Three big-time football programs in the area can crow about good news.
The Los Angeles Rams snapped a three-game losing streak, the Los Angeles Chargers snapped back to attention after nearly losing a 24-point lead, and the UCLA Bruins are going to a bowl game.
Matthew Stafford, who played so badly in the last two games he was being compared to Jared Goff, shook off the yips and led the boys from SoFi to a 37-7 win over an admittedly weak Jacksonville Jaguar team on Sunday.
He passed for 295 yards and three scores as the Rams improved to 8-4 and solidified their status as a wild card team. “He’s our guy,” said coach Sean McVay. “We go as he goes.”
Other “guys” who stood out for the Rams were Cooper Kupp (eight catches for 129 yards, one TD) and Sony Michel (121 yards rushing, one TD).
The real test, however, may come next Monday when the Rams (8-4) take on the Arizona Cardinals (10-2) in the desert. A win by the Cards could lock up the NFC West title; a win by LAR could revive their hopes.
The Los Angeles Chargers built a big lead against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday, and then nearly booted it as their opponents drew to within two at 24-22. With the help of some turnovers – including a scoop and run for a touchdown by Tevaughn Campbell on a Bengal fumble – and some big passing plays, the Bolts won and improved to 7-5.
Justin Herbert threw for 317 yards and three touchdowns.
And UCLA (8-4), starved out of bowl play since 2017, learned it will play North Carolina State (9-3) in the Holiday Bowl on Dec. 28 in San Diego.
Catching up with the scene
Football isn’t the only sport being played around L.A. and Orange counties.
The Lakers and Clippers are each 12-12 and tied for fifth place in the NBA Western Conference. Each team is struggling; the Lakers are 4-6 in their last 10 games and the Clips are 3-7.
However, the news from the ice is better. The Anaheim Ducks are 13-8-4, good for third place in the NHL Pacific Division. The Los Angeles Kings are 10-9-4, worth sixth place.
In college basketball, the men’s team at UCLA is 8-1 and the USC Trojans are 8-0. Cal State Fullerton men’s team is 4-4 and at Long Beach State, the team is 2-6. UC Irvine is the best Big West team at 5-1.
What’s ahead this week for area sports teams:
- Los Angeles Rams at Arizona on Monday, Dec. 13.
- Los Angeles Chargers at New York Giants on Sunday.
- Los Angeles Lakers hosts Boston on Tuesday, then visit Memphis on Thursday and Oklahoma City on Friday.
- Los Angeles Clippers at Portland on Monday, then host Boston on Wednesday.
- Los Angeles Kings at Vancouver on Monday, then host Dallas on Thursday.
- Anaheim Ducks at Washington on Monday, at Buffalo on Tuesday and at Columbus on Thursday.
Final out: Why are the Lakers, with three “superstars,” doing so poorly? Sportswriter Brandon Marcus had this to say about what he called “another shameful, head-shaking moment” on the court. “Truly dismal defense. If that doesn’t get remedied, they won’t make the playoffs, let alone the Finals.”
“Sports Monday” is written by Pete Zarustica.