INGLEWOOD, Calif. — 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 scoring drives late in the fourth quarter of a shocking 17-16 victory over the Las Vegas Raiders on Thursday night.
Just two days after the Rams (4-9) claimed Mayfield off waivers from the Carolina Panthers, the 2018 No. 1 pick went 22 of 35 for 230 yards and snapped the defending Super Bowl champions’ six-game losing streak in dramatic fashion.
The Rams trailed 16-3 after Daniel Carlson’s third field goal with 12 minutes, 20 seconds to play, but Mayfield engineered a 75-yard drive capped by Cam Akers’ touchdown run with 3:19 remaining.
The Rams defense stopped Derek Carr and the Raiders at the 2-minute warning, but AJ Cole dropped a 64-yard punt to the Rams 2. Undaunted and with no timeouts, Mayfield led the Rams downfield — with ample help from an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the Raiders’ Jerry Tillery for knocking the ball out of the quarterback’s hands after a play.
The Rams reached the Raiders 23 with 15 seconds left, and Mayfield promptly found Jefferson in the back corner of the end zone. The drive included a contested 32-yard reception by Ben Skowronek, who finished with seven catches for 89 yards.
Josh Jacobs rushed for 99 yards and the only touchdown for the Raiders (5-8), whose three-game winning streak ended in humiliating fashion. Less than four weeks after they lost in former ESPN analyst Jeff Saturday’s NFL coaching debut with the Indianapolis Colts, the Raiders fell to a quarterback who joined his new team less than 48 hours before the game.
Carr passed for 137 yards with no touchdowns and two interceptions, including a game-icing pick at midfield.
Coach Sean McVay swiftly turned over his offense to Mayfield instead of backups John Wolford and Bryce Perkins, who both have been ineffective in place of injured Matthew Stafford in recent weeks.
Mayfield was having a terrible season for the Panthers but he improbably injected a spark into the Rams with a handful of big plays and decent drives despite minimal knowledge of McVay’s offense.
With McVay apparently giving detailed instructions into his helmet before each play, Mayfield immediately got the Rams moving with three completions of at least 20 yards in his first two series. The Rams had only 26 such completions in the first 12 games — third-fewest in the NFL.
And once he was warmed up, Mayfield completed 15 of his 20 passes in the fourth quarter, flawlessly directing his new teammates downfield for two scores.
Jacobs punched it in to cap the Raiders’ opening drive, and the running back got a whopping 18 carries in the first half while Vegas attempted to grind down the Rams.
Davante Adams got only four targets in the first half but made two jaw-dropping catches.
Akers short-circuited Mayfield’s solid second drive with a fumble in the red zone, but Rams linebacker Ernest Jones made an end-zone interception with 49 seconds left in the first half to limit the Raiders’ lead to 13-3.
The Rams reached the red zone for the first time with 5½ minutes to play, and Akers capitalized.
Carr joined Peyton Manning and Russell Wilson as the only quarterbacks to get 3,000 yards passing in each of their first nine NFL seasons.