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Baker cooks: Newcomer Mayfield rallies Rams past Vegas 17-16

Fri Dec 9 1:05am ET
By GREG BEACHAM
AP Sports Writer

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Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay, left, embraces quarterback Baker Mayfield after the Rams defeated the Las Vegas Raiders 17-16 in an NFL football game Thursday, Dec. 8, 2022, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)


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Los Angeles Rams quarterback Baker Mayfield (17) celebrates a touchdown by wide receiver Van Jefferson during the second half of an NFL football game against the Las Vegas Raiders, Thursday, Dec. 8, 2022, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)


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Los Angeles Rams quarterback Baker Mayfield scrambles out of the pocket during the first half of an NFL football game against the Las Vegas Raiders, Thursday, Dec. 8, 2022, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)


INGLEWOOD, Calif. (AP) Baker Mayfield was waived by Carolina on Monday and claimed by the Los Angeles Rams on Tuesday. After a cross-country flight, he got one short practice with his new team on Wednesday.

And on Thursday night, Mayfield led the Rams to two late fourth-quarter touchdowns and a stunning 17-16 victory over the Las Vegas Raiders, capped by a 23-yard scoring pass to Van Jefferson with 10 seconds left.

Mayfield could only wonder what Friday will bring in this wild week of his life, but the former No. 1 overall pick knows it probably won't be more fun than one of the most amazing moments of his bumpy NFL journey.

''I don't know if you could write it any better than that,'' Mayfield said. ''Obviously, we'd like to be a little bit more stress-free, but it's a pretty damn good story, I'll be honest with you.''

Just two days after the Rams (4-9) claimed him, Mayfield went 22 of 35 for 230 yards - and eventually snapped the defending Super Bowl champions' six-game losing streak in dramatic style.

''What a quick study,'' Rams coach Sean McVay said. ''He just got here five minutes ago and figured out a way to be able to do some special things tonight.''

The Rams went on a 75-yard TD drive moments before the winning drive, the latter of which ended with Mayfield finding Jefferson behind rookie Sam Webb in the end zone. The 98-yard march was the longest go-ahead TD drive in the final 2 minutes of a game over the past 45 NFL seasons.

Los Angeles trailed 16-3 after Daniel Carlson's third field goal with 12:20 to play, but Mayfield got the Rams moving and Cam Akers made a short TD run with 3:19 left, one play after he fought for a first down at the Vegas 1 on a gritty fourth-down catch.

The Rams' defense stopped Derek Carr and the Raiders at the 2-minute warning, but AJ Cole dropped a 64-yard punt at the Rams 2.

Undaunted and with no timeouts, Mayfield led the Rams downfield again - with ample help from an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on the Raiders' Jerry Tillery for knocking the ball out of the quarterback's hands after a play. The drive included a contested 32-yard reception by Ben Skowronek, who finished with career highs of seven catches for 89 yards.

''Man, you forget what winning is like, and it sure is fun,'' McVay said after the Rams' first victory since Oct. 16.

Josh Jacobs rushed for 99 yards and the only touchdown for the Raiders (5-8), whose three-game winning streak ended in humiliating fashion. Less than four weeks after Las Vegas lost in former ESPN analyst Jeff Saturday's NFL coaching debut with Indianapolis, the Raiders lost to a quarterback who joined his new team less than 48 hours before the game and had just one brief walkthrough practice.

''We've played against (Mayfield) before and know he's a really good competitor,'' Raiders coach Josh McDaniels said. ''He made some critical throws for them. We prepared for all three quarterbacks, not necessarily knowing who we were going to get and on a short week, so give them credit. He made enough plays.''

Carr passed for 137 yards with no TDs and two interceptions. Davante Adams made two jaw-dropping catchesin the first half, but had none in the second half while Las Vegas' offense managed only 67 yards.

''We left some plays and points out there,'' Carr said. ''And then at the end of the game, I just didn't think we finished it how we could have finished it to win the game. You know, not even having to put the defense out there or anything like that. We just didn't execute.''

John Wolford ran the opening series for the Rams' offense, but McVay then turned it over to Mayfield, a player he has long admired. Mayfield was having a terrible season for the Panthers, but he improbably injected a spark into the Rams with a handful of big plays and decent drives despite minimal knowledge of the playbook.

''There was kind of a shortened list of plays that I was really, really studying,'' Mayfield said. ''I will say we dipped out of that little list and got into some other things.''

With McVay apparently giving detailed instructions into his helmet before each huddle, Mayfield immediately got the Rams moving. Akers short-circuited Mayfield's solid second drive with a fumble in the red zone, but Rams linebacker Ernest Jones made an end-zone interception late in the first half.

Mayfield completed 15 of his 20 passes in the fourth quarter, flawlessly directing his new teammates downfield for two scores.

''I love to compete,'' Mayfield said. ''I love this game.''

