Matthew Stafford throws three picks, sacked seven times in Rams’ blowout loss

Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford is sacked by Bills defensive end Greg Rousseau.
Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford is sacked by Bills defensive end Greg Rousseau during the third quarter of the Rams’ 31-10 loss Thursday at SoFi Stadium.
(Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times)

Matthew Stafford struggled to orchestrate drives and Josh Allen dominated as the Rams opened their Super Bowl-title defense with a 31-10 blowout loss to the Buffalo Bills at SoFi Stadium.

Rams hit hard by Josh Allen and Bills in season-opening loss

Matthew Stafford threw three interceptions and the Rams were unable to stop a second-half surge by Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills in a 31-10 season-opening loss at SoFi Stadium on Thursday night.

Allen completed 26 of 31 passes for 297 yards, with three touchdowns and two interceptions. Stafford was sacked seven times — his most in a Rams uniform — and completed 29 of 41 passes for 240 yards and a touchdown.

Cooper Kupp was one of the bright spots for the Rams, catching 13 passes for 128 yards and the Rams’ lone touchdown.


Matthew Stafford throws his THIRD interception of the game

Bills defensive lineman Boogie Basham deflected a pass by Matthew Stafford before catching it, ending another Rams drive in humiliating fashion and all but ending their slim hopes of a comeback.

Stafford actually made the tackle on Basham in what was probably one of his better plays of the night. Still, after a promising first half, the Rams’ second-half implosion has been a bizarre spectacle considering what transpired on the same SoFi Stadium field seven months ago.

🏈 4:30 4th — Bills 31, Rams 10


Stefon Diggs beats Jalen Ramsey on 53-yard touchdown catch

Bills wide receiver beat Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey on a 53-yard touchdown pass from Josh Allen to give Buffalo a 31-10 lead with 9:25 left in the fourth quarter.

Ramsey pulled up, probably thinking someone else would pick up Diggs on the deep route. By the time he realized Diggs was open, the speedy Bills receiver was too far over the Rams’ defense, catching Allen’s long ball as he fell into the end zone in front of Ramsey.

The Rams been held to 151 total yards, with only 41 yards on the ground so far. Unless Matthew Stafford and the Rams can pull off a miraculous comeback, they’ll be starting their title defense at 0-1.

Adding to the unfamiliar territory for the Rams: Someone with a pink smoke flare ran on the field in the middle of the fourth quarter. The gender-reveal-esque stunt delayed the game for a few minutes as security dealt with the situation.

🏈 9:21 4th — Bills, 31, Rams 10


Bills intercept pass off Cooper Kupp’s hands

Bills safety Jordan Poyer picked off a high Matthew Stafford that deflected off Cooper Kupp’s hands — the second interception thrown by the Rams quarterback tonight.

The interception came on the heels of the Rams converting on third and three for a first down coming off Josh Allen’s touchdown minutes earlier.

If Josh Allen and the Bills can piece together a clock-killing drive here, it’s going to be very difficult for Sean McVay and Co. to orchestrate a comeback. So far, the Rams have just 151 total yards.

10:19 4th — Bills 24, Rams 10


Josh Allen scores touchdown to extend Bills’ lead

Josh Allen scrambled for a four-yard touchdown run, stretching the ball over the plane of the end zone while being hit by Rams linebacker Bobby Wagner to give the Bills a 24-10 lead with 13:27 left in regulation.

The touchdown was set up on a 47-yard reception by Gabe Davis Allen evaded a full-house Rams blitz on the first play of the fourth quarter. The pass put the Bills on the Rams’ six-yard line and Allen scored three plays later.

Allen has scored a rushing and passing touchdown 21 times in his career.

Matthew Stafford and the Rams have struggled to find rhythm on offense. Stafford has been sacked six times.

🏈 13:27 4th — Bills 24, Rams 10


Bills retake lead on Isaiah McKenzie touchdown catch

Bills quarterback Josh Allen found wide receiver Isaiah McKenzie on a seven-yard touchdown pass to push Buffalo into a 17-10 lead in the third quarter.

Allen seems to be willing to run the ball more in the second half. He ran for a first down during the eight-play 58-yard drive, unleashing a big stiff-arm upon Rams safety Nick Scott on one of them.

The Rams went nowhere on the opening possession of the second half, with Matthew Stafford sacked on a fumbled snap on third down. Stafford has been sacked six times, including twice by former Rams linebacker Von Miller. It’s the most sacks he’s taken in a game with the Rams.

