The Sports Report: Rams win, Chargers lose

Darrell Henderson runs the ball during the first half.
(Associated Press)

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

Gary Klein on the Rams: The Rams’ 38-22 victory over the Houston Texans on Sunday at NRG Stadium was a predictable rout, the precursor to the real business at hand.


The Rams, in a boom-or-bust season, continue to look like a team capable of a deep playoff run and perhaps a Super Bowl appearance. They have won four games in row for the first time since 2018, the season in which coach Sean McVay led his team to Super Bowl LIII.

But getting an accurate read on how good these 7-1 Rams really are will have to wait at least another week. Tuesday is the NFL trade deadline. Next Sunday night, the 6-2 Tennessee Titans and star running back Derrick Henry visit SoFi Stadium.

For the moment, give McVay and the Rams credit. They beat the Seattle Seahawks and then dispatched the undermanned and overmatched New York Giants, Detroit Lions and Texans.

On Sunday, quarterback Matthew Stafford passed for three more touchdowns, running back Darrell Henderson and wide receiver Robert Woods each scored twice, rookie linebacker Ernest Jones intercepted a pass in his first start, and Leonard Floyd and Aaron Donald led a pass rush that amassed five sacks.


Takeaways from Rams’ 38-22 win over Texans: Ernest Jones makes impact in first start

Rams’ 38-22 road victory over Houston Texans by the numbers

Enjoying this newsletter? Consider subscribing to the Los Angeles Times

Your support helps us deliver the news that matters most. Become a subscriber.


Jeff Miller on the Chargers: The Chargers opened the season 4-1, had an MVP candidate at quarterback and a coach gaining renown for everything from his aggressive decisions and his insightfully fresh news conferences.

Then something happened. The NFL happened.

On Sunday, the Chargers looked out of rhythm for a second consecutive game in a 27-24 loss to New England at SoFi Stadium.

Justin Herbert again struggled as the offense failed to find any consistency after beginning with a 75-yard march for a touchdown.

A late score boosted their statistics and trimmed the difference but couldn’t hide how sluggish the Chargers were offensively for most of the afternoon.

Before their off week, they lost at Baltimore 34-6 with a performance that was even flatter.

“I’m not concerned,” coach Brandon Staley said. “We’ve got to do a better job coaching moving forward. We’ve got to do a better job playing. But, when you play against good teams, you’re going to have games like this.”


Photos: Chargers lose in revenge game against Patriots

Chargers’ 27-24 loss to the New England Patriots by the numbers

NFL Week 8: Saints defeat Tom Brady and Bucs in dramatic fashion; Jets top Bengals


Ryan Kartje on the Trojans: Drake London, the rising star receiver who slung a struggling USC team on his back through two tumultuous months, will miss the rest of the Trojans’ season after fracturing his ankle in a 41-34 win over Arizona.

The devastating prognosis seemed all but assured in the second quarter Saturday night, as London was loaded onto the injury cart with his right ankle immobilized by an air cast. In obvious pain, the junior wideout buried his face in his jersey, wiping the tears from his eyes. As the cart rolled up the tunnel, London waved to the Coliseum crowd, likely for the last time.

On Sunday night, USC interim coach Donte Williams confirmed London won’t play again in 2021. And with the NFL certain to beckon next spring, it’s unlikely London, whose season was set to cement him among the best receivers in school history, will ever suit up for USC again.

“Those eight games he played, all the awards you could think of, he deserves,” Williams said. “Whether it’s the Biletnikoff, whether it’s the All-American, the things he did for this team and this university, you know, he was about to put up one of the best statistical seasons that any receiver has put up in college football. That’s saying a lot.”

It’s not an exaggeration either. Even after missing the second half of Saturday’s game, London still leads all Power Five wideouts in receptions (88) and receiving yards (1,084). Had he continued that pace, London would’ve almost certainly surpassed Marqise Lee (118) for the most receptions in a single season in school history while also challenging him for the single-season record for yards (1,721). Lee set both marks in 2012, capping his record-setting season by winning the Biletnikoff Award as the nation’s top receiver.


Ben Bolch on the Bruins: Martin Jarmond constantly talks about being elite. The word reflects the ideals of a UCLA athletic department that uses excellence as a baseline for everything it does.

Then there’s what’s happening with Chip Kelly and the football program. Elite never enters the conversation.

Elite is not going 15-25, a .375 winning percentage that is the worst in school history for any coach who did not hold an interim tag.

Elite is not hoping to finish with a record above .500 for the first time in Year Four.

Elite is not keeping a failed defensive coordinator, at $700,000 per year, because of loyalty to a friend.

