The odds were stacked against Baker Mayfield from the start of this game between the Los Angeles Rams and Las Vegas Raiders.
The Rams took him off waivers after the Carolina Panthers released him earlier this week. Mayfield got the playbook Tuesday night as he flew to Los Angeles to meet with his new coaches and teammates, giving him 36-48 hours to learn the plays if he was going to go under center.
But Mayfield, the former No. 1 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, didn’t just play his first game under the most difficult of circumstances. He led a miraculous comeback to defeat the Raiders, 17-16, at SoFi Stadium in his first start as a Ram.
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The Rams’ starting quarterback wasn’t announced until Los Angeles first took the field, and there was John Wolford under center. He was dealing with a neck injury before the game and the Rams weren’t sure if he would be ready to play.
Turns out, it might not have been because Mayfield jogged onto the field just after the Rams went three-and-out.
Mayfield’s first game of passing action was complete for 21 yards to Van Jefferson, but he needed a little more time to adjust to the game. Remember, he had about 36 to 48 hours to learn his new playbook, not to mention chemistry with receivers, pre-snap checks and much more.
Mayfield’s first drive would lead to three points for Los Angeles, but he wouldn’t get more until late in the fourth quarter when a 17-play, 75-yard drive resulted in Cam Akers simply reaching the end zone on a run. yard outside.
That made the score 16-10 and Los Angeles would force a punt from the Raiders on the next drive to at least give themselves a chance. But it had to be a 97-yard miracle.
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Given the situation Mayfield found himself in, it was a difficult hill to climb. But what did Mayfield have to lose at this point in the game?
Thanks to an unsportsmanlike conduct call after being sacked, Mayfield and the Rams were out of their own end zone and went to work. Ben Skowronek made a fantastic and hotly contested 32-yard grab on the next play, putting LA in Raiders territory. Mayfield continued to run the no-huddle drive and finished it off with 16 seconds left on the clock at the Las Vegas 23-yard line.
He then tagged it up to the de facto best wide receiver, Jefferson, who battled through contact and beat his man down the left sideline, dragging in the game-winning touchdown run.
Matt Gay scored the go-ahead extra point, and on the ensuing possession, Derek Carr’s first pass was intercepted by safety Taylor Rapp to ice out the impressive comeback win, as LA snaps a six-game losing streak to move to 4 -9 in the season.
Despite the odds stacked against him, Mayfield was 22 of 35 for 230 yards and a touchdown for just his second win as a starter this season. He went 1-5 with the Panthers before they released him.
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For the Raiders, it was another painful loss, especially with the way they set the tone on their first drive of the game. Carr and the offense went for 12 plays and 75 yards with Josh Jacobs tucking him into the end zone to make it 7-0 early on.
The Raiders defense was also doing its job, acknowledging that Mayfield was learning the offense as he went along and feeding off of it. However, Carr was unable to hold the Las Vegas drives, especially in the second half when they could only secure one field goal. He also threw an interception in the end zone during the first half, which looking back now, was a game-changing play.
Carr would finish the game 11 of 20 passing with 137 yards and two interceptions, while Jacobs had 99 yards on 27 carries.
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Davante Adams made a one-handed catch of Jalen Ramsey on the third play of the game for the Raiders, but finished with just three receptions on seven targets for 71 yards.
The Raiders came into this game still in the AFC playoff hunt and a win to move to 6-7 would have helped their chances of securing a wild card berth down the stretch.
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Instead, Mayfield reminded everyone why he was the first overall pick to play a spoiler on Thursday night.