Nov 20, 2022; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) is grabbed by New Orleans Saints linebacker Kaden Elliss (55) in the second quarter at the Caesars Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Rams QB Matthew Stafford leaves game vs. Saints in concussion protocol

Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford — cleared Saturday from the concussion protocol — left in the third quarter of Sunday’s loss to the New Orleans Saints for a concussion evaluation.

Stafford came out of the game at the 9:38 mark of the quarter after being sacked for a 9-yard loss. He completed 11 of 18 passes for 159 yards and two touchdowns before being replaced by Bryce Perkins.

Stafford was placed in NFL concussion protocol after the team’s loss to Tampa Bay in Week 9.

John Wolford started in place of Stafford against the Arizona Cardinals last week, throwing for 212 yards, with a touchdown and an interception.

Entering the game, Stafford had thrown for 1,928 yards and eight touchdowns against eight interceptions this season. He had been sacked 28 times, third most in the NFL, as the team has been forced to alter the look of the offensive line.

Los Angeles started nine different combinations on the offensive line in its first nine games.

The Saints won 27-20.

–Field Level Media

Oct 30, 2022; Inglewood, California, USA; Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp (10) walks off the field after sustaining an injury in the fourth quarter against the San Francisco 49ers at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Rams WR Cooper Kupp departs with ankle injury

Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp departed Sunday’s game against the Arizona Cardinals early in the fourth quarter with a right ankle injury and was ruled doubtful to return.

Kupp went in the air near the sideline in an attempt to grab an off-target pass from quarterback John Wolford, came to the ground and had Cardinals cornerback Marco Wilson roll over his leg. Kupp rolled out of bounds and to the Rams’ bench area, where he was tended to by the team’s medical staff.

Kupp, the MVP of last season’s Super Bowl, was barely able to put weight on his right leg and was taken to the locker room.

During a rough season for the 3-5 Rams, Kupp had been a bright spot. He had three receptions Sunday, but they went for a combined minus-1 yard as Wolford struggled as a replacement for Matthew Stafford (concussion).

Kupp has 75 receptions for 812 yards and six touchdowns this season. In six seasons, all with the Rams, the former third-round draft pick out of Eastern Washington has 508 receptions for 6,329 yards and 46 TDs.

In a thoroughly dominating 2021 season, Kupp led the NFL in receptions (145), yards (1,947) and TDs (16). He also led in yards per game at 114.5.

–Field Level Media

Oct 27, 2022; Tampa, Florida, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) warms up before the start of the game against the Baltimore Ravens at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Dyer-USA TODAY Sports

Buccaneers hosting Rams in surprising battle of mediocrity

Two of the most surprising developments of the NFL season are the mediocrity of both the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Los Angeles Rams. Neither team thought they’d be below .500 entering Week 9 — and neither team made a noteworthy move at this week’s trade deadline.

The past two Super Bowl champions will compete for a much-needed win on Sunday in Tampa, Fla.

The Rams (3-4) have lost three of their last four games, including a season sweep at the hands of the rival San Francisco 49ers. They were outscored 21-0 in the second half of last week’s 31-14 home loss to San Francisco.

“They made some big plays that they were able to capitalize on, scoring opportunities, and then there was a couple instances where we had chances to be able to make plays and didn’t quite deliver,” coach Sean McVay said. “That’s where things get out of whack and you don’t end up finishing the game the way that you want.”

Multiple reports said the Rams attempted to land Carolina Panthers edge rusher Brian Burns at the trade deadline by offering multiple first-round picks, but were rebuffed.

The defending champs can still rely on a fearsome defense without Burns — the Aaron Donald-anchored unit ranks fifth in yards allowed per game. But the Rams are fifth from the bottom in the NFL in scoring offense at just 16.9 ppg. Matthew Stafford has thrown eight interceptions, tied for second-most in the league, to just seven touchdowns.

Still, Los Angeles catches Tom Brady and the Buccaneers (3-5) at an opportune time.

Tampa Bay is 1-5 in the past six games, including losses to the Pittsburgh Steelers and Carolina Panthers, two of the weakest teams in the league. The Bucs have had extra time to regroup after playing on “Thursday Night Football” last week, when their comeback effort fell short in a 27-22 home loss to the Baltimore Ravens.

