<![CDATA[NBC Southern California - Southern California News - [LA FEATURE] The NFL in Los Angeles]]>Copyright 2019http://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/localen-usWed, 24 Jul 2019 00:05:48 -0700Wed, 24 Jul 2019 00:05:48 -0700NBC Local Integrated Media<![CDATA[LeBron Leads Lakers to 2nd Straight Win]]>Wed, 27 Mar 2019 00:46:19 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-1138537395.jpg

Abracadabra, LeBron made them disappear.

LeBron James finished with 23 points and 14 assists, and the Los Angeles Lakers vanquished the Washington Wizards, 124-106, for their second straight win on Tuesday night at Staples Center.

The Lakers had no issues on the offensive end of the floor, grabbing a five-point first quarter lead and never looking back as they went up by as many as 19 in the second half. 

"We don't like the way we played tonight," said Washington coach Scott Brooks of the Wizards' performance. "We put our heads down when the shots didn't fall, and when you also don't get back on defense, that's a bad combination."

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope finished with a team-high 29 points. Four of the five Lakers starters finished in double-figures with Kyle Kuzma contributing 15 points. Mo Wagner had 11 off the bench.

"We know if we were healthy, what we would have been," said Caldwell-Pope about what the Lakers season might have been if it had not been derailed by injuries. "Unfortunately, injuries got the best of us. But we're still going out and having fun."

JaVale McGee completed his third straight double double with 20 points and 15 rebounds. In his last three contests, McGee has 70 points, 49 rebounds, and 15 blocks. 

Bradley Beal led the Wizards with a game-high 32 points. Jabari Parker (18) and Bobby Portis (10) were the only other wizards to score in double figures.

"We've got to get some of these wins, even if they don't mean anything," Beal said after the team's fifth straight loss.

Los Angeles shot 54 percent from the field, dished out 37 assists, and outrebounded the Wizards 52-to-39.

"It starts defensively," said Lakers' point guard Rajon Rondo. "If we're taking the ball out of every time, we're not going to get 30 assists, but tonight we were able to get some stops and get out in transition and guys were open in the lane."

The Lakers recorded back-to-back victories for the first time since Jan. 17th.

"It's been difficult knowing that mathematically we're not going to be in the postseason," said James after the victory. "That's like March Madness for college kids for me. But when I suit up, it's all business. I never change my approach, and I try to go out and make every play."

Lance made em' dance


Lance Stephenson sent the Lakers' bench into a frenzy when he broke the ankles of veteran forward Jeff Green in the first quarter with a wicked crossover

Notes and Next

Lonzo Ball (left ankle sprain), Josh Hart (right knee), and Brandon Ingram (shoulder) all missed the game due to injuries.  

The Lakers will host travel to Utah on Wednesday for the second night of a back-to-back against the Jazz at 7:30PM PT. 



Photo Credit: Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Snap 5-game Losing Streak]]>Sun, 24 Mar 2019 22:22:36 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/163*120/AP_19084104684566.jpg

Youth is wasted on the young.

Kyle Kuzma scored 29 points, and the Los Angeles Lakers snapped a five-game losing streak with a 111-106 victory over the Sacramento Kings on Sunday night at Staples Center.

The game featured two teams that are on the outside looking in when it comes to the NBA Playoffs, but both teams have bright futures ahead if they can keep their young core intact.

So imagine for a second that you're a highly acclaimed NBA General Manager. You have your pick of jobs, and these two teams are at the top of your list.

Both teams have a core of talented young players you can build around.

The Kings have forward Marvin Bagley III, and guards Bogdon Bogdanovic, Buddy Hield and De'Aaron Fox.

The Lakers' core consists of forwards Kyle Kuzma, and Brandon Ingram, and guards Lonzo Ball and Josh Hart.

Which franchise would you choose? 

If Sunday was any indicator, it's the Lakers, and three of their four young stars weren't even on the court, whereas all the young royals were available for the Kings.

"We're both young talented teams," said Kuzma of both young cores. "We have a lot of great talent here, we just have to stay healthy. Give them a lot of credit, but I want to see what next year looks like when guys are hopefully fully healthy."

Without Ingram, Ball, and Hart, Kuzma scored 21 points in the third quarter, and finished with 29 points, tied with LeBron James to lead all scorers. 

"I got out in transition a little bit more than in the first half," Kuzma said of the third quarter in which he made 7 of 8 shots, including five three-pointers. "My shots went in and I just trusted my form in the first half and stayed with it in the second half." 

James, under contract for the next three years, recorded his eighth triple-double as a Laker, finishing with 29 points, 11 rebounds, and 11 assists.

"When I'm on the floor I have to play my game no matter what our circumstances are," said James. "I've always respected the basketball Gods, and when I'm on the floor I've to play as hard as I can or do something to affect the game. Not cheat the game. If I'm in uniform and on the floor I've got to try and make things happen."

JaVale Mcgee followed up his career-best performance with another double-double, 17 points and 14 rebounds.

"I'm just trying to stay in the right places and my teammates are finding me," said McGee of his terrific two-game stretch. "I'm focusing on getting on the offensive boards and it's really working for me."

The quartet of Bagley III, Bogdanovic, Hield and Fox combined for 69 of the Kings 106 points. Bagley led the way with 25 points and 11 rebounds.

"I feel pretty good," said Bagley III who missed 17 total games this season. "It's just about finishing off these last few games we have strong and leading that into next season."

The Lakers led by as many as 17 points in the third quarter, but the Kings came roaring back and cut the lead to two, with just over six minutes remaining in the game.

Los Angeles was able to hold on down the stretch, thanks in part to their free throw shooting as the team shot 20-for-24 from the charity stripe for an 83 percent clip.

"We just closed the game down the stretch," said Kuzma of the final few minutes "We didn't have too many turnovers at the very end. We got rebounds, and we made our free throws."

Sacramento had 13 steals in the game compared to just four for the Lakers. They also had less turnovers than the Lakers who had 20 turnovers to the Kings seven.

Los Angeles won the season series three games to one, with the only loss coming on a three-point buzzer beater by Bogdanovic on Dec. 27, 2018.

"They had our number this season," said Kings' head coach Dave Joerger. "They're awfully long and do a great job against us, but I was proud of our guys tonight. We didn't let go of the rope."

Notes and Next

Lonzo Ball (left ankle sprain), Josh Hart (right knee), Reggie Bullock (plantar fasciitis) and Brandon Ingram (shoulder) all missed the game due to injuries.   

The Lakers will host the Washington Wizards on Tuesday at 7:30PM PST.



Photo Credit: Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Officially Eliminated from NBA Playoffs]]>Sat, 23 Mar 2019 00:30:41 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/184*120/AP_19082127745244.jpg

The inevitable has happened: the Lakers have officially been eliminated from the postseason.

JaVale McGee scored a career-high 33 points, but it was not enough, as the Los Angeles Lakers lost to the Brooklyn Nets, 111-106 on Friday night at Staples Center.

The Lakers were in fourth place in the Western Conference on Christmas Day, but after LeBron James missed the next 17 games with a left groin strain, the Lakers sank out of the playoff picture and were never able to climb back into the hunt.

The Lakers have lost five consecutive games and 12 of their last 14 overall, making Friday's loss more of a formality than a surprise. The team has been in "tank mode" for the month of March, and have been closer to a lottery pick than they have a playoff spot.

"We've been struggling in March," said Lakers' point guard Rajon Rondo. "It's been pretty bad. We just focus on trying to win, playing with pride, and trying to get a W."

A lot was made before the game about the return of former Lakers' guard D'Angelo Russell to Staples Center. 

Russell was drafted by the Lakers with the second overall pick in the 2015 NBA Draft, but was traded before the 2017-2018 season after Magic Johnson took over as team president.

"This is definitely where I started," said Russell, who was iniatially upset about Johnson's comments that he was not a leader after the trade was finalized. "It's definitely a place that gave me an opportunity. Not many guys started somewhere and then that was forgotten throughout their career. You know, Chauncey Billups, the [Steve] Nashes of that group, so I'm trying to consider myself one of those guys."

The trade allowed Johnson to draft point guard Lonzo Ball and clear enough cap space to sign LeBron James this past summer. Most people thought the decision to trade Russell was smart at the time, but with the Lakers spiraling back into mediocrity and Russell leading the Nets to the playoffs, many question the decision in hindsight.

While it seems obvious on paper: would you rather have LeBron James and Lonzo Ball or D'Angelo Russell? The answer might not be so cut and dry.

James is a declining asset, whereas Russell's stock is on the rise. Ball has missed significant time with ankle injuries over the last two seasons, and thus far has not lived up to his pre-draft hype. 

Of course, Friday was not the first time Russell had faced his former team, but it did mark the first game against the Lakers where he was an NBA All-Star and the leader of a playoff-bound team.

Additionally, Russell was coming off a career-high 44 points, and led one of the largest comebacks in NBA history as he helped the Nets erase a 28-point deficit to rally to beat the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday.

"That was huge," Russell said of the back-to-back wins against the Kings and Lakers. "We knew how big these games were for us. With our record and where we are in the standings...we went out there and handled business."

Russell finished with less than half that total on Friday, scoring 21 points and dishing out 13 assists against his former team, but perhaps there was a hint of poetic justice in the fact he was able to eliminate the team that shipped out of town from playoff contention.

"Sounds good on paper, but at the end of the day, we're not playing them," Russell said about mathematically elminating the Lakers. "We're not competing against them for seeding, so the win is good enough."

The reigning NBA three-point Champion, Joe Harris, drained six three-pointers in the contest and finished with a team-high 26 points.

"That's my job," Harris said of his six triples. "That's what i'm out here to do. I'm happy to get a couple of shots to fall early and allowed my rhythm to be there. It gave me a little more confidence and taking a couple more aggressive looks."

Jarrett Allen had a double-double with 13 points and 11 rebounds and DeMarre Carroll chipped in 15 points.

"It was not Picasso out there by an means; it wasn't beautiful," said Nets' head coach Kenny Atkinson of the victory. "Give the Lakers credit. Obviously they got LeBron James out there, they're very talented. It was good to close it out, it wasn't easy."

McGee led the Lakers with 33 points, 20 rebounds (12 offensive) and six blocks, becoming the first Lakers player to post a stat line like that since Kareem Abdul-Jabbar did it with the Purple and Gold in 1978.

"I've always loved blocking shots, but I think I had 12 offensive rebounds, that might be a career-high for me," said McGee of his career night. "Everybody was focusing on LeBron and he was setting it up for me to be succesful out there."

James finished one rebound shy of a triple-double with 25 points, 14 assists, and nine rebounds. Kyle Kuzma had 18.

"It's been a tough season for all of us," James said. "It's not what we signed up for. Throughout the year, things happen. Suspensions, injuries, and us just not being able to play sustainable basketball for 48 minutes. You don't even try to wrap your head around it. You just keep playing and try to get better and go from there."

With James back on the court following a scheduled off day in Milwaukee on Tuesday, the Lakers were in the game from start to finish.

"We gave ourselves a chance to win tonight," said Lakers' head coach Luke Walton. "I thought we did a lot of things to a level that when you do, you will win NBA games at home...I give our guys a lot of credit for coming and competing like that again tonight. Unfortunately, it ended up in a loss again."

The back-and-forth battle featured 16 ties and 23 different lead changes before Brooklyn held on to the victory and swept the two-game seasons series with Los Angeles.

The Lakers trailed by just three points with thirty seconds remaining in the game, but James slipped along the baseline and fell out of bounds causing a turnover. The Nets would seal the game with free throws from there. 

The Lakers have missed the playoffs in six consecutive seasons, but this year will mark the first time LeBron James will not be in the postseason since 2005.

"I've played a lot of basketball over the last 16 years," said LeBron as he faced the idea of not playing in the postseason. "For me to be able to go into an offseason as healthy as possible it gives me a lot of time to recalibrate my body, recalibrate my mind as well, and get ready for next season."

The Lakers missed the playoffs that year as well, their first without Shaquille O'Neal and Phil Jackson after a reign of four straight NBA Finals appearances. Ironically, current Lakers head coach Luke Walton was in his sophomore season with the Lakers at the time.

Notes and Next

Lonzo Ball (left ankle sprain), Josh Hart (right knee), Lance Stephenson (left toe) and Brandon Ingram (shoulder) all missed the game due to injuries.

The Lakers will host the Sacramento Kings on Sunday night at Staples Center.



Photo Credit: Mark J. Terrill/AP]]>
<![CDATA[Who Should Start Opening Day for Dodgers?]]>Thu, 21 Mar 2019 19:36:08 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/203*120/Kershaw+Not+Opening+Day.png

You can't wipe away eight years in 180 minutes.

Let's face it, eight years is a long time.

That's 2,922 days, 70,128 hours, it's enough time to watch two World Cup and Olympic cycles or a young teenager blossom into an adult.

Things have changed a lot in eight years. Lost was the biggest show on television, Kesha was the hottest thing in music, and nobody had heard of an app called "Instagram."

Laws have changed, policies have changed, even presidents have changed, but over that time one thing has remained constant: Clayton Kershaw taking the mound on Opening Day for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

But as the age old adage goes: all good things must come to an end.

Kershaw's franchise record of eight consecutive Opening Day starts will end next week when the Dodgers open their 2019 campaign at Chavez Ravine against the Arizona Diamondbacks.

A month ago, Dodger fans were simply ho-hum when Dodgers' manager Dave Roberts announced Kershaw would be the Opening Day starter for the ninth consecutive season, another Spring, another Game 1 start for the three-time Cy Young Award winner.

However, things can change a lot in a month, and after suffering left shoulder inflammation following an early bullpen session, Kershaw was shut down for three weeks putting the possibility of extending his streak in jeopardy.

As Kershaw finally began throwing again last week, rumors and rumblings of whether or not he would be able to make his Opening Day start began to spring up like mushrooms in a forest. 

Most fans were afraid that Kershaw's injury was more severe than the team was letting on, and not only would he miss Opening Day, but perhaps significant time with a serious injury.

Some believed that as long as Kershaw could still throw his curveball and slider with effectiveness, he would be on the mound on Opening Day. Whether that meant as an "Opener," (as the Tampa Bay Rays have transformed into a team philosophy), or simply as an abbreviated start as part of a long-term build up, the hope that Kershaw could pitch on March 28th was still alive. 

Earlier this week, Dodgers' manager Dave Roberts crushed those idle hopes like empty shadows, when he announced that not only would Kershaw not start on Opening Day, but he would begin the season on the newly renamed, "Injured List," a place the Southpaw has spent signficant time on for four straight seasons.

"I'm disappointed," Kershaw said of not being able to toe the rubber on Opening Day. "Being out there on Opening Day is special and I don't take that for granted. I love being out there. What it signifies, being part of the Dodgers' history, it's not lost on me. I love doing that, but when you get super realistic about it, it's just one game."

Kershaw received an anti-inflammatory injection in February and took three weeks off to rest and recuperate before being slowly built back up last week. He threw a 22-pitch simulated inning on Wednesday, facing live hitters in Joc Pederson, Max Muncy, and David Freese.

Roberts said Kershaw will next appear in the preseason Freeway Series against the Anaheim Angels, where he is expected to pitch two innings in the second game of the series on March 25.

"I haven't' had a spring training yet," Kershaw said on Wednesday. "I got to go through it all. It's tedious and boring, but hopefully it pays off with a healthy season. It's better to miss a little bit at the beginning than any time at all during the rest of it."

Kershaw will need to go from two innings, to five or more innings and 100 pitches. Therefore, it is a realistic expectation that Kershaw could miss the first two-to-three weeks of the season before he's ready to come off the injured list and make a start. 

"I think it [the Opening Day streak] is definitely a feather in Clayton’s cap," said Roberts. "But it’s not just about making an Opening Day start to add to your streak. It’s about being healthy and giving your team a chance to win. He’s in support of it. We are as well because we do have to take the long view and do what’s best for the player.”

Kershaw's absence on Opening Day means an opportunity for someone else in the Dodgers' rotation to head to the hill for the first game of the season. Who should start, and who will start are two separate questions, but here are the top candidates to fill the already larger than life shoes of the former MVP:

Walker Buehler

In many people's eyes, Buehler has already ascended into the ace role for the Dodgers. Buehler finished third in the National League Rookie of the Year voting last season, and allowed just two hits in seven shutout innings in Game 3 of the World Series last Fall.

However, Buehler has been slow-played this spring, and made his first Cactus League appearance on Tuesday. Despite the surefire fodder from fans for Buehler to start on Opening Day, that possibility was eliminated by Roberts on Monday.

Julio Urias

If the decision was based on talent and recent performance alone, then 22-year-old Julio Urias should be the Opening Day starter. The Mexican native looked downright filthy in four Cactus League starts, allowing just four hits with no losses to go with a 2.31 ERA.

However, the front office never planned for Urias to start the season in the rotation, and he will be on an innings limit in 2019 after undergoing should surgery in 2017. Urias was supposed to start on Wednesday against the Cubs, but instead came out of the bullpen where he is expected to being the 2019 campaign. 

Ross Stripling

The 2018 All-Star pitcher will once again prove his big league value as he moves from the bullpen back into the starting rotation. The reliever/starter hybrid role has made Stripling not only a sought after commodity by other teams, but an irreplaceable asset on the Dodgers.

"With Clayton not being able to start the season as a starter, Ross will start," announced Roberts on Tuesday.

Stripling has been strong this spring, allowing just four earned runs in four Cactus League starts to give him a 2.70 ERA. He will certainly be considered for Opening Day, but is more than likely seen as a back of the rotation starter.

