFL returning to Los Angeles, so will the Patriots; looking to improve their road record against the L.A. Rams.