Guest of the League
ANEZ LEAGUE Est. 2017
NFL Playoffs League - FFL: Preseason | NFL: Week 1

Rams defense plays tough but can't overcome only lapse

Mon Feb 4 3:08am ET
By CHARLES ODUM
AP Sports Writer

Players: Tom Brady, Rob Gronkowski, Sony Michel

Los Angeles Rams' Cory Littleton (58) intercepts a pass as New England Patriots' Julian Edelman (11) attempts the tackle, during the first half of the NFL Super Bowl 53 football game Sunday, Feb. 3, 2019, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Lynne Sladky)


Los Angeles Rams' Cory Littleton celebrates after his interception against the New England Patriots during the first half of the NFL Super Bowl 53 football game Sunday, Feb. 3, 2019, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)


Los Angeles Rams' Aaron Donald (99) hits New England Patriots' Tom Brady (12) during the first half of the NFL Super Bowl 53 football game Sunday, Feb. 3, 2019, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)


Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay speaks to the media after the NFL Super Bowl 53 football game against the New England Patriots, Sunday, Feb. 3, 2019, in Atlanta. The Patriots won 13-3. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)


New England Patriots' Julian Edelman, center, runs from Los Angeles Rams' Cory Littleton (58) and Dante Fowler (56) during the second half of the NFL Super Bowl 53 football game Sunday, Feb. 3, 2019, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Chuck Burton)


New England Patriots' Tom Brady (12) talks to Los Angeles Rams' Dante Fowler (56), after the NFL Super Bowl 53 football game Sunday, Feb. 3, 2019, in Atlanta. The Patriots won 13-3. (AP Photo/Mark Humphrey)


New England Patriots' Tom Brady (12) passes under pressure form Los Angeles Rams' Aaron Donald (99) during the first half of the NFL Super Bowl 53 football game Sunday, Feb. 3, 2019, in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)


ATLANTA (AP) After keeping Tom Brady out of the end zone for three and a half quarters, the Los Angeles Rams' defense finally blinked.

In this Super Bowl, that one brief lapse was too much to overcome. Even holding the New England Patriots to one field goal until midway through the fourth quarter wasn't good enough.

For the sixth time in his career, Brady found a way to win the Super Bowl. The Rams defense had done enough to win most games, but the Los Angeles offense didn't do its part.

That gave Brady a chance for one touchdown drive in the fourth quarter, and he delivered.

''That's our role, to disrupt the passer and disrupt the running game,'' said Rams defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh following New England's 13-3 win on Sunday night. ''For the most part we did that, but we just didn't close it out. That's on us.''

The low scoring total in any game with the powerful Patriots was a surprise.

''They hardly scored and we were in this game until the end of the fourth quarter,'' said linebacker Cory Littleton. ''We were doing everything just fine and we just made mistakes at the end and they capitalized.''

Littleton helped set the tone for the Rams' strong defensive game with his first-quarter interception after Brady's first pass was deflected.

''We were in a zone defense,'' Littleton said. ''I'm a hustle player. I'm reading the quarterback ... (Nickell) Robey-Coleman makes a great deflection, ball is in the air and I pick it off.''

After being contained most of the game, Brady struck quickly when he suddenly solved the Rams' defense in the decisive fourth-quarter touchdown drive.

Brady completed four straight passes, including 18- and 29-yard strikes to Rob Gronkowski. The last catch set up Sony Michel's 2-yard scoring run. The game's only touchdown left the Rams with a deficit they wouldn't overcome.

''It was a hell of a game,'' said Rams cornerback Marcus Peters. ''We just didn't get it done.''

Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald was frustrated by Brady's crucial 29-yard pass to Gronkowski.

''I had an opportunity there on a one-on-one,'' Donald said. ''I got off my one-on-one clean. (Brady) was sitting back there and had time to make a good pass. He made a good play.''

The Rams held New England to 13 points despite giving up 407 total yards and 22 first downs.

''I thought our defense did a nice job, but they were able to make some plays here and there,'' said Rams coach Sean McVay, who gave credit to Brady and the Patriots. ''You see why they are a great football team.''