Kenta Maeda

If the Dodgers were starting the season in Japan this week like the Mariners and Athletics, then perhaps Kenta Maeda would start Opening Day. After ending the season last year in the bullpen, Maeda has moved back into the starting rotation for 2019 and has allowed just three runs in ten Cactus League innings this spring.

Hyun-Jin Ryu

Outside of Kershaw, left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu is the longest tenured Dodger staring pitcher. After accepting the Dodgers qualifying offer over the winter, Ryu is likely entering into his final season with the Dodgers.

Compared to the other aforementioned options, Ryu has been the most consistent this spring, allowing just two runs in four Cactus League starts and sporting an ERA of 1.80. After starting Game 1 of the NLDS against the Atlanta Braves last season, he's certainly proven he can pitch in big games at home.

Ryu's last start was on Thursday against Milwaukee, so the Korean lines up perfectly to make the start on March 28.  

Rich Hill

Similar to Ryu, Hill is another strong candidate to start on Opening Day. At 39-years-old, Hill is the senior on the staff, and entering the final year of his contract with the Dodgers.

Hill has allowed six runs (four earned) in four Cactus League starts this spring and has an ERA of 3.27. He's thrown the ball well and feels like he's in a much better spot to start the season this year than in previous years.

"I feel like this spring training I've thrown the ball well," said Hill after his last start against the Brewers. It's much, much better than spring trainings before. I fee like I'm in a good spot."

Dodgers' manager Dave Roberts said on Tuesday that Hill would certainly be considered, and lines up well for Opening Day if he throws a final tune-up start on Saturday in Arizona.

"It's out of my control," Hill said about the possibility of him starting Opening Day. "Clayton is obviously one of the best pitchers we've seen in the last decade. I can't really get that far ahead and think about that. I'm only focusing on tomorrow and getting ready for the next outing."

Tell us who you think should start Opening Day in the Twitter Poll below.

 

If you can not view the poll or the pictures, scroll down and click "View Full Mobilie Site or View on NBC Southern California" below.



Photo Credit: Norm Hall/Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Bucks Beat LeBron-Less Lakers Handedly ]]>Tue, 19 Mar 2019 20:22:13 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/160*123/GettyImages-940319776.jpg

On a starless night in Milwaukee, the Bucks proved they were the better short-handed team. 

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope scored a season-high 35 points, but the Los Angeles Lakers lost their fourth consecutive game, 115-101, to the Milwaukee Bucks on Monday night at Fiserv Forum.

Both teams went to battle without their superstars. The Lakers were without LeBron James, who missed the contest with a sore left groin, and Milwaukee was without MVP candidate Giannis Antetokounmpo, who missed the contest because of a right ankle sprain.

Each team was undermanned, but the Bucks played with just eight players, and proved that without their biggest star, they were still the more-balanced team.

Khris Middleton led the Bucks with a team-high 30 points, 10 rebounds, and five assists.

Former Laker Brook Lopez had 28 points, nine rebounds and five three-pointers. Nikola Mirotic chipped in 23 points. Milwaukee had 15 three-pointers in the game.

Caldwell-Pope nearly had 15 three-pointers by himself as the Lakers' sharp-shooter knocked down eight long balls in the game.

"We've seen him do that before," said Lakers' head coach Luke Walton of KCP. "We've seen him shoot the ball like that in practice, he's a very skilled shooter. It's a lot of fun when he's having a game like that."

"It felt like everything I threw up was going to go in," said KCP of his hot-shooting.

Kyle Kuzma had 17 points. Reggie Bullock had 13 points and Rajon Rondo also had 13 points to go with his 10 assists.

"We fought and hard played hard with the cards we were given," said Kuzma. "That's all you can ask for."

Milwaukee led for most of the game, taking the lead early in the first quarter and never looking back. The Lakers tied the game at 56-56 late in the second quarter, but the Bucks extended the lead to 23 in the second half, thanks to blistering shooting from beyond the arc.

The Lakers clawed back and cut the lead to five midway through the fourth quarter, before the Bucks pushed the lead to double digits.

"KCP [Kentavious Caldwell-Pope] had a great game, other guys did some of the little things to give us a chance to at least stay in the game," said Walton. "That's a good team, they have the best record for a reason."

The Bucks have their sights set on a home-court advantage throughout the NBA Playoffs as they possess the league's best record at 53-18.

Meanwhile, the Lakers are on an elevator headed down to to the basement as they fell to 31-40, nine games below .500, and an idential record to which they had at this point last season without James on the roster.

Notes and Next

LeBron James (groin), Lonzo Ball (left ankle sprain), Tyson Chandler (neck stiffness), Lance Stephenson (illness) and Brandon Ingram (shoulder) all missed the game due to injuries.  Giannis Antetokounmpo (ankle), Sterling Brown (wrist), and Malcolm Brogdon (plantar fascia) all missed the game for Milwaukee.

The Lakers head back to Los Angeles where they will host old friend D'Angelo Russell and the Brooklyn Nets on Friday night at Staples Center.



Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[LeBron Puts on Show, But Lakers Lose to Knicks]]>Sun, 17 Mar 2019 12:55:25 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/211*120/Lakers+LeBron+Knicks.png

There's nothing like the bright lights of New York City to bring out the best in you.

LeBron James put on a show, scoring 33 points, but the Los Angeles Lakers inexplicably lost to the New York Knicks, 124-123, on Sunday afternoon at Madison Square Garden. 

If the Lakers are intentionally seeking a lottery pick, they certainly played the part on a Sunday afternoon in New York, as they led by double-digits with three minutes remaining before a shocking collapse handed the Knicks the win. 

Los Angeles led 122-111 with just over three minutes remaining in the game, but the Knicks stepped up their defense on LeBron, and closed the contest on a 13-1 run to steal the victory, and guarantee a season sweep against the Lakers. 

"We didn't close possesions. We made them miss and they got rebounds," James said to the media about the Knicks late rally. "We didn't make enough shots obviously down the stretch. We had all the chances in the world to win the game, but they made the plays down the stretch and won the game."

After over 45 minutes of brilliant basketball with a lot of ball movement and unselfish play, the Lakers seemed to settle for isolation ball with LeBron down the stretch, including the final possession of the game. 

"I think the last 3 minutes of the game we got real stagnant," said Lakers' forward Kyle Kuzma of the lack of ball movement. "I think that's the biggest thing [on why they lost]."

With the shot clock turned off, and the Lakers down by a point, LeBron dribbled at the top of the key until the game clock went under ten seconds and then he made his move. James drove to his left, but his final shot was blocked by Mario Hezonja to seal the victory for the Knicks.

"I was looking for a good look, and it was good D [defense] by Mario," said James of the final shot. 

His coach, Luke Walton, was criticized for not calling a timeout and drawing up a play, but after the game, the Lakers leader said the result would have been the same regardless.

"It doesn't really me matter if I draw up a play and call a timeout, because the play is going to be get the ball in the hands of LeBron," said Walton.

The Lakers have had a lot of head-scratching losses this season, but getting swept by the NBA's worst team is simply inexcusable. 

After sitting out the team's last game against the Pistons on Friday, James put on a show at the Garden on Sunday. 

James finished with eight assists, but none was better than this no-look bounce pass to Johnathan Williams early in the game. 

Late in the game, as the Lakers momentarily appeared to be pulling away, James threw down a rim-rattling hammer dunk on a breakaway that brought the Knicks crowd to their feet

Kyle Kuzma had 18 points and eight assists, Reggie Bullock had 14, and JaVale McGee chipped in 12. 

"We got the ball in our best player's hands and we tried to make him make the right decisions," Kuzma said of the final play of the game. "We just try and live with it."

Both Williams and Alex Caruso scored 12 points off the bench, but the 25-year-old out of Texas A&M easily had his best defensive game of the season with five steals and three blocks. 

"AC came in and played with great energy. He does all the little things for us," said Lakers' point guard Rajon Rondo, who finished with five rebounds and five assists. "He's very active. I thought he was going to have to leave in an ambulance today. He took a lot of falls, but that's how he plays the game. He plays hard and you want a guy like that on your team."

Similarly to the Lakers, the Knicks are limping into the final few weeks of the season with nothing but the hope of landing the No. 1 overall pick in the NBA draft to keep them excited about the future. 

Nevertheless, that didn't stop the Knicks from stealing a win from the jaw's of defeat and snapping a nine-game losing streak in the process. 

Emmanuel Mudiay led the Knicks with 28 points and eight assists. Damyean Dotson had 25 points, Kevin Knox finished with 19, Mario Hezonja added 17, and DeAndre Jordan had 15 points and 17 rebounds as all five starters scored in double figures for New York. 

Thanks to Jordan, the Knicks outrebounded the Lakers, 45-35, including 35-20 on the defensive end. 

The Knicks success could be credited to the Lakers paltry defense with allowed New York to shoot nearly 60 percent (58) from the field for the game.

New York also shot over 46 percent from beyond the arc, compared to just 26 percent for Los Angeles. 

The Lakers may have been a bit fatigued down the stretch as they were playing their fourth consecutive game on the road and third game in four days with a lot of travel in between.

Notes and Next

Lonzo Ball (left ankle sprain), Tyson Chandler (neck stiffness), Lance Stephenson (illness) and Brandon Ingram (shoulder) all missed the game due to injuries. Dennis Smith Jr. did not suit up for the Knicks.

The Lakers will travel to Milwaukee where they will face the team with the NBA's best record in the Bucks. Tip-off is Tuesday at 5:00PM.



Photo Credit: AP Photo/Seth Wenig]]>
<![CDATA[Pistons Handle LeBron-less Lakers 111-97]]>Fri, 15 Mar 2019 21:08:31 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/187*120/AP_19075014610069.jpg

Andre Drummond had 19 points and 23 rebounds, and the Detroit Pistons took advantage of LeBron James' absence, beating the Los Angeles Lakers 111-97 on Friday night.

The Lakers, who have fallen well off the pace in the Western Conference playoff race, have been managing James' minutes, and he sat out this game entirely. Los Angeles played at Toronto the previous night. 

The Lakers were also without Lonzo Ball (left ankle), Tyson Chandler (neck), Brandon Ingram (right arm) and Lance Stephenson (toe), but they trailed by only four in the third quarter before Detroit went on a 13-0 run to make it 73-56. Reggie Jackson started that stretch with two 3-pointers and a jumper. 

The Pistons were coming off losses of 28 and 34 points to the Nets and Heat, but the win Friday put Detroit percentage points ahead of Brooklyn for the No. 6 spot in the East. Langston Galloway scored 23 points and Jackson had 20 for the Pistons. 

STILL THE STAR

James hadn't missed an entire game since Feb. 2. He didn't suit up for this one, but there was certainly a buzz among the fans behind one of the baskets when he emerged around the midway point of the first quarter and walked over to the bench to join his team. He went back toward the locker room at the start of the fourth. 

TIP-INS

Lakers: Rajon Rondo had 15 points, eight rebounds and seven assists.

Pistons: Drummond is four rebounds away from posting a sixth straight season with at least 1,000 points and 1,000 rebounds. Only seven players have accomplished that: Wilt Chamberlain (10 years), Bill Russell (10), Bob Pettit (nine), Elvin Hayes (seven), Walt Bellamy (six), Dwight Howard (six) and Jerry Lucas (six).

UP NEXT

Lakers: Visit the New York Knicks on Sunday.

Pistons: Host the Toronto Raptors on Sunday.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Carlos Osorio/AP]]>
<![CDATA[LeBron and Lakers Lose to Raptors]]>Thu, 14 Mar 2019 19:49:07 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/201*120/LeBron+Lakers+lose+to+Raptors.png

Kawhi Leonard scored 25 points, Norman Powell had 20 and the Toronto Raptors beat the Los Angeles Lakers 111-98 on Thursday night. 

LeBron James scored 29 points and Alex Caruso had a career-high 16 for Los Angeles. The struggling Lakers lost for the sixth time in seven games, further denting their fading playoff hopes. 

Pascal Siakam scored 16 points and Marc Gasol added 15 to help Toronto win its ninth consecutive meeting with the Lakers, extending a franchise record. The Raptors have not lost to the Lakers since Nov. 30, 2014. They also set a franchise record with their 20th victory of the season against a Western Conference opponent.

Rajon Rondo scored 13 points but the Lakers failed to win back-to-back games for the first time since Jan. 15 and 17, when they beat Chicago and won at Oklahoma City.

Los Angeles overturned a 20-point deficit to win at Chicago on Tuesday night, snapping a five-game losing streak. The Lakers kept it close through three quarters against Toronto, the Atlantic Divison leaders, but couldn't hang on in the fourth as the Raptors outscored them 21-14. 

Toronto guard Malcolm Miller, who played 24 minutes in a G-League game earlier Thursday, made two 3-pointers in the final quarter.

The Raptors were without guard Kyle Lowry, who sat because of a sire left ankle, and forward Serge Ibaka, who began serving a three-game suspension for throwing a punch at Cleveland's Marquese Chriss on Monday night. 

Powell made all three of his 3-pointers in the first and scored 12 points as Toronto led 33-25 after one.

Alex Caruso scored 14 points for Los Angeles in the second and James had a huge two-handed slam. Leonard replied with 10 points for Toronto, including a buzzer-beating 3 that gave the Raptors a 65-54 lead at halftime. With James on the bench, Toronto outscored the Lakers 14-2 over the final 3:05. The Lakers ended the third with a 7-0 run, and trailed 90-84 heading to the fourth. 

TIP-INS

Lakers: Los Angeles has not won consecutive road games since victories at Miami on Nov. 18 and Cleveland on Nov. 21. ... C Tyson Chandler missed his fifth straight game because of a sore neck, and G Lance Stephenson sat for the sixth time in seven games because of a sprained toe on his left foot. ... Kyle Kuzma shot 3 for 11 and scored seven points. ... James missed three straight free throws in the fourth. 

Raptors: Gasol started in place of Ibaka, and Jeremy Lin started in place of Lowry. ... Toronto signed F/C Eric Moreland to a 10-day contract. ... The Raptors are 10-0 against Pacific Division opponents. 

UP NEXT

Lakers: At Detroit on Friday night.

Raptors: At Detroit on Sunday.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[LeBron Scores 36 as Lakers Snap Losing Streak]]>Tue, 12 Mar 2019 21:05:32 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/162*120/GettyImages-1135426700.jpg

In the house that Jordan built, LeBron James was King.

James scored 36 points and grabbed 10 rebounds as the Los Angeles Lakers snapped a five-game losing streak with a 123-107 victory over the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday night at the United Center.

"I definitely recognize the greatness that Mike [Michael Jordan] had in this city," said James of playing in Chicago. "Everytime I play here I look in the rafters and look at his jersey retired."

Los Angeles trailed by as many as 20 points in the first half, but they rallied in the second half with an offensive explosion to defeat the lowly Bulls.

The Lakers laid an egg in the first quarter. After jumping out to a 2-0 lead, the Lakers fell apart, scoring just 16 total points in the frame, trailing the Bulls, 34-16, after one.

Led by the second unit, the Lakers exploded in the second quarter, scoring 39 points and cutting the Chicago lead to just five at the break.

"We got defensive stops. We made some shots," James told reporters of the second unit that got the Lakers back in the game. "We were very in-tune with what we needed to do defensively and our second unit guys came in with a lot of energy and effort."

If the second quarter was good, the third quarter was even better, as the Lakers scored 43 points, and ended the quarter on a 27-5 run to take a 14-point lead into the final frame.

The Bulls cut the Lakers lead to four points in the fourth quarter, but James made sure the Lakers walked away with the victory, sinking a three-pointer, and finishing a fast break with Josh Hart with a highlight-worthy reverse dunk from a pass off the backboard. 

Thanks to James, the Lakers were able to pull away from there, and cruised to their first victory since they defeated the Pelicans, 125-119, on Wednesday, February 27.

"He wants to win. He's one of the great winners our league has ever seen," said Lakers' head coach Luke Walton. "He did a really nice job of helping us get a win tonight."

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope sparked the second unit with 24 points, six rebounds, and four three-pointers off the bench. Kyle Kuzma had 21 points.

"Anytime you get a win in this league, especially after the drought we were in, losing five straight, it feels good," said Kuzma. "We started having fun tonight. Everybody just had joy for the game. We were happy for each other. It felt like everyone got shots tonight."

Rajon Rondo and JaVale McGee both had double-doubles, with Rondo scoring 14 points and dishing out 10 assists. McGee scored 10 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. 

All five starters scored in double figures for the Bulls, as Robin Lopez led the way with 20 points. Otto Porter Jr. had 19, Kris Dunn 18, Ryan Arcidiacono contributed 14, and Lauri Markkanen finished with 11 points.

The Lakers bench outscored the Bulls bench 33-to-25.

Andre Ingram, the 33-year-old sophomore who was signed to a 10-day contract on Monday, played two minutes, attempting one field goal, but received a standing ovation from the Chicago crowd at the end of the third quarter. 

Notes and Next

Lonzo Ball (left ankle sprain), Tyson Chandler (neck stiffness), Lance Stephenson (illness) and Brandon Ingram (shoulder) all missed the game due to injuries. 

The Lakers will travel to Canada where they will take on the playoff-bound Toronto Raptors at 5:00PM PT on Thursday.



Photo Credit: Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[The Legend of Andre Ingram Grows]]>Tue, 12 Mar 2019 17:26:01 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-944509682.jpg

Andre Ingram is joining LeBron James.

The Los Angeles Lakers have signed G-League star Andre Ingram to a 10-day contract, the team announced on Monday. 

Fans might remember Ingram from last season, when the 33-year-old made his NBA debut in the final two games for the Lakers.

Now in his sophomore season, Ingram is back with the Lakers after a long stint with the organization's G-League affiliate, the South Bay Lakers. 