Elite is not losing three consecutive home games, failing to reward fans who show up before dawn for ESPN’s “College GameDay” because they’re desperate to support a winner.

Elite is not hoping to make the Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl.

Elite is not touting how your team never gives up and intends to correct the same mistakes it makes week after week.

Elite is not talking about having a really good Wednesday when Saturdays are all that matter in college football.

Elite is not Chip Kelly.


AP top 25 football: Michigan State up to No. 5; Wake Forest in top 10 for first time


Dan Woike on the Lakers: NBA coaches generally don’t have time to pour over the film of their upcoming opponents during the regular season. Internal issues are almost always more pressing than what’s going on with the other guys.

But with Houston about to play the Lakers twice in three days, you’d think Rockets coach Stephen Silas spent a little more time on Lakers’ tape than most.

As for the film he was watching? It must’ve been vintage.

“I’m deathly afraid of their defense. They’re so big and long and experienced and can cover for each other. ...When you have that size, when you have DJ and Dwight and then you have LeBron and AD and then Russ, it’s hard not to be a really disruptive defensive team.”

Up until the 14 minutes or so of Lakers’ basketball proceeding Sunday’s game with the Rockets, LeBron James, Russell Westbrook, Anthony Davis and Carmelo Anthony weren’t just a group of All-Stars. They and the Lakers defended like they were playing in All-Star games.

They were no longer a top three defense, having sunk down deep into the league’s standings after the NBA’s opening two weeks.

But Silas might be on to something the way the Lakers have played recently, a trend that continued in their best defensive effort of the young year.

Following up a fourth quarter where they held Cleveland to just 16 points, they kept the Rockets to only 15 in the first on Sunday in what would be a 95-85 win. The 85 points were the fewest allowed by the Lakers since Nov. 8, 2019.

“A huge growth on the defensive side of the ball,” Frank Vogel said.


Andrew Greif and Thuc Nhi Nguyen on the Clippers: Even Tyronn Lue isn’t above some early season overreaction. In nearly the same breath that the Clippers coach assures reporters his team’s offense that ranks among the worst in the league will be OK, he admits that the repeated bricks being thrown at the team’s house of patience and persistence are starting to creep into his conscience.

“It is kinda tough,” Lue said Sunday of the Clippers’ offensive struggles. “If you’re playing well and you’re getting the shots you want to get and you’re not making them, does that call for change? That’s the biggest thing you go back and forth with.”

Off to a 1-4 start, the Clippers are far from panicking, but still looking for ways to jumpstart their stagnant offense. Lue said he will tinker with rotations to solve long scoring droughts when star forward Paul George is on the bench. The coach will have something new in store for Monday’s game at Staples Center against Oklahoma City but left out further details.

The Clippers have the league’s fourth-least efficient offense and have scored fewer than 100 points in consecutive games for the first time in 41 games.


Alex Iafallo scored with 6:19 to play and the Kings rallied to beat the Buffalo Sabres 3-2.

Anze Kopitar had a goal and an assist, Carl Grundstrom scored and the Kings won consecutive games for the first time this season. Jonathan Quick made 22 saves.

“That shoe’s been on the other foot, where we’ve been ahead by a goal and we didn’t come out of it with a win. So to do it coming from behind and to get the win, I think it means a lot to our group right now,” Kings coach Todd McLellan said.


“Rising from the ashes” is a common metaphor in the athlete comeback genre, but it is literally the story of the Paradise Bobcats, most of whom lost almost everything in a 2018 wildfire that reduced 18,000 homes to smoldering ember. The following is an excerpt from Bill Plaschke’s new book, “Paradise Found: A High School Football Team’s Rise From the Ashes” and tells the story of one player’s flight to safety.

NOVEMBER 8, 2018

What is dark within me, illumine.

-John Milton, “Paradise Lost”

The kid was stranded at the top of a raging mountain. He was going to be burned alive and alone. He was going to die without his family, without his friends, with only his panting dog Gracie by his side. He was going to die in a scorching parking lot surrounded by a roaring fire and screaming strangers.

Spencer Kiefer, just months after his sixteenth birthday, grabbed his impossibly hot phone, prayed it could hold a signal, and called his father, Greg, who was trapped in his own car while pulling the family trailer several blocks away trying to get his son. The teen began speaking and couldn’t stop sobbing.

“Dad, I’m gonna die,” he said.

Spencer was a middle linebacker for the Paradise Bobcats. He could dish it out. Earlier in the season, he had separated his shoulder simply from hitting the guy carrying the ball. He could play with pain. But he couldn’t play with this. The smoke filled his lungs as he uttered what he thought might be his last words.

