When the Rams poured down the tunnel in their blue and yellow-gold vintage uniforms and emerged in the blazing California sunshine, a sold-out Coliseum crowd loosed a long-suppressed Sunday scream.
After two decades of fan frustration and a year of anticipation building to this regular-season home opener, Los Angeles really, truly had pro football again.
And since this is L.A., the cathartic moment came with a Hollywood touch: The Rams entered the stadium with Red Hot Chili Peppers front man Anthony Kiedis yelling introductions to the crowd while shirtless in yellow uniform pants.
The Rams hadn't played a football game that mattered in Southern California since Dec. 24, 1994, when the team left Angel Stadium in Anaheim and moved to St. Louis. The Rams faced the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday with a talented roster and shining optimism for a limitless future back home.
"Now it's really real," said Dan Walsh, a 47-year-old fan in a Jim Everett jersey who grew up in Riverside and rooted for the Rams over his brother's Raiders. "The preseason games were fun, but that was exhibition football, which is terrible. This is the real deal. This is what we were all waiting for."
Not many pro sports franchises would choose their first game in a new home to wear vintage uniforms, but the Rams aren't the normal new kids in town.
The jerseys aren't the only throwbacks being sold this season by the Rams, who are rekindling the love of the country's second-largest city for a sport and a team returning from 21 seasons away.
The Rams didn't wow the crowds, but a win is a win.
Greg Zuerlein kicked three field goals – the longest a 47-yarder in the fourth quarter – as L.A. beat the Seahawks 9-3.
Plenty of penalties slowed down the game for the announced crowd of 91,046 on a searing day at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, where the Rams marked the long-awaited occasion by wearing those throwback uniforms.
The Rams (1-1) are still without a touchdown after losing 28-0 at San Francisco in their season opener. With field goals accounting for all the offence, it was hardly the high-scoring show Los Angeles sports fans are known to crave.
At times, the dull roar of chatter was the loudest sound from the crowd, until the fourth quarter, when they were on their feet cheering the Rams' defence.
The Rams are still three years away from moving into their billion-dollar new home in Inglewood. But if nostalgia is a big part of the draw for these Rams, they're in the perfect stadium for it now: The packed Coliseum was the team's home for its first 34 years on the West Coast – and the venerable home of the first Super Bowl was rocking once again.
The tailgate parties began at dawn. West Coast rap and grilled meat aromas drifted among the fans gathered in the nearby parking lots and neighbourhoods for a ritual confined to college games in LA for the past 21 years.
University of Southern California fans have kept the Coliseum busy on fall Saturdays, but the Trojans – particularly the struggling teams of the past half-decade – don't command the same passion in a town that lives for the biggest events on the grandest stages.
Even before the stadium filled for kickoff, the excitement was palpable.
Fans packed into the rows of seats near the famed Coliseum tunnel, cheering wildly for the first Rams to take the field for pregame warm-ups in those familiar uniforms. They booed the Seahawks with equal enthusiasm – even Richard Sherman, the star cornerback who grew up just a few miles away in Compton.
The Rams hadn't played a real game in the Coliseum since Dec. 16, 1979, when the team lost to New Orleans in its regular-season finale. That Rams team still rallied for two road playoff wins to make the franchise's only Super Bowl during its Southern California era.
It spent the next 15 seasons playing in Anaheim before steadily diminishing crowds.