Hey, this Los Angeles Rams debut doesn’t really count anyway.
An enormous crowd in Los Angeles welcomed the Rams back for their preseason opener against the Dallas Cowboys, the first NFL football game held in L.A. in 22 years. And on a sun-splashed day at the Los Angeles Coliseum, Greg Zuerlein kicked off as the crowd cheered and ESPN announcer Sean McDonough happily proclaimed that football was back in Los Angeles.
And then Cowboys returner Lucky Whitehead took that kickoff 101 yards for a touchdown.
What do they say in Hollywood? Ah, right: Take two.
On the first play in Los Angeles in over 20 years…
— NFL (@NFL) August 14, 2016
The Rams will have a chance to get their premiere right when the games count. The first regular-season game at Los Angeles Coliseum this season will be Sept. 18 against the Seattle Seahawks.
And despite the pratfall out of the gate, it was a historic night for the Rams, the NFL and Los Angeles. As far as preseason football games go, the affair in L.A. was a big one.
The Rams claimed they expected about 90,000 fans and that would make it the largest crowd for a preseason game in U.S. history, and that technically that appears correct. A crowd of 112,376 attended a preseason game between the Cowboys and Houston Texans in 1994, but that was in Mexico City. There were 105,840 fans on hand for an exhibition game between the Chicago Bears and a college all-star team in 1947, but that’s not an NFL preseason game. So the Rams’ statement holds. The combination of the first game back in L.A., the Cowboys being a marquee opponent and the sheer size of the Coliseum gave the Rams a shot to break the record.
There shouldn’t have been much concern that the Rams would draw a lot of interest right away (and they will again in 2019 when their grand new stadium opens in Inglewood), but still had to be nice for the Rams to see such a huge turnout for a game that didn’t count.
— Los Angeles Rams (@RamsNFL) August 13, 2016
The NFL does have a long history in Los Angeles, it had just been a while since they could add to it.
The last time NFL football was played in Los Angeles was Dec. 24, 1994. The Rams played the Washington Redskins in Anaheim, while the Raiders took on the Kansas City Chiefs at the Coliseum.
The Rams lost 24-21. Heath Shuler’s third-quarter held up for the Redskins. Chris Miller threw for 303 yards for the Rams in a losing cause. The Raiders lost too, 19-9 against their division rival which started Joe Montana at quarterback. Former Raider Marcus Allen rushed for 132 yards for Kansas City.
It was a long, long awaited return to the Coliseum for the Rams. The Rams played their home games at the Coliseum from 1946 to 1979 before moving to Orange County. As Vincent Bonsignore of the Los Angeles Daily News pointed out, the Rams’ last home game at the Coliseum before Saturday came when Magic Johnson was a rookie for the Los Angeles Lakers.
The Rams got a chance to reacquaint themselves with the old Coliseum after a long, long time away. After more than two decades, the people of Los Angeles finally had a home team to root for again. And look at it this way: It can only go uphill from that terrible start to preseason game No. 1.
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