Player Notes
Mike Boone Aug 25 5:50pm ET

Minnesota Vikings running back Mike Boone is doing everything he possibly can to earn a spot on the 53-man roster, and his performance on Saturday against the Cardinals definitely helped his cause. Boone rushed 10 times for 41 yards and a touchdown, while he also caught his only target and continues to play a role on special teams. The undrafted second-year player out of Cincinnati leads the NFL in rushing during the preseason with 35 attempts for 177 yards (5.1 yards per carry). Boone has bulldozed his way into the backup running back conversation for Vikes, but his fantasy value is very limited unless starter Dalvin Cook goes down.

From RotoBaller

Hunter Henry Aug 25 5:30pm ET

Los Angeles Chargers tight end Hunter Henry did his job again on Saturday as he hauled in both passes thrown to him. Henry only racked up 13 yards over the course of the game, but he was also only on the field for 21 snaps in total. The Chargers have had to play it safe with Henry because they have wanted him to get some game experience again as he comes back from injury, but his injury history leaves everyone leery about putting him on the field when it isn't absolutely necessary. With Keenan Allen dealing with an ankle injury and Melvin Gordon holding out, Henry has a real opportunity to become one of the team's primary offensive weapons.

From RotoBaller

Mike Williams Aug 25 5:30pm ET

Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Mike Williams only had two opportunities on Saturday against Seattle, but he did bring in one of the passes for 11 yards. Williams was used sparingly, only on the field for 18 snaps, as the team wants to preserve as much of its offensive powerhouse as possible. With Keenan Allen recovering from an ankle injury and Melvin Gordon holding out, Williams will likely serve a major role in the first couple weeks of the season. This could be his chance to truly break out and start to fill the shoes of being a comparable No. 2 to Allen's No. 1. Williams could be a superstar before November.

From RotoBaller

Troymaine Pope Aug 25 5:20pm ET

Los Angeles Chargers running back Troymaine Pope has been one of the stars of the preseason for the team. Last week, he ran back a punt for a touchdown. This week, he injected a big dose of energy into the squad when the rest of the offense just looked like they were going through the motions. Pope carried the ball five times for 27 yards, including an 18-yard breakout, and he caught three passes for another eight yards. He also got a bit of coverage on the broadcast as the announcers discussed some of the difficult decisions that face the Chargers regarding their roster. The second-year back is likely buried too far down the roster to see any meaningful playing time early in the season, but with LA already suffering a rash of injuries, he could eventually find his way into the regular rotation.

From RotoBaller

Artavis Scott Aug 25 5:20pm ET

Los Angeles Chargers wide receiver Artavis Scott continues to shine as he works to land a spot in the team's receiving corps. Scott hauled in the longest pass of the game when he snagged a throw from Cardale Jones late in the second quarter. A juke around the first defender to reach him gave him some space and let him stretch it out to a total of 31 yards. Scott would end up grabbing all four passes sent his way, totaling up 66 yards in the process. Scott's battle to be the team's fourth receiver hit a speed bump this week when they re-signed former Charger Dontrelle Inman, but he's still been the most impressive new wideout in camp. He looks destined to make the roster, and if he does, he could see serious opportunities early in the season due to injuries and a holdout.

From RotoBaller

Taylor Bertolet Aug 25 5:10pm ET

New York Jets kicker Taylor Bertolet connected from 48 and 56 yards as well as an extra point in the third preseason game Saturday. It was a badly needed good game for Bertolet who missed two extra points in the second preseason game against the Falcons. There was talk around the team they may go out and sign a kicker but this strong effort from Bertolet could make the Jets brass think twice. If Bertolet is on the team come Week 1 he could be a usable option at kicker as the Jets struggled mightily in the red zone last season. He won't be drafted in standard size leagues but is a name to be aware of if your kicker gets off to a rough start.

From RotoBaller

Justin Jackson Aug 25 5:10pm ET

Los Angeles Chargers running back Justin Jackson made a cursory appearance in Week 3 of the preseason when he carried the ball five times and caught a pass against the Seahawks on Saturday. While most teams use Week 3 of the preseason as a bit of a dress rehearsal for the regular season, the Chargers opted to rest most of their starters, many of who are already injured. Those regulars that did play only played a very limited number of snaps, Jackson included. Jackson is expected to work as Austin Ekeler's partner in the backfield this season if Melvin Gordon's holdout extends into the regular season, which looks likely. For now, he's likely to get the smaller side of the timeshare.

