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Baker Mayfield rallies Rams past Raiders with late TD pass in debut

INGLEWOOD — Rams coach Sean McVay said he was leaning toward having new quarterback Baker Mayfield be active Thursday night against the Las Vegas Raiders, two days after the Rams claimed the former No. 1 overall draft pick on waivers from the Carolina Panthers.

As it turned out, McVay was also leaning toward starting Mayfield, but he needed one more reason because a six-game losing streak and several injuries to key players weren’t enough to make the unprecedented move.

But then the Rams quickly fell behind by double digits at SoFi Stadium. McVay pulled quarterback John Wolford after one drive and went with Mayfield the rest of the way to give the prime-time matchup an intriguing storyline.

Sometimes impulsive moves pay off and it did for the Rams. Mayfield connected with wide receiver Van Jefferson for the game-winning touchdown pass with nine seconds left to give the Rams a comeback victory, 17-16, against the Raiders. The 23-yard toss down the sideline capped an eight-play, 98-yard drive that took 1:35.

The Mayfield experience provided entertainment, but similar to his shaky five-year career, there were highs and lows for 2018’s top draft pick. McVay gave the people what they wanted and Mayfield did the rest to snap the Rams’ six-game losing streak.

After a few sluggish quarters, the Rams made a late push following Cam Akers’ 1-yard rushing touchdown to trim the Raiders’ lead to 16-10 with 3:19 left in regulation. Akers moved the chains on the previous play after the Rams went for it on fourth-and-1 from the 2-yard line.

The Mayfield experience nearly got out of hand in the first half, but Rams linebacker Ernest Jones intercepted a pass from Derek Carr in the end zone to keep the Rams within 13-3 at halftime. The Raiders had 109 rushing yards compared to the Rams’ 30 after the first half. Michael Hoecht, who switched from interior defensive lineman to outside linebacker, struggled to set the edge against the Raiders’ outside runs.

Mayfield entered the game for the Rams’ second drive and quickly made an impact by completing a 21-yard pass to wide receiver Jefferson. The Heisman Trophy winner dropped back after faking a hand-off and found an open Jefferson in the middle of the field. The Rams ended Mayfield’s first drive with a 55-yard field goal from Matt Gay to trim the Raiders’ lead to 10-3 with six seconds left in the opening quarter.

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