How Baker Mayfield quickly made his mark: Takeaways from Rams' win over Raiders
The Rams defeated the Las Vegas Raiders 17-16 on Thursday night at SoFi Stadium.
Here’s what we learned from a victory that ended the Rams’ six-game losing streak.
Baker Mayfield is a quick study
Quarterback Baker Mayfield, claimed off waivers on Tuesday, had 48 hours to learn his new teammates’ names, let alone the Rams’ playbook.
Calling on his background in similar schemes — and no doubt falling back on his playmaking ability — Mayfield overcame sacks, penalties and his own mistakes and directed two fourth-quarter scoring drives, including a 98-yard game-winner without the benefit of timeouts.
The final drive harked to last season, when Matthew Stafford engineered game-winning drives in the playoffs and Super Bowl.
But Stafford spent months in the offense, Mayfield two days.
Van Jefferson came through in the clutch
Receiver Van Jefferson said he never caught a game-winning pass at any level of competition.
Until Thursday night.
Jefferson beat a Raiders defense that, surprisingly, was playing press coverage and he caught a 23-yard touchdown pass with 10 seconds left.
It was a big moment for Jefferson, a third-year pro who sat out the first seven games while recovering from a second knee operation.
Jefferson also had a 21-yard catch.
Ben Skowronek and Tutu Atwell catching on
With Jefferson sidelined during training camp, coach Sean McVay was counting on Ben Skowronek and Tutu Atwell to fill the void.
But Skowronek’s brightest moments mainly came as a fullback. And McVay gave Atwell few opportunities.
On Thursday, Skowronek had a game-high seven catches for 89 yards. His 32-yard catch on the final drive set the stage for Jefferson’s game-winner.
Atwell, a second-round pick in 2021, was targeted a team-high nine times. He continued his recent strong play with five catches for 50 yards, one for 22 yards.
Jalen Ramsey recovered from rough start
Three-time All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey was not happy last Sunday when he could not stop Seattle Seahawks receiver DK Metcalf from catching a game-winning touchdown pass.
On the third play of Thursday's game against the Raiders, Ramsey blanketed star receiver Davante Adams up the sideline. Ramsey was called for pass interference, but that did not stop Adams from making a spectacular, one-handed catch for a 32-yard gain. The play keyed a touchdown drive.
Adams also beat Ramsey for a 35-yard gain in the second quarter that moved the ball to the Rams’ 16-yard line.
But Adams had only one other catch and finished with 71 yards receiving. It was the first time in six games that he had fewer than seven catches. And only the second time in six games that he had fewer than 126 yards receiving.
Ernest Jones can do more than tip passes
Earlier this season, linebacker Ernest Jones tipped a pass that safety Nick Scott intercepted in the end zone.
On Thursday, the Raiders were at the Rams’ 10-yard line when Jones tipped a ball with his right hand, tipped it again with his left hand and then grabbed it for an interception in the end zone.
The play ended the Raiders’ chances of increasing a 13-3 lead.
Jones and the defense limited the Raiders to one second-half field goal, enabling Mayfield to engineer the comeback victory.
Safety Taylor Rapp also intercepted a pass to clinch the victory.
After forcing only one turnover in their previous eight games, the Rams have forced four turnovers in the last two.
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.