Allen has completed 20 of 23 passes for 175 yards, with two touchdowns and two interceptions.

Will the Rams respond?

🏈 7:59 3rd — Bills 17, Rams 10


Rams field goal makes it a tie game at halftime

Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford hands off to running back Darrell Henderson.
Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford hands off to running back Darrell Henderson during the first half Thursday.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

Matt Gay kicked a 56-yard field goal as time expired to tie the game 10-10 at halftime.

Matthew Stafford was sacked on the Rams’ final possession, more or less killing the Rams’ chances for a touchdown before halftime. He has been sacked three times for 27 yards so far.

Troy Hill picked off Josh Allen at midfield for the Bills’ third turnover. Stafford picked up a couple first downs before a sack by Jordan Phillips for a nine-yard loss prevented the Rams from going much further.

Stafford has completed 13 of 17 passes for 95 yards, with a touchdown and interception. Allen is 17 of 20 for 153 yards, with a touchdown and two interceptions.

Darrell Henderson leads all rushers with seven carries for 33 yards and Cooper Kupp has caught eight passes for 56 yards and a touchdown.


Troy Hill interception stops Josh Allen in his tracks

Troy Hill, in his return for the Rams, picks off Bills quarterback Josh Allen at midfield to give the Rams the ball at the Buffalo 38 — the third turnover of the game for the Bills.

The Rams traded a 2023 fifth-round pick to the Cleveland Browns for Hill, who played a pivotal role for the Rams before signing a two-year contract with the Browns in March 2021.

1:45 2nd — Bills 10, Rams 7


Matthew Stafford finds Cooper Kupp for Rams’ first TD of season

Cooper Kupp made an amazing touchdown catch, getting his feet down in the back of the end zone on a perfectly placed pass by Matthew Stafford for the Rams’ first score of the season.

The touchdown capped an 11-play, 60-yard drive that was kept alive when Kupp converted on fourth down and two when teammates pushed him to the first down after a short catch. Darrell Henderson followed with an 18-yard run to put the ball into the red zone, setting up Kupp’s four-yard TD catch.

Last season, Kupp was the first player since 2005 to lead the NFL in receptions, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns. He finished with 145 receptions, 1,947 receiving yards and 16 receiving touchdowns.

🏈 2nd 3:00 — Bills 10, Rams 7


Bills extend lead in the second quarter on field goal

Tyler Bass kicked a 41-yard field goal to give the Buffalo Bills a 10-0 lead.

The field goal came after Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford threw his first interception of the season, giving the Bills the ball for a fourth time. Josh Allen then marched Buffalo 45 yards to the Rams’ 23 to set up the kick.

How will Stafford and the Rams respond? Allen already has completed 16 of 18 passes for 143 yards. Stafford stands at 6 for 8 for 62 yards.

🏈 8:48 2nd — Bills 10, Rams 0


Turnovers galore in Bills vs. Rams at SoFi Stadium

It appears a Super Bowl title hasn’t made Matthew Stafford immune from interceptions.

Stafford, who struggled with interceptions last season, was picked off by Buffalo cornerback Dan Jackson at the Bills’ 32 early in the second quarter, snuffing out a prime scoring chance set up by a Rams fumble recovery two plays earlier.

Leonard Floyd recovered a fumble by Buffalo Bills running back James Cook to get the ball on the Buffalo 36. Nick Scott made the initial hit to loosen the ball as Cook fell.

Josh Allen and the Bills take over at their own 32.

🏈 12:55 2nd — Bills 7, Rams 0


Rams pick off Josh Allen on Bills’ second drive

Josh Allen had completed his first 10 passes before a bobble by Bills receiver Isaiah McKenzie allowed Rams linebacker Terrell Lewis to intercept Allen’s 11 pass. McKenzie mostly had the ball, but didn’t secure it completely, allowing Lewis to pull it away for the pick of 2022.

The interception ended what was looking like another good drive for Buffalo, that went 62 yards before Lewis’ interception.

However, the Rams went three-and-out on the ensuing possession. Allen and Bills will start their third possession from the Bills’ 32.

🏈 End of first quarter — Bills 7, Rams 0


Von Miller sacks Matthew Stafford in his return to SoFi Stadium

The first drive of the season for the Rams fizzled at midfield after former Rams linebacker Von Miller registered his first sack of the season on Matthew Stafford.

Prior to the sack, the Rams were driving, with Stafford connecting on a 23-yard pass to Cooper Kupp.