Ingram is the G-League's all-time leader in three-pointers and has played in the lower league for 11 seasons.

In two games with the Lakers last season, Ingram averaged 12 points, three rebounds, and 3.5 assists. Ingram is expected to be in uniform and ready to take the court as the team opens up a five-game road trip in Chicago on Tuesday.

The Lakers' roster is now at 17 players, and the move makes it unlikely the team will add any free agents for the remainder of the season like Carmelo Anthony or Marcin Gortat.



Photo Credit: Robert Laberge/Getty Images
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<![CDATA[LeBron Notches Triple-Double in Loss to Celtics]]>Sat, 09 Mar 2019 22:37:08 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/210*120/LeBron+and+Kyrie.png

Oh, what could have been.

Six months ago a late season matchup between longtime rivals the Boston Celtics and Los Angeles Lakers looked great on the NBA docket. 

The matchup of two of the NBA's premier franchises was not just a big box office draw, but it could have been a potential NBA Finals preview after LeBron James joined the Lakers in the offseason.

Instead of the renewal of two old rivals, the matchup was a lopsided battle between two teams headed in different directions.

James recorded a triple-double, and Kyrie Irving scored 30 points, as the Boston Celtics blew out the Los Angeles Lakers, 120-107, on Saturday night at Staples Center. 

"They made timely shots," said James after the loss. "We cut it to single digits in the fourth quarter, but we gave up an offensive rebounds. Kyrie [Irving] hit a bg three and that was a tough blow for us."

Nearly a decade ago, these two teams met in the NBA Finals, when Kobe Bryant triumphantly led the Lakers to a Game 7 victory over "The Big Three" of Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Ray Allen.

Despite being the most historic rivalry in the NBA, the two teams had trouble conjuring up the memories of NBA Finals of old. Mostly because the Lakers limped into the game bothered by a plethora of injuries.

"It puts everything in perspective," James said of the injuries to his teammates. "Our league is all about wins and losses, but when injuries happen it puts things in perspective. On the flip side, you just don't take an opportunity for granted when you do get on the floor, because it could be taken away from you and your season could get shutdown like BI's [Brandon Ingram] instance and like Zo's [Lonzo Ball] instance."

The shorthanded Lakers were without Brandon Ingram (shoulder), Lonzo Ball (ankle), Kyle Kuzma (ankle), Lance Stephenson (illness), and Tyson Chandler (neck stiffness).

Meanwhile, Boston was back to full strength and appears poised to make a run at the Eastern Conference. After losing their first four games after the All-Star Break, the Celtics have cruised to victories in four of their last five including a blowout win over the reigning NBA Champion Golden State Warriors. 

"We just want to play well and everybody has to step up and it starts with me and my energy out there and my spirit," said Celtics' star Kyrie Irving of the way the team's played as of late. "We weren't doing that throughout the season consistently and now it's more important than ever for us to have connectivity and be together."

The lackluster Lakers are headed in the opposite direction. Losers of five in a row, and seven of their last eight games, L.A. is close to entering the lottery, a prospect that everyone in the organization would have laughed at when James first announced he was coming to Tinseltown last July.

"I didn't expect to be out five and a half weeks at a crucial point in our season," said James of the disappointing season. "We also didn't expect our other brain of the team, Rajon Rondo, to be out at the same time. I think it just took a hit on our team at a critical point and time."

Before the game, Luke Walton and the Lakers announced James would be on a minutes restriction for the remainder of the season, so it was no surprise when he headed to the bench every time the Lakers got close.

Boston led by just one after the first quarter, but with James on the bench for most of the second, the Celtics took a 10-point lead into halftime. 

"The only thing we did yesterday was play one-minute quarters so we could close them out better," said Celtics head coach Brad Stevens of the way his team closed out the half. "I don't think we have done a good job of that this year. It's something we need to improve upon."

LeBron was back on the court to start the second half, and Los Angeles cut the Celtics lead to four points in the third quarter, but Walton sent LeBron back to the bench, and Boston's lead immediately ballooned to 17 points by the end of the third quarter.

"I thought we played with purpose at the end of the third quarter," said Celtics forward Gordan Hayward. "I thought we worked to get the best shot available and it showed on the scoreboard."

Irving, who could have been holding an audition for Lakers' fans, led the Celtics with 30 points, seven rebounds, five assists and five three-pointers.

"We had to battle and keep Bron [LeBron James] out of the paint, make those other guys beat us and I think we did a good job of tha tonight," said Irving of his performance. "We have one more game on Monday and then we are going to get out of here."

LeBron's former teammate in Cleveland when the Cavaliers won the Finals in 2016, is set to become a free agent at the end of the season, and after a rekindling of their friendship in 2018-2019, many believe that Kyrie could join the Lakers in free agency.

If he was auditioning, Irving certainly should get the part, as he single-handedly dominated the Lakers during stretches throughout the game, proving why he's one of the top ten players in the league. 

"I thought he was really good tonight," Stevens said of Irving. "The third quarter, when they made their run, I thought he obviously steadied us and scored in so many different ways. Scored off the pass, scored off the drive, and did his thing and stopped runs. He pushed it out and gave us a little bit more cushion in the fourth."

Marcus Smart and Marcus Morris each scored 16 points, and Gordon Hayward had 15 points off the bench. Six different players scored in double-figures for the Celtics.

"I think I've been aggressive in each of the games and I've definitely made winning plays for our team," said Hayward. "The thing that I'm most aware of is we've won all those games."

James led the Lakers with the 80th triple-double of his career, scoring 30 points, dishing out 12 assists, and grabbing 10 rebounds in just 28 minutes of action.

"I do like the way we played," said James. "I thought we shared the ball, for the majority of the game, I thought we defended."

Mo Wagner scored a career-high 22 points in his first start of the season, and Johnathan Williams had 18 points off the bench for L.A.

"I wouldn't say I was nervous, but it was a good anxiety," Wagner said of the first start of his career. "I was happy obviously to hear my name, and check my first start off the list."

Notes and Next

Lonzo Ball (left ankle sprain), Kyle Kuzma (ankle sprain), Tyson Chandler (neck stiffness), Lance Stephenson (illness) and Brandon Ingram (shoulder) all missed the game due to injuries. 

The Lakers will travel to Chicago where they will take on the Chicago Bulls on Tuesday night at 5:00PM PT.



Photo Credit: AP Photo/Jae C. Hong]]>
<![CDATA[LeBron James Passes Michael Jordan as Lakers Lose to Nuggets]]>Thu, 07 Mar 2019 00:41:09 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/LeBron+Passes+Jordan+in+Loss+to+Nuggets.png

LeBron James passed Michael Jordan for fourth place on the NBA's all-time scoring list, but it was all downhill after that.

Will Barton scored 23 points and the Denver Nuggets dominated the shorthanded Lakers, 115-99, on Wednesday night at Staples Center.

Following three straight losses to the Milwaukee Bucks, Phoenix Suns, and L.A. Clippers, the Lakers appear to have accepted their fate on missing out on the postseason.

The Lakers were without starters Lonzo Ball, Kyle Kuzma, and Brandon Ingram for the game against the Nuggets, with James seemingly on a slight minutes restriction. 

James played 31 minutes (he averages 36) in the lopsided loss, scoring 31 points in the defeat.

"At the end of the day we're still struggling and I hate that for our franchise, for our fans, and for myself," James said after the loss.

The only excitement and climatic moment in the game was when James finally surpassed Jordan with 5:38 remaining in the second quarter. After tying "His Airness," on a fadeaway jumper seconds before, James drove the lane for a left-handed layup that moved him into rarefied air.

"Of all the things in my career, this ranks right up there with the top," said James of his accomplishment. "I wanted to be like MJ. I didn't know how it was going to happen. A couple teammates asked me how would I like it to be, and I said: 'either a fadeaway in the post or an off two-feet, lean-in, tongue out, dunk off the break."

Denver led wire-to-wire, extending the lead to 23 points in the third quarter, but behind rarely used players Mo Wagner, Alex Caruso, and Johnathan Williams, the Lakers roared back in the fourth quarter. 

"LeBron and the G-League Group," as we'll affectionately call the unit that made the comeback, cut the lead to two, 87-85, midway through the fourth quarter. 

"I loved it," said Lakers' head coach Luke Walton about the effort from that unit. "We're looking for guys that are going to play the way we need to play. There's a certain way to play this game. The respect you show for the game. We found it in the second half with a group consisting of guys: J3 [Johnathan Williams], AC [Alex Caruso], Moe [Moritz Wagner], and Josh Hart."

However, Los Angeles would not get any closer as James was pulled from the game with five minutes remaining and the Nuggets leading by nine. 

All five starters scored in double figures for Denver with Barton leading the way with 23.

"I wanted to lead by example tonight and come out and just play with a lot of energy," said Barton. "You saw I was trying to be everywhere, whether it was rebounding, getting a couple assists, trying to defend, and tonight my shots went in."

Gary Harris scored 19, Paul Millsap had 16, Jamal Murrary added 19, and Nikola Jokic had 12 points, 17 rebounds, and eight assists.

"It's always nice to win the game," said Jokic who helped snap Denver's three-game losing streak. "We were playing to win the game, of course. We relaxed again, so that's not a good thing. We had a 23-point lead and the [Lakers] came back. I think we need to close the games and not have that kind of interesting finish."

Los Angeles was led by James who had a game-high 31. JaVale McGee had 16 points, and Alex Caruso chipped in a career-high 15 off the bench.

"All of us are young and have relentless energy," Caruso said of the unit that consisted of many of his South Bay Lakers teammates. "We fly around, we hit people, we're out there playing as hard as we can. Playing with guys like Rondo and LeBron, it's really easy. Just set screens and shoot when you're open."

The Lakers shot 52 percent from the free throw line and 22 percent from beyond the arc. 

Notes and Next

Lonzo Ball (left ankle sprain),Kyle Kuzma (ankle sprain), Tyson Chandler (neck stiffness), and Brandon Ingram (shoulder) all missed the game due to injuries.

The Lakers will host the Boston Celtics on Saturday at 5:30PM PT. 



Photo Credit: Robert Laberge/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[LeBron Passes Michael Jordan on Scoring List]]>Thu, 07 Mar 2019 04:36:45 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-1133923291.jpg

Move over, Michael. The King has taken your throne. 

LeBron James surpassed Michael Jordan for fourth on the NBA's all-time scoring list with a left-handed layup in the second quarter against the Denver Nuggets on Wednesday night at Staples Center.

The Los Angeles Lakers superstar scored his 32,293rd point on a driving layup in the second quarter against the Denver Nuggets, getting fouled in the act and hitting the ensuing free throw.

"I haven’t been staring him down for a while, actually. I kind of just take all accomplishments as they come," James told reporters at Wednesday's shootaround. "Anytime I’m in the breath with any of the greats, obviously MJ being a guy that I looked up to my whole life, the guy I admired when I was a kid, it’s going to be pretty cool [passing him]. I don’t know how I’m going to react in the moment but I think at some point I’ll be able to appreciate it. Just knowing where I come from and knowing that it’s so much bigger than just me.

"So many other kids look up to me for inspiration. When I was a kid their age, I needed inspiration, and MJ was that inspiration, along with some other people. Sometimes I have no idea how I’m even in this position to be able to play the game that I love, play at a high level and be linked with some of the greatest to ever play this game; obviously MJ being out of this world."

James sat for the remainder of the first quarter, but went back to-work on the offensive end in the second quarter. A few quick buckets and James had suddeny tied his Airness before a left-handed layup in the lane that fell through the hoop for a milestone basket and an "and-one." 

Here's the link to the video of LeBron's basket that surpassed Jordan. 

James surpassed his boyhood idol for fourth place on the list and now trails three former Lakers' legends in Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1st), Karl Malone (2nd), and Kobe Bryant (3rd).

The Lakers and the NBA celebrated James' accomplishment during a timeout after he passed Jordan, by showing a video tribute of James' scoring accomplishment on the video screen. 

Prior to the game, James could hardly contain his excitement for the soon-to-be historic milestone, but tweeting this before the game.



Photo Credit: Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Lakers Lose to Clippers, Cutting Playoff Chances ]]>Tue, 05 Mar 2019 01:13:17 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-1133721557.jpg

The Clippers are the best basketball team in Los Angeles. 

After the Clippers victory over the Knicks on Sunday, point guard Patrick Beverly emphatically stated that the "Clippers are the best team in L.A." He backed those words up on Monday night.

Beverly was tasked with the assignment of guarding LeBron James for most of the night, and scored 13 points of his own, as the Clippers defeated the Lakers, 113-105, on Monday night at Staples Center.

Danilo Gallinari led the Clippers with 23 points. Lou Williams had 21 off the bench, and six different players scored in double figures.

"This is a critical time to win games, and we're locked in," Williams said. "Tonight I felt particularly good about our focus."

The loss puts the Lakers six games behind the Clippers in the Western Conference standings, and the Lakers fell to 5.5 games behind the San Antonio Spurs for the eighth and final playoff spot with just 18 games remaining in the season.

"You keep playing to the end and see what happens," said LeBron James. "I've been talking about it for a while now. Everyone has been talking about the postseason, (but) we should be worried about each and every game and how we can continue to get better with our process and get better with our team."

Meanwhile, the Clippers appear poised for another playoff appearance after missing out on the postseason last year. The Clippers are in the midst of a rebuild, but don't tell that to their organization. 

"We’re going for it!" Clippers' owner Steve Ballmer emphatically stated. Prior to the season, Ballmer acknowledged the team was going through a rebuild, but promised they would still be "competitive." Needless to say they've exceeded expectations.

After stripping down their core players from the best five-year run in franchise history (Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, and DeAndre Jordan), the Clippers find themselves in seventh place in the West, and just a half-game out of sixth.

LeBron James led the Lakers with 27 points, eight rebounds, and six assists. Rajon Rondo had one of his best games of the season, notching a triple-double with 24 points, 10 rebounds, and 12 assists. 

"The ball bounced my way," said Rondo, who recorded the 32nd triple-double of his career. "I tried to come in with energy, made a couple shots, guys made shots for the assists, and as far as rebounding, I was just trying to get to the right spot at the right time and grab some boards for the bigs."

Rondo joined Mark Jackson as the only two players in NBA history to record a triple-double with five different teams in his career. 

"Doing it for five different teams is a testament to my teammates," said Rondo. "I've taken care of my body, been a professional and tried to be productive when I'm on the court."

Kyle Kuzma had 13 points, but left late in the fourth quarter with an ankle injury. Josh Hart chipped in 17 points off the bench. No other Laker scored in double figures. 

"There are days I wake up and feel good, and some days I wake up and it doesn't feel good," said Hart. "It all depends on the day, today it felt good, but my job is to go out there and play as hard as I can with whatever I can."

The Lakers got out to a great start, scoring 34 points in the first quarter. They extended their lead to ten in the second quarter before the Clippers came charging back to take a 61-57 lead into the half.

The Clips scored 35 points in the second quarter as the Lakers defense surrendered nine free throws and 12 points to Gallinari.

It was the Clippers turn to go up double-digits as they led by as many as 13 points in the fourth quarter.

"It felt like in the second half when we missed a lot of those wide-open shots, that kind of deflated a lot of that energy," said Lakers' head coach Luke Walton. "In the third quarter when they put up 30 points on us. They are in the top eight for a reason. They made plays down the stretch and got to give them credit."

One sequence early in the fourth was particularly telling, as Clippers forward Montrezl Harrell drove the lane for an uncontested dunk to put the Clips up ten. James was upset at the defense on the play and yelled at Kuzma.

"I think that was due to a lack of communication," said Rondo of the play. "It wasn't there on a couple possessions. They rolled down the lane for a dunk. It's a good team. I don't want to take any credit away from those guys, but we came up short today."

Seconds later, James made an errant pass that was intercepted by Williams. Rather than rush back down the court for one of his signature chase down blocks, James stood and watched. Williams missed the layup, but no Laker was in sight and Williams grabbed his own miss and laid it in for a 12-point lead.

"That was a sequence. But it wasn't just that," said Hart of the lack of hustle by his teammates on that play. "It's from the first play of the game to the last play of the game. We can't take plays off. In games when you're not making shots, those things are amplified. We have to do the little things."

Those two sequences felt like a microcosm of the Lakers last 20 games, if not the entirety of the season as a whole. Fans definitely noticed, as the sold out Staples Center crowd booed loudly at the Lakers throughout the game.

The Clippers would cruise to victory from there as Harrell and Beverly waved their arms at the crowd as the final buzzer sounded.

"Like I said about us being the best team in LA," began Beverly during his postgame comments. "A lot of people didn’t believe me...That’s fine. Women lie. Men lie. Numbers don’t."

Chasing Air Jordan

James finished with 27 points and is now just 12 points behind Michael Jordan for fourth on the NBA's all-time scoring list.

It's Their Galaxy 

LA Galaxy legends Robbie Keane and Zlatan Ibrahimovic sat courtside for the game.

Notes and Next

Lonzo Ball (left ankle sprain), Lance Stephenson (left toe sprain), Tyson Chandler (neck stiffness), and Brandon Ingram (shoulder) all missed the game due to injuries. Luc Mbah a Moute and Wilson Chandler missed the contest for the Clippers.

The Lakers will host the Denver Nuggets at Staples Center on Wednesday night at 7:30PM PT.



Photo Credit: Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Roundup: Shaq, MJ, Melo, and Snoop]]>Mon, 04 Mar 2019 16:26:44 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/223*120/Lakers+News+LeBron+tongue+out.png

The soap opera that is the 2018-2019 Los Angeles Lakers continues to slug along as we enter the stretch run of the season.