“Dad, I don’t want to die, but I’m gonna die,” he said. “Good-bye.”

“Wait! Wait! You’re not gonna—!” screamed his crying father into a phone that suddenly went dead.


All times Pacific

Game 1: Atlanta 6, at Houston 2
Game 2: at Houston 7, Atlanta 2
Game 3: at Atlanta 2, Houston 0
Game 4: at Atlanta 3, Houston 2
Game 5: Houston 9, at Atlanta 5
Game 6: Tuesday, Atlanta at Houston, 5 p.m., Fox, ESPN Radio
Game 7*: Wednesday, Atlanta at Houston, 5 p.m., Fox, ESPN Radio

*-if necessary


1913 — Notre Dame meets Army for the first time and comes away with a 35-13 win behind Gus Dorias’ 14-of-17 passing for 243 yards.

1938 — George Woolf, riding for regular jockey Red Pollard, leads Seabiscuit to a four-length victory over the heavily favored U.S. Triple Crown champion, War Admiral, in the Pimlico Special match race at Baltimore. A crowd of 40,000 spectators turn out for the winner-take-all match race with a purse of $15,000.

1959 — Montreal goaltender Jacques Plante revolutionizes his position — and the sport of hockey — by donning a facemask. Plante is struck in the face with a shot by New York Rangers forward Andy Bathgate at 3:06 of the first period. After receiving stitches to close a gash from the corner of his mouth all the way up through his nostril, Plante returns to the ice wearing a mask. The Canadiens win 3-1.

1964 — Cleveland’s Jim Brown rushes for 149 yards and becomes the first player to rush for more than 10,000 yards in a career as the Browns post a 30-17 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers. Brown with 10,135 yards had 47 games of 100-or-more yards rushing.

1966 — The NFL awards a franchise to New Orleans on All Saints Day.

1970 — Mercury Morris of the Miami Dolphins gains 302 combined yards (89 rushing, 68 receiving and 145 on kickoff returns) in a 35-0 loss to the Baltimore Colts.

1987 — Ibrahin Hussein of Kenya and Priscilla Welch of Britain win the men’s and women’s divisions of the New York Marathon, finishing the 26.2 miles in 2:11:01 and 2:30:17, respectively.

1997 — Tom Osborne reaches 250 wins faster than any coach in college football history as Nebraska beats Oklahoma 69-7, the worst loss in Sooners’ history.

2000 — Pat Riley earns his 1,000th career coaching victory as Miami posts its most lopsided win in an opener with a 105-79 rout of Orlando. Riley reaches the plateau in 1,434 games — fewer than any coach or manager in any sport.

2003 — DeCori Birmingham rushes for 196 yards and two touchdowns, including the winning score in the seventh overtime, in Arkansas’ 71-63 victory over Kentucky. The seven overtimes match the longest game in NCAA history. The Razorbacks also won that game in 2001, beating Mississippi 58-56.

2008 — Texas Tech receiver Michael Crabtree catches the winning 28-yard touchdown pass with 1 second to play, as the seventh-ranked Red Raiders beat No. 1 Texas 39-33.

2008 — Michigan’s 48-42 loss at Purdue drops the Wolverines to 2-7, ending Michigan’s string of 33 straight bowl appearances. Michigan, assured of its first losing season since 1967, also sets a school record for losses.

2008 — Stephen F. Austin quarterback Jeremy Moses sets single-game NCAA records with 57 completions and 85 pass attempts in a 34-31 double-overtime loss to Sam Houston State. Moses passes for 501 yards, four touchdowns and two interceptions, completing passes to 11 different receivers. The sophomore breaks the previous single-game attempts record of 83 set by Drew Brees at Purdue in 1998. The former record for completions was 56, set by Jarrod DeGeorgia at then-Division II Wayne State in 1996.

2009 — Meb Keflezighi, becomes the first U.S. man in 27 years to win the New York City Marathon. Keflezighi, who moved from his native Eritrea to San Diego when he was in the sixth grade, finishes with a time of 2:09:15 for a personal best.

2015 — Simone Biles picks up gold medals number nine and 10 on balance beam and floor exercise as the 2015 World Gymnastics Championships come to a close. Biles breaks the career record for most World Championships gold medals by a female gymnast.

2015 — Drew Brees passes for 505 yards and a career-high seven touchdowns, and Kai Forbath kicks a 50-yard field goal as time ran out, to give the New Orleans Saints a 52-49 victory over the New York Giants. New York’s Eli Manning connects on a career-high six touchdown passes.

Supplied by the Associated Press

And finally

The last out of every Dodgers World Series title. 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, and follow me on Twitter at @latimeshouston. To get this newsletter in your inbox, click here.