Open main menu

1979 Los Angeles Rams season

The 1979 season is the Los Angeles Rams' 42nd season in the National Football League, their 43rd overall, and their 34th in the Greater Los Angeles Area. It was the final season for the franchise in the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum until 2016, as late owner Carroll Rosenbloom previously announced the Rams would move to Anaheim Stadium for the 1980 season.[1]

1979 Los Angeles Rams season
Head coachRay Malavasi
(2nd season)
OwnerGeorgia Rosenbloom
Home fieldLos Angeles Memorial Coliseum
Division place1st NFC West
Playoff finishWon Divisional Playoffs
(21–19 at Cowboys)
Won Conference Championship
(9–0 at Buccaneers)
Lost Super Bowl XIV
(19–31 vs. Steelers)
The Rams ended the 1979 season by making it to Super Bowl XIV, where they lost to the Steelers 19-31

The Rams won their seventh-consecutive NFC West title in 1979, and went to the Super Bowl for the first time. It was the team's only Super Bowl appearance while based in Los Angeles during their first stint in Los Angeles, and their first appearance in a league championship game since 1955. It would be the Rams' last division title for six seasons and the last time they would win consecutive division titles until 2017-18. The Rams wouldn't return to the Super Bowl based in Los Angeles until 2018 (their next one as a franchise was in 1999 while based in St. Louis).

The 1979 Rams were the first team in NFL history to have a less than a +50 point differential and make it to the Super Bowl.[2] (The Rams scored only 14 points more than their opponents in 1979.) Thirty-two years later, the New York Giants, also with a 9–7 record, became the first team to reach the Super Bowl with a negative point differential (−6); unlike the 1979 Rams, the Giants won the big game. The 2008 Arizona Cardinals also reached the Super Bowl, but lost in the final moments of XLIII.


Owner Caroll Rosenbloom drowned on April 2, 1979, while swimming in the Atlantic Ocean just off of his home in Golden Beach, Florida, leaving the team to his widow, Georgia.


1979 Los Angeles Rams draft
Round Pick Player Position College Notes
1 19 George Andrews  LB Nebraska
1 26 Kent Hill  OG Georgia Tech
2 54 Eddie Hill  RB Memphis
3 58 Jeff Moore  WR Tennessee
3 81 Mike Wellman  C Kansas
4 99 Derwin Tucker  DB Illinois
4 108 Jerry Wilkinson  DE Oregon St
5 122 Victor Hicks  TE Oklahoma
7 190 Jeff Delaney  DB Pittsburgh
9 246 Jeff Rutledge  QB Alabama
10 273 Grady Ebensbeger  DT Houston
11 301 Jesse Deramus  DT Tennessee St
12 328 Drew Hill  WR Georgia Tech
      Made roster    †   Pro Football Hall of Fame    *   Made at least one Pro Bowl during career


Final RosterEdit

1979 Los Angeles Rams final roster

Running backs

Wide receivers

Tight ends

Offensive linemen

Defensive linemen


Defensive backs

Special teams

Reserve lists

Practice squad

Rookies in italics
53 Active, 4 Inactive, 0 Practice squad

Regular seasonEdit


Week Date Opponent Result Record Venue Attedence
1 September 2 Oakland Raiders L 17–24 0–1 Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum
2 September 6 at Denver Broncos W 13 – 9 1–1 Mile High Stadium
3 September 16 San Francisco 49ers W 27–24 2–1 Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum
4 September 23 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers L 6–21 2–2 Tampa Stadium
5 September 30 St. Louis Cardinals W 21–0 3–2 Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum
6 October 7 at New Orleans Saints W 35–17 4–2 Louisiana Superdome
7 October 14 at Dallas Cowboys L 6 –30 4–3 Texas Stadium
8 October 21 San Diego Chargers L 16– 40 4–4 Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum
9 October 28 New York Giants L 14–20 4–5 Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum
10 November 4 at Seattle Seahawks W 24 –0 5–5 Kingdome
11 November 11 at Chicago Bears L 23–27 5–6 Soldier Field
12 November 19 Atlanta Falcons W 20–14 6–6 Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum
13 November 25 at San Francisco 49ers W 26–20 7–6 Candlestick Park
14 December 2 Minnesota Vikings W 27–21 8–6 Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum
15 December 9 at Atlanta Falcons W 34–13 9–6 Atlanta–Fulton County Stadium
16 December 16 New Orleans Saints L 14–29 9–7 Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum


Season summaryEdit

Week 1Edit

1 234Total
• Raiders 0 10140 24
Rams 7 1000 17

The Rams jumped out to an early 14–0 lead, but a failure to protect the punter led to two blocks and 10 Raider points before halftime. Raiders also intercepted three second-half passes and turned two into Ken Stabler to Raymond Chester touchdown passes. [5]

Week 2Edit

1 234Total
• Rams 6 0035 41
Broncos 0 006 6

This game feature a rare safety scored when Rams tackle John Williams held Bronco LB Larry Evans in the end zone in the 1st. Rams appeared on verge of going 0–2 until, late in the 4th, safety Dave Elmendorf laid a hit on QB Craig Morton and LB Jack Reynolds picked up the fumble and bulled into the end zone for the winning score.


