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Rams

Lamar Jackson and Ravens embarrass Rams and deal their playoff hopes a crippling blow

Fans booed as the Rams left the field at halftime. They booed after their first possession of the second half.

What remained of a crowd of 72,409 just didn’t seem to have the energy to do it again when the game, mercifully, ended.

The public address announcer might have tried to fire up the Rams faithful with a “Whose house? Rams house” cheer, but on Monday night, Baltimore Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson owned the Coliseum and embarrassed the Rams.

The second-year pro was every bit as good as a front-runner for the NFL most-valuable-player award should be in sending the Rams to a 45-6 defeat on “Monday Night Football.”

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“Definitely as good as advertised,” Rams edge rusher Dante Fowler said. “Long night.”

Jackson passed for five touchdowns and once again put the Rams teetering on the brink of falling out of playoff contention less than a full season after playing in the Super Bowl.

“You can’t run away from the problems that we did have,” coach Sean McVay said, “but allowing it to set ourselves back is what this team will not do.”

The Rams, who fell to 6-5, probably have to win their remaining five games — and get some help from other teams — to make a third consecutive postseason appearance.

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That seems about as likely as it would have been for former Rams cornerback Marcus Peters to not celebrate after his fourth-quarter interception.

The Rams play the improved Arizona Cardinals on Sunday on the road. The Seattle Seahawks come to the Coliseum before the Rams travel to play the Dallas Cowboys and then the San Francisco 49ers. They conclude the season at home against the Cardinals.

“We just got to get ready for Arizona,” said running back Todd Gurley, who rushed for 22 yards in six carries. “Thank God it’s Thanksgiving, so hopefully we forget about this loss by Thursday.”

Ravens cornerback Marcus Peters returns an interception against Rams during the fourth quarter of a game Nov. 25 at the Coliseum.
Ravens cornerback Marcus Peters returns an interception against Rams during the fourth quarter of a game Nov. 25 at the Coliseum.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

Monday night’s defeat hearkened to an early-season loss at home. After starting the season with three victories, the Rams lost to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 55-40 at the Coliseum. Initially dismissed as an anomaly, it instead began a three-game losing streak.

On Monday night, Jackson was even more impressive against the Rams than Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston. His performance might have eclipsed Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson’s outstanding game against L.A.

Jackson completed 15 of 20 passes for 169 yards and rushed for 95 yards in eight carries. Running back Mark Ingram rushed for 111 yards and a touchdown in 15 carries and also caught a touchdown pass.

Rams safety Eric Weddle and linebacker Clay Matthews were among several defensive players fooled by Jackson’s deft fakes.

“When you get on the field and you get to the speed of what they run, it’s tough,” said Weddle, who played the previous three seasons with the Ravens. “I mean, some of the plays I didn’t know who had the ball because they run it so efficiently.

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“He’s one of a kind; he’s pretty special.”

Said Matthews: “I was in the backfield so fast and you have to kind of pick your poison as far as who you take.”

Matthews, an 11th-year pro, referenced a young Colin Kaepernick, Cam Newton and Robert Griffin III when assessing Jackson.

“He’s doing as well as anybody right now,” Matthews said.

The Rams defense had been stout the last four games, but it was no match for Jackson and a team that improved to 9-2 with its seventh consecutive victory. In the fourth quarter, Ravens fans were chanting, “M-V-P!”

The Ravens scored on all four first-half possessions, and limited the Rams to two field goals, en route to a 28-6 halftime lead.

Jackson extended the margin with a touchdown pass to Ingram on the first possession of the second half, and continued the onslaught with another to receiver Willie Snead early in the fourth quarter.

The Chargers’ Derwin James expects to play after recovering from a foot injury. Fellow safety Adrian Phillips also appears ready to return.

Peters put what amounted to the finishing touch on the rout when he intercepted a Jared Goff pass early in the fourth quarter.

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He and his teammates celebrated by running to the end zone at the peristyle end of the Coliseum, where Peters spun the ball on the turf and mugged for the cameras.

After the game Peters and Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey got into a verbal altercation that required them to be separated as they exited the field into the Coliseum tunnel.

Peters was traded before the Rams acquired Ramsey last month.

After a 17-7 victory over the Chicago Bears, Goff had said that the offense “needed to be better than that, and it starts with me.”

But the Rams managed only two Greg Zuerlein field goals against the Ravens.

The Rams did not get the hot start they needed and the game got away from them, said Goff, who completed 26 of 37 passes for 212 yards, with two interceptions.

How can an offense that was the envy of the NFL in 2018 get rolling?

“A million things,” Goff said. “There’s no one thing. It’s just be better consistently.”

One thing is clear: Jackson and the Ravens are setting a new standard for offense.

In the first half, Jackson completed all nine of his passes for 87 yards and three touchdowns, and rushed for 80 yards in six carries.

The Rams went three and out on the first possession and watched Jackson and the Ravens run away with a victory.

“Reality is, we got rolled,” Matthews said. “It’s time to bounce back.”


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