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The Sports Report: Rams hold on to defeat the Falcons

Rams running back Cam Akers runs past Falcon linebacker Mykal Walker in the first half.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)
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Howdy, I’m your host, Houston Mitchell. Let’s get right to the news.

From Gary Klein: The Rams waited 10 days to respond, a seeming eternity for a defending Super Bowl champion embarrassed in its season opener.

Coach Sean McVay and his players were eager to show that signs of a Super Bowl hangover were vastly overstated. They looked forward to demonstrating they could punch back.

And as it turned out Sunday, they also needed to survive nearly blowing a 21-point, fourth-quarter lead against the Atlanta Falcons.

All-Pro safety Jalen Ramsey all but ensured the win with a late interception in the end zone, and the Rams came out on top of a wild finish for a 31-27 victory at SoFi Stadium.

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“Holy hell,” McVay said. “I need a couple drinks.”

McVay probably wasn’t the only one.

On Sunday, the Rams initially came out and looked like a Super Bowl contender. A diversified offense that included receiver Ben Skowronek lined up in the backfield and receiver Allen Robinson getting targets moved the ball and scored points. The defense came up with big plays and shut down the Falcons.

Then it all started to unravel.

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Elliott: Rams might have lost edge against Falcons, but don’t underestimate winning progress

Photos | Rams survive late scare to defeat Atlanta Falcons

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CHARGERS

From Jeff Miller: With Justin Herbert dealing with fractured rib cartilage, the quarterback he replaced is suing one of the Chargers’ team doctors for medical malpractice over treatment of a similar injury.

Tyrod Taylor was ruled out of the Chargers’ Week 2 game in 2020 minutes before kickoff after an injection meant to help him manage pain for two fractured ribs resulted in a punctured lung.

Herbert, then a rookie, filled in against Kansas City that Sunday afternoon at SoFi Stadium and has remained the Chargers’ starter since.

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Taylor is suing David Gazzaniga, who remains one of the Chargers’ four team doctors, for at least $5 million. Taylor now plays for the New York Giants.

USC FOOTBALL

From Dylan Hernández: Caleb Williams ran more times than he did in either of his two previous games, the development eliciting a curious question Saturday during USC’s postgame news conference.

Was using his legs a point of emphasis as the Trojans prepared for the game?

“For sure, it wasn’t a point of emphasis,” Williams said, flashing a smile as he glanced over at coach Lincoln Riley.

He ran because he had to.

Williams’ season-high 12 rushing attempts in the 45-17 victory over Fresno State included three sacks. Some of the others were on plays in which the quarterback was chased out of the pocket.

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College football review: How Lincoln Riley’s hot USC start affects Nebraska, Urban Meyer

AP Top 25: Washington moves in; USC holds at No. 7

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UCLA FOOTBALL

From Ben Bolch: It was a win riddled with angst, a great UCLA football alumnus questioning the team’s no-show fans and its ragged play while Twitter trolls took aim at a video of the Bruins wildly celebrating their one-point victory over a team from the Sun Belt Conference.

Troy Aikman and the mostly anonymous knights of the keyboard might want to exhale.

Yes, it was ugly. Yes, there’s a lengthy list of issues to resolve. Yes, some people are adjusting their projected win-loss totals for this team.

But maybe Chip Kelly once said it best: You are what your record says you are.

UCLA is 3-0 for the first time since 2015 after its 32-31 victory over South Alabama on Saturday at the Rose Bowl that came courtesy of Nicholas Barr-Mira’s 24-yard field goal as time expired. The Bruins will be heavily favored to notch another victory next weekend in their Pac-12 Conference opener given that Colorado (0-3) has been outscored 128-30 and appears destined to set all sorts of records for futility.

DODGERS

From Jack Harris: David Price hasn’t decided if he will retire at the end of the season.

At least not yet officially.

After a report from USA Today on Sunday morning said the Dodgers veteran was planning to retire at the end of the season, Price clarified with reporters that he has yet to make a final decision and that he first wants to focus on finishing the year.

It echoed what Price had told The Times during a Saturday afternoon interview at Oracle Park.

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“Just want to see how this year unfolds,” the left-handed pitcher said, “and see what happens in October.”

ANGELS

From Sarah Valenzuela: Anthony Rendon had a goal in mind after he decided to get the surgery to repair the partially dislocated ECU tendon in his right wrist.

“I was gonna push myself to try to come back as soon as possible,” Rendon said during the Angels’ penultimate homestand against the Seattle Mariners. “Whether we’re in the hunt, whether we weren’t in the hunt.

“I think that’s still a possibility.”

