Matthew Stafford passed for 258 yards and hit Cooper Kupp and Demarcus Robinson for touchdowns, leading the Los Angeles Rams to a 28-20 victory over the freefalling Washington Commanders on Sunday.
Kupp’s eight receptions for 111 yards were highlighted by a 62-yard TD catch right after halftime for the Rams (7-7), who have won four of five to push their way into the playoff picture even in a self-described remodeling season.
Kyren Williams overcame the first two lost fumbles of his two-year NFL career to rush for 152 yards and a touchdown while his Rams slid into one of the three NFC wild-card playoff positions alongside fellow 7-7 teams New Orleans and Minnesota.
The Rams’ defense largely shut down the Commanders (4-10) in the first three quarters before Washington backup quarterback Jacoby Brissett made things interesting in his first significant playing time of the season.
Brissett relieved Sam Howell in the fourth quarter and immediately led two touchdown drives for the Commanders, who have lost five straight. Curtis Samuel caught two TD passes, including a 3-yard grab with 1:46 to play.
Howell passed for 102 yards and threw a 19-yard TD pass to Samuel in the third quarter for the Commanders’ first points, but they returned from their bye week with more of the same defensive lapses, offensive inefficiency and mental mistakes that have dominated the past three months of coach Ron Rivera’s fourth season.
Brissett gave Washington an immediate spark, however: Terry McLaurin caught a 29-yard TD pass and then made a 48-yard reception — Washington’s first pass play all season longer than 40 yards — at the Los Angeles 1 with 4:47 to play.
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Thanks to some sketchy clock management, a touchdown taken off the board by offensive pass interference and a drive-extending pass interference call on fourth down against Los Angeles’ Derion Kendrick, the Commanders needed eight snaps before Brissett’s TD pass to Samuel more than three minutes later.
But Joey Slye’s extra point was blocked by Cobie Durant, and Kupp batted the onside kick out of bounds before the Rams ran out the clock.
Brissett, who started 11 games for Cleveland last season, finished 8 of 10 for 124 yards and two TDs.
Los Angeles could have turned this game into a blowout with better execution in the first half. Stafford completed his first 12 passes while the Rams opened with two long drives resulting in 155 yards, but just three points.
The Commanders also wasted their only early scoring opportunity when Howell’s pass was batted down on fourth and 1 at the Los Angeles 12.
The Rams led only 13-0 at halftime despite taking the ball inside the Washington 10 on four of their five drives, but Kupp ran completely unguarded down the Washington sideline on the second play of the second half, and Stafford hit him for the Rams’ second-longest scoring play of the season.
Commanders: P Tress Way was slow getting up after he was hit while falling on a terrible snap late in the first half. He was evaluated for a concussion and a back injury, but returned in the second half. … LT Charles Leno Jr. left in the second half with a calf injury. … Leading rusher James Robinson Jr. sat out with a hamstring injury incurred before the bye.
Rams: CB Ahkello Witherspoon left with a groin injury in the fourth quarter. … Starting RT Rob Havenstein (groin) and WR Tutu Atwell (concussion) sat out. … Backup DB Tre Tomlinson injured his thigh in the second half.
Commanders: At New York Jets on Sunday.
Rams: Host New Orleans on Thursday.
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