Rams get a much-needed morale boost with win over Panthers heading into off week
The defending Super Bowl-champion Rams do not have a winning record.
Their quarterback continues to commit turnovers that opponents turn into instant touchdowns.
And a young running back once counted on to be a pillar of their future could be on the way out.
But heading into next week’s open date, the Rams claim that they could not be happier.
Matthew Stafford and Rams overcome slow start to defeat Panthers
🏈 Rams 24, Panthers 10 — FINAL
The schedule showed a bit of mercy this week to a Rams team aching for a morale boost, and they took advantage of it Sunday with a victory over the struggling Carolina Panthers at SoFi Stadium.
Facing a Panthers team in turmoil after the firing of head coach Matt Rhule last week, Matthew Stafford and the Rams finally found the end zone more than once and showed some flashes of the daunted offense that propelled it to a Super Bowl title last season.
It took a while for the Rams to find their stride, with Stafford throwing a costly pick-six in the second quarter that allowed the Panthers to lead at halftime.
The first half was certainly reminiscent of the dooming and frustrating efforts that plagued the Rams in recent losses against the San Francisco 49ers and Dallas Cowboys. But consecutive scoring drives in third and fourth quarters coupled with Nick Scott’s end-zone interception in the closing minutes sealed the Rams’ return .500.
Stafford completed 26 of 33 passes for 253 yards and one touchdown. Cooper Kupp caught seven passes for 80 yards and Allen Robinson made five catches for 63 yards.
Christian McCaffrey had 69 yards on 13 carries for Carolina, with quarterback PJ Walker completing 10 of 16 passes for 60 yards.
Despite the win, injuries continued to take a toll on the Rams’ offensive line. Left tackle Joe Noteboom was carted off with an ankle injury, which Rams coach Sean McVay said might be an Achilles’ tendon injury.
The Rams head into the bye week looking to refresh after a challenging first phase of the season for the defending Super Bowl champions. They’ll play host to the San Francisco 49ers — and their well-traveled fans — at SoFi Stadium on Oct. 30.
Darrell Henderson TD gives the Rams a two-touchdown lead
🏈 Rams 24, Panthers 10 — 8:15 left
Darrell Henderson ran for a two-yard touchdown to put the Rams in control.
Henderson’s run capped a 10-play, 61-yard drive.
Matthew Stafford completed six of seven passes during the drive, including a 16-yard catch-and-run by Brandon Powell that moved the ball to the four-yard line.
Henderson has rushed for 34 yards in 10 carries.
Allen Robinson has five catches for 63 yards.
Ben Skowronek TD pushes Rams back into the lead
🏈 Rams 17, Panthers 10 — 11 seconds left in the third quarter
Receiver Ben Skowronek scored his first NFL touchdown on a 17-yard run as the Rams’ offense finally started clicking.
Skowronek, a seventh-round draft pick in 2021, caught an eight-yard pass from Matthew Stafford to start the drive before Cooper Kupp rushed for 13 yards and then caught a 20-yard pass.
Allen Robinson’s 22-yard reception moved the ball to the 17, setting up Skowronek’s touchdown on a jet sweep.
Stafford has completed 19 of 25 passes for 196 yards and a touchdown, with an interception.
Touchdowns continue to be elusive for Matthew Stafford and Rams
🏈 Rams 10, Panthers 10 — 4:37 left in the third quarter
The Rams have struggled to score touchdowns from inside the 20-yard line all season.
It happened again.
Matthew Stafford completed passes to Cooper Kupp, Ben Skowronek and Allen Robinson during a long drive to the Panthers’ 5-yard line. But the drive stalled when Malcolm Brown was stopped for a two-yard loss and two passes by Stafford fell incomplete.
Matt Gay’s 21-yard field goal tied the score.
Stafford has completed 18 of 22 passes for 141 yards and a touchdown, with an interception that was returned for a touchdown.
Donte Jackson scores on pick-six to give Panthers a 10-7 lead
🏈 Panthers 10, Rams 7 — 1:58 left in the first half
Matthew Stafford’s turnover troubles continue.
Panthers cornerback Donte Jackson intercepted a pass by Stafford that was intended for Cooper Kupp and returned it 30 yards for a touchdown.
Stafford went into the game with seven interceptions, tied for the league worst.
Allen Robinson touchdown catch puts Rams into the lead
🏈 Rams 7, Panthers 3 — 3:34 left in second quarter
Matthew Stafford tossed a five-yard touchdown pass to receiver Allen Robinson to put the Rams in the lead.
Running back Darrell Henderson keyed a 13-play, 73-yard drive with two clutch plays on third down.
