NFL combine a TV spectacle, moneymaker; value under scrutiny
The NFL combine is winding down and it’s clear the annual scouting event that’s evolved into a made-for-TV spectacle continues to be a required stop on the road to a pro football career amid concerns it can be a demeaning process with diminishing value.
Baker cooks: Newcomer Mayfield rallies Rams past Vegas 17-16
Baker Mayfield threw a 23-yard touchdown pass to Van Jefferson with 10 seconds to play to cap a 98-yard drive, and the Los Angeles Rams’ brand-new quarterback led two TD drives late in the fourth quarter of a shocking 17-16 victory over the Las Vegas Raiders.
McCaffrey throws, catches, rushes for TDs, Niners rout Rams
Christian McCaffrey became the 11th player in NFL history with a rushing touchdown, a passing touchdown and a receiving touchdown in one game, and the San Francisco 49ers extended their regular-season mastery over the Rams to four full years with a 31-14 victory over Los Angeles.
Defending Super Bowl champion Rams open season as underdogs
Matthew Stafford, Aaron Donald and the Los Angeles Rams will raise their Super Bowl banner Thursday night before kicking off the NFL season at home where they became the second straight team to hoist the Vince Lombardi trophy in their own stadium.
Stafford throws 3 TD passes, Rams edge Goff's Lions 28-19
Matthew Stafford passed for 334 yards and three touchdowns against his former team, and Jalen Ramsey made an end zone interception on his 27th birthday with five minutes left in the Los Angeles Rams’ 28-19 victory over Jared Goff and the winless Detroit Lions.
Rams sign veteran WR DeSean Jackson for LA homecoming
Veteran receiver DeSean Jackson has signed with the Los Angeles Rams, returning to his native Southern California after 13 NFL seasons on the East Coast. The Rams announced the deal for Jackson on Sunday, March 21, 2021 adding him to the targets for new quarterback Matthew Stafford. (AP Photo/Michael Ainsworth, File)LOS ANGELES – Veteran receiver DeSean Jackson has signed a one-year deal with the Los Angeles Rams, returning to his native Southern California after 13 NFL seasons on the East Coast. The Rams announced the acquisition of Jackson on Sunday, adding him to the targets for new quarterback Matthew Stafford. The 34-year-old Jackson was born in Los Angeles and grew up in the Crenshaw district.
AP sources: Lions trade Stafford to LA for Goff, draft picks
ESPN first reported the swap, which will include the Rams' first-round picks in 2022 and 2023 along with their third-round pick this year. 1 overall draft picks will provide a fresh start for two durable starting quarterbacks who probably need a change of scenery. Stafford asked to be traded shortly after the current season ended with the Lions' third straight campaign with at least 10 losses. Los Angeles likely had to pay a premium in draft picks to persuade the Lions to take on Goff's deal. Shortly after last season, Stafford asked to be traded and spared from another rebuilding project.
Chargers hire Rams DC Brandon Staley as head coach
FILE - In this Sunday, Nov. 1, 2020, file photo, Los Angeles Rams defensive coordinator Brandon Staley watches his players before an NFL football game against the Miami Dolphins in Miami Gardens, Fla. On Sunday, Jan. 17, 2021, the Los Angeles Chargers hired Staley to become the team's head coach. (AP Photo/Doug Murray, File)COSTA MESA, Calif. – Brandon Staley won't have to move that far for his first head coaching opportunity. Staley agreed to become the Los Angeles Chargers' coach on Sunday night after one season as the defensive coordinator for the crosstown Rams. “It’s not just that Brandon possesses a tremendous football mind that makes him the ideal head coach to lead our team forward,” general manager Tom Telesco said in a statement. He is the third assistant under Rams coach Sean McVay to get an NFL head coaching job, joining Green Bay's Matt LaFleur and Cincinnati's Zac Taylor.
Rams' defense struggles with injury hindering Donald
Without Donald in peak form, the NFL’s top defense simply couldn’t slow down the league’s highest-scoring offense. The Green Bay Packers scored on their first five series and beat the Rams 32-18 in the NFC divisional playoffs. “I love Aaron Donald,” Rams coach Sean McVay said. Yet this heavyweight matchup between the Packers’ offense and the Rams’ defense was more like a mismatch for much of the day. You have to defend every inch as far as laterally.”The Rams also had some uncharacteristic mistakes on defense to help Green Bay out.
Jared Goff to start for Rams in Green Bay; Wolford inactive
They're in complete accord this week, however: Goff is the best choice to lead the Los Angeles Rams in the playoffs. Goff will start the Rams' postseason game at Green Bay on Saturday, while John Wolford will be inactive one week after incurring a neck injury, McVay announced Thursday. After Goff had surgery on his broken right thumb Dec. 28, Wolford got the Rams' last two starts — even though Goff thought he was ready to play last week. McVay instead decided early in the week that Wolford would start, although he didn't announce his decision until shortly before kickoff. “I was extremely excited to have that chance in a big game up in Seattle,” Wolford said.