Here's the latest news, updates, and rumors surrounding the Lakers to start off your week:

Battle for LA

Following another baffling loss to one of the league's worst teams in the Phoenix Suns, the Lakers remain 4.5 games behind the San Antonio Spurs for the 8th seed in the Western Conference, and five games behind the L.A. Clippers for the 7th seed.

Thankfully, the Lakers kick off their week with a matchup against those same Clippers at Staples Center on Monday.

The game is a must-win for the Lakers if they want to make one final push for the playoffs in the Western Conference. A win, would mean gaining a full game on their co-tenants, and a loss could seal their playoff-less fate for good.

The Lakers will be without two, and possibly three key contributors for the game, as point guard Lonzo Ball continues to remain out with an ankle injury, and Lance Stephenson will miss his third consecutive game with a sprained toe. Veteran center Tyson Chandler is questionable with neck stiffness.

All eyes will be on LeBron James during the game on Monday, as he currently sits in fifth place on the All-Time NBA scoring list, just 39 points behind No. 4 Michael Jordan.

We all know the GOAT debate in the NBA between James and Jordan continue to dominate the water cooler talks at offices across the country, but James passing Jordan in scoring could certainly be a notch in his belt for when he retires and the discussion advances.

Shaq Sounds Off 

Speaking of James, former Lakers' legend Shaquille O'Neal came to his defense in his podcast (or Shaqcast) on Monday when it came to the way James seemingly calls out his teammates both on the court and off. 

O'Neal stated: "What the hell are you supposed to do?" when it came to calling out teammates who are playing not up to par, and said that he used to do that stuff all the time in his playing days, "Why do you think Kobe and me had beef?" 

O'Neal said that initially, teammates get "mad" when you confront them about how they're playing, but eventually, they are going to play hard. Despite Shaq being on LeBron's side when it comes to his leadership tactics, not everyone agrees with him. 

Fox Sports personality Colin Cowherd sounded off on his morning television show on Monday saying that LeBron is a "lousy leader" this year

Snoop Dogg Selling Lakers Seats for $5

Shaq and Cowherd weren't the only ones to sound off about the Lakers over the weekend. Longtime Lakers' fanatic, and LA native, Snoop Dogg, offered his two-cents on an expletive-filled viral rant following the Lakers loss to the lowly Suns on Saturday.

In the NSFW video, Snoop says the Lakers should fire head coach Luke Walton, and get LeBron some help (putting it mildly). Snoop called the supporting cast around LeBron "goofballs," and said he would sell his box seats to the Lakers for the remainder of the season for the low price of $5.

"I got a booth for the next two, three years," said Snoop in the profanity-laced tirade. "This year, y'all can have it. Five dollars for the [expletive] booth to the Lakers games. Five dollars is the price. Anybody can have it, all the homies, hit me up, blow me up right now."

Carmelo Anthony Not Coming to L.A.

Since the day the Houston Rockets announced they were moving on from Carmelo Anthony, rumors of his eventual landing spot with the Lakers spread like wildfires.

According to Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN, the Lakers and Carmelo Anthony had been talking about a possible contract for the remainder of the season.

However, after losing seven of their last ten games, both parties have placed those talks on pause as the possibility of making the playoffs continue to fade after each game.

The Lakers were initially waiting for the NBA's March 1st deadline to see if any players would come available via buyout that could help Los Angeles make one final push. Outside of Pau Gasol (who signed with the Milwaukee Bucks), Anthony appeared to be the best player still out there.

However, now that it appears the Lakers won't be making the playoffs, those minutes that could have gone to the 34-year-old Anthony, might be better suited for some younger players on the team's G-League affiliate the South Bay Lakers.

Now it's possible should the Lakers go on a winning streak that talks could continue with Anthony, but the team's biggest flaw continues to be defense, not offense. Regardless, it does not appear that Anthony makes a lot of sense for the Lakers at this point and time, and players like Marcin Gortat or Greg Monroe, who could help protect the rim on the defensive end, might be more apropos should the Lakers make one last push for the postseason.

The Lakers will tip-off at 7:30PM PT tonight against the Clippers at Staples Center.



Photo Credit: Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Kareem Abdul-Jabbar Raises $3 Million For Charity]]>Mon, 04 Mar 2019 00:52:27 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/207*120/Kareem+Auction+for+Charity.png

The man known for his skyhook might now be known for his philanthropy.

Los Angeles Lakers' legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar will be walking around a lot lighter after he auctioned off four of his six NBA Championship rings on Sunday. 

Jabbar put 234 memorabilia items up for auction with the entirety of the proceeds going towards his charity, the Skyhook Foundation, whose mission is to give children in poor communities access to better educational opportunities.

According to ESPN, the auction raised nearly $3 million dollars, and all of it is going to the kids.

"When it comes to choosing between storing a championship ring or trophy in a room, or providing kids with an opportunity to change their lives, the choice is pretty simple: Sell it all," Jabbar said when he first announced the auction.

"Looking back on what I have done with my life, instead of gazing at the sparkle of jewels or gold playing celebrating something I did a long time ago, I'd rather look into the delighted face of a child holding their first caterpillar and think about what I might be doing for their future. That's a history that has no price."

Each of Jabbar's four championship rings sold for over $245,000 with his 1987 Championship ring selling for a whopping $398,937.50, the highest of all the items.

In addition to his championship rings, Jabbar also sold signed items like the basketball from his final regular season game, and three of his Most Valuable Player trophies.

Current Lakers' superstar LeBron James was so impressed by Abdul-Jabbar's generosity that he posted the news on Instagram with the caption: "INCREDIBLE!"



Photo Credit: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Kidd and Lue Are Favorites to be Next Lakers Coach]]>Sun, 03 Mar 2019 20:05:58 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-869931860+%281%29.jpg

Most people expect that Luke Walton's days as the Lakers head coach are numbered. 

At this point, the question is not whether or not Walton will be fired, but if he will survive the season or not.

Las Vegas has their thoughts on who should be the next Lakers head coach, and now you can wager on which coach will suit up on the sidelines for LeBron and the Laker Show next season.

The favorites are two former point guards, including one who not only used to play for the Lakers, but won two championships with Los Angeles in 2000 and 2001, and then again as a coach of LeBron in Cleveland in 2016.

Lue was fired by the Cavaliers earlier this season and LeBron immediately tweeted out his support for his former coach by saying: "You know how to contact me if you need me."

Lue currently has an informal role with the Los Angeles Clippers. 

The other overwhelming favorite is future Hall of Famer Jason Kidd who has had brief stints as head coach of the Nets and Milwaukee Bucks in recent years.

Behind Lue and Kidd is NBA commentator Mark Jackson, and former Indiana Pacers and Orlando Magic head coach Frank Vogel.

Other notable betting choices are former Chicago Bulls and Minnesota Timberwolves head coach Tim Thibodeau, 11-time NBA Champion Phil Jackson, and a handful of college coaches including Coach K, Rick Pitino, Jay Wright, Bill Self, and Tom Izzo.

Here are all the odds (Courtesy of Betonline.ag) for the next Lakers head coach including current team President Magic Johnson: 

Jason Kidd +300
Tyronn Lue +350
Luke Walton +400
Mark Jackson +500
Brian Shaw +600
Frank Vogel +700
Kevin McHale +700
Tom Thibodeau +700
Juwan Howard +1000
Coach K +1600
Rick Pitino +1600
Jay Wright +1600
Bill Self +1800
Magic Johnson +3300
Phil Jackson +3300
Tim Izzo +3300



Photo Credit: Gregory Shamus/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Vegas Has LeBron James, Lakers Missing Playoffs]]>Sun, 03 Mar 2019 16:28:42 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/201*120/Lakers+Playoff+Odds.png

Things are not going well for the Lakers.

Losers of six of their last eight games, the Los Angeles Lakers dysfunction on the court is evident, and Las Vegas oddsmakers have taken notice.

Before the season began, LeBron James and the Lakers were -450 (according to Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook) to make the NBA Playoffs. That means that you would have to bet $450 in order to win $100.

At the time, those odds were 12th best in the NBA, and fifth best in the Western Conference behind only the Golden State Warriors, Houston Rockets, Oklahoma City Thunder, and Utah Jazz. 

Since the moment LeBron's agency, Klutch Sports, announced that the three-time NBA Champion, and four-time NBA Most Valuable Player was taking his talents to Los Angeles, the playoffs seemed inevitable.

In fact, it wasn't whether or not James and the Lakers would make the playoffs, but whether or not James' streak of eight consecutive NBA Finals appearances would extend to nine. James has also made the postseason in 13 straight seasons. 

However, after a rollercoaster season filled with a litany of injuries, including a groin strain to James that cost him a career-high 18 missed games, the Lakers chances of even making the playoffs have gone from a guarantee to a quandary.

At the end of February, after a home win against the New Orleans Pelicans seemed to momentarily right the ship, the Lakers odds to make the postseason were +200 (according to Bovada).

That meant, that a bet of $100 on the Lakers making the NBA playoffs would win you $200 if they indeed rallied to finish in the top eight in the Western Conference.

Now, after back-to-back losses to the Milwaukee Bucks and the lowly Phoenix Suns, the Lakers odds of making the playoffs have come tumbling down. Turns out Vegas thinks like the rest of us: if you lose to the worst team in the NBA (in a game you trailed by 19 in the fourth quarter), you don't deserve to make the postseason.

Los Angeles is currently 4.5 games out of the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference, a standing currently held by their co-tenants the Clippers. The Lakers are currently 10th in the West, and are actually closer to 13th (just 2.5 games ahead), then they are to the Playoffs.

As of Sunday, the Lakers odds to make the postseason are +600 (according to Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook). If you're an optimistic and hopeful Lakers fan looking to cash in, a $100 bet will win you $600 if the Lakers pull off a miracle and make the postseason.

That miracle will begin on Monday when they face the Clippers at home in a must-win matchup. A win there means gaining a full game on their quest to make the playoffs, and hopefully the momentum could carry them forward into a run for the ages.

If not, there's always next season.



Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers' Faint Playoff Hopes Eclipsed by Suns]]>Sat, 02 Mar 2019 22:32:22 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/AP_19062118909704.jpg

Stick a fork in them.

Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton combined for 51 points and the Phoenix Suns scorched the Los Angeles Lakers, 118-109, on Saturday night at Talking Stick Resort Arena.

Day-by-day, game-by-game, the Lakers season seemingly is going down in flames.

"Obviously we needed this game," LeBron James told reporters in the locker room after the loss. "We wanted to play well. At times we played well. It's just unfortunate with the opportunity we've had, we haven't been able to seize the opportunity." 

The day after Christmas, the Lakers were in fourth in the Western Conference, and just 2.5 games behind the Golden State Warriors after blowing them out at Oracle Arena.

Since that day--which coincided with LeBron James' groin injury that saw him miss a career-high 18 games--the Lakers have been in a free fall, tumbling into 10th in the West, and now in grave danger of missing the playoffs.

"We have to pick up our effort on the defensive end if we plan on making this playoff push," said Lakers' center JaVale McGee was a perfect 10-for-10 from the field. "We need to sit back and put into perspective what's at hand, Me personally, I haven't had a long summer in a while, and I don't want to have a long summer. Everyone needs to put it all out there and leave it all out there on the court."

After the loss to the Suns, the Lakers are 4.5 games behind the Los Angeles Clippers for the 8th and final playoff spot with just 19 games remaining in the season.

"We can't keep looking at the standings, the standings are going to be what they are no matter what," James said. "I've never been a guy to look that the standings. You just have to go out there and do your job and see what happens after that."

The Lakers biggest problem since the turn of the new calendar year has been defense, among the league's worst in opponent's points per game, Los Angeles struggled on the defensive end once again, allowing the Suns to score 66 points in the first half, and 119 for the game.

"Third quarter we allowed them to jump on us," said James. "They got up double digits. It wasn't there throughout 48 minutes all night. That's the frustrating part of it all."

For most of the game, the Lakers looked lost and disinterested. Their energy level was low, and their sense of urgency and defensive intensity was lacking.

"The tell tonight was our effort to chase down those rebounds, to chase down loose balls, and to be the aggressor," said Lakers' head coach Luke Walton after the loss. "That's why we ended up with a loss tonight."

Less than 24 hours earlier, after one of their best performances of the season through the first 46 minutes of the game, the Lakers inconsistency continued to rear its ugly head, as the team has played up or down to the level of their competition throughout the entirety of the season.

"We get up for the great teams and play down to the level of the other teams. That's not a recipe for sucess," said a frank and candid Kyle Kuzma. "We have to figure out a way to play for one another. We're losing to teams we shouldn’t lose to. We've lost to every bad team in the league, and that's unacceptable. Obviously, there's something wrong with this team."

After an atrocious first three quarters, the Lakers trailed by as many as 19 points in the fourth quarter, but responded with a 21-to-6 run to get within three points with just over a minute remaining.

"We need to be a lot better," said Walton. "I'm happy with the fight that we showed in the fourth quarter, but that's the desperation we need to start the game with."

Unfortunately for the Lakers, the game may have come down to their Achilles' heel: free throws. 

Phoenix made six straight free throws in the final seconds, and James missed two crucial gimmes when they game was still within reach.

"That's frustrating for me personally on how I'm shooting free throws," said James. "For the individual part of it, that's frustrating for me. I definitely could have played a lot better throughout the whole game."

Overall, the Suns made 34 free throws to the Lakers 15. Los Angeles shot 65 percent from the charity stripe, and missed eight free throws in total.

The Suns shot a blistering 52 percent from the field, and were led by rookie, and first overall pick of the 2018 NBA Draft Deandre Ayton, who finished with 26 points and 10 rebounds.

Booker had 25 points and five three-pointers. Kelly Oubre Jr. added 14 points and Josh Jackson chipped in 16 off the bench.

James led the Lakers with 27 points, 16 assists, and nine rebounds. Brandon Ingram continued his unconscious stretch of scoring with 25 points. Kyle Kuzma had 13 points, and JaVale McGee had one of his best games with 21 points.

"I thought JaVale was great," Walton said of McGee. "He was playing with energy. The group as a whole didn't have it. Until the fourth quarter we didn't engage ourselves."

Surpassing the Mamba

LeBron James surpassed Lakers' legend Kobe Bryant for fifth place on the NBA's all-time career field goals list during the game.

Notes and Next

Lonzo Ball (left ankle sprain) did not play in the game. Lance Stephenson missed his second straight game with a sprained right toe.

Los Angeles will host their Staples Center co-tenants, the Clippers, on Monday night in what is certainly a "must-win" game against the team their chasing.

All quotes courtesy of Spectrum SportsNet.



Photo Credit: Rick Scuteri/AP]]>
<![CDATA[LA Galaxy Give David Beckham a Statue]]>Sat, 02 Mar 2019 20:16:27 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/206*120/David+Beckham+Statue.png

"Becks" has been immortalized.

The Los Angeles Galaxy paid tribute to a global soccer icon on Saturday, when they unveiled a statue in honor of David Beckham inside the newly built Legends Plaza outside Dignity Health Sports Park (formerly StubHub Center). 

Beckham was born and raised in London's East End, where he regularly played football in the streets in Ridgeway Park. He grew up a loyal supporter of Manchester United, and eventually signed with the team as a trainee in July of 1991.

He made his first appearance with the club's first team in September 1994, and remained with the team until 2003. Beckham then joined Real Madrid for five seasons before transferring to the LA Galaxy in 2007.

"If you had turned to me when I first joined the Galaxy and said 'one day you'll have a statue in front of the stadium' I would have just laughed," said Beckham. "It's a very special day."

In his six seasons with the Galaxy (two on loan to AC Milan), Beckham helped hoist two MLS Cups.

"I'm truly grateful to the Galaxy for putting me in this status," continued Beckham. "To get something like this, I feel truly honored."

Beckham said he went from a boy with a dream to play for Manchester United, to a man with a dream to one day get a statue, and thanked the city of Los Angeles for making his dreams come true.

"When I first moved to LA, people told me: 'LA is a place where dreams come true.' Well, LA, today a dream came true," said Beckham to the crowd and fans in attendance during the ceremony, which took place just a couple hours before the Galaxy's home opener against the Chicago Fire. "I know how important getting a statue is. It really means so much to get one here, in a place I call home. I feel very special today."

Numerous former players and teammates of Beckham were on hand for the ceremony including Cobi Jones, Mike Magee, Mauricio Cienfuegos, and Robbie Keane.

"I hope I see you all here next year for my statue," joked Keane. 

Later at halftime, Beckham joined Jones, Cienfuegos, and the late Dougie Hamilton, as he was inducted into the LA Galaxy's Ring of Honor.

During both ceremonies, the Galaxy played a tribute video of Becks, featuring guest appearances by Snoop Dogg, Landon Donovan, Bruce Arena, Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Beckham's children, and the great Kobe Bryant.

"When my kids came on the screen, that kind of sent me over the edge. It's an emotional day," said Beckham who was joined by his parents, and his famous wife, Victoria Beckham, a member of the band the Spice Girls. "Unfortunately, my kids couldn't be here because school is more important, but at some point the kids will be here to see what Dad's created and I'm sure they'll be very proud of that."

The statue, which was designed and created by Julie and Omri Amrany, the owners of the Fine Arts Studio of Rotblatt Amrany and Timeless Creations, Inc. They also designed Kareem Abdul-Jabbar's statue in Star Plaza outside Staples Center.

The statue depicting Beckham's likeness is of the great right-winger taking a free kick, his trademark move that spawned the film "Bend it Like Beckham" in 2002. 

"I'm pretty happy with it," said Beckham after viewing the statue for the first time. "I wish I had that size legs when I was playing, to be honest, I might have had a little bit more power."

The Galaxy went on to defeat the Fire, 2-1, in the match, with Ibrahimovic scoring his first goal of the 2019 MLS season.



