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Rams continue to build confidence in domination over Patriots

Rams quarterback Jared Goff leaps over the New England Patriots defense to score a touchdown.
Rams quarterback Jared Goff leaps to score a touchdown in the first quarter at SoFi Stadium on Thursday.
(Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times)

It won’t erase the sting of their embarrassing Super Bowl defeat two seasons ago.

That will forever be etched deep in the souls of Rams coach Sean McVay, quarterback Jared Goff and other players who got embarrassed by the New England Patriots.

But the Rams continued to build confidence and push toward a playoff berth Thursday night, easily defeating the Patriots 24-3 at SoFi Stadium.

Goff passed and sneaked for touchdowns, rookie running back Cam Akers amassed 194 scrimmage yards and linebacker Kenny Young returned an interception for a touchdown in another dominant performance by the defense as the Rams improved to 9-4.

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The victory ensured a winning season for the Rams, the fourth in a row under McVay, who dismissed the idea that Thursday’s victory salved the Super Bowl loss. It was the first game between the teams since the Patriots defeated the Rams 13-3 in Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta.

The Rams beat the New England Patriots on Thursday night, but the victory does not exorcise the demons of Super Bowl XLIII.

“It’s a totally different year,” McVay said. “It doesn’t have anything to do with what occurred a couple years ago.”

The Rams are in first place in the NFC West with three games remaining. They play the winless New York Jets on Dec. 20 at SoFi Stadium, and then finish with an NFC West game on the road against the Seattle Seahawks and at home against the Arizona Cardinals.

“We’re right where we want to be,” Goff said. “Everything right in front
of us.”

In Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta, veteran Patriots coach Bill Belichick outschemed and outsmarted McVay and confused Goff in New England’s 13-3 win. Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski and other former Patriots mainstays took care of the rest as the Patriots limited the Rams to their lowest point total under McVay.

On Thursday, Goff completed 16 of 25 passes for 137 yards, with an interception, in the Rams’ first victory over the Patriots since 2001, ending a six-game losing streak against the six-time Super Bowl champions.

The Rams offense scored only two touchdowns, but Akers continued his emergence as a player who appears to be putting the Rams’ running-back-by-committee approach to rest.

Akers, a second-round draft pick from Florida State, started for the first time since suffering a rib injury in the second game of the season at Philadelphia.

His role has been growing — he carried a then career-high 21 times in Sunday’s victory over the Arizona Cardinals — but Thursday night was the first time he showed his full arsenal of talent.

He rushed for 171 yards in 29 carries and caught two passes for 23 yards.

“I didn’t know how many carries I was going to get or my role tonight,” Akers said. “I just knew whatever it was I was going to be ready for it.”

Goff was not surprised by Akers’ performance.

“He showed sparks of that all year,” Goff said, adding, “tonight it was on full display for everyone to see what he can do.

“He’s a special talent, special player, a humble kid. Does a great job, works hard and deserves all this.”

The Rams defense once again dominated, limiting the Patriots to 220 yards and scoring a touchdown for the third game in a row.

The unit faced a low-wattage Patriots offense that featured quarterback Cam Newton. The 2015 NFL most valuable player completed only nine of 16 passes for 119 yards before he was replaced by Jarrett Stidham early in the fourth quarter.

Newton rushed for 16 yards in seven carries, and he was stopped by outside linebacker Justin Hollins on a fourth-and-goal play in the first half.

Rams lineman Michael Brockers had two sacks. Aaron Donald had 11/2 sacks, and Morgan Fox and Young had one each.

But Young, a third-year pro who played at UCLA, made his biggest play early in the second quarter.

The Rams had taken a 10-0 lead on Goff’s one-yard sneak to cap an opening drive, and Matt Gay’s field goal.

Rams’ 24-3 victory over the New England Patriots by the numbers

The Patriots appeared ready to make it a game after defensive back Myles Bryant intercepted a Goff pass late in the first quarter.

But Young, acquired last season in a trade that sent cornerback Marcus Peters to the Baltimore Ravens, read a Newton screen pass and grabbed it for his first career interception. He took off running and covered 79 yards en route to his first touchdown.

“It felt pretty good to get a pick six on my first pick,” Young said.

And to defeat the Patriots and continue the Rams’ momentum.

“It was a pretty good party tonight,” Young said.


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