Though Brady has a 9:1 touchdown-to-interception ratio and leads the NFL in completions (224) and pass attempts (340), he’s averaged a substandard 6.7 yards per attempt and the offense is tied for 25th in third-down efficiency (34.6 percent).

Brady and Stafford aren’t getting any help from their respective running games, the least productive in the league. Tampa Bay (61.9 yards per game) ranks dead last; Los Angeles (68.4 ypg) is 31st.

Bucs coach Todd Bowles alluded to the notion that his team wants more balance on offense.

“You’d like to say that, but if they’ve got nine guys up there, you’re going to have to throw the football,” Bowles said. “We’re going to take what they give us, but we’re definitely going to try to run it more.”

For the Rams, disgruntled running back Cam Akers hasn’t played since Week 5 as the team worked to try to find a trade partner who’d take him. None materialized before the deadline, and on Wednesday McVay said Akers expressed a desire to remain with the team.

There’s a chance he could play Sunday — and just as much of a chance that the Rams release him.

“We’ve talked about a couple of different options,” McVay said. “Wanted to be able to give him an opportunity to weigh that with his family and with his representation, and then we’ll circle back later on this afternoon and see what the next move is.”

The Rams also could get rookie running back Kyren Williams (ankle) back soon after he returned to practice last week.

Star wide receiver Cooper Kupp (ankle) missed Wednesday’s practice, but McVay has indicated the injury is not serious and he should be able to play against the Bucs. Center Brian Allen (knee) also sat out while receiver Van Jefferson (knee) was limited.

Tampa Bay’s interior offensive line is banged up and could be tested again this week, as guards Luke Goedeke (foot) and Shaq Mason (personal, ankle) did not practice Wednesday. Wide receivers Russell Gage (hamstring) and Julio Jones (knee) and cornerback Antoine Winfield Jr. (concussion) were also DNPs, while receiver Mike Evans (ankle) and tight end Cameron Brate (neck) were limited participants.

–Field Level Media

Feb 13, 2022; Inglewood, California, USA; Los Angeles Rams owner Stan Kroenke holds the Vince Lombardi Trophy after the Rams defeated the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl LVI at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: NFL to approve Stan Kroenke debt to pay St. Louis settlement

Final approval from the NFL for Rams owner Stan Kroenke’s $571 million to settle a relocation lawsuit with St. Louis is expected from the league on Tuesday, per multiple reports.

Kroenke owes St. Louis the balance of what was a $790 million settlement for moving the team to Los Angeles. The NFL collectively contributed $219 million, leaving Kroenke to pay the rest only after owners waive the limit in place on allowable debt for owners.

The final approval is expected at the NFL owners’ quarterly meeting Tuesday in New York.

A settlement was first reached last year, more than four years after the lawsuit originated. The NFL pushed for the agreement in part due to a decision from the judge ruling financial information and records of all NFL owners could be included.

The Rams won the Super Bowl in February and have largely been a success in Los Angeles under head coach Sean McVay.

After 21 years in St. Louis, Kroenke moved the Rams to Los Angeles and the NFL supported the move, helping fund a stadium project that cost more than $1.6 billion in Inglewood, Calif. The Rams and Los Angeles Chargers, who fled San Diego in 2017, are co-tenants at SoFi Stadium, which also houses NFL and NFL media offices.

–Field Level Media

Oct 2, 2022; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Cleveland Browns running back Nick Chubb (24) runs the ball against the Atlanta Falcons in the second half at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Browns’ running game a tall test for visiting Chargers

Los Angeles Chargers head coach Brandon Staley is looking forward to returning to his stomping grounds, but he won’t let familiar faces and places distract him from the task at hand, and that’s finding a way to beat the Cleveland Browns on Sunday.

Staley was born in Perry, Ohio, about 35 miles up Lake Erie from Cleveland, and starred at Perry High School before going on to play quarterback for two years at the University of Dayton.

“I’m definitely looking forward to feeling the presence of my loved ones there,” Staley said. “I don’t know how many I’m going to get to see, but it’ll be special going back home, for sure.”

Staley has been busy with his defensive coaches trying to scheme a way to stop a Cleveland offense that ranks second in the NFL in rushing yards per game at 187.3 and fourth in total yards (384.8).

Cleveland running back Nick Chubb has surpassed 100 rushing yards in three of four games this season and is averaging 5.7 yards a carry. The Browns also have a capable backup ball carrier in veteran Kareem Hunt.