INJURIES

Jacobs injured his hand early in the second half and briefly went to the locker room, but kept playing. ... Aaron Donald (high ankle sprain) missed his second game due to injury in his nine-year NFL career. ... Raiders RG Alex Bars injured his knee on the opening drive and didn't return. ... Rams WR Jacob Harris injured his shoulder playing special teams in the second half.

UP NEXT

Raiders: Host New England on Sunday, Dec. 18.

Rams: At Green Bay on Monday, Dec. 19.

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Player Notes
Baker Mayfield Dec 9 1:13am ET
Baker Mayfield

Dynasty | New Rams quarterback Baker Mayfield went 22-of-35 for 230 yards with one touchdown and no interceptions in the Rams surprise comeback win against the Raiders. Dynasty Analysis: Mayfield asked for his release from the Panthers and was picked up by the Rams less than 48 hours ago. In a crazy turn of events, the Rams started John Wolford, who was quickly deemed as not healthy enough to continue after one series. Mayfield proceeded to dink and dunk his way through the game until the final moments when he led the Rams on a 98-yard touchdown drive with under two minutes to go to seal the game. It was an unbelievable turn of events for Mayfield, though he remains far off the radar in non-superflex leagues at the moment. On the plus side, it looks like he'll start for the Rams next week if you're desperate for short-term help at the position.

From Dynasty League Fantasy

Zach Ertz Dec 9 12:30am ET
Zach Ertz

Arizona Cardinals tight end Zach Ertz (knee) revealed on Thursday that he underwent surgery in late November on his ACL and MCL, but he hopes to be ready for Week 1 of the 2023 regular season despite being in the early stages of his rehab. The 32-year-old is not going to be ready for the team's offseason program next spring, and it's not a lock that he'll be ready to roll when training camp kicks off next summer, either. When healthy, Ertz has been a solid TE1 for fantasy managers in his time in Arizona, but this complicated knee injury will make him much more risky at the thinnest position in fantasy in next year's fall drafts. Rookie second-rounder Trey McBride has only five catches on seven targets for 15 yards in two games played without Ertz.

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Kadarius Toney Dec 9 12:20am ET
Kadarius Toney

Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Kadarius Toney (hamstring) was listed as a limited practice participant for the second straight day on Thursday. Toney has missed the last two games with a hamstring injury that has plagued him since early in the year when he was with the New York Giants. The 23-year-old is making progress, though, and has a chance to return this Sunday to face the Denver Broncos. He'll have plenty of competition for targets in the passing game if he returns this weekend, although Toney did have four catches on five targets for 57 yards and a touchdown on just 44 percent of the offensive snaps in his last full game played in Week 10. Toney's upside in KC makes him worth stashing in deeper leagues, but he'll be a very risky boom/bust WR4/flex option if he returns to action against Denver.

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Treylon Burks Dec 9 12:10am ET
Treylon Burks

Tennessee Titans rookie wide receiver Treylon Burks (concussion), who suffered a concussion in the Week 13 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, missed a second straight practice on Thursday. The 22-year-old remains in the league's concussion protocol and will have to put in some activity in practice to avoid being ruled out on the final injury report on Friday. Burks has the most pure upside over Robert Woods and Nick Westbrook-Ikhine, but injuries and a low-volume role have kept his ceiling and floor low in his rookie season. If Burks isn't cleared to play this weekend, Woods, Westbrook-Ikhine and rookie tight end Chigoziem Okonkwo will have bigger roles in the passing game against the Jacksonville Jaguars in Week 14.

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David Njoku Dec 9 12:00am ET
David Njoku

Cleveland Browns wide receiver Amari Cooper (hip) and tight end David Njoku (knee) were both limited in practice on Thursday. Cooper was given a veteran rest day on Wednesday but is now dealing with a hip injury that we'll have to monitor before Sunday's game against the Cincinnati Bengals. The 28-year-old caught four of his nine targets for 40 yards in quarterback Deshaun Watson's season debut last Sunday. Watson is likely to continue to shake off the rust, making Cooper a volatile WR2 for fantasy managers if he plays this weekend. Njoku missed last week's game but has put in two limited practices this week and is expected to return against the Bengals. Fantasy managers might not want to expect much from the 26-year-old in his first game with Watson throwing him the pigskin.

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Deebo Samuel Dec 8 11:50pm ET
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San Francisco 49ers running back Christian McCaffrey (knee) and wide receiver Deebo Samuel (quadriceps) were both limited in practice again on Thursday while going through individual drills. CMC and Samuel are on track to play in Week 14 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but they could be questionable on Friday's final injury report. McCaffrey played 81 percent of the snaps in last week's win over Miami and is a no-doubt, must-start RB1 for fantasy managers, even in a tough matchup with a stingy Bucs run defense. Samuel had 63 scrimmage yards in Week 13, but his fantasy stock will take a hit the rest of the way with rookie seventh-round quarterback Brock Purdy taking over the offense.