While things didn’t go the Rams’ way on their first possession of 2022, Stafford at least hit a notable career milestone, becoming the 12th quarterback in NFL history to pass for 50,000 yards.

🏈 5:06 1st — Bills 7, Rams 0


Bills breeze through Rams defense for quick TD

Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills certainly aren’t star struck playing the Super Bowl-winning Rams in L.A.

Allen completed all five of his passes for 58 yards, with the opening drive culminating with a a 26-yard touchdown pass to a wide open Gabe Davis. The Rams certainly look like a team whose starters didn’t play a snap in the preseason.

There’s also a sizable contingent of Bills fans at SoFi Stadium. It’s not quite 49ers levels, but it’s definitely noticable.

🏈 9:56 1st quarter — Bills 7, Rams 0


Rams unveil their championship banner; The Rock kicks things off

The Rams' 2021 Super Bowl championship banner is unveiled before Thursday's season opener.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

The Rams unveiled their championship banner recognizing their Super Bowl LVI victory over the Cincinnati Bengals last season.

And the Rams won the coin toss!

Which prompted Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson to go all Michael Buffer on us with his signature kickoff phrase: “Get out of your seats. Stomp your feet. It is time to RAM-peat!”


Worry-free Matthew Stafford out to prove elbow won’t be an issue: ‘I feel great’

Matthew Stafford speaks during the Rams' Super Bowl title celebration in front of the Coliseum in February.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

After more than a month of answering questions about tendinitis in his right elbow, Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford is looking forward to showing he’s fit when the Rams play the Buffalo Bills in the season opener Thursday night at SoFi Stadium.

Stafford, 34, is entering his 14th NFL season.

“I feel great — I’m ready to go play,” Stafford said Sunday when asked about his elbow. “Can always be better. Can always try to feel like I’m 21 again. I’ll keep trying.”

Stafford and receiver Cooper Kupp remain the centerpieces of the offense for the defending Super Bowl champions.

Yet there have been changes to a unit that last season ranked tied for seventh in the NFL in scoring (27.1 points per game), ninth in offense (372.1 yards per game), fifth in passing (273.1 ypg) and 25th in rushing (99 ypg).

Coach Sean McVay is still the play-caller, but with Kevin O’Connell leaving to become coach of the Minnesota Vikings, Liam Coen rejoined the staff as offensive coordinator after a season at Kentucky. Receiver Allen Robinson ostensibly replaces Robert Woods, who was traded to the Tennessee Titans. Joe Noteboom replaces retired left tackle Andrew Whitworth, and Coleman Shelton replaces right guard Austin Corbett, who signed with the Carolina Panthers.

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Russell Wilson, Baker Mayfield seek success with new teams. It worked for Matthew Stafford

Carolina's Baker Mayfield (6) and Denver's Russell Wilson will open the NFL season against their former teams.
(Photo illustration by Los Angeles Times / Photos by Associated Press )

Russell Wilson arrived in Denver under the cover of darkness, the central figure in the biggest and most secretive trade of the NFL offseason. He now arrives at Denver Broncos headquarters in literal darkness, pulling into his dedicated parking spot between 4:30 and 5 a.m. each morning to work on his transformation of the franchise.

Not since Peyton Manning retired after the 2015 season have the Broncos had this type of team leader, a quarterback with the clout of not just a player but almost a coach and executive.

When the Broncos go from one drill to another, for instance, it’s not uncommon for Wilson to pull aside a receiver and have him run a route again in a more precise way. That’s Manning stuff.

Ask the L.A. Times’ football team your questions about Los Angeles’ local teams and we will try to answer them.

Aug. 14, 2022

“He’s obsessed,” Broncos general manager George Paton said of Wilson. “That’s the best word I can think of.”

Wilson made it a routine during training camp to get all the skill position players together at sunrise and walk through the day’s play script. He has taken ownership of the offense.

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Super Bowl title in rearview mirror, Rams begin drive to repeat with receiver question

SoFi Stadium in the final moments before the Rams' Super Bowl LVI victory over the Cincinnati Bengals on Feb. 13.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

A banner commemorating the Rams’ Super Bowl LVI championship will be unveiled at Thursday night’s season opener against the Buffalo Bills — not that coach Sean McVay is getting too excited about it.

“It’s great to unveil a banner,” McVay said Friday, “We’ve moved on.”

McVay is clearly focused on the game against the Bills, one of the favorites to emerge from the AFC for Super Bowl LVII at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Ariz.