Photo Credit: Meg Oliphant/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[LeBron, Lakers Run Out of Gas Late as Bucks Beat LA]]>Sat, 02 Mar 2019 01:05:12 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/172*120/AP_19061162015568.jpg

Fear the Deer.

Giannis Antetokounmpo had 16 points and 15 rebounds, and the Milwaukee Bucks beat the Los Angeles Lakers, 131-120, on Friday night at Staples Center.

LeBron James played 39 minutes, his sixth consecutive game with 37 or more minutes, and finished with 31 points, 10 assists, and seven rebounds in the loss.

"It's win or lose. That's it," said James after the loss. "Obviously, you want to build, but it's win or lose in that particular moment. I'm a guy who lives in the present."

Despite the lopsided final score, the Lakers appeared to be in the driver's seat for most of the game. Los Angeles led at the half, and built a 12-point lead midway through the third quarter.

"I thought against one of the best teams in the league, we really played well," said Lakers head coach Luke Walton. "And then for some reason we kind of fell apart at the end there."

The Lakers were riding high off the momentum of their victory over the New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday, and came out with the intensity, urgency, and energy needed to keep pace with the NBA's best team.

Brandon Ingram started the game 8-for-8, and finished with 31 points and eight rebounds, he also had one memorable highlight worthy dunk over an old friend.

Ingram posterized his former teammate, Brook Lopez, when he drove the lane for a one-handed slam in the third quarter.

"I would have rather got the win," Ingram said about his dunk over Lopez after the game. "I'm just continuing to be aggressive. It's been fun for me to get out on the floor and just be aggressive and go at my defener all the time, rebound the basketball and enjoy playing with my teammates."

Two days after playing just 24 minutes in Sacramento, Giannis was on the court for 32 minutes on Friday, and helped lead a 12-0 run at the end of the third quarter to erase the Lakers large lead.

"I think we have patience," said Giannis of the comeback. "Offensively, we were trying to find the best man available and that was Eric [Bledsoe] down the stretch. Defensively, we were just covering one another...that's why we were able to make a run."

Los Angeles fought hard in the fourth quarter, as the back-and-forth battle that featured 20 different lead changes came down to the wire. 

The Lakers trailed by three with 1:54 left, but turned the ball over on the inbounds pass and Malacom Brogdon sank a three to put Milwaukee up six. Seconds later, after another turnover, Eric Bledsoe sank a three-pointer to put the Bucks up nine, all but sealing the Lakers fate. Milwaukee closed the game on a 15-2 run over the final two minutes.

"We just had a couple turnovers. That inbounds really hurt us. Brogdon hit a big three," said Lakers' forward Kyle Kuzma who had 12 points. "Then Bledsoe hit that three, and that mentally depleted us."

Bledsoe finished with a team-high 31 points and nine rebounds. Brogdon had 21, Khris Middleton chipped in 18, and Lopez had 11. Seven different players scored in double figures for Milwaukee.

"It was another great fourth quarter and we're continuing to grind and find a way to win a game on the road when I don't think we were at our best," said Milwaukee head coach Mike Budenholzer. "I think the Lakers had something to do with us not being at our best, but obviously an impressive finish by Eric Bledsoe individually."

After starting the game 0-for-5 from beyond the arc, Rajon Rondo hit four three-pointers, and finished with 20 points. 

"Offensively, it's not the problem," said Rondo. "It's continous defensive woes that we're having. Give them credit. They made shots. They're a very deep team, but at the same time, when it counted most, we didn't get stops."

The Lakers are among the league's worst in defense over the last 15 games. They allow over 122 points per game (30th) and over 20 fast break points to their opponents. The Bucks had 20 on Friday.

The Bucks bench outscored the Lakers 34-21. Los Angeles was improved from the free throw line, shooting 83 percent.

For the second straight game a fan hit a half-court shot, but the Lakers were unable to secure the win after the big basket that takes place between the third and fourth quarters.

On Wednesday, a fan sank the shot and took home a check for a cool $100,000. On Friday, the jackpot was only $25,000, but still a hefty prize for the attendee. The Lakers fell to 8-2 in games a fan sinks the half-court shot promotion.

Milwaukee has won four consecutive games against the Lakers, and seven games overall. They clinched a playoff spot with the victory.

"I didn't know we made the playoffs, that's amazing," said Giannis when he was told. "It's still 20 games left and we have momentum going. Guys keep taking it step by step, game by game, getting better and trust one another. We just need to keep winning games."

Both teams were playing the front end of a back-to-back, and will meet again in a rematch in on March 19 in Milwaukee.

Play of the Game:

Brandon Ingram, who was a perfect 8-for-8 from the field for 16 points in the first half, put Bucks' forward Nikola Mirotic through the spin cycle and drove baseline for the reverse one-handed slam.

Notes and Next

Lonzo Ball (left ankle sprain) did not play in the game. Lance Stephenson sat out with a sprained right toe.

Los Angeles will travel to the Valley of the Sun for the second night of a back-to-back in Phoenix on Saturday.



Photo Credit: AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers' Lonzo Ball Out Another Week With Ankle Injury]]>Fri, 01 Mar 2019 14:04:34 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/206*120/Lonzo+Ball+Lakers.png

Los Angeles Lakers guard Lonzo Ball needs at least one more week to recover from his bone bruise and sprained ankle.

The Lakers' medical staff evaluated the point guard Thursday.

Ball has missed 14 consecutive games since Jan. 19, when he sprained his left ankle in a collision with Houston's James Harden. The Lakers projected Ball would miss four to six weeks, and he will pass six weeks this weekend.

The Lakers plan to re-evaluate Ball in one week, the team says. They are 5-9 in his absence.

Ball is averaging 9.9 points, 5.4 assists and 5.3 rebounds while playing strong defense in his second NBA season.

Rajon Rondo returned to the Lakers' starting lineup Wednesday in their 125-119 victory over New Orleans.

Lakers' head coach Luke Walton announced at a morning shootaround on Friday, that Rondo would start later that night against the Milwaukee Bucks.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Lonzo Ball #2 of the Los Angeles Lakers during a game against the Dallas Mavericks at American Airlines Center on January 07, 2019 in Dallas, Texas. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agre]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Keep Playoff Hopes Alive With Win Over Pelicans]]>Thu, 28 Feb 2019 01:12:04 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/197*120/LeBron+James+Pelicans.png

The Lakers have a pulse.

LeBron James scored 33 points and the Los Angeles Lakers defeated the New Orleans Pelicans, 125-119, on Wednesday night at Staples Center.

Defense was neither team's strong suit as the two teams matched up for the second time in five days.

"We knew playing New Orleans that we owed them a little revenge after they killed us there," said Lakers' forward Kyle Kuzma.

The game also marked the first time James and Pelicans' All-Star Anthony Davis took the floor opposite each other since "The Brow," requested a trade at the beginning of February. Despite not being moved at the deadline, most NBA experts still believe Davis will be dealt in the offseason either to the Lakers or the Celtics.

Before the game, Davis received a boisterous ovation from Lakers fans during player introductions. 

Despite the ovation from the fans pregame, Davis did not see the court in the fourth quarter, due to a team-mandated minutes restriction, and scored 22 points and grabbed eight rebounds in just 20 minutes of action.

"It's tough not being out on the floor," said Davis. "Especially in crunch time situations. We battled and hit some tough shots near the end."

Former Laker Julius Randle continued to give his old team fits as he led New Orleans with 35 points. In three games against the Lakers this season, Randle has 80 points.

"I just tried to be aggressive from the start," said Randle. "Regardless, I missed some easy shots early I wish I didn't miss. Just be aggressive and get it going."

The Lakers led by as many as 12 points in the fourth quarter, but the pesky Pelicans refused to go away, chipping away at the lead and keeping it close every time L.A. went on a run.

"We just found a way to hang around," said Pelicans' head coach Alvin Gentry. "We had our opportunities, but we couldn't make open shots. LeBron did what LeBron does."

The highlight of the game came midway through the third quarter when the Lakers slammed home four consecutive dunks to ignite the raucous crowd. Kyle Kuzma started the dunk barrage with back-to-back slams before a timeout from the Pelicans.

After the timeout, James received a pass from Rajon Rondo streaking down the lane for a one-handed slam, and the Lakers stole the inbounds pass, finding Kuzma streaking into the paint for another one-handed jam that sent Staples Center into a sea of jubilation.

"Do [Rondo] hit me streaking, with Do's quarterback skills and my wide receiver skills, I was able to get one down the miller," said James of his dunk in the sequence. "Those four dunks were more than eight points. It just shifted the momentum of the game and shifted our intensity. That sequence was pretty good."

However, Darius Miller drained a three-pointer with 1:38 remaining to put the Pelicans within one, 118-117, but after a layup for Brandon Ingram, James drained a one-footed, fadeaway three-pointer from the corner to ground the plucky Pelicans once and for all.

Ingram finished with 23 points, Kuzma had 22 points, Reggie Bullock added 14 and Rondo had 11 with 16 assists, as all five Lakers starters scored in double figures.

"I played a lot of minutes," joked Rondo who started the game for the first time since Feb. 7 against Boston. "When we take pride in defense and get stops, we are able to get out in transition and create mismatches in transition and get open looks."

Jrue Holiday had 19 points and 10 assists for New Orleans, and Frank Jackson chipped in 15 points off the bench.

"Frank's situation is going to be similar to most young guys. He's going to have good games and bad games," said Gentry of Jackson. "I think for us, we have to continue to put him out there...he's getting better in those areas."

The Lakers kept their playoff hopes alive with the victory, but still remain three games behind the Clippers for the eighth and final playoff spot. New Orleans continues to fade in the loaded Western Conference and now find themselves in 13th place, seven games out of a playoff spot.

Notes and Next

Lonzo Ball (left ankle sprain) did not play in the game. Lance Stephenson limped to the locker room early in the fourth quarter and did not return. He was diagnosed with a sprained toe on his left foot and X-rays were negative.

Los Angeles will host the Eastern Conference leading Milwaukee Bucks on Friday night at Staples Center.



Photo Credit: Yong Teck Lim/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Playoff Hopes Falter in Memphis]]>Mon, 25 Feb 2019 21:25:12 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/AP_19057106177551.jpg

Without a sense of urgency desire loses its value.

Mike Conley Jr. had 30 points and the Memphis Grizzlies handed the Los Angeles Lakers their second consecutive loss to a non-playoff team, 110-105, on Monday night at FedEx Forum. 

Prior to the game, Lakers forward LeBron James, questioned his team's sense of urgency after an uninspiring loss to the plucky New Orleans Pelicans, 128-115, on Saturday night.

"Sometimes we're afraid to be uncomfortable and kind of get out of our comfort zone and kind of, you know, have that sense of urgency from the jump, and not be afraid to actually go out and fail to succeed," James said after the loss in New Orleans.

The Lakers had the perfect opponent to hit the reset button in the minnow Memphis Grizzlies (23-38), but once again L.A.'s defense was lackluster against the NBA's lowest scoring team.

"Obviously we have to be a little bit more sound on the defensive end," James told reporters after the game. "We got timely stops, but we didn't shoot the ball particularly well today. It just wasn't on our side to win."

The Grizzlies average just 99 points per game on the season, but started off on fire in the first half, scoring 61 points in the first two quarters to jump out to a 61-56 lead at the break. 

The Lakers picked up their defensive intensity in the second half, but their offense disappeared, especially late in the game, as Los Angeles was unable to climb out of their early hole to overcome the Grizzlies who never trailed after the first quarter.

In just his fourth game with the Grizzlies, Jonas Valanciunas, had 20 points and 13 rebounds in just 24 minutes. Former Clippers guard Avery Bradley had 15 points, and veteran Joakim Noah had 14 points and 12 rebounds off the bench. 

Los Angeles had no answers for Mike Conley Jr., who led Memphis with 30 points, five assists and three three-pointers.

"He's been an anchor of this franchise for a long time and showed tonight why," James said of Conley. "You know what you're going to get out of him every night."

Brandon Ingram led the Lakers for the second straight contest with a game-high 32 points, and LeBron James recorded another triple-double with 24 points, 12 rebounds and 11 assists.

"I'm just making shots now," Ingram told the meadia of his offensive explosion the last three games. I need to continue to repeat everything I do in my daily routine and come in here with the confidence to make free throws and being confident everywhere, but I don't think my game matters at all if we don't get the win."

"He's just been in the zone," James said of Ingram. "Whatever it is, he needs to stay there."

The Lakers bench was outscored 33 to 7 and outrebounded 57 to 46 in the loss.

Through the first 22 minutes of the game, the Lakers were outrebounded on the offensive glass, eight to zero, but finished with 10 offensive boards to the Grizzlies 15. 

Los Angeles was looking to flip the switch as they head into the stretch run of the season and make a last-ditch playoff push.

Meanwhile, Memphis had abandoned their playoff hopes long ago, after losing four straight games before tonight.

The loss drops the Lakers into a tie for 11th place in the Western Conference and they are currently 3.5 games behind the Los Angeles Clippers for the eighth and final playoff spot. 

"We just have to stay positive and keep knocking on the door," said James who passed Andre Miller during the game for 10th on the all-time career assists list with 8,525 and counting. "I feel like if we play like we did tonight and get a consistent effort, then we'll get over the hump as we make this push. This is a tough loss."

Lakers' head coach Luke Walton agreed with James that it was a tough loss, but he seemingly says that after every loss these days. 

"Tough loss, but I was pleased with the effort and togetherness of our group tonight," Walton told reporters. "Offensively, we weren't coming down and making the plays we had to win on the road."

Notes and Next

Lonzo Ball (right ankle) remained out for the Lakers. Chandler Parsons has played the last three games for the Grizzlies after missing most of the season with a recurring knee injury. 

The Lakers will hope home court advantage will be the cure for what ails them as they host the New Orleans Pelicans on Wednesday night at Staples Center.



Photo Credit: Brandon Dill/AP]]>
<![CDATA[Lackluster Lakers Lose to Short-handed Pelicans ]]>Sat, 23 Feb 2019 20:44:12 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/210*120/Lakers+and+Pelicans+loss.png

No Anthony Davis, no problem for the Pelicans.

Jrue Holiday scored 27 points and the undermanned New Orleans Pelicans stunned the lackluster Los Angeles Lakers, 128-115, on Saturday night at Smoothie King Center.

Just two days after their most impressive victory of the season — a 111-106 comeback win over the Houston Rockets — the Lakers looked lethargic and slipshod against the short-handed Pelicans.

"Tough loss for us," Lakers head coach Luke Walton told reporters. "We were trying to build on things from the second half of the Houston game: making free throws, turnovers, we had 23 turnovers tonight, they had 16 or 17 extra shot attempts than us tonight, and our defense."

Playing without their superstar, the Pelicans pounced on the Lakers early, scoring 42 points in the first quarter, to jump out to a 12-point lead at halftime.

"We needed to start the game with much better energy," added Walton.

The 42 points was the most points New Orleans has scored in any quarter this season. 

Former Laker, Julius Randle, continued to be a thorn in his old team's side as he finished with 24 points. Elfrid Payton contributed 14 points and nine assists.

Cheick Dallo and Ian Clark combined for 35 points off the bench for New Orleans.

Brandon Ingram led the Lakers with a game-high 29 points. LeBron James had 27 points and 12 assists.\

"We didn't play well enough to win," said a visibly frustrated James after the loss. "We have 23 games left, we'll see what happens."

Kyle Kuzma had 16 points, eight rebounds, and seven assists.

"There was no sense of urgency," Kuzma told the media. "It's been like that all year. We have a big game against a good team, and then we play a team that's lesser and we play down to their level. There's no urgency. We didn't work together defensively. We just didn't bring it."

Davis played 19 minutes in the Pelicans 111-126 loss to the Pacers on Friday night, and was resting on the second night of a back-to-back. Davis has been unhappy in New Orleans after he wasn't traded to the Lakers (or any team) at the deadline.

Davis requested a trade in February, and has notified New Orleans that he will not be re-signing with the team after the 2020 season.

In what might be their most disappointing loss of the season, Los Angeles had 23 turnovers (mostly on haphazard passes) and shot just 65 percent from the free throw line. 

"We're all frustrated," concluded Walton. "We wanted to come in here and win this game, we know how important this is."

All five Pelicans starters scored in double-figures, and New Orleans shot 52 percent from the field. 

Notes and Next

Lonzo Ball (right ankle) did not play in the game. Anthony Davis (shoulder) missed the second night of a back-to-back for the Pelicans. 

The Lakers will travel to Memphis to face the Grizzlies on Monday before a rematch with the Pelicans at Staples Center on Wednesday. 



Photo Credit: AP Photo/Matthew Hinton]]>
<![CDATA[James Leads Lakers Comeback Over Rockets]]>Fri, 22 Feb 2019 00:48:02 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/210*120/LeBron+and+Harden.png

Playoff mode activated.

LeBron James scored 29 points and the Los Angeles Lakers snapped a five-game home losing streak to the Houston Rockets, 111-106, on Thursday night at Staples Center.

Less than 24 hours after James proclaimed that his "playoff intensity level had been activated," the four-time NBA MVP put his money where his mouth is, when he helped the Lakers erase a 19-point second half deficit.

"It wasn't that I needed to reach another level [of intensity], it was that I needed to be at that level right now," said James of his comments and whether or not his performance on Thursday was what he meant. "The circumstances that we're in, I needed to kickstart something a little bit earlier than I've done in the past. Tonight was a good step in the right direction."

James led the Lakers to victory with 29 points, 11 rebounds, and six assists. Brandon Ingram chipped in 27 points and 13 rebounds as all five starters scored in double figures.

