|1978 Los Angeles Rams season|
|Head coach||Ray Malavasi|
|Home field||Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum|
|Division place||1st NFC West|
|Playoff finish||Won Divisional playoffs (Vikings) 34–10|
Lost NFC Championship (Cowboys) 28–0
In February, 1978, Rams owner Carroll Rosenbloom hired former Rams coach George Allen, with much media fanfare. Allen had coached the Rams from 1966–1970, and had recently been dismissed by the Washington Redskins, whom he had coached from 1971–1977.
His second stint as the Rams' head coach was an unfortunate experience for all concerned. Allen did not have full authority over personnel and thus worked with general manager Don Klosterman to oversee a talented roster that had made the team a perennial playoff challenger. Allen brought with him his scrupulous discipline and attention to detail, which extended to practice-field protocol and dining-hall decorum. Almost immediately, a group of Ram players chafed at the regulations, and some made their grievances public. A few, including standout linebacker Isiah Robertson, briefly left camp.
As newspaper reports were quoting players expressing confidence that differences would be resolved, the Rams played listlessly and lost the first two games of the 1978 exhibition schedule. Rosenbloom decided that for the season to be salvaged a change must be made, and the announcement of Allen's abrupt dismissal was made on August 13, 1978, just weeks before the season opener. Many of Allen's own players were surprised by the decision. Defensive coordinator Ray Malavasi, well-respected and liked by players (and the only holdover from Chuck Knox' staff), replaced Allen.
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|1||September 3, 1978||at Philadelphia Eagles||W 16–14||Rookie kicker Frank Corral won it with a 46-yard field goal.|
|2||September 10, 1978||Atlanta Falcons||W 10–0||Rams dominated on both offense and defense, outgaining the Falcons 358 yards to 73. Cullen Bryant had a touchdown run.|
|3||September 17, 1978||Dallas Cowboys||W 27–14||Rams got some early bragging rights against the defending Super Bowl champs. Pat Haden's 42-yard bomb in the third quarter to Willie Miller and Rod Perry's interception return touchdown provided the winning points.|
|4||September 24, 1978||at Houston Oilers||W 10–6||Rams won a tight defensive struggle as Cullen Bryant had a touchdown run and Corral a 25-yard FG. This game would be remembered for Houston rookie Earl Campbell's memorable run in the third quarter through Isiah Robertson and Bill Simpson that ended with a concussion.|
|5||October 1, 1978||at New Orleans Saints||W 26–20||Rams jumped to a 20–0 lead, aided by Rod Perry's second interception return touchdown of the season, then held on for the win despite three scoring passes by Archie Manning.|
|6||October 8, 1978||San Francisco 49ers||W 27–10||Defense held 49ers QB Steve DeBerg to 7 for 26 passing and 83 yards. Meanwhile, Rams rushed for 227 yards and another Cullen Bryant touchdown and Pat Haden threw for two.|
|7||October 15, 1978||at Minnesota Vikings||W 34–17||Rams held the Vikings to 222 yards total offense and only 42 yards rushing while rushing for 180 themselves and scoring three fourth-quarter touchdowns.|
|8||October 22, 1978||New Orleans Saints||L 10–3||Rams struggled at home as tackle John Williams was called for seven holding penalties. Archie Manning hit Tony Galbreath with a 19-yard touchdown pass with about 2 minutes left in the 4th at the end of a touchdown drive that began when Rams punter Glen Walker attempted a pass on a fake punt and it was intercepted by Eric Felton. It was the Saints' first win at the Coliseum after nine consecutive losses.|
|9||October 30, 1978||at Atlanta Falcons||L 15–7||Falcons kicker Tim Mazzetti, who just a month prior had been bartending in New Orleans, booted five field goals in this Monday Night game.|
|10||November 5, 1978||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||W 26–23||Bucs QB Doug Williams left early with a broken jaw, but backup Mike Rae nearly led a comeback to a major upset with his passing and running (4 scrambles for 95 yards). Bucs tied it in fourth on a tipped touchdown pass from Rae to J.K. McKay, but Corral won it with a late field goal as Rams narrowly avoided a third straight loss.|
|11||November 12, 1978||Pittsburgh Steelers||W 10–7||Rams won a tough defensive struggle at home as John Cappelletti ran for 105 yards and Pat Haden passed to Willie Miller for the winning touchdown in the fourth.|
|12||November 19, 1978||at San Francisco 49ers||W 31–28||Rams won once again on a late field goal by Corral, overcoming three rushing touchdowns by Paul Hofer and a kickoff return touchdown by Dave Williams.|
|13||November 26, 1978||at Cleveland Browns||L 30–19||Browns dominated on a cold, rainy day, intercepting three Pat Haden passes and getting a 57-yard touchdown run by Greg Pruitt. Rams RB Lawrence McCutcheon suffered a severe calf muscle pull and was declared out for the season.|
|14||December 3, 1978||at New York Giants||W 20–17||This one was won by the Rams' pass defense. Giants had only 12 completions in 34 attempts and 4 interceptions, including one returned for a touchdown by Pat Thomas. Giants ran ball well (185 yards), but it wasn't enough. Rams clinched 6th straight division title with this victory.|
|15||December 11, 1978||Cincinnati Bengals||L 20–19||Rams jumped to a 13–0 lead at home, but couldn't hold back the Bengals as kicker Chris Bahr won it with two late field goals. Pat Haden threw for a then-career-high 283 yards despite injuring his passing thumb in the third quarter.|
|16||December 17, 1978||Green Bay Packers||W 31–14||Rod Perry had his third interception return touchdown of the season and Cullen Bryant ran for a career-high 121 yards and two touchdowns. The loss cost the Packers the NFC Central title.|
|Los Angeles Rams(1)||12||4||0||.750||4–2||10–2||316||245||W1|
|New Orleans Saints||7||9||0||.438||3–3||6–6||281||298||W1|
|San Francisco 49ers||2||14||0||.125||0–6||1–11||219||350||L1|
NFC Divisional Playoff
- Los Angeles Rams 34, Minnesota Vikings 10
- TV: CBS
- Attendance: 69,631
After the game was tied 10–10 at halftime, the Rams dominated the second half by scoring 24 unanswered points. After the Vikings opened up the scoring with a field goal, Los Angeles marched 59 yards to score on quarterback Pat Haden's 9-yard touchdown pass to Willie Miller.
NFC Championship Game
- Dallas Cowboys 28, Los Angeles Rams 0
This game was a tough defensive struggle until Charlie Waters intercepted two Pat Haden passes intended for tight end Terry Nelson. Waters' first interception came in the middle of the third and led to a 5-yard touchdown run by Tony Dorsett. Rams kicker Frank Corrall missed two first half field goal attempts, and with the score 14–0, the Rams were stopped on 4th and inches at the Dallas 21 yard line. Roger Staubach then led a touchdown drive that ended with a touchdown pass to Billy Joe Dupree. Thomas Henderson, who had said in pre-game interviews that the Rams "didn't have enough class to go to the Super Bowl", backed up his words by capping the scoring with a 68-yard interception return touchdown.