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Matthew Stafford leads Rams to 34-14 victory over Bears at SoFi Stadium

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Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford, left, celebrates his touchdown pass with wide receiver Cooper Kupp.
Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford, left, celebrates his touchdown pass with wide receiver Cooper Kupp in the first quarter Sunday.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Matthew Stafford passed for 321 yards and three touchdowns in the Rams’ 34-14 victory over the Chicago Bears at SoFi Stadium on Sunday night.

Rams open season with a 34-14 victory over Chicago Bears

Rams wide receiver Van Jefferson catches a pass.
Rams wide receiver Van Jefferson catches a pass before getting up and running into the end zone for a touchdown during the first quarter against the Bears.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

The vibe was always present, consistently the same.

It burbled beneath the surface at public offseason events. During preseason news conferences. And in quiet conversation.

Rams coach Sean McVay attempted restraint but it was obvious that he could barely contain himself.

Going into the season opener against the Chicago Bears, McVay had restlessly waited eight months to show what new quarterback Matthew Stafford could do in his offense.

On Sunday night, he waited exactly three plays to show it off.

Stafford took a snap and faked a handoff, and then rolled to his left before firing a pass to receiver Van Jefferson for a 67-yard touchdown that set the Rams on their way to a 34-14 victory before 70,445 at SoFi Stadium.

Rams linebacker Justin Hollins forces Bears quarterback Andy Dalton to fumble on fourth down during the first quarter.
Rams linebacker Justin Hollins forces Bears quarterback Andy Dalton to fumble on fourth down during the first quarter.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Four plays into the second half, Stafford did it again.

He connected with receiver Cooper Kupp for a 56-yard touchdown extended the Rams lead to 20-6. He finished the night with a short touchdown pass to Robert Woods late in the fourth quarter.

Stafford completed 20 of 26 passes for 321 yards and three touchdowns as the Rams took the first in what they aim will be a run to Super Bowl LVI at SoFi Stadium.

Last season the Tampa Bay Buccaneers became the first team to win a Super Bowl in its home stadium. Rams owner Stan Kroenke spent $5 billion to build SoFi Stadium so the Rams can do the same.

The defense, under the direction of new coordinator Raheem Morris, forced two turnovers and sacked Bears quarterback Andy Dalton three times.

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The story of the Rams 34-14 win over the Bears told in eight highlights

Here we tell the story of the Rams’ season-opening 34-14 win over the Chicago Bears in eight highlights.

An inauspicious start for the Rams included this 41-yard David Montgomery run:

But on the same drive, David Long bailed out the D with his first career pick:

In his second pass as a Ram, Matthew Stafford leaves a big first impression:

Montgomery got the Bears on the board late in the first half:

And back and forth the two teams went in the third quarter:

Before the Rams ran away late:

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Matthew Stafford finds Robert Woods for another Rams TD

Robert Woods made a fully extended two-yard touchdown catch in the back of the end zone on third and goal to help give the Rams a 34-14 lead with 3:17 remaining in the game.

Woods managed to get both feet down as he pulled down the catch, capping off a 12-play, 75-yard drive that chewed up 6:44 on the clock and obliterated the Bears’ chances of a comeback.

Matthew Stafford has completed 20 of 26 passes for 321 yards and three touchdowns.

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Darrell Henderson scores a TD to give Rams 27-14 lead late in third quarter

Darrell Henderson scored on a one-yard touchdown run with 1:19 left in the third quarter to give the Rams a 27-14 lead.

Matthew Stafford set up the touchdown with a 37-yard completion to tight end Tyler Higbee and a 17-yard completion to receiver Cooper Kupp.

Stafford has completed 17 of 22 passes for 295 yards and two touchdowns.

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Justin Fields scores touchdown to cut into the Rams’ lead

Bears rookie quarterback Justin Fields rushed for a three-yard touchdown with 4:14 left in the third quarter to make it 20-14 Rams.

Fields came on in place of Andy Dalton with about 6:30 remaining in the third quarter. He then alternated out and back in about a minute later.

Fields, a former Ohio State star, was the 11th player chosen in the 2021 draft.

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Matthew Stafford finds Cooper Kupp on 56-yard TD pass

Matthew Stafford needed three plays in the first half to pass for a long touchdown.

He took four plays to do the same to open the second half.

Stafford connected with a wide-open Cooper Kupp for a 56-yard touchdown.

Stafford has completed 12 of 16 passes for 226 yards.

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The story of the Rams’ first half in five Gary Klein tweets

Scroll down for all the details.

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Rams lead Bears 13-7 at halftime

Matthew Stafford connected with receiver Van Jefferson for a long touchdown pass and Matt Gay kicked two field goals to give the Rams a 13-0 lead, but the Bears kept it close with David Montgomery’s short touchdown run with 34 seconds left in the half.

The Rams forced two turnovers, cornerback David Long intercepting a tipped pass by linebacker Kenny Young, and Young recovering a fumble that was forced on a sack by linebacker Justin Hollins.

Stafford has completed 10 of 13 passes for 151 yards and a touchdown. The Rams have rushed for only 13 yards.