The Rams are attempting to become the first team since the 2004 season to repeat as Super Bowl champion. So, McVay is not spending time reflecting on last season, when the Rams completed an all-in, boom-or-bust season with a Super Bowl victory over the Cincinnati Bengals in owner Stan Kroenke’s gleaming, new stadium.

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Tonight’s inactives for Rams and Bills

Here the players on the Rams and Bills who won’t be suiting up for Thursday’s NFL kickoff game at SoFi Stadium:


Isn’t he great? Even with a ring, Matthew Stafford hasn’t earned super respect

Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford watches from the sideline before a preseason game in August.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

The last time most in Los Angeles saw Matthew Stafford with his teammates, he appeared drunk.

The last time most in Los Angeles heard from Matthew Stafford, he was talking about his sore arm.

The last time most in Los Angeles checked out Matthew Stafford’s name in a quarterback poll, he was ranked in the second tier.

The next time Los Angeles will cheer for Matthew Stafford, on Thursday night at SoFi Stadium, he will be throwing meaningful passes for the first time in seven months against the Super Bowl-favored Buffalo Bills.

The boozy speech at a post-Super Bowl celebration probably will be mentioned during the television broadcast. The elbow tendinitis will be dissected. The odd rankings will be scrutinized. The heat again will be on the Rams’ most important star to prove his greatness.

Ask the L.A. Times’ football team your questions about Los Angeles’ local teams and we will try to answer them.

Aug. 14, 2022

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What rules would you change? NFL legends, experts voice their opinions

Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen carries the ball against the Kansas City Chiefs.
Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen carries the ball against the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC divisional playoffs in January.
(Ed Zurga / Associated Press)

As great a game as football is, there are always ways to improve it.

For instance, Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh has floated the idea of tweaking overtime so that instead of beginning the extra period with a coin toss, the fourth quarter simply rolls into overtime. So if a team has a third and four at midfield as the clock expires with the score tied, that team simply continues with the same down, distance and field position in overtime.

It’s an interesting concept — overtime has been the subject of much scrutiny in recent years — although a formal proposal of that surely would get a lot of pushback. For instance, some people would argue that would bleed the two-minute drama from games. Why would a team take risks to win at the end of regulation if it knew it could just play out the clock and keep going?

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Ultimate SoCal NFL sports bar guide: Find out where to watch your team

Use our football sports guide to find a bar showing your NFL team every game day.
(Hamlet Nalbandyan / Los Angeles Times)

It’s easy to find Rams, Chargers and even Raiders fans in Southern California, but where can Packers, Cowboys, Patriots or Dolphins fans go to watch games in the Los Angeles area with other fans who share their passion?

Look no further than the Los Angeles Times’ ultimate SoCal NFL sports bar guide.

If you’re a fan of one of 31 out of the 32 NFL teams in the league (sorry Bucs fans, we couldn’t find a bar for you at the moment), then use this guide to find your tribe. You don’t need to be the only fan cheering when the Vikings score a touchdown or walk into a bar wearing a Jets jersey and see only others decked out in Giants gear. Cheer with fellow Chiefs and jeer with fellow Eagles.

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NFC predictions: How each team will finish in its division this season

Rams coach Sean McVay watches from the sideline during a preseason game against the Houston Texans on Aug. 19.
(Ashley Landis / Associated Press)

The Rams coach is 5-0 to start seasons, a record as pristine as his haircut. Sean McVay opened the last five seasons with wins over Indianapolis, Oakland, Carolina, Dallas and Chicago, averaging 32.6 points in those victories.

The stiffest challenge comes Thursday night in the “Kickoff Opener” when the Rams play host to Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills, the first time the NFL has lifted the curtain on the season in Los Angeles.

McVay, whose team is defending its Super Bowl title, has the NFC’s longest winning streak in openers, but the longest overall streak belongs to Kansas City’s Andy Reid, whose teams have won seven consecutive openers. The Chiefs begin the season at Arizona.

New England’s Bill Belichick has the most season-opening victories among active coaches, although the Patriots’ 18-9 record in those is not reflective of their enormous overall success.

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What’s new in the NFL? Plenty of coaching newbies and imminent player milestones

Photo illustration of NFL players and personalities.
(Photos by The Associated Press; Photo Illustration by Tim Hubbard)

Matt LaFleur is the dean of NFC North coaches.

Seasons under his belt as the top man with the Green Bay Packers: Three.

Such is the nature of the NFL, where the revolving door of coaches spins at dizzying speed.