Friends as playoff foes: Packers' LaFleur faces Rams' McVay
(AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill, File)Green Bay Packers coach Matt LaFleur and Los Angeles Rams coach Sean McVay say their friendship and shared history shouldn't have much of an impact on their teams’ upcoming NFC divisional playoff matchup. The top-seeded Packers (13-3) host the Rams (11-6) on Saturday with an NFC championship game berth at stake. San Francisco’s head coach is Kyle Shanahan, who worked at Washington with Matt LaFleur and McVay from 2010-13. LaFleur was the quarterbacks coach on Quinn’s Atlanta staff from 2015-16 and worked for Mike Vrabel at Tennessee in 2018. They reunited in 2017 when McVay became the Rams’ head coach and hired LaFleur.
McVay: Rams expect Aaron Donald to play vs Packers
(AP Photo/Scott Eklund)LOS ANGELES – All-Pro defensive tackle Aaron Donald is expected to play for the Rams on Saturday in Green Bay after injuring his ribs in Los Angeles' playoff victory at Seattle. McVay said he doesn't expect to name a starting quarterback this week for the Rams' showdown with the top-seeded Packers (12-4), preferring to wait until game day for the second straight week. Donald left the game and went to the locker room, but eventually returned to watch the Rams' win from the sideline. “We'll be smart with him throughout the week,” McVay said. Rams left guard David Edwards also left with Achilles tendinitis.
Browns advance, Brees to meet Brady, Lama Jackson a winner
The Browns not only snapped a 17-game skid at Heinz Field, they manhandled the mistake-prone archrival Steelers 48-37 Sunday night. After two postseason flops, Jackson was his usual dynamic and decisive self in leading the Ravens to a 20-13 wild-card victory at Tennessee. Browns 48, Steelers 37In their first playoff road victory since 1969, the Browns (12-5) overcame all sorts of problems and history. Baker Mayfield threw for three touchdowns and the Browns got their first playoff win in 26 years. While leading his new team, the Buccaneers (12-5), to their first playoff win since Tampa Bay won the 2002 championship, Brady extended his record for playoff victories to 31.
Rams get better of division rivals, toppling Seahawks 30-20
They watched less than two weeks ago as the Seattle Seahawks loudly celebrated a division title the Rams felt they gave away. No team was better at limiting yards or points than the Rams (11-6) and they continued to torment Wilson and the Seahawks (12-5). The victory sent the Rams into next week’s divisional playoff round, likely at top-seeded Green Bay unless Chicago upsets New Orleans. His heart, his passion for the game is special,” Rams left tackle Andrew Whitworth said. Seahawks: will head into an offseason filled with questions after winning the division but experiencing another early playoff exit.
Donald, Kelce unanimous AP All-Pros; Rodgers, Henry chosen
(AP Photo/Stephen Brashear, File)Dynamic defensive star Aaron Donald and unstoppable tight end Travis Kelce were unanimous choices Friday for The Associated Press NFL All-Pro Team. Donald, who has helped the Los Angeles Rams to the top-ranked defense in the NFL, earned his sixth All-Pro selection. “I think the best display of greatness is making people around you better,” Rams coach Sean McVay said of Donald. Joining Donald and Kelce were 15 players returning to the squad, and 14 newcomers. Rounding out the offense were Cleveland right tackle Jack Conklin (second selection), and Washington right guard Brandon Scherff (first).
Rodgers leads Pack to top of NFC after draft disappointment
(AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)The NFC playoff field features the usual cast of quarterbacks in Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees and Russell Wilson. Last Lombardi: Super Bowl 45, 31-25 over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Feb. 6, 2011, at Arlington, Texas. Last Lombardi: Super Bowl 48, 43-8 over the Denver Broncos on Feb. 2, 2014, at East Rutherford, N.J. Last year: No. The Bears’ leading tackler left in the first quarter of the Green Bay game with an elbow injury. DBs Buster Skrine, rookie Jaylon Johnson and Deon Bush missed the loss to Green Bay.
LA Rams' top-ranked defense still rolling as playoffs loom
He might find a moment after the Rams (10-6) finish their playoff run, which begins Saturday at Seattle. But Rams fans already appreciate a defense that topped the NFL in several important categories and excelled at nearly everything during a remarkable season. 1 in total yards allowed, yards passing allowed, passing TDs allowed, first downs allowed and points allowed while becoming the Rams' first top-ranked NFL defense in decades. “We're proud of the way we've competed,” Staley said Tuesday as the Rams began preparations for their trip to Seattle. ... LT Andrew Whitworth has a shot to return this week after tearing ligaments in his knee during the Rams' first meeting with Seattle in November.
Wolford, defense lead Rams past Arizona 18-7, into playoffs
Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Robert Woods, left, catches a pass against Arizona Cardinals middle linebacker Jordan Hicks (58) during the first half of an NFL football game in Inglewood, Calif., Sunday, Jan. 3, 2021. It ended with the inexperienced quarterback fearlessly leading the Los Angeles Rams back to the playoffs. And though Wolford capably did his part, everybody in the Rams' jubilant locker room realized they owed this achievement to a dominant defense that scored as many points as the Rams' offense — and a couple more than the Arizona Cardinals — in Los Angeles' 18-7 victory Sunday. Wolford passed for 231 yards and rushed for 56 more, producing many moments of excitement in place of injured Jared Goff. Wolford racked up 47 yards rushing in the first half — more than Goff managed in any game of his five-year career.