Bears running back David Montgomery has rushed for 89 yards and a touchdown in 11 carries. Quarterback Andy Dalton has completed 13 of 17 passes for 96 yards, with an interception.

Rams 13, Bears 0, Halftime

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Late David Montgomery TD cuts Rams lead to 13-7

David Montgomery—who has had a big first half (10 carries, 79 yards)—scored on a three-yard touchdown run with 34 seconds left in the first half to pull the Bears to within six points.

The Bears began a nine-play, 55-yard scoring drive after Johnny Hekker’s first punt of the season traveled 50 yards.

Bears quarterback Andy Dalton set up the touchdown with a nine-yard scramble to the three.

Rams 13, Bears 7, 38 seconds left in second quarter

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Second Matt Gay field goal gives Rams 13-0 lead

The Rams could not turn a turnover into a touchdown.

After linebacker Kenny Young recovered a fumble forced by linebacker Justin Hollins, the Rams drove from their 42-yard line to the two. During the drive, Stafford calmly completed a fourth-down pass for 13 yards.

But the Bears stopped running back Darrell Henderson for a two-yard loss and Matt Stafford had two passes fall incomplete, bringing on Matt Gay for a 22-yard field goal and a 13-0 lead.

Rams 13, Bears 0, 11:42 left in second quarter

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Rams up 10-0 at the end of one quarter, driving for more

Rams linebacker Kenny Young is having quite a game.

Early in the first quarter he tipped a pass that was intercepted in the end zone, setting up Matthew Stafford’s long touchdown pass to Van Jefferson.

Late in the quarter, outside linebacker Justin Hollins sacked Bears quarterback Andy Dalton and forced a fumble that Young recovered.

Stafford has completed six of seven passes for 114 yards.

Rams 10, Bears 0, End of first quarter

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Rams up lead to 10-0 on 53-yard Matt Gay field goal

New Rams receiver DeSean Jackson, in his 14th NFL season, has a career average of 17.4 yards per catch.

His first reception for the Rams covered 18 yards.

Jackson’s catch helped set up a 53-yard field goal by Matt Gay as the Rams continued to take command.

In two drives, Matthew Stafford has completed five of six passes for 97 yards and a touchdown.

The Rams believe veteran receiver DeSean Jackson still has the world-class speed that made him a coveted recruit out of Long Beach Poly 17 years ago.

Rams 10, Bears 0, 4:39 left in first quarter

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In second pass as a Ram, Matthew Stafford throws 67-yard TD

It took Sean McVay three plays to show off his new toy.

Quarterback Matthew Stafford faked a handoff, rolled to his left and found receiver Van Jefferson running free down the middle of the field.

Jefferson caught the pass at the 12 yard line and was not touched as he hit the turf. He got up and ran into the end zone to complete a 67-yard scoring play.

Rams 7, Bears 0, 10:48 left in first quarter

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Underway at SoFi for first regular-season game with fans

Last season, the Rams opened SoFi Stadium by hosting the Dallas Cowboys in a game that was played before no fans.

Tonight, a crowd of 70,000 is expected to watch the Rams and the Chicago Bears.

At kickoff, the concourses were packed with people moving about.

It did not start well for the Rams.

They gave up a 50-yard kickoff return, then watched Bears running back David Montgomery break off a 41-yard run.

But on third and six from the Rams’ eight-yard line, linebacker Kenny Young tipped a pass by Bears quarterback Andy Dalton, and cornerback David Long grabbed the ball for an interception.

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The list of tonight’s inactive Rams

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Rams players warming up for tonight’s season opener against the Bears

A view of the field at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood before the Rams' season opener.
A view of the field at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood before the Rams’ season opener against the Chicago Bears on Sunday.
(Gary Klein / Los Angeles Times)

It’s about an hour before kickoff, and Rams players are on the field at SoFi Stadium getting ready for the season opener against the Chicago Bears on “Sunday Night Football.”

The game marks the Rams debut of quarterback Matthew Stafford, who is expected to make them a leading contender to play in Super Bowl LVI at SoFi Stadium.

Stafford, the No. 1 pick in the 2009 draft, amassed impressive passing and comeback statistics with the Detroit Lions but has never won a playoff game. The Rams traded quarterback Jared Goff and two first-round draft picks for Stafford because coach Sean McVay believes the 33-year-old can bring Los Angeles a championship.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell sees culmination of getting football back in L.A. with a crown jewel stadium. Here’s how one memo set it in motion.

Veteran receiver DeSean Jackson, who grew up in Los Angeles and played at Long Beach Poly High, also is making his Rams debut. The 14th-year pro is regarded as one of top deep threats in NFL history, and he is expected to inject thrills into an offense that also features receivers Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp.

Darrell Henderson will start at running back. The third-year pro ascended to the top of the depth chart after Cam Akers suffered a season-ending Achilles injury on the eve of training camp. The Rams traded late in the preseason for running back Sony Michel, who has twice rushed for more than 900 yards in a season and scored a touchdown for the New England Patriots in their victory over the Rams in Super Bowl LIII.

