The Los Angeles Rams were a team in need for a win on Thursday night against the Las Vegas Raiders - and they got the job done against all odds.
Baker Mayfield, who had just joined the team 48-hours prior, led an improbably 98-yard touchdown drive to take a one-point lead. He’s now LA’s new leading main while there are significant questions surrounding Matthew Stafford’s health (elbow, spinal cord, concussions) and his future with the team.
But Mayfield didn’t do it all on his own.
It took standout performances from younger receivers and a shutdown second half by Bobby Wagner and the defense. Here are the top five PFF grades from each side of the ball from LA’s victory over the Raiders:
Top five grades on offense:
1 - Coleman Shelton, RG: 82.7
Shelton is usually one of the lower graded linemen in terms of PFF, so this performance stands out in a big way for him. The guard earned a run blocking grade of 88.0, which borderlines on elite territory.
2 - Ben Skowronek, WR: 75.3
This was the best game of Ben Skowronek’s two-year career, and he played like a confident, physical receiver capable of going up and getting the ball. His 32-yard catch in double coverage on the game-winning drive was impressive, but he was making nice grabs on a consistent basis Thursday night.
Skowronek finished the game with seven catches for 89 yards.
BAKER MAYFIELD TO BEN SKOWRONEK pic.twitter.com/w7AH8b1Bnx— PFF (@PFF) December 9, 2022
3 - Tutu Atwell, WR: 74.5
Atwell continues to impress and show there’s more to his game than being a designated deep threat or gadget player - and the second-year receiver is usually among LA’s highest graded players on offense. It’s time to start thinking of Atwell as a starting-caliber receiver, because that’s what his PFF grade tells us he is and it has for a long while.
Atwell caught five passes for 50 yards.
4 - Ty Nsekhe, LT: 73.1
There’s not much upside in playing a 37-year old journeyman at left tackle over a rookie like AJ Arcuri, but Nsekhe did his job in keeping Mayfield upright.
5 - Austin Trammell, WR: 68.5
Trammell was targeted twice, catching one pass for five yards. Mayfield was hit as he threw the ball, and Trammell did an admirable job adjusting and plucking the ball off the turf.
Other notes on offense:
Baker Mayfield finished with an offensive grade of 61.9. While on the surface this number is lackluster, it’s still 15-20 points better than what the Rams have been getting out of John Wolford - and the difference in talent was visible from the jump as well. Considering the quarterback had less than 48-hours to prepare for this game and learn the playbook, he was stellar under the circumstances.
BAKER MAYFIELD LEADS A 98-YARD DRIVE TO TAKE THE LEAD pic.twitter.com/MeP9IPjXWx— PFF (@PFF) December 9, 2022
Top five grades on defense:
1 - Greg Gaines, DT: 87.3
The Rams bottled up Josh Jacobs as well as any defense has of late - keeping him just under 100 yards in this outing. Gaines played a big role in this, as did linebacker Bobby Wagner.
There were a number of short yardage stops, including 3rd-and-1 to get the ball back for the offense to set up the game-winning drive.
The defensive tackle also pressured Derek Carr on an end zone interception by Ernest Jones.
Former Gamecock LB Ernest Jones pic.twitter.com/L5R1OcVvYX— Gamecocks_swag (@Gamecockswag201) December 9, 2022
2 - Taylor Rapp, DB: 86.6
Rapp is usually the recipient of heavy criticism from Rams fans, but he did his job on Thursday night and came away with the game-sealing interception on Derek Carr. Michael Hoecht also hit Carr as he was throwing the ball, so he deserves some credit on that play as well.
THAT'S GAME— ClutchPoints (@ClutchPointsApp) December 9, 2022
Taylor Rapp picks off Derek Carr as the Rams STUN the Raiders pic.twitter.com/rUtUXFYUfA
3 - Troy Hill, CB: 83.2
Hill was targeted only once and did not allow a completion. His contract is up after the season, and re-signing him should be a priority for Los Angeles.
4 - Keir Thomas, OLB: 81.7
Hoecht struggled to maintain the edge in the running game, which allowed Jacobs and Mack Hollins to get to the outside. The Rams’ answer was to rotate in Keir Thomas, a bigger body - and he held up well in his nine snaps. It was an encouraging outing from the rookie UDFA.
5 - Bobby Wagner, MLB: 79.3
As he’s done all season, Wagner was an important contributor in rushing defense but he also struggled in pass coverage - earning a grade in that facet of 64.1. Wagner was targeted three times, allowing all of those to be completed for a total of 19 yards.
The veteran MLB had 14 total tackles against the Raiders.
Other notes on defense:
Michael Hoecht has impressed as an edge rusher in recent weeks after moving outside from his normal spot on the interior defensive line; however, this was not one of his better games. Hoecht struggled to set the edge in the run game, and outside of the Rapp interception he didn’t create much pressure. He was also mostly playing against Kolten Miller, who is a fairly reliable left tackle for the Raiders.
Hoecht finished with an overall grade of 48.6 and a run defense grade of 47.0.