"We showed that grit and grind tonight," said James of the comeback. "We played Laker basketball. Hopefully we can continue that on the road."

Kyle Kuzma had 18 points, Reggie Bullock had 14, and Javale McGee had 11 points and two blocks.

"In the first quarter a lot of our heads were down," admitted Kuzma. "We adjusted and came back from being down 19. We made key plays down the stretch."

James Harden had a game-high 30 points in the loss. Chris Paul had 23 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists in his first game against the Lakers since he was suspended for an altercation with Rajon Rondo at Staples Center during the second game of the season. Paul missed 16 games before the NBA All-Star Break with a hamstring injury.

"We know what we're capable of. We know that we can get the lead, so now we just have to figure out how to keep it," said Paul after the loss. "We just have to keep playing and fighting and making sure our spirits are right."

Both teams showed signs of rust to start the game. Paul and Harden were a combined 7-for-18 in the first half, and LeBron was a paltry 5-for-13 from the field. 

After a back-and-forth battle in the first quarter, the Rockets led by as many as 13 points in the second quarter, before Los Angeles cut the lead to four points just before the half.

Houston opened up the third quarter on a 9-2 run to take an early 13-point lead, eventually extending the lead to 19 points before the Lakers mounted their comeback. 

"It got ugly in that third quarter," said James. 

Led by James, the Lakers took the lead 98-97 with 4:15 remaining in the game, their first lead since midway through the first quarter.

"He's had more of a serious focus on his face over the last two days," said Lakers head coach Luke Walton about James. "I think he recognized where we were at and the urgency we needed to play with. He was huge in getting a win for us tonight."

Harden fouled out on back-to-back offensive fouls with just over a minute remaining. Paul would foul out 40 seconds later with the game slipping away.

"I sacrifice my body, I sacrifice for my team. I'll take a charge, and get defensive rebounds. Whatever it takes to win ball games," added James of the offensive fouls on Harden, one of which he drew.

The Lakers went 18-for-18 from the free throw line down the stretch.

The victory snapped a five-game home losing streak to the Rockets, and a three-game losing streak to Houston this season.

Los Angeles now has six come from behind victories this season when trailing by 15 points or more in the game.

New Faces

Two players acquired at the NBA trade deadline made their debut in the Rockets-Lakers rivalry. Reggie Bullock made just his third start with the Lakers and Kenneth Faried saw his first action against the Lakers, in his 13th game with Houston. 

Notes and Next

Lonzo Ball (left ankle sprain) and Mike Muscala (right ankle sprain) both missed the game. Clint Capela returned from a right thumb injury and made his first start since Jan. 13.

Los Angeles will travel to New Orleans where they will take on Anthony Davis and the Pelicans on Saturday.



Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Kuzma wins Rising Stars MVP, Talks LeBron]]>Sat, 16 Feb 2019 08:58:33 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/210*120/KuzWinsMVP.png

Kyle Kuzma MVP? We like the sound of that.

Los Angeles Lakers forward Kyle Kuzma proved he was ready for the bright lights of the NBA All-Star Weekend as he put on an MVP performance in the Rising Stars game on Friday night in Charlotte.

Kuzma led all scorers with 35 points and hoisted the game's MVP trophy following the win, as his USA team defeated the World Squad, 161-144.

Bosto Celtics sophomore forward Jayson Tatum scored 30 points for the U.S. team, as the two teams combined for 37 three-pointers, 55 ducks and just 12 free throws in the exhibition match.

"Last year, the World team kicked our butts," Kuzma said. "They came in here and beat us by 30. A lot of us kind of remembered that."

It was 31, actually — 155-124, not that it matters.

Kuzma had quite the day on Friday in Charlotte. Not only did he take home MVP honors in the Rising Stars game, but he also had many a comments during the media session before the game. 

Kuzma told reporters that he enjoyed playing with superstar teammate LeBron James in Los Angeles, stating:

"For me, I wouldn't want it any other way. I want people to talk about me, good or bad, because if you're not, you're not doing something right. I'd rather be talked about bad in L.A., than play in Orlando and not get talked about."

Kuzma was rumored to be in trade talks with the New Orleans Pelicans before the NBA trade deadline, and after Friday's performance, likely will be asked about by teams in the offseason as well. Kuzma is averaging 19.1 points and 5.6 rebounds in 53 games this season.

Atlanta's Trae Young finished with 25 points and 10 assists, Sacramento's De'Aaron Fox had 15 assists and Utah's Donovan Mitchell added 20 points, nine assists and seven rebounds.

Everyone looked happy afterward.

The U.S. squad had a bit more reason to look that way.

"There's a $25,000 bonus for winning the game," Kuzma said. "So that's good."

Philadelphia's Ben Simmons led the World team with 28 points on 14 for 17s hooting. Chicago's Lauri Markkanen had 21 points for the World squad, and Dallas' Luka Doncic had 13 points and nine assists.

Both teams shot 55 percent. The difference was on 3s — the U.S. was 21 for 51, while the World was 16 for 52.

The mood from the outset was predictably light, even including the pregame speeches from U.S. coach Kyrie Irving of the Boston Celtics and World coach Dirk Nowitzki of the Dallas Mavericks.

"I want us to share the ball and not one guy dribble it 20 times and hoist something up — like Luka does with the Mavs," Nowitzki said, laughing a bit at his own joke.

Irving's message was succinct.

"Just have some fun," Irving said. "It's OK to compete."

Doncic talked Phoenix's DeAndre Ayton out of taking the opening tap for the World team, with the young Mavs star jumping against Fox instead of having either center handle the honors. Young was throwing an alley-oop lob to Atlanta teammate John Collins for a 360-degree dunk in one possession, then crossing over Josh Okogie in almost comical fashion on the next.

"We gotta play some defense," Mitchell implored teammates at one point.

It was unclear if anyone ever actually listened to his plea.

There was one foul called in the entire first half, Markkanen getting whistled for it with 4:13 remaining until halftime. The first half saw 25 dunks and 20 3-pointers in 20 minutes — the sides played 10-minute quarters. Late in the half, Collins flashed a crossover dribble, then underhand-tossed a pass off the backboard to himself for a dunk that had players on both sides reacting in mock disbelief.

FORMAT

This was the fifth year of the U.S. vs. World format; the World now leads the all-time series, 3-2.

All 10 players on the World team hailed from a different nation, and four different continents were represented. And eight of the players in this year's game were also in last year's event — Mitchell, Collins, Tatum, Kuzma and Fox for the U.S.; Markkanen, Simmons and 2018 game MVP Bogdan Bogdanovic were repeaters for the World side.

NBA FEEL

Nowitzki and the World coaching staff from the Denver Nuggets largely stayed seated the whole game, while Irving worked the sideline like an actual NBA coach would — even running time-outs, working alongside the Milwaukee Bucks' staff. Brooklyn's D'Angelo Russell, Phoenix's Devin Booker and San Antonio's Danny Green were at the game, and Minnesota's Karl-Anthony Towns was courtside in a World jersey to represent for his Okogie, his Timberwolves teammate.

SOMBER MOMENT

A pregame moment of silence was held immediately before the Canadian and U.S. national anthems in honor of the victims of the shooting in the Chicago suburb of Aurora, Illinois earlier Friday.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)]]>
<![CDATA[Luke Walton Should Remain Coach of Lakers]]>Wed, 13 Feb 2019 17:24:06 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/207*120/Lakers+Walton+Firing.png

For better or worse, Luke Walton is the coach of the Los Angeles Lakers, and it should stay that way.

Before you throw whatever device your reading this on out the window, and call me an imbecile, hear me out. I'm not proclaiming that Walton is the permanent answer, or the matriarch to take LeBron James and company back to the Promised Land.

Quite the contrary actually, I personally don't believe that Walton is the best coach most suited to navigate a LeBron James led team to the NBA Finals and beyond. After this season, Walton should be handed his walking papers and thanked for his efforts on the way out the door. But it should be after the season, not during.

Listen, I know Lakers fans are upset. You've waited nearly six weeks for LeBron James to return to action, and when he does, you witness the Lakers lose by a whopping 42 points to the Victor Oladipo-less Indiana Pacers, 23 points to the new-look Philadelphia 76ers, and then the final nail in the coffin, a lackluster loss to the bottom-feeding Atlanta Hawks, in which the team literally looked like they were lost and unexcited to be on the court together.

Granted, a lot of onus can, and should be placed firmly on Walton's shoulders. Effort is something he can control, as is the players he chooses to put on the court. One of the Lakers biggest Achilles' heels all season long has been their absolutely atrocious free throw shooting. As a team, the Lakers are shooting 68.7 percent from the free throw line this season, that is dead-last in the NBA. While Walton can't take the free throws for the players, or force them to make them, he can control how often they practice the shot, and come up with creative ways to come up with a cure for what ails them at the charity stripe.

Despite Walton's warranted responsibility for some of the Lakers woes this season, he is not solely to blame for the bevy of issues that have befallen the Lakers. LeBron James missed 18 games this season with a groin injury. Rajon Rondo has undergone two surgical procedures and missed over nine weeks of action. Starting point guard Lonzo ball is currently out with a sprained ankle and is expected to miss four to six weeks. Brandon Ingram has missed multiple games between suspensions and ankle injuries.

The Lakers are one game below .500, but just four games behind the San Antonio Spurs who currently sit in seventh place in the vaunted Western Conference. Gregg Popovich is widely considered to be the best coach in the NBA, and you can only imagine where the Spurs would be had they had similar injuries to LaMarcus Aldridge, DeMar DeRozan, and Rudy Gay.

Additionally, the team that was built by president Magic Johnson and general manager Rob Pelinka was a mismatched bunch from the beginning. The front office constructed a team of misfits and vagabonds around James that don't enhance his strengths, or put the team in the best position to win games. It took Johnson and Pelinka over half a season to realize what everyone knew from the start: that you need shooters around James in order to space the floor and keep the defense from clamping down on the four-time MVP. Therefore, the front office needs to shoulder some of this burden as well.

Finally, and most importantly, foresight and the bigger picture must also be taken into consideration. After being unable to complete a trade for New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis, or acquiring another superstar to go alongside James before the season, the Lakers are long shots to advance to the NBA Finals in 2019, regardless of who the head coach is. 

The Golden State Warriors are by far and away the best team in the NBA, and with a starting five of perennial All-Stars, they won't be toppled by James and the young guns anytime soon.

Outside of LeBron's last coach, Tyronn Lue, no other NBA team in recent memory has fired their head coach at the All-Star break and then went on to win the NBA Finals. Even if the Lakers were to fire Walton, the alternatives: Jeff Van Gundy, Marc Jackson, and Brian Shaw, would not be able to right the ship as quickly as Walton could.

Unfortunately, the Lakers are stuck in their current predicament, and must look to finish the season strong, make the playoffs, and hope for a first-round series win before ultimately falling to the Warriors in the second round or in the Western Conference Finals. Walton is more than capable of getting the Lakers to that point before he rides off into the sunset.

In the meantime, the Lakers need to focus on the future: this summer's offseason. The front office will certainly need to find a replacement for Walton, and an additional superstar to pair with James, not to mention complimentary role players to fit in around them. That should be the focus for the front office, and finding a head coach that can bring out the best in James and whomever they sign or acquire with him. Not firing Walton, promoting Shaw (or hiring someone else), and doing that with 25 games remaining in the season.



Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Head Into All-Star Break with Losing Record]]>Tue, 12 Feb 2019 20:59:45 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/207*120/Lakers+Lose+to+Hawks.png

The Lakers lost to the Hawks. Let that sink in for a minute.

Young stars Trae Young and John Collins each had 22 points and the Atlanta Hawks held on to defeat the Los Angeles Lakers, 117-113, on Tuesday night at State Farm Arena.

There's no way to describe this game without stating the obvious: this was an atrocious loss. Just a few days after beating the Boston Celtics in the Garden, the Lakers, with LeBron James, lost to one of the worst teams in the NBA, and looked completely lethargic and disinterested on the court. 

Whether it was wide-open layups, or open looks from three, the Hawks had whatever shot they wanted against the Lakers lackluster defense that allowed 117 points to Atlanta. Since January, the Lakers have allowed 124 points per game to their opposition. 

"This was a disappointing loss for us," said Lakers' head coach Luke Walton to reporters after the game. "It's time for us to get away and reflect a little bit on where we are as a group. We're not where we want to be, but we're still close enough. "

The finale of the four-game road trip started off strong as the Lakers led by six points early, and appeared poised to head into the All-Star break with a winning record.

However, things turned at the end of the first frame, as the Hawks went on a 14-2 run, tying a franchise record with 10 three-pointers in the quarter, to take a 10-point lead into the second.

"Our defense was good to start the game, and then we just started letting them shoot threes," continued Walton. "We just didn't contest them."

The Lakers came from behind to recapture the lead in the third quarter, but it was all Atlanta in the fourth, as the Lakers finished the game with just 18 points in the final 12 minutes of the game. 

"At the end of the day, we didn't handle our business," said Walton.

LeBron James led the Lakers with yet another triple-double, scoring 28 points, grabbing 11 rebounds, and dishing out a season-high 16 assists.

"For me to get 16 assists, it means my guys made shots, but at the end of the day we lost the ball game," James told the media. "I don't care what I did individually, and I could care less if I'm not winning games, that's what I'm all about, so I can throw this game in the trash."

Newest Laker, Reggie Bullock had a big game with 15 points, and Kyle Kuzma and Brandon Ingram each had 19 points.

"I'm definitely getting more comfortable," said Bullock of his second game with the Lakers. "My teammates believe in me and I just have to shoot it with more confidence. It's going to take a little time for me to get used to all the plays and how we run things, but it's crunch time right now."

Los Angeles had no answers for the Hawks young duo of John Collins and Trae Young. Collins, the sophomore sensation, had 22 points and eight rebounds, and the rookie, Young, had a team-high 22 points and 14 assists.

Alex Len had 11 points off the bench for Atlanta, and 42-year-old Vince Carter turned back the clock to the tune of 11 points.

The victory snapped the Hawks three-game losing streak. 

In each of LeBron's first seasons with the Miami Heat (2010-11) and in his second stint with the Cleveland Cavaliers (2014-15), his teams ran off 12 game winning streaks before the All-Star Break.

The Lakers are going to need a win-streak of that magnitude to move back into a comfortable playoff position in the Western Conference, as they trail the Los Angeles Clippers and Sacramento Kings by 2.5 games for the 8th and final playoff spot with just 25 games remaining. 

'Kobe's Better'

Fans in Atlanta taunted LeBron James throughout the game with chants of "Kobe's better!" each time the King stepped to the free throw line. 

Notes and Next

Lonzo Ball (ankle), Josh Hart (knee tendinitis), and Tyson Chandler (toe) all missed the game. New Laker, Mike Muscala, was questionable and did not see any action on the court. 

The Lakers head into the NBA All-Star break with a record of 28-29. They will next take the court on February 21 at home against the Houston Rockets. 

 



Photo Credit: AP Photo/John Bazemore]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers' Josh Hart Out Until After NBA All-Star Break]]>Mon, 11 Feb 2019 14:19:05 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/205*120/Josh+Hart+Injury.png

A nagging injury will keep another Lakers star out until late February. 

The Los Angeles Lakers announced on Monday morning that shooting guard Josh Hart will be out until after the NBA All-Star break after receiving a PRP (platelet-rich plasma) injection in his right knee. 

Hart has been dealing with nagging tendinitis in the knee for most of the season, but it has been more prominent in his play on the court recently. The Lakers have just one more game (at Atlanta) before the NBA All-Star break, and won't take the court again until February 21st against the Rockets. That gives Hart nearly two weeks of rest between appearances on the court to rest and treat the ailing injury.

Hart struggled in almost eight minutes of action in the Lakers victory over Boston on Thursday, but hasn't played more than 20 minutes since February 2 against the Golden State Warriors.

The Lakers guard is averaging 8.5 points, 3.9 rebounds and is shooting just 33 percent from beyond the arc this season. After starting the season hot, shooting the three-ball at a nearly 41 percent clip, Hart's shooting numbers have dropped as his knee has gotten worse. 

Hopefully, the two weeks of rest, paired with the PRP injection can get the old Hart back on the court just in time for a final playoff push down the home stretch of the season.  



Photo Credit: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Rondo's Buzzer Beater Lifts Lakers Over Celtics]]>Thu, 07 Feb 2019 22:21:10 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/205*120/Rondo+Buzzer+Beater.png

Rajon Rondo wanted to avenge the Rams Super Bowl loss to the Patriots.

Rondo drained a jumper at the buzzer and the Los Angeles Lakers stunned the Boston Celtics, 129-128, on Thursday night at the TD Garden Arena. 

The waning minutes of the game were a back-and-forth battle between both teams before Kyrie Irving gave the Celtics a 128-127 lead with just over 10 seconds remaining. 

Lakers' forward Brandon Ingram drove the baseline, but his reverse layup was blocked by Al Horford. The ball then bounced around before eventually landing in the hands of Rondo who quickly put up a fadeaway jumper at the buzzer that hit nothing but net. 

Game. Set. Match. 

"Home. This is where it all started," said the former Celtic who played his first 10 seasons with Boston on the TNT broadcast after the win. "Believe it or not, I've always dreamed of something like this." 

Lakers' head coach Luke Walton believed it was a fitting ending for a player who meant so much to the Celtics championship runs.

"What a perfect ending," said Walton. "Rondo is an incredible basketball player. You can see the love he has for this city and in this building. The ball finding him at the end of the game was a beautiful ending to the game tonight."

Two days after suffering the worst loss in his NBA career (42 points), LeBron James and the Lakers bounced back with arguably their best win of the season.

