INGLEWOOD, Calif. — After Baker Mayfield’s best performance in his short tenure with the Los Angeles Rams, coach Sean McVay was asked whether the quarterback has been as good as or better than his expectations since Mayfield joined the team on Dec. 6.
“I think probably better,” McVay said. “But you guys know I was always a fan of him, and I think he’s played really well. And you’ve got to think about too what he’s done to come in here and be able to play around a lot of guys too that haven’t been here, and to be able to lead the charge today. Just an incredible effort. … He has been outstanding.”
On Sunday afternoon, Mayfield led the Rams to a 51-14 victory over the Denver Broncos during a game in which Los Angeles didn’t punt. The Rams scored on all but the last of their nine drives, when they took over on downs with six seconds left in the contest and took a knee. It was the second time under McVay that the Rams didn’t punt in a game.
Mayfield was dominant on Sunday, completing 24 of 28 passes for 230 yards and two touchdowns. His completion rate of 85.7% was the second highest in a game in his career. Mayfield also set the Rams’ single-game completion percentage record, passing Kurt Warner (2000) and Case Keenum (2016).
“Coming off the Monday night game and not really playing well on offense, and obviously, I was frustrated with how I played,” Mayfield said. “And for us to play a complete game like that, that speaks volumes.”
Mayfield heavily relied on his tight ends against the Broncos, including Tyler Higbee, who had nine catches for 94 yards and two touchdowns. Mayfield has thrown 39 touchdown passes to tight ends since entering the NFL, which is tied for the second most in that span.
“The guy’s a competitor,” Higbee said. “He’s a good quarterback. He belongs in this league, and he proved that today.”
The 51 points by the Rams were the most they scored since beating the Kansas City Chiefs 54-51 on Monday Night Football in 2018. The Rams’ previous season-high scoring total was 31 points, which came in a Week 2 victory over the Atlanta Falcons. Los Angeles entered the day with the second-worst scoring average in the NFL at 16.4 points per game.
According to Elias Sports Bureau research, the Rams are only the fourth team since 1950 to score 50 points after entering that game averaging under 17 points (minimum of 10 games played prior to scoring 50).
The victory over the Broncos was the Rams’ third game scoring at least 50 points since McVay was hired as head coach in 2017. That is tied for the most such instances in that span.
“He’s been great,” McVay said of Mayfield. “And I just think he sees the field really well. … For such a fiery competitor, he’s got a nice, even-keel demeanor in between series. He sees things really well. He is able to have great communication, and today, things were really fluid and smooth. And to not have to punt at all against an outfit like that was a big-time accomplishment for Baker and the offense.”
The ESPN Stats & Information Group contributed to this report.
Broncos get blown out by Rams; Russell Wilson throws 3 INTs
INGLEWOOD, Calif. — The Los Angeles Rams (5-10) nabbed one of their easiest wins of the season on Christmas Day, as Russell Wilson and the Denver Broncos (4-11) suffered an embarrassing 51-14 loss on the road.
Wilson was sacked six times and threw three interceptions in the game, finding the end zone just once on a fourth-quarter touchdown throw to tight end Greg Dulcich.
Rams running back Cam Akers scored three touchdowns to highlight a breakout day from him and the rest of L.A.’s offense.
It took 15 games in a lost season, but the Broncos finally felt the roof cave in during a Christmas Day disaster. Nathaniel Hackett and his staff had everything going wrong at the worst time.An embattled Hackett saw his team put in the kind of effort that will significantly impact whatever the discussion is about his future. The effort was so lacking in planning and execution that it likely shattered any momentum Hackett had cobbled together in recent weeks. The Broncos committed silly penalties — led by Randy Gregory’s inexplicable personal foul in the fourth quarter — and tempers flared on the sideline.
Describe the game in two words: Go figure. Plenty of things happened after the game’s first play, but it took the Broncos only one play to show they still have not learned patience on offense.
Things go better when they take easy completions, move the ball and finish drives. Yet, the first play Sunday was Wilson heaving it up the sideline to a well-covered Courtland Sutton. A 1-yard run and incompletion later saw the Broncos punting for the first time — a preview of how the rest of the day would go.
Biggest hole in the game plan: The Broncos’ injuries are not an excuse, but they can’t be ignored. Since Justin Simmons went on injured reserve in Week 2, the Broncos have had 21 different players go on injured reserve.
The offensive line has been compromised more than most positions, yet Hackett and the team’s offensive coaches continue to call plays for the team they wish were on the field instead of the one that actually is on the field. They had a bevy of three-wide sets Sunday that the Rams’ defensive front gladly powered through at times. The Broncos have been at their best in two-tight-end sets, but a national audience didn’t get to see them show it.