From RotoBaller

Cardale Jones Aug 25 5:00pm ET

Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Cardale Jones seems like he's clearly third in the pecking order for the quarterback job at this point, but that didn't stop him from racking up the biggest single gain in Saturday night's game against the Seahawks. Jones threw a bullet to Artavis Scott late in the second quarter, and after a nifty move to evade the first tackler, Scott weaved his way for a 31-yard gain. Jones was also the only Chargers quarterback of the night to not tuck the ball and run with it, similar to how life is when Philip Rivers is under center. While Jones played the least of any of the three QBs who saw time in the game, he's still likely ahead of Easton Stick in the competition.

From RotoBaller

Austin Ekeler Aug 25 5:00pm ET

Los Angeles Chargers running back Austin Ekeler was one of the few Chargers starters who actually played in Week 3 of the preseason, but he didn't play much. Ekeler carried the ball on the first play from scrimmage, but he would only carry it three more times before heading to the bench. He did snag a pair of passes as well, but the whole effort felt like it was just a formality as opposed to trying to get him some full-speed reps. Ekeler is the team's likely No. 1 running back if Melvin Gordon's holdout extends into the regular season, and it looks like it will. That said, Ekeler's size and shifty approach have previously worked best when he was used as a change-of-pace back, so expect Justin Jackson to play a major role as well.

From RotoBaller

Jamison Crowder Aug 25 4:50pm ET

New York Jets wide receiver Jamison Crowder caught his only target for eight yards in the team's third preseason game Saturday vs New Orleans. Crowder finishes the preseason with three catches for 39 yards and a touchdown in his first year working with Sam Darnold. Crowder battled injuries last season but could be a value on draft day if he can stay healthy. The slot receiver role was productive in Adam Gase offenses in Miami and though Crowder is no Jarvis Landry, he could get plenty of targets early in the season with tight end Chris Herndon suspended. Draft Crowder as a WR3/FLEX with higher upside in PPR formats.

From RotoBaller

Easton Stick Aug 25 4:50pm ET

Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Easton Stick led his team on the comeback trail on Saturday night against the Seahawks, but he came up just short as the team lost by eight. Stick went 12-for-16, completing 75% of his passes, but he only tallied 82 yards. He did throw a touchdown and ran another one in, which was more than either Tyrod Taylor or Cardale Jones were able to do, but he's still unlikely to win the No. 2 job out of camp. The fifth-round pick still stands a chance at being the franchise quarterback of the future if Philip Rivers decides to hang them up, but for now, he's probably not going to see any measurable playing time in the regular season.

From RotoBaller

Tyrod Taylor Aug 25 4:50pm ET

Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Tyrod Taylor got some more time as the starter on Saturday against the Seahawks since the Chargers decided to sit most of their regular starters including Philip Rivers. Taylor went 6-for-9 for 61 yards and carried the ball six times for another 34 yards, leading the team in rushing attempts and YPC. Taylor was also sacked once, but he still looks like the likely suspect to be the team's backup QB. There was nothing particularly special about Taylor's performance, but he also didn't trip all over himself to open up a window for Cardale Jones or Easton Stick. That said, he'll be slotted behind Rivers, who is one of the most durable quarterbacks in the league, so it's unlikely he'll see the field for much time this year.

From RotoBaller

Darrell Henderson Aug 25 4:40pm ET

Los Angeles Rams running backDarrell Hendersontook the first snaps of Saturday's contest against the Denver Broncos. With Todd Gurley and Malcolm Brown sitting out, Henderson struggled as the leader, as his 11 carries were only good for 28 yards. With a string of lackluster preseason performances (overall 23 carries for 57 yards), odds are that Brown will receive the bulk of the work if Gurley goes down. On draft day, Brown's ADP of 199 may be of better value than Henderson's ADP of 83.