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Tyreek Hill Dec 8 11:40pm ET
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Miami Dolphins wide receiver Tyreek Hill (illness) missed practice on Thursday with an illness. As long as Hill is able to do something on Friday, he should play in a Week 14 Sunday night showdown against the Los Angeles Chargers. When active, the Cheetah is an elite must-start WR1 for fantasy managers. In half-point PPR scoring, Hill is the WR3 heading into Week 14 with 96 catches for 1,379 yards and five touchdowns in his first year in Miami. The Chargers defense has been much better against the pass than against the run this year, but Hill should be locked into all starting fantasy lineups if he's feeling well enough to play on Sunday night.

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Jaylen Waddle Dec 8 11:40pm ET
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Jerry Jeudy Dec 8 11:10pm ET
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Denver Broncos wide receiver Jerry Jeudy (ankle) and kicker Brandon McManus (quadriceps) were both limited in practice on Thursday. Jeudy returned from a two-game absence in the Week 13 loss to the Baltimore Ravens and has been limited in both practices this week. McManus is dealing with a right quad injury and could be questionable to play in Week 14 against the Kansas City Chiefs. Even if McManus is active on Sunday, he should be avoided as a starting option in fantasy lineups in the lowest-scoring offense in the NFL. Jeudy will have WR2 upside as the No. 1 receiver for quarterback Russell Wilson with Courtland Sutton (hamstring) unlikely to suit up.

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Patrick Mahomes Dec 8 11:00pm ET
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The Denver Broncos defense should be far away from starting fantasy lineups in a Week 14 divisional matchup against the Kansas City Chiefs. Their offense with superstar quarterback Patrick Mahomes averages a league-high 29.2 points per game and a league-high 423.3 yards per game. The Broncos defense is allowing the second-fewest points per game (17.0) and the third-fewest total yards per game (304.6), but they also rank No. 23 in the NFL in overall fantasy points for defensive units. The Chiefs offense can turn the ball over at times (16 giveaways), but the Broncos defense has just 13 takeaways in 2022. The fantasy floor for Denver's D is scary low, so managers should look to stay away from them against one of the best offenses in football.

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Greg Dulcich Dec 8 10:50pm ET
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Denver Broncos rookie tight end Greg Dulcich's fantasy stock is on the rise again. The 22-year-old had a rough three-game stretch in Weeks 10-12 in which he caught only seven of 12 targets for 52 scoreless yards. But he bounced back in the Week 13 loss to the Baltimore Ravens by catching six of eight targets for 85 yards to lead the team in receiving. There's a decent chance he'll be the lead receiver for a second straight week this Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs with No. 1 wideout Courtland Sutton (hamstring) unlikely to play. At the thinnest position in fantasy, Dulcich has clear TE1 upside in Week 14, despite the fact that the Chiefs defense has allowed a league-low 2.6 fantasy points per game to TEs in the last three weeks in half-point PPR scoring.

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Leonard Fournette Dec 8 10:50pm ET
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Kendall Hinton Dec 8 10:40pm ET
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Denver Broncos wide receiver Kendall Hinton could be the team's No. 2 receiver yet again in Week 14 against the Kansas City Chiefs with Courtland Sutton (hamstring) unlikely to suit up after getting hurt in the Week 13 loss to the Baltimore Ravens. Hinton saw a season-high nine targets in Week 12 and caught eight passes for 92 yards on 12 targets in the two games that Jerry Jeudy missed recently with an ankle injury. However, even with Sutton leaving early last week, Hinton finished by catching his only target for 11 yards. It speaks to the fact that the 25-year-old probably shouldn't be trusted as a deep-league flex play in the league's lowest-scoring offense, even if he has an expanded role again on Sunday against the Chiefs.

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Josh Jacobs Dec 8 10:30pm ET
Josh Jacobs

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Latavius Murray Dec 8 10:10pm ET
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Denver Broncos running back Latavius Murray has become a volume-based, low-end RB2 as the team's unquestioned lead back. Murray was the clear leader of the backfield in the Week 13 loss to the Baltimore Ravens and had a season-high 17 carries for the second time in the last three games. Despite averaging just 3.7 yards per carry on 93 rushing attempts in his seven games with the Broncos, he's averaging 10.2 fantasy points in half-point PPR scoring in eight games on the season (one with the Saints). Murray will be a low-end, volume-based RB2 for fantasy managers this weekend against the Kansas City Chiefs. The problem is the Broncos have the lowest-scoring offense in the NFL, and they may be forced to abandon the run early if the high-scoring Chiefs jump out to a big early lead.

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Tua Tagovailoa

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Courtland Sutton Dec 8 10:10pm ET
Courtland Sutton

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