QB breakdown: Wilson has some honest reflection to do in the offseason, and his ability to bounce back from a difficult year will hinge on his willingness to do it. His two interceptions on his first three pass attempts were each what-were-you-thinking throws that resulted in turnovers deep in Broncos territory. The Broncos never recovered from momentum-crushing plays like his third interception of the game. — Jeff Legwold
Los Angeles Rams
In what was a well-rounded performance for the Rams’ offense, tight end Tyler Higbee had by far his best game of the season, with nine catches for 94 yards and two touchdowns. Higbee, who also caught a touchdown on Monday in Green Bay, had not scored in Los Angeles’ first 13 games of the season. Higbee’s three touchdowns in two games came with Baker Mayfield at quarterback. Mayfield has thrown 39 touchdowns to tight ends since entering the NFL and is tied for second among quarterbacks in that span, according to ESPN Stats & Information.
QB breakdown: Mayfield had the best game of his short Rams career, completing 24 of 28 passes for 230 yards and two touchdowns. He didn’t throw an interception. He led a Rams offense that scored on all but one offensive possession and tallied a season-high 51 points. Mayfield’s 85.7% completion rate was the second-highest mark in a game in his career.
Promising trend: This is the Cam Akers the Rams were hoping for when he came back from his Achilles injury. After spending nearly a month away from the team while Los Angeles tried to find him a new home, Akers has finished the end of the season strong, with five touchdowns in his past four games. Akers had 147 total yards on Sunday against the Broncos: 118 rushing yards on 23 carries and three touchdowns, and two catches for 29 yards. Akers finishes December with six rushing touchdowns, the most in the NFL this month. He had three rushing touchdowns in his first 23 career games combined.
Promising trend II: Complementary football. The Rams scored two touchdowns off takeaways in the first quarter. Entering the game, they’d done that only once this season. Although the offense had several short fields, it still did it against an excellent Broncos defense that entered the game allowing an average of 18.1 points per game, the third fewest in the league. The Rams scored 17 points in the first quarter. According to ESPN Stats & Information, this was the first time the Broncos have allowed more than seven points in the first quarter this season and only the fourth time the Broncos have allowed points on a team’s opening drive. — Sarah Barshop
Los eliminados Rams dan paliza a Broncos
El domingo por la tarde, el mariscal Baker Mayfield llevó a los Rams a una victoria por 51-14 sobre los Broncos de Denver en el SoFi Stadium de Inglewood. Los Rams anotaron en todos sus nueve drives menos el último, cuando se hicieron con el balón en el suelo a falta de seis segundos para el final de la contienda y se arrodillaron. Fue la segunda vez bajo el mando del entrenador en jefe Sean McVay que los Rams no hicieron punt en un partido. Los Rams fueron eliminados de la lucha por los playoffs hace una semana.
Como lo hizo en su debut contra los Raiders de Las Vegas, Mayfield ayudó a llevar a los Rams a la victoria.
“Creo que jugó muy rápido. Me pareció que vio el campo de manera sobresaliente”, dijo McVay.
Al final del juego, el linebacker de los Broncos Randy Gregory y el liniero ofensivo de los Rams Oday Aboushi no parecían tener el espíritu navideño: ambos equipos se reunieron para darse la mano después del partido, Aboushi parecía estar hablando con Gregory mientras caminaban hacia el ala cerrada de los Broncos Eric Tomlinson. No quedó claro qué se dijo, pero fue lo suficientemente contundente como para que Gregory golpeara a Aboushi en el casco. Aboushi devolvió el golpe y ambos jugadores tuvieron que ser retenidos para que el incidente no fuera más grande.
Los Chargers podrían clasificar este lunes
Los Chargers (8-6) pueden asegurar un lugar en los playoffs con una victoria el lunes (5 p.m., ESPN, ESPN Deportes) en Lucas Oil Stadium de Indianápolis ante los Colts (4-9-1). La posibilidad se presentó después de que Nueva Inglaterra y Las Vegas perdieron el sábado. Los Patriots cayeron en casa ante Cincinnati 22-18 y los Raiders cayeron en Pittsburgh 13-10.
WR Courtland Sutton, OLB Randy Gregory among Broncos active for Week 16 matchup with Rams
Pregame photos: Broncos arrive and prepare for Week 16 game vs. Rams
Take a look at the Broncos’ pregame preparation before the Week 16 game against the Los Angeles Rams at Inglewood’s SoFi Stadium.
INGLEWOOD, Calif. — The Broncos will have one of their top defensive players for a Christmas Day matchup with the Rams.