The Chargers (2-2) surrendered 131 rushing yards to Houston Texans running back Dameon Pierce last week in a 34-24 win, including a 75-yard touchdown run.

Los Angeles also gave up a 50-yard touchdown run to James Robinson of the Jacksonville Jaguars the week before.

“In all of those runs, they’ve been to the perimeter,” Staley said. “We have to have better perimeter run support. That’s where it starts.”

The Browns (2-2) have taken notice of the Chargers defense, which is ranked in the middle of the league in both rushing yards and total yards allowed per game.

“They’re a great, physical team,” Chubb said. “Especially up front, so it will be a great challenge for us.”

Los Angeles will be missing a key member of its front seven for the second straight week.

Joey Bosa injured his groin against the Jaguars two weeks ago and is expected to miss 8-10 weeks. Bosa and Junior Seau are the only players in team history to make four Pro Bowls in their first five years in the NFL.

“We got good news, in terms of he’ll be back this season, which I think is the most encouraging sign for us,” Staley said. “We just have to make sure that we bring him back the right way.”

Cleveland also received good news regarding its own prized pass rusher.

Myles Garrett missed last week’s 23-20 loss to the Atlanta Falcons after sustaining a sprained left shoulder and strained right biceps in a rollover car accident on Sept. 26.

The three-time Pro Bowler returned to practice on Wednesday, but three-time Pro Bowl defensive end Jadeveon Clowney still has not practiced since suffering an ankle injury in the third quarter of a 31-30 loss to the New York Jets on Sept. 18.

The Browns defensive unit will be focused on Chargers quarterback Justin Herbert, who has been playing through torn cartilage in his ribs, but still managed to throw for 340 yards and two touchdowns in the win against the Texans last week.

“He has all the physical traits of a great QB,” Browns safety John Johnson III said. “He’s like 6-9 behind the center. Just a big arm, physical guy. His physical presence has helped him out a lot.”

–Field Level Media

Oct 2, 2022; Houston, Texas, USA;  Los Angeles Chargers running back Austin Ekeler (30) celebrates with Los Angeles Chargers center Corey Linsley (63) after running for a touchdown  during the second quarter against the Houston Texans at NRG Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Justin Herbert leads Chargers past Texans

Justin Herbert passed for 340 yards and two touchdowns to help the visiting Los Angeles Chargers hold on for a 34-24 win against the Houston Texas on Sunday.

Mike Williams caught seven passes for 120 yards, and Austin Ekeler rushed for 60 yards and two touchdowns for the Chargers (2-2), who led 27-7 at the half.

Dameon Pierce rushed for 131 yards on 14 carries, including a 75-yard touchdown run, for the Texans (0-3-1).

The Chargers posted 293 total yards in the first half but punted on their first three possessions of the second half and then fumbled away a kickoff that led to another score.

The Texans cut their deficit to 27-14 on an 8-yard touchdown pass from David Mills to Rex Burkhead with 1:12 left in the third quarter.

The Texans quickly got the ball back, and a 58-yard reception by Nico Collins put the ball in the Los Angeles red zone. Mills followed with an 18-yard touchdown pass to Brandin Cooks to cut the Chargers’ lead to 27-21 with 10:02 to play.

The Chargers fumbled the ensuing kickoff, and the Texans recovered at the Los Angeles 13, leading to a 40-yard field goal by Ka’imi Fairbairn that cut the margin to 27-24 with 8:30 remaining.

The Chargers converted a fourth-and-2 on their own 45 with 4:39 left. Herbert then capped the key possession with a 14-yard touchdown pass to Ekeler to make it 34-24 with 2:28 left.

Three minutes into the game, Herbert found tight end Gerald Everett for an 18-yard touchdown strike and a 7-0 Chargers lead. Los Angeles made the score 14-0 on a 10-yard touchdown run by Ekeler with 12:57 left in the first half.

A 50-yard completion from Herbert to Williams put Los Angeles on the Houston 20-yard line. Ekeler ran into the end zone on the next play to make it 21-0 with 10 minutes left in the first half.

Houston scored 12 seconds later when Pierce broke loose for his 75-yard touchdown run to cut the Chargers’ lead to 21-7.

Dustin Hopkins kicked a 23-yard field goal to make the score 24-7 with 4:35 left in the first half and then tacked on a 37-yarder just before halftime to make it 27-7.

