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The Sports Report: Matthew Stafford delivers a 27-24 win for Rams

Donte Williams
Donte Williams
(Associated Press)

Howdy, I’m your host, Houston Mitchell. Let’s get right to the news.

Gary Klein on the Rams: There were no long touchdown passes. One short-armed throw was intercepted. His almost perfect passer rating of a week ago tumbled into mere mortal territory.

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But the Rams’ reasoning for trading for quarterback Matthew Stafford was on full display late in the game Sunday against the Indianapolis Colts.

The situation: Fourth quarter. Rams trailing.

In 12 NFL seasons, Stafford had engineered 38 game-winning drives. That ranks tied for eighth all time, according to profootballreference.com.

With all-time leader Peyton Manning in attendance at the stadium he all but built during his Hall of Fame career, Stafford did his thing.

He erased a four-point deficit with a touchdown pass to Cooper Kupp. On the next series, he directed a drive that ended with a tiebreaking 38-yard field goal by Matt Gay that gave the Rams a 27-24 victory in front of 63,076 at Lucas Oil Stadium.

“I was as calm as I could be,” Stafford said. “I knew there were plays in the game, ‘Shoot I wish I’d had this. I wish I would have thrown that ball there,’ but at that point in the game it’s do whatever it takes to win.”

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Cooper Kupp has big hands in Rams’ 27-24 victory over Colts

NFL Week 2 roundup: Derek Carr leads Raiders past Steelers

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CHARGERS

Jeff Miller on the Chargers: The Chargers moved the ball well enough Sunday that they finished the game with zero punts.

Zero punts. Every other NFL team punted at least once so far in Week 2.

Yet, a parade of penalties and another red-zone turnover meant the Chargers scored only one touchdown in a maddening 20-17 loss to Dallas before 70,240 at SoFi Stadium.

Just one touchdown. That’s one fewer than the number of touchdowns the Chargers had nullified by penalties Sunday.

“This game was about the Chargers,” coach Brandon Staley said. “All the other stuff, I don’t really want to talk about ... We didn’t play a clean enough game to win.”

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Bill Plaschke: SoFi fans were giving a charge to Cowboys more than home team

Chargers’ problems with penalties cost them in last-second loss to Cowboys

Pass protection problems prove costly for Chargers in loss to Cowboys

DODGERS

Jorge Castillo on the Dodgers: For a few minutes Sunday afternoon, Clayton Kershaw took a break from his pregame stretching routine and sat alone in left field at Great American Ball Park. He hunched over with his head down under a boiling sun. Fans gawked. They shot photos and videos. They screamed his name.

Kershaw remained seated in the grass. He was about to make his 374th career regular-season start and second since coming off the injured list. He was getting another chance to help the Dodgers chase down the San Francisco Giants in the National League West. It’s all he wanted after forearm inflammation sidelined him for more than two months.

He ran with the opportunity in vintage, if abbreviated, fashion in the Dodgers’ 8-5 win over the Cincinnati Reds. The left-hander limited the Reds (77-73) to one run and three hits and accumulated eight strikeouts without a walk over five innings.

“It’s another good building block, and got a couple more before the playoffs,” Kershaw said. “So it was a good step overall.”

ANGELS

Jack Harris on the Angels: Shohei Ohtani threw a nasty split-fingered fastball in the first inning on Sunday that raised the eyebrows of Angels manager Joe Maddon, who is not used to seeing his two-way star go to his signature put-away pitch so soon.

“It was a really good one, and I looked at [pitching coach Matt Wise] and said, ‘Splitter? That early?’ ” Maddon said after a 3-2, 10-inning loss to the Oakland Athletics in Angel Stadium. “I think he was experimenting with some different grips, and apparently it was working pretty well.

“He had good command of it. You saw the swing and miss or the weak contact. He’s based on feel. When he’s feeling something, he’s gonna stay with it and not force something else.”

USC FOOTBALL

Ryan Kartje on the Trojans: USC quarterback Kedon Slovis isn’t expected to miss any practice time after X-rays and an MRI exam on his injured neck came back negative Saturday. But when he returns to practice this week, his job as USC’s starting quarterback might be in serious jeopardy.

After freshman Jaxson Dart put together a dynamic debut in his place, USC interim coach Donte Williams declared Sunday that the two quarterbacks would battle this week to determine who leads the Trojans’ offense against Oregon State on Saturday night.

“Me personally, being the head coach, I approach everything as a battle,” Williams said. “I think part of why people don’t succeed and develop is because they get complacent. That’s not just at quarterback, that’s at every position. I want to make sure guys are never complacent.”

UCLA FOOTBALL

Ben Bolch on the Bruins: No matter what sort of flattery was lavished upon UCLA, breathless talk of contending for the College Football Playoff accompanied by musings about coach Chip Kelly having regained his visor-inspired mojo, the message never changed inside the Wasserman Football Center.

A number and a word continually flashed on television screens inside the Bruins’ practice facility during their two weeks of preparation for Fresno State, as if to remind players of the netherworld they had only recently inhabited.

The number was “15,” a reference to the combined points in the team’s four losses last season. The word was “finish,” alluding to collapses in the final minutes against USC and Stanford.