Outside linebacker Randy Gregory is active for the Week 16 game after not practicing this week and being listed as questionable.
Gregory made his return from injured reserve in Week 15 and played 23 defensive snaps.
Gregory worked out pregame, with Head Coach Nathaniel Hackett and General Manager George Paton looking on.
Denver will also regain wide receiver Courtland Sutton, who was limited in practice this week. Sutton has not played since suffering a hamstring injury in the first half of a Week 13 game in Baltimore.
Running back Latavius Murray, guard Dalton Risner and cornerback K’Waun Williams are also active after being listed as questionable.
The Broncos previously ruled out wide receiver Kendall Hinton and tackle Calvin Anderson.
For a look at the Broncos’ inactive players, see below.
Broncos’ Randy Gregory punches Rams lineman after blowout loss
The incident occurred moments after Los Angeles’ 51-14 victory over Denver
The Los Angeles Rams may have delivered a Christmas Day drubbing of the Denver Broncos on Sunday 51-14 but tensions between players of both teams boiled over after the game.
Broncos linebacker Randy Gregory and Rams offensive lineman Oday Aboushi didn’t appear to be in the holiday spirit after the game. As players from both sides met each other to shake hands after the game, Aboushi appeared to be talking to Gregory as they walked over to Broncos tight end Eric Tomlinson.
It was unclear what was said but it was compelling enough for Gregory to smack Aboushi in the helmet. Aboushi struck back and both players had to be held back from escalating the incident further. The incident appeared to interrupt Baker Mayfield’s postgame chat with CBS’ Tracy Wolfson.
Another angle of the incident showed Rams veteran linebacker Bobby Wagner coming to have the last word with Gregory before both teams hit the showers.
Gregory joined the Broncos in the offseason. Before Sunday’s game, he had record 10 tackles and two sacks in five games in 2022. Aboushi is a veteran offensive lineman who joined the Rams in 2022 after a season with the Los Angeles Charters. He’s appeared in 12 games this season.
Denver, who came into the game as a top three defense, suffered one of its worst losses of the season.
Rams give their fans some Christmas joy in blowout victory over Broncos
Running back Cam Akers rushed for more than 100 yards and three touchdowns.
Quarterback Baker Mayfield played efficiently and with occasional flash. Veteran tight end Tyler Higbee stepped up with a record-setting performance, and the defense intercepted four passes to make it easy on the offense.
Nothing, of course, has been easy for the defending Super Bowl-champion Rams during their lost season.
But for one game, they executed and played the long-sought-after-but-almost-never-achieved complementary football that coach Sean McVay has hopelessly coveted.
The Rams’ 51-14 victory on Sunday over the hapless Denver Broncos at SoFi Stadium was a welcome respite for McVay and the Rams organization.
“That’s what you want it to look like,” McVay said.
It also was a dose of what might have been. Or, at least, what the Rams believed their team could play like for the second season in a row.
After proclaiming their intent to run it back and become the first team to repeat as champion in nearly two decades, poor play, questionable coaching decisions and a seemingly endless string of injuries sent the Rams into a historic nosedive.
Three of the team’s cornerstone players — quarterback Matthew Stafford, receiver Cooper Kupp and defensive lineman Aaron Donald — suffered season-ending injuries
But from start to finish Sunday, the Rams (5-10) had reason to feel good about themselves. They scored on all eight possessions and amassed their most points since a 54-51 over the Kansas City Chiefs in 2018.
“This has been anything but ideal,” McVay said of his sixth season, “and really it’s the first time when you look at it in this role, where there’s been failure in a lot of instances and we’re not getting the results we want.
“That weighs on me a lot because you want it to be like” Sunday’s performance.
Akers, a third-year pro, rushed for 118 yards in 23 carries and scored on runs of two, two and four yards. It was the best game of the season for a player who had been exiled from the team for more than two weeks earlier this season because of conflict about his role.
It was the first time Akers rushed for more than 100 yards since he gained 131 yards in a 2020 season NFC wild-card playoff victory over the Seattle Seahawks. And it followed Akers’ solid performance in last week’s defeat by the Green Bay Packers, a loss that eliminated the Rams from playoff contention.
“Sticking with the run, not going away from it when we had a bad play or a negative play — just trusting it,” Akers said. “I think it paid dividends.”
In his second start for the Rams, Mayfield completed 24 of 28 passes for 230 yards and two touchdowns. He was not sacked.
Mayfield credited the offensive line for protecting him and establishing the running game with Akers.
“That makes my life easy,” Mayfield said. “So, it’s fun to watch when you get guys into a rhythm like that and they continue to fight for those extra yards and he’s really feeling it, making great reads, great cuts. … He built off last week and continued it.”
