By Greg BeachamAP Sports Writer
Now imagine what Baker Mayfield and Sean McVay can do with two practices together.
That’s the prevailing thought around the Los Angeles Rams while they head into a highly enjoyable long weekend after their stunning, come-from-behind, last-minute 17-16 victory over the Las Vegas Raiders on Thursday night.
“That was a special night,” McVay said Friday. “Baker and the receivers making those plays, it sure was fun to watch them do their thing.”
Less than 48 hours after he arrived on the West Coast, Mayfield was throwing darts downfield and head-butting his new teammates in celebration after leading the Rams to their first win since Oct. 16.
His preparation time consisted of one light practice Wednesday with two 10-play periods behind center – and then Mayfield went into SoFi Stadium and took over the Rams’ offense from the second series onward, eventually passing for 230 yards and leading two TD drives in the fourth quarter.
“Ball is ball,” Mayfield said afterward. “And when you have guys like that around you that put you in a good spot and they help you out, and those guys did it.”
Van Jefferson’s 23-yard TD catch with 10 seconds to play considerably lightened the mood around the Rams (4-9), who ended a six-game skid and avoided matching their longest losing streak since coming home to LA. For at least another week, the 1999 Denver Broncos remain the only defending Super Bowl champion to lose 10 games.
The Rams have extra time to prepare for their visit to Green Bay next Monday night to begin the final stretch of a lost season that no longer seems so grim with Mayfield behind center. McVay confirmed he expects Mayfield to be his starting QB for the last four games.
“It feels really good right now, but there’s a lot to get fixed,” Mayfield said.
That’s for sure: Even with Mayfield pushing the ball downfield in a way neither John Wolford nor Bryce Perkins had been capable of doing in Matthew Stafford’s absence, the Rams still didn’t get into the end zone until the final 3:19 against the Raiders. McVay believes Mayfield can do even more once he understands more of the Rams’ playbook following this elongated break.
“It will be good to just take a deep breath and unpack the game from last night, and give the coaches a little bit of time,’” McVay said.
With their first-round pick next year belonging to Detroit, the Rams have no motivation to tank, obviously or indirectly. They’ll try to win as many games as possible, including a New Year’s Day showdown with their playoff-contending SoFi roommates, the Los Angeles Chargers.
The Rams will have more plays in the package for Mayfield in Green Bay, and they’ll be riding positive momentum for the first time in two months. That’s about as good as it will get for LA late in this lost season.