Week 3Edit

1 234Total
49ers 10 0014 24
• Rams 0 1476 27
  • Date: September 16
  • Location: Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum

After spotting the 49ers 10 points, the Rams scored 24 unanswered, Pat Haden passing for two touchdowns and Cullen Bryant rushing for 106 yards and another to secure the win.

Week 4Edit

1 234Total
Rams 6 000 6
• Buccaneers 0 2100 21

Jim Youngblood put the Rams on the board early with an interception return touchdown, but from then on it was all Buccaneers as Doug Williams tossed 2 touchdowns in the second quarter and the vaunted Bucs defense shut down the Rams.


Week 5Edit

1 234Total
Cardinals 0 000 0
• Rams 7 707 21
  • Date: September 30
  • Location: Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum

Rams bounced back with a shutout. Wendell Tyler started for more speed in the Rams' backfield and scored a touchdown. [8]

Week 6Edit

1 234Total
• Rams 0 2807 35
Saints 7 037 17

Haden threw for 3 touchdowns in the blowout, but WR Ron Jessie would be lost for the remainder of the season, along with fellow WR Willie Miller [9]

Week 7Edit

1 234Total
Rams 0 600 6
• Cowboys 6 7170 30

In a dominating performance by the Cowboys, Roger Staubach passed for 3 touchdowns and Tony Dorsett ran for 103 and another. [10]

Week 8Edit

1 234Total
• Chargers 7 7179 40
Rams 7 009 16
  • Date: October 21
  • Location: Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum

The Chargers, normally known for a high-powered offense, forced eight turnovers, including 4 INT's and 4 fumble recoveries (one for a touchdown). They also had five sacks and numerous hits on QB Haden. Dan Fouts passed for 326 yards and two touchdowns. [11]

Week 9Edit

1 234Total
• Giants 3 737 20
Rams 0 077 14
  • Date: October 28
  • Location: Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum
  • TV announcers (CBS): Vin Scully, George Allen

Haden passed for 282 yards and two touchdowns, but also threw 4 more INT's and had trouble making big plays. Giants rookie QB Phil Simms made plenty both running and passing. [12]

Week 10Edit

1 234Total
• Rams 14 730 24
Seahawks 0 000 0
  • Date: November 4
  • Location: Kingdome
  • Game weather: Indoors (dome)

Rams defense turned in a record-setting performance, holding the Seahawks to minus-7 yards of total offense and one first down. Haden threw two touchdowns on 21-of-24 passing and set a team record with 13 straight completions, but fractured his right pinky finger in the Kingdome's AstroTurf and would be lost for the rest of the season.


Week 11Edit

1 234Total
Rams 9 770 23
• Bears 0 7713 27

With both Haden and backup Vince Ferragamo out, the Rams turned to Jeff Rutledge. Rutledge played it close to the vest, threw for a touchdown, and led the Rams to a 23–14 lead after 3, but the defense couldn't hold off a comeback.


Week 12Edit

1 234Total
Falcons 0 077 14
• Rams 7 706 20
  • Date: November 19
  • Location: Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum
  • Television network: ABC

Ferragamo made his first start of the season in this Monday night game and immediately showed his "big-play" capability, completing long touchdown passes to young speedsters Preston Dennard and Billy Waddy.


Week 13Edit

1 234Total
• Rams 3 10130 26
49ers 7 1003 20

An unexpected tough game against the 1–11 49ers that featured many big plays, including an 80-yard blocked field goal return touchdown by Ram CB Sid Justin and a 71-yd. touchdown pass from Ferragamo to Tyler. [16]

Week 14Edit

1 234OTTotal
Vikings 7 7070 21
• Rams 7 7706 27
  • Date: December 2
  • Location: Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum

Rams lined up for a potential game-winning field goal in overtime, but holder Nolan Cromwell scored on a 5-yard touchdown run to lift the Rams into first place in the NFC West. The Rams took sole possession of the division lead the next night when the Raiders rallied from a 35–14 deficit in New Orleans to defeat the Saints 42–35. [17]

Week 15Edit

1 234Total
• Rams 0 2833 34
Falcons 0 607 13

In this impressive road game, the Rams clinched their seventh straight NFC West division title. Ferragamo was entrenched as the Rams' quarterback by this time, and would go on to an impressive postseason.