On third and 15, Henderson rushed for 16 yards to the Panthers’ 15-yard line. On third and seven from the 12, he caught a pass and gained seven yards, setting up the touchdown.
Cooper Kupp gained 22 yards on a catch and run earlier in the drive.
Kupp has four catches for 43 yards. Robinson has two catches for 18 yards.
Stafford has completed eight of 11 passes for 70 yards.
Christian McCaffrey carries Panthers to opening-drive field goal
🏈 Panthers 3, Rams 0 — 8:32 left in the first quarter
It’s the Christian McCaffrey show.
McCaffrey, the Panthers’ star running back, rushed four times for 27 yards and caught three passes for 31 yards during a 12-play drive that ended with Eddy Pineiro’s 42-yard field goal.
In the aftermath of the firing of coach Matt Rhule, the Panthers could be headed toward a rebuild, with McCaffrey possibly tradeable.
The Rams, with a league-worst rushing attack, will be watching. And probably making inquiries.
Rams look to put their struggles behind them against the Panthers
As if coach Sean McVay did not have enough problems.
And now there is internal turmoil.
Running back Cam Akers won’t play Sunday against the Carolina Panthers because of what McVay has described as an “internal” issue. McVay did not provide a hearty endorsement when asked if he expected Akers to remain on the roster.
Next week’s open date — during which McVay, general manager Les Snead and their staffs will reassess everything — cannot come soon enough.
Is Rams’ Cam Akers on way out? Sean McVay says back won’t practice or play Sunday
The third-year running back did not practice Friday and coach Sean McVay said Akers will be out of Sunday’s game against the Carolina Panthers at SoFi Stadium.
Akers was absent from practice Thursday for what was listed as personal reasons.
“We’re just working through some different stuff,” McVay said Friday, declining several times to elaborate.
Asked if he expected Akers to be part of the team moving forward, McVay said, “We’re working through different things right now.”
Odell Beckham blasts the Rams for a ‘lowest of the lows’ contract offer
They keep a locker with his name on it and they have made numerous public comments about him since training camp.
But the defending Super Bowl champion Rams’ pursuit of Beckham apparently has not been as smooth as one of the routes run by the three-time Pro Bowl player, who is recovering from knee surgery and is not expected to be ready to play until perhaps late this season.
Are Panthers, with a new coach and quarterback, a remedy for shaky Rams?
They look like the perfect opponent for a struggling Rams team attempting to avoid a complete collapse.
On Monday, the Carolina Panthers fired coach Matt Rhule and defensive coordinator Phil Snow. Starting quarterback Baker Mayfield is almost certainly out because of a high-ankle sprain and backup Sam Darnold is on injured reserve, so interim coach Steve Wilks probably will start P.J. Walker on Sunday against the Rams at SoFi Stadium.
But Rams coach Sean McVay has his own troubled team to worry about.
A 22-10 defeat to the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday dropped the Rams to 2-3, the first time under McVay that they have had a losing record this late in the season.
Rams vs. Carolina Panthers: Betting odds, lines and picks against the spread
In last week’s forecast, I wrote about how one Los Angeles team looked poised for an upswing and the other did not. As it turned out, the Chargers did win on the road against the Browns to improve to 3-2 and the Rams had another disappointing, and downright pathetic, offensive effort against the Cowboys to fall to 2-3.
Fortunately for the Rams, a team more broken and battered than they are comes to SoFi Stadium on Sunday in the Carolina Panthers, while the Chargers wait a day for an intriguing Monday Night Football game against the Denver Broncos.
Carolina Panthers at Los Angeles Rams (-10, 42)
Curious to know how the betting market feels about the difference between Baker Mayfield and P.J. Walker? Based on the spread movement so far, there is no discernible difference between the two. In fact, Walker may even be preferred to Mayfield as the +10.5 and +11 lines that were available early in the week are almost all +10 at this point.
Rams vs. Carolina Panthers matchups, start time, how to watch and prediction
Breaking down how the Rams (2-3) and the Carolina Panthers (1-4) match up heading into their game at 1:05 p.m. PDT on Sunday at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood. The game will be shown on Fox (Ch. 11) and streamed on NFL+.
When Rams have the ball: After scoring only one touchdown in the last nine quarters, the Rams are searching for a breakthrough performance. Quarterback Matthew Stafford was sacked 12 times in the last two games, including five in Sunday’s 22-10 loss to the Dallas Cowboys.
Stafford had a pass intercepted and also lost two fumbles, one that was returned for a touchdown. Stafford has passed for five touchdowns and is tied for the NFL lead with seven interceptions. Cooper Kupp leads the NFL with 49 catches, but he is nursing a foot injury.