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Rams pull off shocking upset thanks to Baker Mayfield: 3 takeaways from Week 14

My jaw is still on the ground over that finish

NFL: Las Vegas Raiders at Los Angeles Rams Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Hollywood might have found themselves a new star and his name is Baker Mayfield. When I was originally typing up the header for this post, it looking like the Rams were well on their way to losing their seventh-straight.

Little did I know that movie magic was in the air on a clear Californian night. In a season full of Razzies, LA finally got the Oscar to make this crappy season feel worthwhile for at least another week. Was I their unofficial good luck charm by jinxing the Raiders with my title? I wouldn’t go that far but head butt away everyone!

Let’s dive into my three takeaways from a shocking upset over a playoff hopeful.

Baker Mayfield should be starting the rest of the season

Is there really any debating this after that remarkable comeback?

Baker Mayfield had become the quarterback no one wanted. The Rams were the only team that did once he cleared the waivers with no other offers. Mayfield barely got off the plane from Carolina before he was inserted into LA’s lineup following the opening drive. On his very first play, he fired this perfect dart to Van Jefferson for 21 yards:

Despite the drive ending in a 55-yard field goal from Matt Gay, Baker provided a spark that the offense hasn’t seen in quite some time. Think about it, do you honestly think noodle-armed John Wolford could’ve made a throw like that. Sure the guy’s injured and I shouldn’t kick him while he’s down but still.

That first down pass attempt was far from Mayfield’s most impressive throw on the night. With the Rams driving late in the second quarter, Baker kept his composure by standing strong in the pocket and throwing a beauty into the hands of wide receiver Ben Skowronek.

In fact, Mayfield had three completions of over 20 yards in the first half alone.

From his very first action on the field, LA’s new QB1 developed an instant rapport with pass catchers Tutu Atwell and especially Ben Skowronek. Both players combined for 12 receptions for 139 yards. The instant chemistry between Skowronek and Mayfield was quite reminiscent of Matthew Stafford and Cooper Kupp. Does LA have a new dynamic duo? I wouldn’t go that far just yet however, this game practically felt like the Rams’ Super Bowl for the year so who cares if we go a little nuts here?

This 40-yard pass to Skowronek on first down on the game-winning drive is impressive all on it’s own. These two players met just a couple days ago and any causal fan in the crowd wouldn’t have been able to tell. With as much faith as Mayfield had in the team’s leading receiver on the night, they had the look of teammates who have played with each other for years.

Don’t even get me started on the winning touchdown throw to Van Jefferson. Again, for someone who is just getting to know his teammates, Baker Mayfield sure has plenty of confidence in what all they can do. Jefferson hauled in a perfect throw from Mayfield and gave his new team the sweet taste of victory.

Mayfield should also stay in LA next season

It’s only one game and overreactions will be running rampant, but Baker Mayfield has shown me enough in one game that he deserves to stick around in Los Angeles, possibly for the long run. He’s already the best quarterback on the roster not named Matthew Stafford. John Wolford and Bryce Perkins probably see the writing on the wall following this performance.

Given the NFL’s worst offensive line, lack of reliable receivers and a nonexistent rushing attack, Mayfield could’ve folded and everyone would’ve understood. He went from a bad situation with the Panthers and went to a place where the circumstances weren’t any better. Yet, the former top overall pick decided to begin his redemption arc by taking down a Las Vegas team seemingly rounding into form. Someone definitely woke up feeling dangerous.

All jokes aside, Baker led an eight-play, 98-yard touchdown drive in 1:35. I can’t reiterate how truly remarkable it is considering Mayfield had arrived in Los Angeles on Tuesday, was still learning the playbook as of Thursday night’s game, uncertain as to whether he would be seeing the field and eventually leading a game-winning touchdown drive after being pinned at their own two-yard line.

I had mentioned in my takeaways from last week’s game against the Seahawks that the Rams need more experience under center. It was painfully obvious seeing the Wolford and Perkins experiments blowing up spectacularly in the team’s face. LA was shocking Seattle and had their chance at a game-winning drive until Wolford choked under the pressure. I wouldn’t put all the blame on the young quarterback, considering he had never been put in such a high stakes situation like that before. If anything, that drive was a cry for help for LA to get a signal caller that could thrive under those conditions.

Fans can say what they want about Baker Mayfield. He makes cheesy commercials, talks too much trash and can’t back it up along with having the career arc of a draft bust. Through all those critiques is seeing Baker for what he is: a player with absolutely nothing to lose and one who laughed in the face of pressure (both literal and metaphorical). How he handled himself in the pocket was something fans noticed most.

The next four games will be an important audition for Mayfield. Given he led a team he had only been with to a win after two days, I fully expect him to earn the start in Green Bay against the Packers on Monday Night Football in 11 days. If he can produce this magic on two days work, what can he do with a week and a half?

While I’m still on that victory high, I don’t want to overreact. However, this move to LA could be the best thing Baker will ever experience in his career, aside from winning the Heisman and getting out of Cleveland of course. His pro career has been a rollercoaster but perhaps Sean McVay can coach him to the best of his abilities. Good things come to those who wait after all. There’s also uncertainty as to Stafford’s health. The star QB who led the Rams to a title might decide to retire after all the health scares he’s had in 2022. Say that doesn’t happen but would it really be a bad thing if Mayfield could learn from one of the best in the business?

All I can say is, if Baker Mayfield continues to find success in LA, Progressive might be filming some new commercials of him in his new home.

Much-maligned defense also deserves credit for comeback

The defense has been a thorn in everyone’s side this season. We’ve all expressed our fair share of frustrations with the unit and understandably so. For a unit with top playmakers in Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey, they were expected to be among the best in the league. They were also expected to drop off mightily once Donald was sidelined. That wasn’t the case as they kept a dangerous Raiders offense in check for much of the night.

Josh Jacobs in particular had been dangerous, already having five games of 150+ rushing yards and a touchdown heading into this matchup. Within the last two weeks, Jacobs had amassed 373 yards on the ground off 62 carries for an average of around six yards per carry. Against the Rams, the stud back rushed for only 99 yards on 27 carries, good for an 3.7 average.

Davante Adams torched Ramsey twice in the second half. For some reason I couldn’t find those clips, sorry haters. Adams caught three passes for 71 yards but that was all she wrote after not corralling any of his four targets in the second half. Derek Carr was terrible throughout the game, going 11-of-20 for 137 yards and tossing two picks to no touchdowns, finishing with a 36.9 passer rating. Once the lights shined brightest, LA’s defense delivered in the clutch.

Most of that can be attributed instead to awful play calling on the Raiders’ behalf but I’ll let those poor souls on Silver and Black Pride sort that all out.