–Field Level Media

Sep 8, 2022; Inglewood, California, USA; Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen (17) looks to throw the ball in the second quarter against the Los Angeles Rams at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Bills blow out defending champ Rams in NFL opener

Josh Allen passed for 297 yards and three touchdowns and rushed for one score to lead the Buffalo Bills to a convincing 31-10 victory over the Los Angeles Rams on Thursday night in the NFL season opener in Inglewood, Calif.

Stefon Diggs caught eight passes for 122 yards and a touchdown and Gabe Davis and Isaiah McKenzie also had scoring receptions as the Bills outplayed the defending Super Bowl champion Rams. Von Miller, who earned a ring with Los Angeles last season, recorded two sacks and Jordan Phillips added 1.5 as Buffalo notched seven overall.

Matthew Stafford completed 29 of 41 passes for 240 yards and one touchdown for the Rams. Stafford had passes intercepted by Dane Jackson, Jordan Poyer and Boogie Basham and guided Los Angeles to just 243 total yards.

Cooper Kupp caught 13 passes for 128 yards and one touchdown for the Rams. Aaron Donald registered his 99th career sack while Terrell Lewis and Troy Hill had interceptions.

The Bills totaled 413 yards and won despite committing four of the game’s seven turnovers. Allen connected on 26 of 31 passes, with two of the five incompletions intercepted. He also rushed for a game-high 56 yards.

Buffalo scored 21 unanswered second-half points to knock out Los Angeles.

The Bills took a 17-10 lead when Allen tossed a 7-yard touchdown pass to McKenzie with 7:59 left in the third quarter.

On the first play of the final quarter, Allen spotted Davis with 1-on-1 coverage for 47 yards to the Los Angeles 6-yard line. Three plays later, Allen scrambled to score from the 4, reaching the ball over the goal line with 13:27 left.

Four minutes later, the Bills used a long strike to increase their lead to 31-10. Diggs ran a streak down the right sideline, blowing past the Rams’ Jalen Ramsey to haul in a 53-yard scoring reception.

Any Los Angeles comeback bid was short-circuited by Basham’s interception with 6:58 left.

The score was tied at 10 at halftime after Matt Gay of the Rams booted a 57-yard field goal as time expired.

Buffalo navigated 75 yards on nine plays to open the game, with Allen flipping the ball to a wide-open Davis for a 26-yard score.

The Bills increased the lead to 10-0 on Tyler Bass’ 41-yard field goal with 8:48 left in the half. The Rams scored when Stafford hit Kupp on a 4-yard pass with three minutes remaining.

–Field Level Media

Jul 31, 2022; Irvine, CA, USA; Los Angeles Rams coach Sean McVay (left) and quarterback Matthew Stafford (9) during training camp at UC Irvine. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

No restrictions on Rams QB Matthew Stafford heading into opener

Los Angeles Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford will have no limitations with his balky right elbow, head coach Sean McVay said Sunday, when the defending Super Bowl champions open their season Thursday against the visiting Buffalo Bills.

Stafford, 34, dealt with elbow discomfort last season, yet still guided the Rams to a 12-5 record in the regular season and a trip through the playoffs that culminated with a 23-20 comeback victory over the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl LVI.

The elbow issues surfaced again for Stafford in training camp, but the Rams were able to work through them.

Stafford told reporters Sunday that he has done rehab work to alleviate the discomfort.

“I can get you a PDF later of all the things I have done,” Stafford joked to the media.

In his first season with the Rams, Stafford threw for 4,886 yards, while completing 67.2 percent of his passes. He threw for 41 touchdowns but was tied for the NFL lead with 17 interceptions.

Over 13 NFL seasons, the first 12 with the Detroit Lions, Stafford has 49,995 yards passing and has completed 63.0 percent of his passes. He has 323 TD passes with 161 interceptions.

–Field Level Media

Feb 13, 2022; Inglewood, CA, USA; Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp (10) celebrates with teammates after scoring a touchdown against the Cincinnati Bengals in the fourth quarter of Super Bowl LVI at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Rams top Bengals 23-20 to win Super Bowl LVI

Matthew Stafford tossed a 1-yard touchdown pass to Cooper Kupp with 1:25 remaining to give the Los Angeles Rams a 23-20 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals in Super Bowl LVI on Sunday at Inglewood, Calif.