A return this season, which has 16 games remaining after Sunday’s 5-1 win over the Mariners, is not certain. Rendon had surgery to repair the tendon in June, which had an estimated recovery time of four to six months. If he does get activated from the injured list, he’ll have his five-game suspension — from the Angels-Mariners brawl — to serve first.

WNBA

Chelsea Gray scored 20 points to lead the Las Vegas Aces to their first WNBA title in a 78-71 road win over the Connecticut Sun in Game 4 on Sunday.

Gray went 9 of 13 from the floor, and was named MVP after averaging 18 points over the run. The Aces improved to 4-0 in this year’s playoffs with two days’ rest.

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Riquna Williams added 17 points, Kelsey Plum added 16 points, Jackie Young had 13 and league MVP A’ja Wilson added 11 points to go with 14 rebounds for the Aces.

THIS DATE IN SPORTS

1925 — Bill Tilden wins his sixth straight U.S. Open tennis championship with a five-set victory over Bill Johnston. Tilden wins 4-6, 11-9, 6-3, 4-6, 6-3. It’s the fourth consecutive year that Tilden beats Johnston in the final.

1942 — Alsab, runner-up in the 1942 Kentucky Derby, beats 3-10 favorite Whirlaway, the 1941 Triple Crown champion, by a nose in a $25,000 match race at Narragansett Park. Alsab and Whirlaway meet twice more in 1942, with Whirlaway winning the Jockey Club Gold Cup on Oct.3, and Alsab taking the New York Handicap on Oct. 10.

1948 — Pancho Gonzales, 20, wins the U.S. Lawn Tennis Association title with a 6-2, 6-3, 14-12 victory over Eric Sturgess.

1951 — Ford C. Frick, president of the National League, is elected baseball commissioner by the team owners.

1985 — Minnesota’s Tommy Kramer passes for 436 yards and three touchdowns in the Vikings’ 33-24 loss to the Chicago Bears.

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1988 — U.S. Olympic diver Greg Louganis hits his head on diving board at the Seoul Olympics. Louganis hits the board on his ninth dive. He has four temporary stitches put in the top of his head so that he could come back and perform his last two dives. Less than 30 minutes later, he completes a reverse 1 1/2 somersault with 3 1/2 twists and, in the final round, a reverse 3 1/2 somersault in tuck position to secure his place in the medal round.

1992 — Sergei Bubka raises the world record in the pole vault, his 32nd world record, clearing 20 feet, 1½ inches in the Toto International at Tokyo.

1993 — Nigel Mansell overpowers the field in the Bosch Spark Plug Grand Prix to become the first rookie to win the Indy car PPG Cup championship.

2000 — In the Sydney Olympics, the U.S. softball team strands a staggering 20 baserunners in an 11-inning, 2-1 loss to Japan, which ends a 112-game winning streak. It’s the first loss for the Americans since the 1998 world championships.

2001 — Roger Clemens becomes the first pitcher in major league history to go 20-1, pitching the New York Yankees to a 6-3 victory over the Chicago White Sox.

2004 — Jerry Rice’s run of 274 straight games with a catch is ended in the Oakland Raiders’ 13-10 victory over the Buffalo Bills. The last time Rice didn’t catch a pass was Dec. 1, 1985, at Washington.

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2008 — Greg Maddox pitches his 5,000th career inning against the San Francisco Giants.

2009 — Texas College of the NAIA is trounced 75-6 by Texas Southern, a week after losing 92-0 to Stephen F. Austin. The Steers fall to 0-4 and have been outscored 300-12.

2010 — Matt Schaub is 38 of 52 for a franchise-record 497 yards with three touchdowns in Houston’s 30-27 overtime win over Washington. Donovan McNabb of the Redskins is 28 of 38 for 426 yards. It’s the first time two quarterbacks throw for 400 yards in an NFL game since 1994.

2015 — Greyson Lambert of Georgia throws for 330 yards, three touchdowns and sets an NCAA record by completing all but one of his 25 passes to lead the to a 52-20 victory over South Carolina. Lambert posts the highest percentage (96.0) in FBS history for a minimum of 20 completions, breaking the mark of 95.8 (23 of 24) shared by Tennessee’s Tee Martin and West Virginia’s Geno Smith.

2015 — Baker Mayfield of Oklahoma, sets a school record with 572 total yards, throws four TD passes and runs for two more scores in the Sooners’ 52-38 victory over Tulsa.

2017 — A new MLB record for the most home runs in a season as number 5,694 is hit by Alex Gordon of the Kansas City Royals.

Compiled by the Associated Press

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And finally

Greg Louganis hits head on diving board, goes on to win gold medal. 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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