The historic matchup between the Lakers and Celtics marked just the third game for LeBron James after he missed 17 games due to a strained groin suffered on Christmas Day.

James joined legends Magic Johnson and Elgin Baylor as the only Lakers to record a triple-double in Boston. James finished with 28 points, 12 rebounds and 12 assists.

The Lakers' superstar appears to be back to full strength, playing in consecutive games for the first time since the injury.

"I'm starting to get more and more back to myself," said James. "Every possession, every quarter, every time I take a hit, I'm able to nudge it off and keep going. I'm working my way back and I'm getting better and better every single minute."

The Lakers struggled early, trailing by as many as 18 points in the second quarter, before storming back in the second half, scoring a game-high 42 points—the most they've had in any quarter this season—to take a seven-point lead near the end of the third quarter.

"I think Lance [Stephenson] was a big thing to get us back in the game," said Lakers guard Kyle Kuzma to reporters about the comeback. "We were struggling for offense and he came in and scored nine points. He was key in our comeback."

Kuzma scored 25 points, and Javale McGee and Rondo each had 17 in the starting lineup. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope had 17 and Lance Stephenson chipped in 14 off the bench.

The Celtics were led by Kyrie Irving who had 24 points, eight assists, and seven rebounds. Jayson Tatum had 22 points and 10 rebounds, and Al Horford chipped in 12 points.

The Boston bench was unbelievable on Thursday night, outscoring the Lakers, 61-to-31. 

Daniel Theis led the second unit with 20 points, Terry Rozier had 19, and Jaylen Brown had 18 points.

The final five minutes of the fourth quarter became a one-on-one shootout between James and his former Cavaliers teammate in Irving.

The two All-Stars went back and forth at each other in a showdown of two former champions that went through a very public breakup before the 2017 season.

Irving had the last bucket, but LeBron got the last laugh as his Lakers bounced back from one of their ugliest losses of the year, to collecting one of their best wins of the year.

"This is definitely a confidence builder," said Lakers' forward Brandon Ingram. "We just need to continue to get better every single day."

The Lakers made a franchise record 22 three-pointers. The previous record was 19, last month at Oklahoma City.

Los Angeles has had a rough week against Boston after the Rams lost to the Patriots, 13-3, on Sunday in Super Bowl LIII. 

"I'm pretty familiar with the rivalry, but it's still basketball at the end of the day," said Rondo when asked what it meant for Los Angeles to get a win in the LA-Boston rivalry."

The Celtics lost for just the second time at home since Jan. 15, and have still won 10 of their last 12 games overall despite the ldefeat.

Los Angeles remains in 10th place in the Western Conference, but are now just 1.5 games behind the Clippers for the eighth and final playoff spot. 

Notes and Next

Lonzo Ball (ankle) missed the game for the Lakers. The Celtics were without Aron Baynes (foot) and Jabari Bird (personal). Los Angeles traded Svi Mykhailiuk for Reggie Bullock on Wednesday, and traded Michael Beasley and Ivica Zubac to the Clippers for Mike Muscala.

Los Angeles will continue their road trip as they travel to Philadelphia to take on the new-look 76ers on Sunday. 



Photo Credit: Maddie Meyer/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[LeBron Picks Durant and Davis for All-Star Game]]>Thu, 07 Feb 2019 20:05:14 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/216*120/LeBron+James+and+AD.png

LeBron James finally has Anthony Davis as a teammate.

For one game.

His Los Angeles Lakers were unable to swing a deal for Davis, but James drafted the New Orleans Pelicans star on Thursday when he and fellow captain Giannis Antetokounmpo sat down to choose their teams for the Feb. 17 All-Star Game in Charlotte.

Davis told the Pelicans he wanted a trade, and James has made it clear that he'd love to play with him. But the Pelicans kept Davis as the trade deadline passed, so for now, their time as teammates will be limited to All-Star weekend and James pounced at the chance to grab him with the second pick of the reserve round.

"I'm very sure of that," James said, when asked by TNT host Ernie Johnson if he was sure he wanted Davis as a teammate.

"Isn't that tampering?" Antetokounmpo asked.

Responded James, as both players laughed: "Tampering rules do not apply on All-Star weekend," a thinly veiled reference to the reaction James got when he listed Davis as one of many players he would like the chance to play with.

James chose Golden State's Kevin Durant with the No. 1 overall pick, as he did last year in the All-Star draft, to be one of his starters. They'll be joined in the Team LeBron starting five by Boston's Kyrie Irving, Toronto's Kawhi Leonard and Houston's James Harden. Team Giannis, in addition to Antetokounmpo, will start Golden State's Stephen Curry, Philadelphia's Joel Embiid, Oklahoma City's Paul George and Charlotte hometown favorite Kemba Walker.

Antetokounmpo said he took George for one reason: "He had a huge dunk on me," Antetokounmpo said, tipping his cap to the slam that the Thunder star threw down last month.

Antetokounmpo took his Milwaukee teammate Khris Middleton with the first pick in the reserve round, along with Denver's Nikola Jokic, Philadelphia's Ben Simmons, Detroit's Blake Griffin, Brooklyn's D'Angelo Russell, Orlando's Nikola Vucevic and Toronto's Kyle Lowry. James took Davis, Golden State's Klay Thompson, Portland's Damian Lillard, Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook, San Antonio's LaMarcus Aldridge, Minnesota's Karl-Anthony Towns and Washington's Bradley Beal.

James said he took Aldridge even though he knows Spurs coach Gregg Popovich will have conditions.

"Pop is going to tell me I can only play him two minutes," James said, likely only half-seriously.

James managed to make a trade, convincing Antetokounmpo to swap Westbrook for Simmons — and give the Bucks' star the chance to have Westbrook and Embiid together, as he said he wanted. The NBA signed off on the trade.

That left the third round and the decision between the two special additions to the game by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver — those being Miami's Dwyane Wade and Dallas' Dirk Nowitzki. James took Wade, his former Miami and Cleveland teammate and longtime close friend. That left Nowitzki for Antetokounmpo's side. 

"Everyone in the world knows who I'm going with and I'm going with Dirk," James said, before pausing to laugh at his joke. "I'm going with my buddy, Dwyane Wade."

Wade publicly said last week that he expected James to take him. 

"I didn't have to lobby for it," Wade said.

James and Antetokounmpo taped their selections Thursday morning, and TNT aired their picks in the evening. Doing it live was not feasible since James and the Lakers were playing Thursday night in Boston.

It was the second year of the captain's-choice format. James and Curry were the captains last year, but the order of their picks were not revealed or aired. 

Milwaukee's Mike Budenholzer will coach Team Giannis, his second time leading an All-Star team. Denver coach Michael Malone will make his All-Star debut, coaching Team LeBron.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Lakers Trade Beasley and Zubac for Muscala]]>Thu, 07 Feb 2019 13:17:29 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/203*120/Muscala+to+Lakers.png

The Lakers have made two trades in the last 24 hours: neither of them were for Anthony Davis. 

Less than 24 hours after acquiring point guard Reggie Bullock from the Detroit Pistons, the Los Angeles Lakers were active again, sending veteran forward Michael Beasley, and backup center Ivica Zubac to the Clippers for forward Mike Muscala.

Beasley was only averaging 7.3 points this season, and missed multiple games because of the health, and ultimate death of his mother. 

Zubac, a fan favorite was drafted in the second round of the 2016 NBA Draft by the Lakers and was affectionately nicknamed "Zu-block," because of his shot-blocking ability. He averaged 8.5 points and five rebounds per game this season.

Muscala was recently acquired by the Clippers in their trade with the Philadelphia Sixers that sent Tobias Harris and Boban Marjonovic to Philadelphia. Muscala is a stretch-four that can spread the floor and shoot threes. 

Both Beasley and Zubac were mentioned in trade scenarios for New Orleans Pelicans forward Anthony Davis, but with the trade deadline now over, the Lakers were unable to come to a deal with Davis and now must wait until the offseason to acquire him. 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[McVay Looks to Future After Rams' Ride Derails in Super Bowl]]>Mon, 04 Feb 2019 13:29:33 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/AP_19035154468899.jpg

Sean McVay has had very few bad days during his two seasons in charge of the Los Angeles Rams. His coaching tenure had been a rocket ride all the way to the Super Bowl.

Until Bill Belichick sent this bright football mind and his exciting team plummeting back to Earth. What McVay does about it will determine whether the Rams are still an ascending powerhouse or another NFL contender broken by the New England Patriots.

After Belichick's defense turned McVay's offense into the worst version anyone had ever seen, the Rams' 33-year-old offensive guru was visibly frustrated and embarrassed.

His clenched jaw in postgame interviews also signified a determination to never let it happen again.

"The thing that is so tough about all of this is the finality to it," McVay said Sunday night after his Rams failed to score a touchdown for only the second time in his 36 games in charge. "Usually, if you go through some adversity, you get a chance to bounce back right away. This one is going to stick with you. It just stings in your gut. I'm still kind of numb right now, but I have so much love for these players and these coaches. That's where it really eats at you, because you feel like you didn't do your part to help them achieve success.

"This is going to be a very humbling, tough one that you learn from. But you have to demonstrate that mental toughness you talk about, and that is all I know how to do."

McVay could have been speaking partly to convince himself after he coached only the second team in 53 Super Bowls to fail to score a touchdown. The wunderkind's confidence appeared to be shaken to its core by a New England defense that held the 11th highest-scoring team in NFL history to 260 total yards, six first downs in the first three quarters and their fewest points in McVay's era.

"It's embarrassing," left tackle Andrew Whitworth said. "It stings to play that way. You'd almost rather score a ton and lose that way, but that would take away from what the defense did. They gave us every opportunity to win."

McVay thrives on X's and O's, and he will have six months to scheme new ways to attack the similar zone defenses used late in the year by Detroit, Chicago and New England to throttle the Rams' passing game.

He also will endeavor to teach Jared Goff to make better decisions under pressure after the young quarterback's stinker of a Super Bowl.

General manager Les Snead has big calls to make on soon-to-be free agents and roster vacancies. The Rams will return with a wealth of talent, but they must determine whether their 4-3 record in their final seven games was a sign of bigger flaws. Financially speaking, the Rams' championship window remains wide open for at least one more season before Goff likely gets a significant raise and consumes a larger chunk of their cap space in 2020.

They can deal with their disappointment by adding players, not culling them — and after the bold moves of the last offseason, there is no reason to suspect the Rams won't go all in again in 2019. Although the Rams are hurting, a franchise with 13 consecutive non-winning seasons before McVay arrived is not likely to panic over one Super Bowl setback, particularly since much of its core — running back Todd Gurley, two-time Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald and 1,200-yard receivers Brandin Cooks and Robert Woods — is locked into place with long-term deals.

"The first thing (Super Bowl MVP) Julian Edelman said to me when I was congratulated him after the game was, 'You guys are going to be really good for a long time,'" Whitworth said.

Los Angeles' unrestricted free agents include defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, safety Lamarcus Joyner, edge rusher Dante Fowler and left guard Rodger Saffold. Although Suh loves living in LA and got his first career playoff victory this season, he likely could make more money elsewhere.

The Rams must think about using the franchise tag on Fowler, who clearly would like to stay.

"We'll be ready next year," Fowler said after the Super Bowl.

Linebacker Cory Littleton, the Rams' leading tackler, leads a shorter list of restricted free agents. They also will await a decision by Whitworth, the oldest offensive lineman in the NFL.

The 37-year-old left tackle still plays superbly, but he has not committed to returning for the third season of his contract, saying Sunday he will "see how the offseason plays out."

While the defense could require several changes, the fate of the Rams' stalwart offensive line is a key. No starter has missed a game due to injury in McVay's two seasons, but center John Sullivan will be 34 and Saffold will be 31 by training camp.

After another stellar season, Saffold could be expensive to keep.

No matter the changes, the Rams' returning players will carry the motivation of this Super Bowl loss — and so will McVay, who sees no end to his work after two wildly successful seasons.

"There is no other way to say it," McVay said. "I got outcoached."

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Chuck Burton/AP]]>
<![CDATA[Los Angeles Rams Players React to Loss in Super Bowl LIII]]>Sun, 03 Feb 2019 23:16:08 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/LA_Rams_Postgame_After_Loss_in_Super_Bowl_1200x675_1436801603774.jpgLos Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay, and players Aaron Donald, Jared Goff, Todd Gurley, Ndamukong Suh, C.J. Anderson, Johnny Hekker, and Brandin Cooks react after suffering a stinging loss to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LIII.]]><![CDATA[Tom Brady Shares a Moment With Family After Winning Super Bowl LIII]]>Sun, 03 Feb 2019 22:06:43 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Tom_Brady_with_Family_1200x675_1436786755780.jpgNew England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady celebrates with his family immediately after winning Super Bowl LIII, 13-3, over the Los Angeles Rams in Atlanta. Brady won his sixth title in nine appearances.]]><![CDATA[Celebs in the Stands: See the Stars at Super Bowl LIII ]]>Sun, 03 Feb 2019 21:41:04 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-1093432464.jpgSee all the celebrities at Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta, Georgia.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Rams Super Bowl Dream Snatched by Patriots]]>Sun, 03 Feb 2019 23:21:08 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-1093457514.jpg

For three quarters, the Los Angeles Rams defense had done the unthinkable: they kept Tom Brady and the New England Patriots out of the end zone.

Then the fourth quarter happened.

Tom Brady won his sixth championship, and the New England Patriots defeated the Los Angeles Rams, 13-3, in Super Bowl LIII at Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta.

"I just felt like we needed to grind it out all night," Brady said of the victory. "We couldn't take our foot off the gas pedal, we were playing a great football team. We moved the ball decently, but we just couldn't get the points on the board. But in the end, it feels a lot better than last year when we did get some points on the board. It's just a great win for our team."

In a marquee matchup of two of the top scoring offenses in the NFL, a surefire shootout instead turned into a defensive standoff through the first three quarters of the game. 

Each team took turns trading field goals through the first 45 minutes, as Super Bowl LIII became the first Super Bowl in history to not have a touchdown through the first three quarters of the game. 

Isn't it ironic that in a season that featured a plethora of offensive records, the final game would feature a defensive display that would rewrite the record books as Super Bowl LIII became the lowest scoring game in NFL history.

"They say defense wins championships," said Rams' running back C.J. Anderson. "That's what you saw out there today."

After the Rams won the opening coin toss and deferred, New England opted to receive the kickoff and put pressure on the L.A. defense early. 

Through their two postseason games, the Patriots had scored a total of 21 points in the first quarter against the Chargers and Chiefs.

Despite scoring early in the 2019 postseason, the Patriots have historically struggled in the Super Bowl. In their last nine Super Bowl games under Bill Belichick and Tom Brady, the Patriots have scored just three points in the first quarter.

That trend would continue in Super Bowl 53 as neither team scored in the first quarter of the game. 

"They were doing such a good job defensively mixing it up on us and we had a hard time moving the ball," said Rams' quarterback Jared Goff. "That happens. You think at some point you're going to come out of it, as we have all year, and we almost did."

After three straight run plays on their opening drive, the Patriots were marching down the field deep into Rams' territory when Brady threw an interception on his first pass attempt of the game. 

Brady became just the third starting quarterback in Super Bowl history to throw an interception on their first pass of the game, joining Jim Kelly (XXVI) and Ron Jaworski (XV). 

Patriots' placekicker, Stephen Gostkowski, missed his first field goal attempt of the game in the first quarter. Entering the game, kickers were 31-for-31 at the Mercedes Benz Stadium during the 2019 season. 

Gostkowski would convert a 42-yard field goal in the second quarter to put the Patriots ahead, 3-0, at the half.

"I felt pretty good about it," Gostkowski said of the field goal in the first half. "In a dome, if you get good rotation, they're going to go straight."

The scoreless first half was familiar for the Rams, as they have scored just three points in the first half of their three postseason games this year.

Greg Zuerlein, the hero of the Rams' NFC Championship game victory over the New Orleans Saints, converted the second-longest field goal in Super Bowl history when he tied the game in the third quarter with a 53-yard kick.

Unfortunately for the Rams, they would not score again in the game.

With Patriots fans chanting "Brady, Brady, Brady!" the oldest winning quarterback in Super Bowl history opened up the fourth quarter with a five-play, 69-yard scoring drive that featured a 29-yard pass from the five-time Super Bowl Champion to tight end Rob Gronkowski to put the ball on the two-yard line.

"He knows to trust in me and throw that ball," said Gronkowski. "And I'm going to grab it."

Running back Sony Michel punched the ball in one-play later, and the Patriots had scored the first and only touchdown of the game to take a 10-3 lead.

"It feels good to have Georgia fans behind us," said Michel who played for the local Georiga Bulldogs in College, and in the National Championship game against Alabama on the same field 13 monts prior. "I had a lot of fans here tonight. It felt good to be able to do it with this group of guys.

The Rams responded with a long seven-play, 48-yard drive of their own, but Jared Goff threw an interception to Stephon Gilmore and New England ran the clock down and converted another field goal to make it a two-score game.

"It was clutch," Gilmore said of his interception. "I knew he was going to force it up there. Our defensive line put a lot of pressure on him and he chucked it up there and I was able to make a play."

Julian Edelman, who did not play in last year's Super Bowl after suffering a torn ACL before the season, was named the MVP of the game with 10 receptions for 141 yards.

"He just played the best game he has all year," said Brady of Edelman. "So proud of him and what he's accomplished coming back from his ACL injury. He just fought it out, grinded it out, just like everyone else."

Edelman was more lowkey with his accolades. 

"It just feels great to win the game," the MVP of Super Bowl LIII said matter of factly.

The 16 total points were the lowest scoring in Super Bowl history.