On Saturday night, after having seemingly emerged from that world of pain with two season-opening victories, UCLA sunk back into the familiar misery.

SPARKS

Thuc Nhi Nguyen on the Sparks: Needing a win to get into the postseason, the Sparks missed the playoffs for the first time since 2011 after an 87-84 loss at Dallas on Sunday in their season finale.

Star forward Nneka Ogwumike had 18 points and 10 rebounds, including four-for-five shooting from three-point range as the Sparks (12-20) nearly erased a 13-point, fourth-quarter deficit. Guard Erica Wheeler had 22 points and seven assists, coming alive for 18 points in the second half, but couldn’t hit the final three-point shot to send the game to overtime.

“When everything was at stake, we saw it,” Ogwumike said of her team’s mental fortitude. “And we have to understand that every game is at stake and that’s the maturity, that’s the focus, that’s the investment, that’s the camaraderie that that needs to be more consistent and will be.”

LAFC

George Fochive scored the go-ahead goal on a header in the 68th minute and the Portland Timbers beat LAFC 2-1 on Sunday night.

The Timbers (11-10-4) moved into fifth place in the Western Conference and extended their undefeated streak to five games.

Dairon Asprilla had an early goal for Portland. Cristian Arango tied it on a penalty in the first half, his fifth straight game with a goal.

LAFC (9-10-6) had won three in a row. It had an eight-game winless streak this summer to drop to 11th in the standings but rebounded and went into the game in eighth, just a point back of Portland and Minnesota.

THIS DATE IN SPORTS

1913 — Twenty-year-old amateur Francis Ouimet beats Britain’s Harry Vardon and Ted Ray in an 18-hole playoff to win the U.S. Open.

1924 — Grover Cleveland Alexander wins his 300th game as the Chicago Cubs defeat the New York Giants 7-3 in 12 innings.

1939 — Joe Louis knocks out Bob Pastor in the 11th round at Briggs Stadium in Detroit to retain the world heavyweight title.

1973 — Billie Jean King beats Bobby Riggs in straight sets to win the Battle of the Sexes and the $100,000 winner-take-all purse at Houston’s Astrodome.

1980 — Spectacular Bid wins the Woodward Stakes in the world’s richest walkover. Before a crowd of 23,000 spectators, the 4-year-old covers the 1¼ miles at Belmont Park in 2:02.4. It’s the last race of his career and he finishes the year undefeated in nine races and is named American Horse of the Year. There had not been a walkover in a major U.S. stakes race since Coaltown won the Edward Burke Handicap on April 23, 1949.

1982 — The NFL Players Assn. announces a strike at the completion of the Green Bay-New York Giants Monday Night game.

1987 — Chicago’s Walter Payton breaks Jim Brown’s NFL record with his 107th rushing touchdown as the Bears beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 20-3.

1988 — Greg Louganis wins Olympic gold medal in springboard diving, one day after hitting his head on the diving board in the preliminary round. Louganis, who needed five stitches, is solid throughout the 11-dive program. His 730.80 points wins the gold, beating China’s Tan Liangde. Tan, who finishes with 704.88 points, also finished second to Louganis in the 1984 Olympic Games.

1992 — Raymond Floyd makes PGA Tour history, becoming the first player to win tournaments on the regular and Senior PGA tours in the same year. Floyd birdies five of his last seven holes to win the GTE North Classic after winning the Doral-Ryder Open in March on the regular tour.

2003 — Rashaun Woods of Oklahoma State, catches seven touchdown passes to set an NCAA Division I-A record in the Cowboys’ 52-6 win over SMU. Woods breaks the mark of six set by San Diego State’s Tim Delaney in a 1969 game against New Mexico State. Woods finishes with 13 catches for 232 yards.

2007 — Floyd Landis loses his expensive and explosive case when two of three arbitrators uphold the results of a test that showed the 2006 Tour de France champion used synthetic testosterone to fuel his spectacular comeback victory. Landis forfeits his Tour title.

2009 — The first game at the Cowboys Stadium sets an NFL regular-season attendance record with a crowd of 105,121, and most of them go home disappointed after the Giants win 33-31.

2009 — Minnesota Vikings QB Brett Favre sets an NFL record with his 271st straight start in a 27-13 win over the Detroit Lions. Defensive end Jim Marshall had the previous mark for consecutive starts, 270 games in a row for Minnesota from 1961-1979.

2015 — The United States beats Europe with the biggest comeback in Solheim Cup history. Paula Creamer beats Germany’s Sandra Gal 4 and 3 to complete the 14 1/2-13 1/2 victory. Europe had a four-point lead entering the 12 singles matches, which the United States win 8 1/2 to 3 1/2 in those matches.

2018 — The World Anti-Doping Agency reinstates Russia, ending a nearly three-year suspension caused by state-sponsored doping.

Supplied by the Associated Press

And finally

Every rushing touchdown of Walter Payton’s career. Watch and listen here.

Until next time...

That concludes today’s newsletter. If you have any feedback, ideas for improvement or things you’d like to see, email me at houston.mitchell@latimes.com, and follow me on Twitter at @latimeshouston. To get this newsletter in your inbox, click here.


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