Stafford’s third touchdown throw and Kupp’s second scoring catch of the game capped a dramatic 15-play, 79-yard drive. Stafford completed 26 of 40 passes for 283 yards and two interceptions while Kupp caught eight passes for 92 yards.

Aaron Donald recorded two of Los Angeles’ seven sacks and pressured Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow to force a desperate fourth-down incompletion with 39 seconds to play. The Rams ran out the clock to earn their second Super Bowl crown — the other coming in St. Louis following the 1999 season.

Burrow was 22-of-33 passing for 263 yards and running back Joe Mixon rushed for 72 yards and threw a touchdown pass on a trick play for the Bengals. Tee Higgins caught four passes for 100 yards and two touchdowns.

Cincinnati made a stunning run to the title game but is now 0-3 in Super Bowls, having lost to the San Francisco 49ers in appearances following the 1981 and 1988 seasons. The Bengals won just six games over the previous two seasons.

Kupp set a postseason record with 33 receptions, breaking the mark of 31 set last season by Kansas City’s Travis Kelce. Von Miller also had two sacks for Los Angeles.

Odell Beckham Jr. also caught a touchdown pass for the Rams before exiting the game in the second quarter due to a left knee injury.

Cincinnati moved ahead for the first time at 17-13 on the first offensive play of the third quarter when Burrow and Higgins connected on a 75-yard touchdown pass. Higgins and Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey were mixed up, with Higgins appearing to twist Ramsey’s facemask. Ramsey fell to the ground while Higgins made the grab and ran the remaining 35 yards for the score.

On the Rams’ next play from scrimmage, Cincinnati’s Chidobe Awuzie notched an interception of a Stafford pass that caromed off the arms of Ben Skowronek, who was in the game due to Beckham’s injury. The Bengals took over at the Los Angeles 31-yard line and eventually grew the lead to seven with Evan McPherson’s 38-yard field goal.

The Rams cut their deficit to 20-16 when Matt Gay booted a 41-yard field with 5:58 left in the quarter.

Stafford threw two first-half touchdown passes as the Rams held a 13-10 lead at intermission.

Los Angeles struck first when Stafford connected on a 17-yard scoring pass to Beckham with 6:22 remaining in the first quarter.

Cincinnati got on the board with McPherson’s 29-yard field goal with 28 seconds to go in the opening period.

The Rams increased their lead to 13-3 when Stafford tossed an 11-yard touchdown pass to Kupp in the right corner of the end zone with 12:51 left in the half. The score was set up by consecutive pass plays of 35 yards to Beckham and 25 to Darrell Henderson Jr.

The extra point failed when holder Johnny Hekker was unable to get the ball down cleanly.

The Bengals answered with a solid 12-play, 75-yard drive that took 7:04. It culminated when Mixon threw a pass for the first time in his five-year NFL career and hit Higgins for a 6-yard score with 5:47 remaining in the half.

–Field Level Media

Oct 24, 2021; Inglewood, California, USA; Los Angeles Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey (5) runs back an interception in the fourth quarter against the Detroit Lions  at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports

Rams’ COVID outlook improves after CB Jalen Ramsey activated

The Los Angeles Rams’ COVID-19 situation at least looks a little brighter Sunday after the team activated star cornerback Jalen Ramsey from the reserve/COVID-19 list.

The Rams’ outbreak, which began last week, forced their home game Sunday against the Seattle Seahawks to be moved to Tuesday night. Ramsey will be available to play in that game.

Also Sunday, the Rams restored defensive back Grant Haley to the practice squad and designated running back Jake Funk for return.

The moves get the Rams down to 23 players currently unavailable due to COVID-19, down from a high of 29 players unavailable earlier last week. Among the players take off the list Saturday were wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and running back Darrell Henderson.

“Very excited to be able to get Jalen back,” Rams coach Sean McVay said. “We know how important he is to our team from a leadership perspective and then a production perspective on the field, so that’s really big to be able to get him back.”

The list of unavailable players still includes notable contributors such as safety Jordan Fuller, tackle Rob Havenstein, linebacker Von Miller and tight end Tyler Higbee.

Ramsey, 27, has 59 tackles and three interceptions in 12 games this season, while often lined up against opponents’ top wide receiver.

With Fuller still out, his play-calling duties could fall to Ramsey, as the Rams (9-4) face the Seahawks while trailing the NFC West-leading Arizona Cardinals by a half game.

–Field Level Media