Nearly a third of the league’s 32 teams switched head coaches this offseason with 10 clubs making a change. The only divisions that remained the same in that regard were the AFC North and NFC West.

There were two head-coaching changes in LaFleur’s division, with both Minnesota and Chicago opting for first-timers. The Vikings hired former Rams offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell, and the Bears went with a specialist from the other side of the ball, Matt Eberflus, former Indianapolis defensive coordinator.

Ask the L.A. Times’ football team your questions about Los Angeles’ local teams and we will try to answer them.

Aug. 14, 2022

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Inside the Bobby Wagner text message the Rams thought was a hoax

Bobby Wagner signs autographs for fans at practice.
Even though Bobby Wagner used to play for NFC West rival Seattle, the Rams’ fans are happy to have the linebacker on their side.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

Les Snead thought it might be a hoax.

The text message that pinged his phone in March piqued the Rams general manager’s curiosity. But was it legit?

The sender claimed to be Bobby Wagner. A six-time All-Pro linebacker recently released by the Seattle Seahawks, Wagner told Snead that he was representing himself as his own agent in his search of a new team. If Snead was interested, here was his contact information.

“I think he signed off as Bwagz,” Snead said, “and I’m like, ‘OK, is this real?’ ”

Snead was not alone. Wagner sent the message to general managers and executives throughout the NFL.

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Rams vs. Buffalo Bills matchups, start time and how to watch

Buffalo Bills quarterback Josh Allen passes during a preseason game last month.
(Jeffrey T. Barnes / Associated Press)

Breaking down how the Rams and the Buffalo Bills match up heading into their game at 5:20 PST on Thursday at SoFi Stadium. The game will be shown on NBC.

When Rams have the ball: Quarterback Matthew Stafford has been nursing tendinitis in his right elbow but appears to be at full strength. Last season, he passed for 41 touchdowns, with 17 interceptions. Stafford will be passing to a reconfigured receiver corps. Cooper Kupp led the NFL in catches, yards receiving and touchdown catches last season, and was the Super Bowl MVP. New addition Allen Robinson is regarded as one of the best at contested catches. Van Jefferson is out as he recovers from knee surgery, so second-year pros Ben Skowronek and Tutu Atwell will get opportunities along with perhaps Brandon Powell. Cam Akers and Darrell Henderson are the top running backs, but rookie Kyren Williams also could have a role. The offensive line features two new starters — left tackle Joe Noteboom and right guard Coleman Shelton, both of whom played extensive snaps in 2021. Outside linebacker Von Miller left the Rams to sign with the Bills, joining a defense that features linebackers Tremaine Edmunds and Matt Milano. Cornerback Tre’Davious White is sidelined as he recovers from a 2021 knee injury. Safeties Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde each intercepted five passes last season.

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Defending champion Rams not easing into new season with much-heralded Bills in opener

Rams coach Sean McVay speaks with quarterback Matthew Stafford during training camp at UC Irvine in July.
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

No NFL team had a shorter offseason than the Rams, something of a double-edged reward for winning the Super Bowl.

They added two key players to a revamped roster, and then spent spring workouts and training camp navigating through their star quarterback’s sore right elbow. A brawl during a joint practice with the Cincinnati Bengals put an exclamation point on the preseason.

Now the run-up is over.

On Thursday night, the Rams will try to begin fulfilling their proclamation to “Run it Back” for a second consecutive title when they play the Buffalo Bills in the season opener at SoFi Stadium.

“Sometimes if feels like it’s been an eternity,” Rams coach Sean McVay said of turnaround between seasons, “and sometimes it feels like it’s gone in a blink of an eye.

“But here we are.”

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Rams vs. Buffalo Bills: Betting odds, lines, picks and predictions

Expectations are high in Los Angeles as the reigning Super Bowl champion Rams are +1200 at DraftKings Sportsbook, one the six shortest prices on the odds board.

The Rams have a tough Week 1 game, hosting the Buffalo Bills as a home underdog on banner night in the NFL Kickoff game on Thursday.

This year’s Super Bowl favorite has taken some noteworthy bets to move from +1 to -2.5 in the standalone Thursday night matchup. These are two of the best rosters in the NFL, but many feel like what we saw from Josh Allen in the playoffs was a sign of things to come. He posted a 9/0 TD/INT ratio and also had 134 rushing yards on 17 attempts in the two playoff games.

Ask the L.A. Times’ football team your questions about Los Angeles’ local teams and we will try to answer them.

Aug. 14, 2022

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