Higbee caught nine passes for 94 yards and two touchdowns. The seventh-year pro now holds team tight end career records with 299 catches for 3,063 yards and 20 touchdowns.
“Just trying to make my plays and help this team win games,” Higbee said. “And sometimes it calls for a tight end to get more balls thrown his way.”
Rookie cornerback Cobie Durant intercepted two passes, one he returned 84 yards for a late touchdown that provided the exclamation point. Linebacker Bobby Wagner and cornerback Jalen Ramsey also intercepted passes. After losing to the Packers and missing the playoffs for only the second time under McVay, all the Rams had left to play for in their final games against the Broncos, Chargers and Seahawks was pride.
“We got eliminated last week, but we still approached this week the same way — we still come out with the same energy,” said Wagner, who also had a sack. “And we knew if we performed well, we’re capable of doing a game like that.”
Mayfield, though, has an opportunity to show other teams that he remains capable of starting in the NFL. He looked the part in a victory over the Las Vegas Raiders on Dec. 8, but not in the defeat by the Packers.
On Sunday, with the defense supplying excellent field position, he played with confidence.
Meantime, Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson continued to struggle in his first season with the Broncos. He completed 15 of 27 passes for 214 yards and touchdown, with three interceptions. The Rams sacked him six times.
Durant intercepted a pass on the first possession to set up Higbee’s first touchdown. Wagner, a former teammate of Wilson’s in Seattle, intercepted a pass on the second series to set up Akers’ first touchdown. Wagner also sacked Wilson.
“I told him that if we ever played against one another, I would get him,” Wagner said, “so it was cool to do that.”
With just more than four minutes left, Durant picked off a pass by Brent Rypien and raced up the sideline for a touchdown.
“I just broke on it,” Durant said, “and the rest is history.”
In two weeks, McVay and the Rams also can put the season in the past.
But as they left the stadium Sunday, for one of the few times this season, they relished the present.
Denver Broncos receive coal in their stocking in embarrassing Christmas Day loss to the Los Angeles Rams
The Denver Broncos were manhandled in Sunday’s Christmas Day game against the Los Angeles Rams. Russell Wilson’s return meant very little for the Broncos’ offense which struggled against an Aaron Donald-less Rams defense, while Denver’s defense struggled to stop Baker Mayfield, Tyler Higbee, and the Rams’ offense.
Denver Broncos leave Los Angeles with coal in their stocking
Russell Wilson returned under center for the Denver Broncos on Sunday after missing last week’s game as a precautionary measure after suffering a concussion two weeks ago. In Sunday’s Christmas showdown with the Rams, Denver’s defense found itself up first against Baker Mayfield and the Rams’ offense.
On their first drive, the Broncos’ defense faced an early uptempo approach by Sean McVay and the Rams’ offense. Rams running back Cam Akers rattled off several big runs including a 16-yard run that pushed Denver back past midfield. Denver’s defense buckled down and caught a break after an errant snap by the Rams center backed Los Angeles’ offense up. Eventually, Los Angeles settled for a 55-yard field goal that gave them a 3-0 lead early in the first quarter.
Wilson and the Broncos’ offense were up next. Wilson and the offense answered by throwing an interception on 3rd and 9, immediately giving the Rams possession with great field position. After Wilson’s interception, the Rams scored three plays later as Mayfield connected with Tyler Higbee two consecutive plays in a row on a 22-yard catch and a 9-yard touchdown reception giving Denver a 10-0 deficit early on.
The Broncos starting quarterback was in the giving mood on Sunday, but not toward his teammates as he threw another interception, this time to his former teammate Bobby Wagner. Mayfield and the Rams’ offense capitalized quickly scoring two plays later with Akers punching it in from 3 yards out.
After not seeing a single target in the Broncos’ first two series, Wilson finally connected with Jerry Jeudy who made a move and got upfield for a gain of 23 yards, set up by a great block from Eric Saubert. Unfortunately, Jeudy’s leg got rolled up on during the tackle that didn’t look good on replay. On the next play, a holding call on Broncos center Graham Glasgow backed Denver up to a 1st and 20. Denver’s offense continued to go backward as Chase Edmonds was tackled for a loss of three yards, pinning the Broncos into a 2nd and 23 situation. After a 12-yard catch by Courtland Sutton, Denver’s offense couldn’t convert on 3rd and 10 leading to a Brandon McManus 54-yard field goal that cut the Broncos’ deficit to 14.
After one-quarter of play, the Broncos offense managed to accumulate only 54 yards of offense while failing to convert a single third down attempt, trailing 17-3. Wilson’s two first-quarter interceptions didn’t help with their lack of production.
