Raiders costly penalties give Mayfield, Rams opening for victory

INGLEWOOD, Calif. — Newly acquired Los Angeles Rams quarterback Baker Mayfield snapped a six-game losing streak in front of a SoFi crowd on Thursday night. With quarterback Matthew Stafford on injured reserve (spinal contusion) and backup John Wolford dealing with a neck injury, the Rams claimed Mayfield off waivers Tuesday after the Carolina Panthers released him Monday.

Mayfield took over for Wolford to start the Rams’ second series. Mayfield led two touchdown drives late in the fourth quarter to help the Rams beat the Las Vegas Raiders, 17-16.

Las Vegas Raiders

The Las Vegas Raiders ended a three-game win streak in the loss to the Rams. The defense gave up two touchdowns in the fourth quarter. The Raiders have now suffered seven losses by seven or less points this season.

Offensively, running back Josh Jacobs continues to carry the load — the NFL’s leading rusher ran for 99 yards and a TD while nursing an injury to his right hand suffered in the third quarter. Receiver Davante Adams had three catches for 71 yards, including a one-handed grab.

The Raiders’ next two opponents, the New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers, have a combined record of 11-13.

Describe the game in two words: Major disappointment. The Raiders looked like they had the game in hand with a 16-3 lead heading into the fourth quarter. But Mayfield, signed two days ago off waivers, led the Rams back late.

Pivotal play: The Raiders’ Jerry Tillery drew an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the winning touchdown drive that helped keep the Rams alive. On first-and-10 from the Rams 22, Mayfield was sacked by Maxx Crosby and Chris Jones for a nine-yard loss. Instead of being backed up — second-and-19 from the Rams’ 13 — the 15-yard penalty gave the Rams first-and 10 from their own 28. The Raiders had seven penalties for 94 yards.

Promising trend: After Chandler Jones signed his three-year, $51 million deal in free agency, he didn’t give the Raiders much through 11 games. Jones has since turned it around, and continued his breakout against the Rams. He forced a Cam Akers fumble inside the red zone and recovered it himself when the Rams were trailing, 13-3, late in the second quarter. This comes after Jones was named AFC Defensive Player of the Week for his three-sack performance against the Los Angeles Chargers four days earlier.

Los Angeles Rams

Two days after quarterback Baker Mayfield arrived in Los Angeles, he found himself under center for the Rams. Although he didn’t start — quarterback John Wolford played the opening series — Mayfield certainly finished.

Facing elimination from playoff contention, it would have been the earliest playoff elimination for a team coming off a Super Bowl victory in the last 30 seasons, according to ESPN Stats & Information research. But the Rams’ incredible 98-yard game-winning drive led by Mayfield flipped the evening’s narrative — and perhaps the season’s.

QB Breakdown: Mayfield got off to a good start, but came alive in the fourth quarter. His first pass of the game was a 21-yard completion to wide receiver Van Jefferson, and he led the Rams to a field goal on his first possession. With less than two minutes to go in the fourth — with some help from the Raiders’ penalties — Mayfield was 4-for-6 for 98 yards and a TD.

Eye-popping NextGen stat: The Rams drove 98 yards on a drive that began with 1:45 left and had zero timeouts. The last time a team drove 90-plus yards in the final two minutes with no timeouts was the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 17 last season against the New York Jets. Tom Brady threw the game-winning touchdown to Cyril Grayson with 15 seconds left in that game.

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