Defensive coordinator Raheem Morris also is coaching his first game with the Rams, who ranked among the NFL’s best units last year under Brandon Staley. Morris inherited a defense led by lineman Aaron Donald, the reigning defensive player of the year, and All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey.

The Bears, under coach Matt Nagy, drafted quarterback Justin Fields with the 11th pick in April, but they will start veteran Andy Dalton. Outside linebacker Khalil Mack and safety Eddie Jackson lead a veteran defense.

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SoFi Stadium wasn’t built in a day, or 7,000; the inside story of what turned the tide

Chargers owner Dean Spanos and Rams owner Stan Kroenke bump elbows at SoFi Stadium with Inglewood Mayor James T. Butts.
Chargers owner Dean Spanos, left, and Rams owner Stan Kroenke bump elbows at SoFi Stadium with Inglewood Mayor James T. Butts nearby during ribbon-cutting ceremony on Sept. 8, 2020.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

The NFL’s meandering odyssey back to the Los Angeles market inspired enough renderings, blueprints and financial statements to paper a path from Irwindale to Inglewood.

The weightiest document of all was just two pages, a 2012 letter to all 32 teams that read as a keep-out sign to some and a how-to guide to others.

“That memo was written after 15 years of struggles, and maybe some successes, but a hell of a lot more failures,” said NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, who authored it. “We had a pretty good sense of what we wanted at that time.”

After years of fielding fantastical proposals from billionaires, politicians and other power brokers, Goodell delivered in broad strokes a simple set of absolutes — “a single site where an iconic facility could credibly host two teams and provide ancillary entertainment and development opportunities.”

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Dissed by USC. Cut by Chip Kelly. DeSean Jackson’s home and has one thing on his mind

Rams wide receiver DeSean Jackson pulls in a pass at training camp in Irvine on July 28.
Rams wide receiver DeSean Jackson pulls in a pass at training camp in Irvine on July 28. Jackson is poised to play an important role in the Rams’ offense this season.
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

The scenario has played out in DeSean Jackson’s mind more than once.

Fans are packed into SoFi Stadium. Jackson breaks from the huddle and lines up wide. At the snap, the still speedy 14th-year pro beats a defender and sprints deep down the field.

Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford lofts a ball high and far. Jackson jets under it to catch a game-winning touchdown pass.

“That’s a very familiar sight for me, man,” Jackson said of the possibility. “I’m sure it is for a lot of people too.”

The Rams made a blockbuster move by trading for Stafford, giving coach Sean McVay an experienced, savvy, strong-armed quarterback like he always wanted. Jackson is the key piece for a Rams team considered a strong contender to play in the Super Bowl at SoFi Stadium in February.

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Betting odds and lines for Rams vs. Chicago Bears on Sunday

Betting preview for the Rams vs. the Chicago Bears on Sunday night.

Chicago Bears at Rams (-7.5, 44.5)

Pick: Rams -1.5

Adam Burke: If the Rams had gotten more game reps during the preseason with newly minted quarterback Matthew Stafford, laying the 7.5-point spread would be a lot more attractive.

The Rams have a stars-and-scrubs team and the stars are all healthy right now, including defensive stalwarts like Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey. With Andy Dalton on the other side, the Rams defense, which allowed only 4.6 yards per play last season, should have a strong showing to open the season.

Offensively, Stafford is undoubtedly an upgrade to Jared Goff, and a creative offensive mind like Sean McVay should be able to do a lot more with Stafford behind center. Goff’s limitations held the Rams offense back. Stafford is familiar with the Bears and their scheme and more weapons than he has had the last few seasons in Detroit.

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Rams vs. Chicago Bears matchups: Matthew Stafford begins his fresh start

Rams starting quarterback Matthew Stafford looks to pass during training camp in Irvine on July 28.
(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

Breaking down how the Rams (10-6 last season) and the Chicago Bears (8-8) match up heading into their season-opening game at 5:20 Pacific time Sunday at SoFi Stadium. The game will be carried on NBC (Channel 4).

When Rams have the ball: After playing 12 seasons with the Detroit Lions, quarterback Matthew Stafford gets a fresh start with a Rams offense that has potential to be one of the most dynamic in the NFL. Stafford can deliver passes from all angles and is expected to be especially effective on deep throws, a factor sorely missing from Sean McVay’s offense last season.

The Rams signed veteran receiver DeSean Jackson, who has averaged 17.4 yards per catch in 13 NFL seasons, to stretch defenses for big plays and create space for receivers Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp and tight end Tyler Higbee. With running back Cam Akers sidelined for the season because of an Achilles injury, Darrell Henderson and Sony Michel give the Rams a solid running back tandem. Henderson has impressed when physically sound, but durability is a question. Michel is a proven big-game performer.

First-year Bears defensive coordinator Sean Desai deploys a veteran unit. Outside linebacker Khalil Mack is still a force, but he has not recorded 10 sacks in a season since 2018. Roquan Smith anchors a linebacker unit that includes former Rams Robert Quinn and Alec Ogletree. Safety Eddie Jackson leads the secondary.

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