From RotoBaller

Eric Tomlinson Aug 25 4:40pm ET

New York Jets tight end Eric Tomlinson only played four snaps in the team's third preseason game Saturday against the Saints. Tomlinson is expected to split time with fellow tight end Ryan Griffin while starter Chris Herndon serves his four-game suspension but didn't get much playing time and didn't see a single target. Tomlinson is more known for his blocking from the tight end position and doesn't carry any fantasy value even with Herndon out.

From RotoBaller

Damion Willis Aug 25 4:29pm ET

Cincinnati Bengals undrafted rookie wide receiver Damion Willis is expected to serve as the X receiver in A.J. Green's absence to begin the season. It means that Willis should be in three-receiver sets right away in Week 1 against the Seahawks alongside Tyler Boyd and John Ross in the slot. Willis has good size and speed and could be a deep DFS sleeper in the regular season opener. With Green not expected to miss much time, Willis probably isn't worth taking in redraft leagues, but he's certainly one to watch and could be worth a flier in dynasty formats.

From RotoBaller

Hakeem Butler Aug 25 4:29pm ET

Arizona Cardinals rookie wide receiver Hakeem Butler(finger) was placed on Injured Reserve Sunday afternoon. The rookie receiver will be ineligible to return this season, which ends his rookie campaign. Even if Butler would have remained eligible to play this season, the likelihood of him making an impact was very slim. The fourth-round selection will have a better chance next year with aging vets Larry Fitzgerald and Michael Crabtree more than likely out of Arizona. Butler's injury will give fellow rookies Keesean Johnson and Andy Isabella a better shot at contributing in 2019. Johnson is the more polished wideout right now and is worth a late-round flier.

From RotoBaller

Dante Pettis Aug 25 4:20pm ET

San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan said that wide receiver Dante Pettis was kept in the preseason game on Saturday against the Chiefs late into the game because the team wants to see him "earn a role on the team." It's been assumed all along that Pettis would be the No. 1 receiver across from Marquise Goodwin this year, but apparently San Fran's coaching staff hasn't been very impressed with Pettis so far. He's still the most likely option to be fantasy relevant in an inexperienced receiving corps, but we'd label Pettis as more of a risky WR3 now. He's much more attractive in PPR leagues.

From RotoBaller

Jerick McKinnon Aug 25 4:09pm ET

San Francisco 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan said that running back Jerick McKinnon (knee) and defensive end Dee Ford (knee) are on schedule to return to practice this week. McKinnon was a very popular fantasy pick last year, but he tore his ACL before the season even started and never played in 2018. Now he's behind Tevin Coleman and Matt Breida in the backfield and isn't even a lock to be ready for Week 1. That makes McKinnon as strictly a late-round flier in deeper leagues. Ford is looking to make an impact in his first year in San Fran after totaling 55 tackles and career-high 13 sacks with the Chiefs. He should help improve San Fran's defense overall. Their unit should be more interesting but can be ignored for fantasy purposes to begin the year.

From RotoBaller

Josh Gordon Aug 25 4:00pm ET

New England Patriots wide receiver Josh Gordon is dressed in full pads on Sunday, which is an indication that he has been taken off the Non-Football Injury list. It puts Gordon on track to be ready for Week 1. The controversial wide receiver has had his fair share of problems off the field, but he proved in 2018 that he had great chemistry with quarterback Tom Brady late in the year. The 28-year-old finished with 40 receptions for 720 yards and three scores in his 11 games with the Pats, and he should be a top weapon through the air behind Julian Edelman. His return hurts Phillip Dorsett and rookie N'Keal Harry the most. Gordon, if healthy and active, has clear WR2 upside.

From RotoBaller

John Ross Aug 25 4:00pm ET

Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver John Ross (hamstring) returned to practice on Sunday. Ross should be ready for Week 1 and could have an expanded role with A.J. Green out to begin the season, but fantasy owners still shouldn't place much trust in the 23-year-old speedster. Despite his physical talent and top-notch speed, Ross has only played in 16 games in his first two seasons and has 21 catches for only 210 yards and seven touchdowns. He'll only be a late-round flier in deeper leagues until he shows us that he can produce at the highest level.

From RotoBaller