Week 16Edit

1 234Total
• Saints 0 1469 29
Rams 7 007 14

Tyler rushed for 141 yards and a first-quarter touchdown, but New Orleans scored the next 27 points to win going away in the Rams' final home game at the Coliseum before their relocation to Anaheim Stadium. The victory allowed the Saints to finish 8–8, the franchise's first non-losing record after 12 consecutive losing seasons. This would mark the final game the Los Angeles Rams would play at home with the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum as their permanent venue. The Rams would subsequently play more games between 2016 and 2019 with their relocation back to Los Angeles, playing their first home playoff game at the venue since 1978 in 2017.



NFC West
Los Angeles Rams(3) 9 7 0 .563 5–1 7–5 323 309 L1
New Orleans Saints 8 8 0 .500 4–2 8–4 370 360 W1
Atlanta Falcons 6 10 0 .375 2–4 5–7 300 388 W1
San Francisco 49ers 2 14 0 .125 1–5 2–10 308 416 L1



1 234Total
• Rams 0 1407 21
Cowboys 2 377 19
  • Date: December 30
  • Location: Texas Stadium

Quarterback Vince Ferragamo led the Rams to a victory by throwing for 3 touchdown passes, the last one with 2:06 left in the game. The Cowboys scored first when defensive tackle Randy White sacked Ferragamo in the end zone for a safety. However, Ferragamo responded by throwing a 32-yard touchdown pass to running back Wendell Tyler. Dallas kicker Rafael Septién kicked a 33-yard field goal with 52 seconds left in the first half, but Ferragamo completed a 43-yard touchdown pass to Ron Smith before time expired to make it a 14–5 halftime lead. The Cowboys, led by quarterback Roger Staubach in what proved to be his last NFL game of his Hall of Fame career, then scored 2 unanswered touchdowns in the second half to take the lead, 19–14. With about 2 minutes left in the game and the Rams at midfield, Ferragamo found wide receiver Billy Waddy on a short crossing route and Waddy sprinted the rest of the way for a game winning 50-yard touchdown. Staubach was unable to engineer a late fourth quarter comeback like the ones that made him famous throughout his career. The Rams defense pressured the Dallas quarterback to throw a pass illegally to an ineligible receiver, guard Herbert Scott, on third down, the last pass of his career to be caught; on fourth down, he overthrew Drew Pearson.

Conference ChampionshipEdit

1 234Total
• Rams 0 603 9
Buccaneers 0 000 0
  • Date: January 6
  • Location: Tampa Stadium

In a defensive battle in which the Rams squandered numerous scoring opportunities, Rams kicker Frank Corral kicked 3 field goals to win the game. Los Angeles was able to record 369 yards of total offense, while running backs Cullen Bryant and Wendell Tyler rushed for 106 and 86 yards, respectively. Meanwhile, the Buccaneers only had 177 total offensive yards, including 92 rushing yards and 85 passing yards. Most of Tampa Bay's passing yards came from a 42-yard halfback option pass from Jerry Eckwood to wide receiver Larry Mucker in the fourth quarter. During the game, two touchdowns were nullified by penalties, one by each team: A four-yard run by Bryant and a 27-yard reception by Buccaneers' tight end Jimmie Giles.

Super BowlEdit

1 234Total
Rams 7 660 19
• Steelers 3 7714 31
  • Date: January 20
  • Location: Rose Bowl
  • Game attendance: 103,985


  1. ^ "Rams open in 'new' home". Spokesman-Review. (Spokane, Washington). Associated Press. August 11, 1980. p. 20.
  2. ^ Football Outsiders: Super Bowl XLVI Preview
  3. ^ The Football Database. Retrieved 2018-Feb-17.
  4. ^
  5. ^ The Football Database. Retrieved 2018-Feb-17.
  6. ^ The Football Database. Retrieved 2018-Feb-17.
  7. ^ The Football Database. Retrieved 2018-Feb-17.
  8. ^ The Football Database. Retrieved 2018-Feb-17.
  9. ^ The Football Database. Retrieved 2018-Feb-17.
  10. ^ The Football Database. Retrieved 2018-Feb-17.
  11. ^ The Football Database. Retrieved 2018-Feb-17.
  12. ^ The Football Database. Retrieved 2018-Feb-17.
  13. ^ The Football Database. Retrieved 2018-Feb-17.
  14. ^ The Football Database. Retrieved 2018-Feb-17.
  15. ^ The Football Database. Retrieved 2018-Feb-17.
  16. ^ The Football Database. Retrieved 2018-Feb-17.
  17. ^ The Football Database. Retrieved 2018-Feb-17.
  18. ^ The Football Database. Retrieved 2018-Feb-17.
  19. ^ The Football Database. Retrieved 2018-Feb-17.