NFL races go down to the wire in AFC South and NFC East
“We win this game, find a way to win, win the division. He's assured of repeating as NFL rushing champ, the first since Hall of Famer LaDainian Tomlinson in 2006-07. Henry has a career-high 1,777 yards rushing and ran for 212 yards in his most recent game against the Texans. Ezekiel Elliott, despite a mediocre performance in 2020, needs 63 yards rushing for 1,000 this season, his fourth such output in five seasons. Baltimore (10-5) at Cincinnati (4-10-1)During their four-game winning streak, the Ravens have averaged 37 points and 233.3 yards rushing per game.
Cashing in: Rams QB Wolford to make high-profile NFL debut
FILE - In this Saturday, Aug. 24, 2019 file photo, Los Angeles Rams quarterback John Wolford (9) gestures during an NFL preseason football game against the Denver Broncos in Los Angeles. Wolford will make his NFL debut for the Rams on Sunday, Jan. 3, 2021 against Arizona after nearly two full seasons as a backup in which he never took a snap. “It's a lot of hard work, and I'm confident in the time I've spent that has gotten me here. “I'm confident in John, but I'm also confident in the other 10 players around him. ... Los Angeles also activated LB Micah Kiser from injured reserve, but he won't play this week, McVay said.
Jared Goff to miss Rams' season finale after thumb surgery
Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff (16) looks to pass against the Seattle Seahawks during the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Dec. 27, 2020, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)LOS ANGELES – Jared Goff will miss the Los Angeles Rams' season finale against the Arizona Cardinals after undergoing surgery on his right thumb. Goff could return a week later if the Rams make the playoffs, coach Sean McVay said Monday night. Los Angeles will clinch a playoff spot with a victory, or if the Chicago Bears lose to Green Bay. Goff played the rest of the game with the injury, but had surgery to insert screws in his thumb on Monday.
A bonus for NFL fans in Week 16: 4 straight days of games
They do have a sack in an NFL-record 71 straight games and have sacked Philip Rivers 15 times during seven games while he played for the Chargers. Rivers has had two or more TD passes in five straight games. He had career bests of 10 catches for 163 yards last week, and Ridley's seven 100-yard games lead the NFL. The 19 straight seasons without losing both games to a divisional opponent is an NFL record. The Jaguars have allowed at least 24 points in each of those 13 games, an NFL record.
Erase that 0!: Jets edge Rams 23-20, avoid winless season
Coach Adam Gase got his first win of the year only after New York blew most of a 17-point lead in the second half. New York had a 13-3 lead at halftime after holding the Rams to 97 yards, and the Jets led 20-3 midway through the third quarter. Nsimba Webster’s huge punt return put the Rams in Jets territory moments later, but the New York defense held with help from penalties. INJURIESJets: DL Quinnen Williams left in the second half to be evaluated for a head injury. ... WR Jeff Smith injured his shoulder in the second half.
Akers runs wild, Newton benched as Rams rout Patriots 24-3
These Rams even looked good enough to contend for a chance at some actual Super Bowl redemption later this season. “We’ve got a lot of respect for them, but it’s a totally different year,” Rams coach Sean McVay said. New England managed only 220 total yards — just 62 in the second half with a series of misbegotten drives. Akers' yards mostly came in big chunks during the biggest rushing game by an NFL rookie this season and just the ninth 150-yard game against a Belichick-coached defense since 2000. But Young opened the second quarter with an interception by Donald's disruption up front, taking it all the way back for the third-year linebacker's first NFL touchdown.
Matchup of division leaders: Seahawks vs Giants. The Giants?
(AP Photo/Chris Szagola)In this strangest of NFL seasons in this weirdest of years, here's a matchup of division leaders you wouldn't expect: Seattle hosting the New York Giants. “If you win your division, you win your division,” Carroll says, and he knows: Seattle went 7-9 in 2010 and won the NFC West, then beat New Orleans in a playoff game. Patrick Mahomes has thrown for at least 300 yards seven times this season and has 22 straight games with at least one TD passing. New England has won the past five meetings, including a 2018 divisional playoff game. Chargers WR Keenan Allen leads the NFL with 85 receptions and has a TD catch in five straight games.
Smith returns as Goff-led Rams beat Washington to get to 4-1
Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff throws during the first half of an NFL football game against the Washington Football Team Sunday, Oct. 11, 2020, in Landover, Md. Smith played his first NFL game 693 days since breaking his right tibia and fibula, entering when new Washington starting quarterback Kyle Allen injured his left arm. “You watch guys like Aaron all the time and as effective as he is, you guys have no idea how impressive it is with all the attention he gets week after week,” Rams linebacker Troy Reeder said. Rivera said if Allen can play next week, Smith would back up and Haskins would again be inactive. UP NEXTThe Rams visit the 49ers next Sunday, while Washington is at the NFC East rival New York Giants.