Mayfield and the Rams’ offense trotted back onto the field after a hot 6-for-6, two-touchdown start from the Rams’ newly acquired quarterback. The hot start continued for the Rams quarterback as he quickly moved the offense downfield against the Broncos defense who struggled to contain Akers on the ground and Higbee in the passing game. Mayfield connected with Higbee once again for his second touchdown of the game, capping off an 11-play 75-yard drive to extend Denver’s deficit to 24-3 early in the second quarter.
Rookie returner Montrell Washington springboarded himself on a 29-yard kick return that gave the Broncos offense decent field position on their ensuing drive. Latavius Murray, coming off a 130-yard rushing performance had three straight carries that gave Denver two first downs and the ball past midfield. After Murray’s effort to inject life into Denver’s offense, the Broncos went backward including Wilson being sacked for a nine-yard loss. More coal in the stocking.
The red-hot Rams offense found themselves marching down the field once again on a 12-play 90-yard drive led by big plays through the air by Higbee and capped off by Akers once again punching it in from two yards out, leading to a very forgettable first half for the Broncos as they trailed 31-6.
The Broncos put up an abysmal 110 yards of offense in the first half, with Jerry Jeudy looking like the only bright spot offensively. On the other hand, the Broncos’ defense surrendered over 261 yards of offense in the first half and struggled immensely on 3rd down, allowing the Rams to convert on 5-of-6 attempts.
More of the same issues crept up for the Broncos in the second half. On the very first play of the second half, rookie tight end Greg Dulcich caught a pass from Wilson across the middle of the field but was blasted on the play, losing the ball, but a replay review showed that Dulcich’s right knee was down, leading to Denver maintaining possession after a Rams recovery.
The Christmas giving continued for Wilson after a promising drive that featured Jerry Jeudy moving the chains for Denver and ended up with Wilson throwing his third interception of the game directly to Jalen Ramsey.
The Rams’ offense capitalized once again, marching down the field with ease before settling for a 30-yard field goal, extending Denver’s deficit to 34-6 midway through the third quarter. At this point, Broncos Country was seemingly hoping for a sim-to-end option from Santa Clause, but that wasn’t realistic.
On Denver’s ensuing drive, Wilson was sacked on back-to-back plays, his sixth time being sacked on the afternoon leading to Corliss Waitman’s second punt on the afternoon.
The Rams’ offense continued to impose their will, marching downfield on an 8-play 60-yard drive capped off by Akers’ third rushing touchdown of the afternoon, giving the Rams a 41-6 lead. Denver’s only touchdown of the game came in the fourth quarter when Wilson connected with Dulcich for an 11-yard score. The Broncos converted on a 2-pt conversion attempt after Latavius Murray punched it in from the one-yard line, cutting the Denver deficit to 41-14 with 8:30 remaining in the fourth quarter.
Denver attempted to recover an onside kick, but couldn’t recover it. The Rams settled for a 53-yard field goal to extend their lead to 44-14. After that, the Broncos waived the white flag, inserting Brett Rypien in at quarterback. Rypien had several throws that moved the ball downfield, but Rams defensive back Cobie Durant jumped a pass and returned it 85 yards for a touchdown, cementing what would be one of the most embarrassing losses in Broncos history.
Denver dropped Sunday’s game 51-14 in brutal fashion. Many questions now present themselves regarding what’s next with this Denver team who has two games remaining including a road game this upcoming Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs before closing out the season two weeks from now against the Los Angeles Chargers.
Broncos news and notes vs. Rams
Broncos wide receiver Jerry Jeudy feels like the only bright spot on offense in Denver’s embarrassing road loss on Sunday. Jeudy had 6 catches for 117 yards and showcased why he is the Broncos’ most dangerous weapon on offense. To compliment him, Courtland Sutton had 5 catches for 74 yards on the day.
Coal in the stocking.
Russell Wilson turned in one of the worst performances of his career on Christmas Day against the Rams. His three-interception performance highlighted a rock-bottom season for the Broncos’ offense. On top of that, the Broncos’ defense surrendered 388 yards on the day in their 51-14 loss.
Wide receiver Kendall Hinton (hamstring) and offensive tackle Calvin Anderson (ankle) were inactive due to injury. Quarterback Jarrett Guarantano, cornerback Michael Ojemudia, tight end Albert Okwuegbunam, wide receiver Brandon Johnson, and defensive lineman Elijah Garcia were healthy scratches vs. Los Angeles.
Broncos injury report.
Broncos rookie tight end Greg Dulcich left Sunday’s game with a hamstring injury in the fourth quarter and did not return.