The Los Angeles Rams have snapped their six-game losing streak against the Las Vegas Raiders with a 17-16 victory. For the first time in more than a month LA fans had something to be excited about. Whether you were a fan of the Baker Mayfield pickup or not it would be hard to deny what was just witnessed on national television was nothing short of amazing. With just two minutes left in the game, the ball downed at the two-yard line, the game in the hands of a quarterback that had just stepped off a plane less than 48 hours ago, a QB dropped by his previous team, Mayfield leads his new team on an unbelievable game-winning drive.
BAKER MAYFIELD GAME-WINNING TD DRIVE— ESPN (@espn) December 9, 2022
As the season nears it ends it will be interesting to see how Mayfield progresses in the Rams offense with some actual practice reps underneath him. Could he be Stafford’s replacement in the near-future? Does he find a home with another team elsewhere next year? Only time will tell but for now here is the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly.
The Baker Mayfield miracle
Bro baker mayfield literally put on a game jersey before a practice jersey WTF— Dez Bryant (@DezBryant) December 9, 2022
After speculation that Mayfield may get the start on Thursday night it was John Wolford trotting out on the field to take the first snap of the game. That did not last long, however. Sean McVay called three rushing plays with his second string quarterback on the field and decided that was enough and put in Mayfield on the next drive. His first throw went for 21 yards to Van Jefferson, on the next play he scrambled for six, followed up by a Cam Akers run that went for two yards. On third-and-2 Mayfield went deep to Tutu Atwell but it fell incomplete and LA settled for a Matt Gay 55 yard field goal.
His first series as a Ram was not spectacular but there was a sudden feeling of relief as Gay’s kick soared through the field goal posts. The offense was watchable. Despite the 3-9 record, LA was not going to go down quietly. The claim for one of the most talked about, ridiculed, quarterbacks in the league was the biggest news since the trade deadline. His win over the Raiders will be talked about on every halftime show, pregame show, and will shadow anything that may happen on Sunday.
The script truly could not have been written any better for the rejected quarterback out of Carolina. With just two minutes left in regulation and downed at the two yard line by a spectacular 64-yard punt from AJ Cole, Mayfield would have to go 98 yards with a team he had been on for less than 48 hours, with a receiving core he likely had never thrown to, and all this in a no-huddle offense with zero timeouts left. Regardless of the lack of rapport he may have had with his receivers on Thursday he displayed an amount of trust for them that should usually take hundreds of snaps to build, yet on first-and-10 at the LA 28 he fired a deep 50/50 ball to Ben Skowronek that the receiver came away with on what was his best catch of his career thus far. He then trusted Van Jefferson to catch the game winner on a spectacular 23-yard loft in the end zone to finish out the drive. The timing on the throw was so perfect you would think he had spent hours practicing it, that is until you learn that Wolford was taking every first team snap leading up to the game.
Considering the manner in which Baker Mayfield arrived in L.A., was it cathartic not just to win - but to win like that?— Jourdan Rodrigue (@JourdanRodrigue) December 9, 2022
"I don't know if you could write it any better than that," he said. "It's a pretty damn good story, I'll be honest with you."
Mayfield could have a chance to prove to the league he is a starting quarterback under the play calling of McVay and a couple of days under his built at the facility. If he does, LA likely will get a decent compensatory pick for their troubles, but with Matthew Stafford not getting any younger and fighting multiple injuries this season LA might just be forced to retain him for the foreseeable future. For now though, Mayfield provides a watchable offense and a reason to tune in for the rest of the year.
Tutu Atwell continues to show-up
Last week Sean McVay admitted he had waited too long to unleash Atwell into his offense and boy, did Atwell continue to prove his coach wrong. Atwell did not finish with any crazy statistics. just five catches for 50 yards, but his speed and savvy caused problems for LV defenders for most of the night. On first-and-10 at the LA 29 Mayfield dropped back and tossed a deep ball to Atwell but it was obvious that it was overthrown and out of reach. Instead of giving up on the pursuit Atwell intentionally ran into Trevon Moehrig and forced the officials to call a pass interference call.
Tutu Atwell draws a heck of a PI— Jourdan Rodrigue (@JourdanRodrigue) December 9, 2022
With Mayfield now under center Atwell has an opportunity to truly show off his talent to the world and some rapport between the two could create more explosive plays in the near future.
The rollercoaster that is the Rams defense
When Devante Adams made his one-handed catch in coverage against Jalen Ramsey on the first drive of the game many thought it would be a long game for the Rams defense. The Raiders’ first score of the night looked simple; hand Josh Jacobs the ball and let him set the pace of the game. Las Vegas ran all over LA’s fourth ranked run defense, finishing the game to the tune of 156 rushing yards with 99 of them coming from Jacobs.
The game just started. Davante Adam’s is ridiculous ️pic.twitter.com/0K1sqnfcoX— Receiver School (@ReceiverSchool) December 9, 2022
The passing game was a different story. Derek Carr completed just 11 passes on 20 attempts finishing with two interceptions and 137 yards. Adams was held to pedestrian numbers to his standards with just three catches on seven targets for 71 yards receiving. An interception by Ernest Jones in the end zone caused by a good pass rush by Greg Gaines saved a potential score and allowed LA to stay in the game.
Carr stayed upright with Aaron Donald out due to injury for the second game in a row and had plenty of time to pass when his coaching staff allowed him to, but this is also the same defense that stuffed Jacobs on a third-and-1 to give their offense a chance to score the winning drive. This defense is hard to watch week-in and week-out but for at least this one game they did what needed to be done to earn the victory even without 99 on the field.
Cam Akers fumbles away his horns
During what could have been the best drive of the game for Los Angeles, Cam Akers first-and-10 run on the Raiders 23-yard line sprang sudden horrific flashbacks as Vegas defender Chris Jones came in with a strong tackle and forced the ball out of the running backs arms. Akers has a fumbling problem and it is not going away anytime soon. The third year running back fumbled twice in the divisional round of the playoffs last year, nearly allowing Tom Brady to make a deep run at another Super Bowl.
Cam Akers has to go this offseason.— Blaine Grisak (@bgrisakDTR) December 9, 2022
A very untimely fumble and that's been a consistent issue with him.
With the season well over the Rams roster becomes a survival-of-the-fittest as players fight for a roster spot next year and with another fumble Akers is making a case to be off of it. Les Snead could not find any suitors before the trade deadline and with there being obvious turmoil behind the scenes the former second round draft pick is likely looking at his last season wearing the horns. It should be the Kyren Williams show from here on out despite Akers scoring LA’s lone touchdown of the night.
The offensive line is a whole new type of bad
Sure, the Rams offensive line is starting its twelfth different rotation in 12 weeks of football but the group that showed up on Thursday was one of the worst yet. The only consistency they could find against the Raiders pass rush was the guarantee of a penalty after a big gain. Giving pressure and sacks (four to be exact) are excusable against one of the best defensive lines in the NFL but the disgusting amount of penalties is not.
The Rams' offensive line play is costing them this game, not the least of which are the holding penalties that negated big plays. #TNF— Roberto Shenanigans (@Rob_Shenanigans) December 9, 2022
The worst penalty of the night for LA’s line was an unnecessary roughness called on Coleman Shelton that turned a 46-yard field goal into a 61-yard attempt that, not surprisingly, Matt Gay missed. As a whole, the line was caught for five penalties total for a total of 50 yards. The unit hurt their team in a whole new way on Thursday night.
What were your thoughts on Thursdays win? Are you jumping on the Mayfield bandwagon? Let’s discuss in the comments below!