Ashley Landis/Associated Press
The Los Angeles Rams have officially hit their stride.
Los Angeles defeated the New England Patriots 24-3 on Thursday at SoFi Stadium and improved to 9-4 with its fourth win in the last five games. Cam Akers led the way for the victors, who moved ahead of the 8-4 Seattle Seahawks in the NFC West.
As for New England, its two-game winning streak came to an end with a poor showing on both sides of the ball. It is 6-7 on the year and fell further behind the 8-4 Indianapolis Colts for the AFC’s final playoff spot.
Notable Player Stats
- Jared Goff, QB, LAR: 16-of-25 for 137 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT; 4 rushes for 11 yards, 1 TD
- Cam Akers, RB, LAR: 29 carries for 171 yards; 2 catches for 23 yards
- Cooper Kupp, WR, LAR: 5 catches for 33 yards, 1 TD
- Cam Newton, QB, NE: 9-of-16 for 119 yards, 0 TDs, 1 INT; 7 carries for 16 yards
- Damien Harris, RB, NE: 11 carries for 50 yards
Cam Akers Powers Rams to Victory
The formula for the Rams in the last few games has been fairly simple. They win if Jared Goff plays well and they lose if he doesn’t.
He threw for more than 300 yards against the Seahawks, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Arizona Cardinals—all wins—but had 198 passing yards, zero touchdowns and two interceptions in their Week 12 loss to the San Francisco 49ers.
The script flipped Thursday in the first half, as Goff was pedestrian at best and threw an interception to Myles Bryant. Fortunately for Los Angeles, Akers took the reins of the offense and exploited holes in New England’s front seven, powered through arm tackles and even served as a receiving threat out of the backfield.
ESPN Stats & Info @ESPNStatsInfo
Cam Akers had 84 rush yards in the 1st quarter, the most by a Rams player in the 1st quarter of a game since Marshall Faulk in 2001 (143 rush yds vs Panthers).
That’s also the 2nd-most rush yards allowed by the Patriots in the 1st quarter of a game in the last 20 seasons. https://t.co/WKAz9h1sJt
His play set up Goff for a touchdown on a quarterback sneak and further suggested he has emerged from a crowded backfield that also features Malcolm Brown and Darrell Henderson Jr. after he ran for a combined 156 yards and two touchdowns in the previous two games.
It was more of the same in the second half, as the Florida State product carried the ball nine times during a 16-play, 90-yard drive that ended with Goff’s touchdown throw to Cooper Kupp. It all but ended any realistic chance for the Patriots, who had no answer for the strong rushing attack.
Los Angeles has plenty of weapons on paper with Goff throwing to Kupp and Robert Woods. If Akers continues to run like he did Thursday and plays the same role Todd Gurley did on the 2018 Rams team that reached the Super Bowl, Sean McVay’s 2020 squad will be a difficult out come playoff time.
Cam Newton Struggles Again in Defeat
The days of Tom Brady elevating the Patriots to victories are in the rearview mirror.
While Cam Newton was a generational talent in his prime as a league MVP who took the Carolina Panthers to the Super Bowl, he has been anything but for the Patriots. He entered play with five touchdown passes to nine interceptions, threw for fewer than 100 yards in each of the previous two games and has hit the 200-yard mark through the air a mere three times all year.
It was more of the same for Newton on Thursday.
He threw a pick-six to Kenny Young and was stuffed on a 4th-and-goal play in the early going. In fact, the Rams had more points on New England’s red-zone trips than the Patriots as they seized control from the start.
To Newton’s credit, he hit on some deep passes to N’Keal Harry, Jakobi Meyers and Damiere Byrd when the Patriots were in comeback mode after the slow start. The offensive line also did him no favors against Aaron Donald and Co., making life more difficult.
Still, the offense consistently stalled when it had any opportunity to score. That didn’t change when Jarrett Stidham entered for Newton and turned it over on downs in the red zone in the fourth quarter.
It was another rough day for an aerial attack that has struggled for much of the year, and New England fell even further out of the playoff picture as a result.
Both teams face AFC East foes in Week 15 when the Rams host the New York Jets and the Patriots are at the Miami Dolphins.