White rally towels spun in the air throughout the crowded Coliseum stands Monday night. Across from them, in blue and yellow printed letters read “LA Together.”
The phrase embodied a night dedicated to first responders and those affected by the California wildfires and the mass shooting at a bar in Thousand Oaks.
Members of the Cal Lutheran University choir sang the national anthem as first responders and their families carried an American flag that stretched the length of the field before the start of the Rams’ game against the Kansas City Chiefs.
Karen and Jordan Helus, wife and son of Ventura County Sheriff’s Sgt. Ron Helus, lit the Coliseum torch in honor of Helus, who was killed in the Nov. 7 shooting at the Borderline Bar and Grill. Mayors from the Los Angeles area participated in the coin toss.
Sometimes, Ventura County firefighters would steal away to Cal Lutheran to peer over a fence, catching a glimpse of the Rams practicing at the facility where they train. On Monday, some first responders watched the Rams warm up from the Coliseum field.
“It’s great just to be able to make that other connection with our hometown team that practices right in our neighborhood,” said Capt. Stan Ziegler, public information officer for the Ventura County Fire Department.
There was no barrier Monday. The firefighters and other first responders watched the Rams face the Chiefs from reserved sections of the Coliseum, along with people affected by the fires and the shooting.
“It was like a one-two punch,” Ziegler said.
Players and coaches from both teams wore dark gray hats with logos of Los Angeles-area firefighter and law enforcement agencies.
As the 77,002 in attendance cheered for firefighter Michael Williams, who lost his home in the wildfires he helped combat, he stared at the rows of people above him and covered his heart with his right hand.
For first responders exhausted from two weeks of fighting fires, Monday night offered a chance to finally relax. Ziegler said more than 100 first responders accepted the Rams’ invitation to watch the game.
“You would not believe what it means to us,” Ziegler said, adding: “It’s just gonna be a fantastic boost for our morale.”
Back to Mexico City
The NFL said it will return to Mexico City for a regular season game in 2019.
The announcement comes days after the the Rams-Chiefs game was moved from Azteca Stadium because of poor field conditions — the result of a meeting between Mexico’s president-elect, Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador, and NFL commissioner Rodger Goodell.
More information about the matchup will be available with the release of the NFL’s 2019 schedule.
Peters gets a pick
With less than two minutes left in the fourth quarter, Patrick Mahomes threw a deep shot down the field. It landed in the arms of Marcus Peters.
The game was Peters’ first against the Chiefs since being traded by the team before the season.
Teammate Lamarcus Joyner intercepted a Mahomes pass a minute later to seal the Rams’ win.
Reynolds gets start
Josh Reynolds, in his third start of the season, snagged Jared Goff’s pass with a leap in the corner of the end zone.
Reynolds’ second reception of the night gave the Rams a 13-0 lead over the Chiefs. Reynolds replaced Cooper Kupp, who sustained a season-ending knee injury against the Seahawks the week before.
Reynolds made six receptions for 80 yards as Goff’s third-most frequent target.
Offensive linemen work as a group. They don’t like to be singled out.
Maybe Kansas City’s Mitchell Schwartz will make an exception for this.
Schwartz, in his seventh NFL season and third as the Chiefs’ starting right tackle, logged his 7,000th consecutive snap Monday night, the longest active streak of any player in the league.
A graduate of Palisades High who played collegiately at California, Schwartz spent his first four years with the Cleveland Browns.
His brother, Geoff, was an offensive lineman for five NFL teams from 2008-16.