"I got out-coached," said Rams head coach Sean McVay after the game. "I feel responsible for the offense and for putting up more points and doing a better job. That is where I really feel I let our team down today, because of the way our defense played."

Johnny Hekker was arguably the highlight for the Rams, as he kicked a season-high nine punts, including a Super Bowl record 65 yarder in the third quarter.

"I definitely didn't see the game going like this going into the match," admitted Hekker. "I had a bit of an impact on this game, but ultimately, we just didn't make enough plays to win it."

Super Bowl LIII was a rematch of Super Bowl XXXVI in 2002 when Brady and Belichik won their first Super Bowl together, 20-17, to put that into perspective, in 2002, there was no iPhone, no Facebook, no Twitter.

Brady now becomes the only player in Super Bowl history to win six Super Bowls, and head coach Bill Belichick, the oldest coach to win a Super Bowl at age 66, is now the only person in NFL history to win eight titles (six as a head coach, and two as a defensive coordinator with the New York Giants).

"We have a lot of great people in the organization," said Belichick. "It starts at the top with Robert Kraft and his family. He's given us great support and all the things we need to be competitive. I'm happy that things worked out for us this year and were able to be the best team in football this season."

The Patriots have now won six Super Bowls in nine appearances since their first in 2002, tied with the Pittsburgh Steelers for the most in the NFL.



Photo Credit: Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Super Bowl LIII Prop Bets]]>Sun, 03 Feb 2019 11:43:53 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/204*120/Super+Bowl+Prop+Bets.png

The Super Bowl is the Super Bowl of prop bets. 

Every year, the NFL's final game provides gamblers and casual fans alike, the opportunity to place wagers on some fun and interesting prop bets. 

Whether you're in Las Vegas, or betting amongst friends at your Super Bowl party, if you're hungry for action, there's a wager for you.

Courtesy of Bovada.lv and BetOnline.ag, there are odds for nearly everything from how long the national anthem will last, what color shoes Adam Levine of Maroon 5 will wear, and whether or not Tony Romo will say "Here we go..." during the game.

Without further ado, below is your guide to some of the more entertaining prop bets and odds for the Super Bowl.

How many times will Ted Rath be mentioned during the broadcast?

Over 3.5 -190

Under 3.5 +145

How many replays will be shown of Ted Rath holding Sean McVay back during the game?

Over 1.5 -175

Under 1.5 +135

Will Mark Wahlberg attend the game and leave early?

Yes +550

No -1000

Will Maroon 5 play "Sweet Victory" at halftime as a SpongeBob SquarePants tribute?

Yes -220

No +155

Will Travis Scott take a knee during the halftime show?

Yes +160

No -230

Will any player propose to his girlfriend on the field after the game?

Yes +300

No -500

How many times will the broadcast mention Sean McVay's age?

Over 1.5 -175

Under 1.5 +135

What will the Super Bowl champions be served when they visit the White House?

Fast Food +155

Any Other Food -220

Will Billy McFarland be caught selling counterfeit tickets to the Super Bowl?

Yes +2500

No -10000

How long will it take for Gladys Knight to sing the US National Anthem?

Over/Under 1 minute 50 seconds

**From moment she starts singing until the note "Brave" ends for first time.

Gladys Knight's Attire During the National Anthem

Dress/Skirt -200 (1/2)

Pants/Shorts +150 (3/2)

Will Gladys Knight Kneel During National Anthem?

Yes +150 (3/2)

No -200 (1/2)

Will any Player Kneel During National Anthem?

Yes +400 (4/1)

No -700 (1/7)

What color will Adam Levine's shoes be when he begins his Halftime show performance?

White 6/5

Black 3/1

Brown 7/1

Blue 10/1

Red 10/1

Orange 12/1

Yellow 12/1

Green 20/1

Purple 20/1

Pink 25/1

**Note: Predominant color.

Will Adam Levine be wearing a hat when he begins his Halftime show performance?

Yes +200 (2/1)

No -300 (1/3)

Maroon 5 Songs Sung at Halftime

Over/Under 4 songs

Will Maroon 5 Sing “Sunday Morning” at Halftime?

Yes +110 (11/10)

No -150 (2/3)

Who will be shown first on TV during the singing of the National Anthem?

Tom Brady -180 (5/9)

Jared Goff +140 (7/5)

Who will be shown first during the National Anthem?

Bill Belichick -140 (5/7)

Sean McVay EVEN (1/1)

Will Rob Gronkowski Have a Hand on his Heart During the National Anthem?

Yes -300 (1/3)

No +200 (2/1

Mercedes-Benz Stadium Roof Open at Kickoff

Yes -200 (1/2)

No +150 (3/2)  

Will "Greatest of All Time" be Mentioned in Broadcast?

Yes EVEN (1/1)

No -140 (5/7) 

Will Bill Belichick be Referred to as a "Genius"?

Yes +120 (6/5)

No -160 (5/8)

**Note: From kickoff until final whistle, halftime does not count

Will Belichick and McVay Age Gap be mentioned during the game broadcast?

Yes -200 (1/2)

No +150 (3/2)

**Note: From kickoff until final whistle, halftime does not count

Will Brady and Goff Age Gap be mentioned during the game broadcast?

Yes -200 (1/2)

No +150 (3/2)

**Note: From kickoff until final whistle, halftime does not count

How many times will Robert Kraft be Shown During Live Broadcast?

Over/Under 2.5

**Note: From kickoff until final whistle, halftime does not count

Will Tom Brady be Seen Cursing During Live Broadcast?

Yes +300 (3/1)

No -500 (1/5)

Will there be a highlight shown of Tom Brady in his first Super Bowl against the Rams?

Yes -150 (2/3)

No +110 (11/10)

**Note: From kickoff until final whistle, halftime does not count. 

"Greatest Show on Turf" Said During Live Broadcast

Yes +200 (2/1)

No -300 (1/3)

**Note: From kickoff until final whistle, halftime does not count.

How many times will Giselle Bundchen be shown on TV during broadcast?

Over 1.5 +170 (17/10)

Under 1.5 -250 (2/5)

**Note: From kickoff until final whistle, halftime does not count. 

Will LAR/NO Pass Interference Call be shown During the Game?

Yes +200 (2/1)

No -300 (1/3)

**Note: From kickoff until final whistle, halftime does not count

'Greatest of All Time' Mentioned in Broadcast

Yes +110 (11/10)

No -150 (2/3)

**Note: From kickoff until final whistle, halftime does not count 

Will "Romostradamus" Said During Live Broadcast?

Yes +300 (3/1)

No -500 (1/5)

**Note: From kickoff until final whistle, halftime does not count. 

Tony Romo Says "Here We Go"

Over 2.5 +150 (3/2)

Under 2.5 -200 (1/2)

**Note: From kickoff until final whistle, halftime does not count.

Will Jon Bon Jovi be Shown During Live Broadcast?

Yes EVEN (1/1)

No -140 (5/7)

**Note: From kickoff until final whistle, halftime does not count 

Nantz or Romo to Mention Spread on Game

Yes +300 (3/1)

No -500 (1/5)

**Note: From kickoff until final whistle, halftime does not count.

Will Any Player Throw Ball in Stands After a TD?

Yes +150 (3/2)

No -200 (1/2)

Streaker During Game

Yes +2000 (20/1)

No -5000 (1/50)

**Note: From kickoff until final whistle, halftime does not count. 

What color will the liquid be that is poured on the game winning Coach?

Clear/Water 5/2

Yellow 3/1

Blue 4/1

Orange 4/1

Red 6/1

Green/Line 7/1

Purple 9/1

**Note: Must be clearly shown on TV.

Who will the Super Bowl MVP mention first in his speech?

Teammates 2/1

God 3/1

Coach 6/1

Family 6/1

Owner 15/2

Fans 10/1

Refs 50/1

Does not mention any of the above 4/1

First Doritos Commercial Color of Bag

Red 3/2

Blue 7/4

Purple 3/1

Yellow 7/1

Other 5/1 

What Will be Higher SB Sunday?

Tom Brady TD Passes EVEN (1/1)

Donald Trump Tweets -140 (5/7) 

Will Bill Belichick Retire Before Week 1 2019?

Yes +200 (2/1)

No -300 (1/3)

Will Tom Brady Retire Before Week 1 2019?

Yes +500 (5/1)

No -1000 (1/10)

Will Rob Gronkowski Retire by Game 1 2019?

Yes +500 (5/1)

No -1000 (1/10)



Photo Credit: Ethan Miller/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Find Out How Much a Last-Second Super Bowl Ticket Costs]]>Sun, 03 Feb 2019 10:21:11 -0700Mercedes-Benz Stadium]]>Mercedes-Benz Stadium]]>https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/BOST_000000021801059.JPG

Flight from Los Angeles to Atlanta? $200.

Hotel room in downtown Atlanta? $1,000.

A ticket to the Super Bowl? Priceless.

Super Bowl LIII is the hottest ticket around, but two large-market teams, coupled with an abundance of supply, and lower-than-normal demand, could provide a bargain opportunity for NFL fans in Atlanta this Sunday.

Thousands of fans have flocked from both Boston and Los Angeles to watch the dynasty-driven Patriots play the up-and-coming Rams in what is sure to be a titanic clash of two of the best offenses in football.

Millions of fans will be watching the game on television across the world, but only a select few will be inside the Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta to witness the big game live and in-person.

Despite the fact the Super Bowl is less than twenty-four hours away, if you're reading this, you could still be one of those people.

To see what a ticket to the Super Bowl costs the day of the game, we must first see how we got to this point, for the journey of a Super Bowl ticket going from imagination to reality within one's grasp, is a rollercoaster ride that changes day-by-day, hour-by-hour, and minute-by-minute.

Two weeks prior to Super Bowl Sunday, the "get-in" price was hovering at $3,500. According to StubHub, the average ticket price was selling for $5,555 with most of the sales coming from Georgia, likely by buyers in Atlanta who were hoping to sell the tickets on the secondary market once the teams were announced. 

By Monday, January 21 the matchup was set: The Los Angeles Rams would take on the New England Patriots in Super Bowl 53, each winning their respective conference championships over the New Orleans Saints and the Kansas City Chiefs. 

Two big city teams with a historic rivalry between them must make for higher ticket prices, right? Wrong. 

Despite the sports history of LA and Boston (most recently in the World Series when the Red Sox defeated the Dodgers 4-1), ticket prices dropped over 12 percent after Championship Sunday, with the "get-in" price falling to under $3,000 and over 4,000 tickets available on the secondary market.

"For the Patriots, the thought was it was winning fatigue," said Chris Leyden, Communications Manager for Seat Geek in an interview with NBC LA. "The Patriots are playing in their ninth Super Bowl in the last two decades. There's some though that people in Boston would be sick of going to the Super Bowl.

"As for the Rams, they were unknown. The team has only been in the LA market for three years, how long have they built up a fan base? Also, travel is further. Our research shows that sometimes winter cities like to travel to the Super Bowl as an escape to warmer weather, but that's not the case in LA. If you're going just for the game, rather than a nice little vacation, I think those factors have all worked against the Rams.

Leyden also went on to say that the ideal matchup for ticket sellers on the secondary market would have been the Saints versus the Chiefs, as New Orleans is driving distance from Atlanta, and comes with a proud fan base. The Chiefs on the other hand, have not won the Super Bowl in 50 years, so the opportunity to see their team hoist the Lombardi Trophy would have been a huge driver for fans in Kansas City with a lot of pent up excitement. 

Despite Leyden's thoughts on the lack of demand from Rams fans, the Los Angeles market was actually the first to purchase their tickets for the Super Bowl, call it lack of experience, or being a novice, but as soon as Greg Zuerlein converted that 57-yard field goal in overtime to beat the Saints, over 13 percent of the initial sales on StubHub came from California. 

"Super Bowl ticket prices would make the perfect curriculum for an Economy 1 class," said Leyden. "It is literally the laws of supply and demand at work. When the Saints lost that game to the Rams, we saw a $300 drop in the get-in price, and another drop after the Patriots advanced as well. The prices have bounced around since then, and started to pick up just after the Pro Bowl with seven days left before kickoff."

One week before the big game, prices had fallen even further, with the ""get-in" price dropping to $2,700 and the average price of admission falling to $4,600 with over 2,800 tickets remaining in the secondary market. 

Sales in Massachusetts skyrocketed as the prices dropped, with over 18 percent of the ticket sales coming from the Boston area.

"Being on the ground here in Atlanta, there are definitely more Patriots fans than Rams fans," said Leyden. "Patriots fans have travelled well, but the Rams have actually exceeded our expectations."

That brings us to Saturday. With one day before the big game, prices have slowly steadied, with the "get-in" price before the Super Bowl, hovering at around $2,900, the average ticket price at $4,380, and still over 1,600 tickets available on the secondary market.

StubHub said they saw an increase in sales in the final few days before the Super Bowl, with over 30 percent of their total sales coming in the last five days. If you plan on buying a last-minute ticket the day of the game, StubHub says that every ticket purchase comes with a complimentary ticket to the ATL Tailgate party at State Farm Arena prior to the game.

So if you don't mind a light wallet, and want to catch the Rams and Patriots in action, head over to StubHub and buy your ticket on Super Bowl Sunday, but before you do, Leyden has one last piece of advice for you: 

"If you feel comfortable with the prices, buy it. Historically, prices drop on the final days and the day of the game," said Leyden. "You can definitely get some good deals, but it becomes logistically challenging to physically pick up your ticket. I would say if you buy the day of the game, buy it early so you can pick up your ticket from the fulfillment centers."



Photo Credit: Nina Lin]]>
<![CDATA[Fans Are Naming Their Pets After Patriots Players]]>Sat, 02 Feb 2019 01:31:10 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/218*120/Super+Bowl+pet+names.png

Move over Fido, Rocky, and Duke, enter Gronk, Brady, and Julian.

Diehard fans are known to do some strange things for their teams when it comes to the love of the game, but naming their pets after their favorite players? That takes superstition to a whole new level.

According to an annual survey conducted by PetFirst Pet Insurance, entitled the "Super Bowl of Pet Names," loyal New England Patriots fans are nearly twice as likely to name their pets after their favorite players compared to Rams fans.

"Rooting for a team is fun, but when you name your beloved dog or cat after them it’s a true commitment," said Katie Blakeley, CEO of PetFirst. "Every year, we like to measure fan devotion by comparing names." 

The company conducted a test based on registered pet names in a nationwide database of dog and cat owners, and discovered that there are 115 pet names in the United States currently named after Patriots players. By comparison, there are only 61 pets named after Rams players in the country.

Among the more popular names were five-time Super Bowl Champion Tom Brady, who had 73 different pets named after him. There's even a few dogs and cats named "Gronk."

On the Rams side, the company found that the most popular pet name in the database was "Dante," the same first name as Rams linebacker Dante Fowler Jr,, although its doubtful that pet owners intentionally named their loved one after the player who was only acquired a few months ago at the NFL trade deadline. 

Thus far, there is no "Goffs," Gurleys," or "McVays," but there is a few pets named "Greg," and we have a funny feeling there will be even more named "Greg the Leg," after Rams' kicker Greg Zuerlein converted a 57-yard field goal to send his team to overtime during the NFC Championship game.

Time will tell what names will come after Super Bowl Sunday, but depending on which team is crowned champion, we anticipate a few more pet names to come within the months following the game.



Photo Credit: Photo by Rob Kim/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Rams Optimistic About Super Bowl Win]]>Fri, 01 Feb 2019 19:19:46 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/208*120/Rams+Final+Practice.png

Greg "the Leg" is a go for launch.

Los Angeles Rams field goal kicker, Greg Zuerlein, kicked seven field goals during the team's last full practice before the Super Bowl on Sunday.

Zuerlein injured his left foot during halftime of the Rams NFC Championship victory over the New Orleans Saints, and was in a walking boot a few days after the game.

The All-Pro placekicker drilled the game-tying field goal at the end of regulation, and then stunned the Saints crowd at the Superdome when he converted a 57-yard field goal in overtime to send the Rams to the Super Bowl.

"He felt good," Rams head coach Sean McVay told Pro Football Writers of America pool reporter Charean Williams after practice on Friday. "He hit the ball well. He hit the kickoffs and his field goals really well. That's kind of what we expected, that's what we hoped, and he'll be ready to go." 

However, Zuerlein wasn't the only injury concern for the NFC Champions, cornerback and special teams player, Blake Countess had been nursing a foot injury all week, and he too was able to participate in practice for the first time on Friday. 

"Blake was good too," McVay told Williams. "He was full. His foot felt good. He responded well, and he ended up having a good day today, moving around. Both those guys look like they're going to be ready to go for the game."

Now that the Rams are relatively close to full strength, their head coach says they expect to hoist the Lombardi Trophy once the dust settles on Sunday.

"We're going into this game as healthy as you could hope for," McVay told Williams. "Now, really it's about just tightening things up, making sure we clean up any of the last little details, a little bit over 48 hours out. There's a confidence that I think has been earned. Certainly, we respect the Patriots, but we're coming here with the expectation of winning the game."

Todd Gurley also looked good in practice and is expected to be a major part of the Rams offense on Sunday, despite the fact that he only got five touches for 13 yards against the Saints.

“He didn’t have that many touches, but he still played a good amount of snaps [against the Saints],” McVay told Williams. “We just weren’t able to run it as much as we’d like to, because New Orleans did a nice job stopping us. Then, we were in some two-minute situations at the end of the game and the end of the half where you’re more inclined to throw it. He should be good. But I think really our team, as a whole, is feeling really good just having two weeks since our last game and looking forward to the challenge and competing to the best of our ability.”

The three-time Pro Bowler went to college at Georgia, and is a fan favorite in Atlanta, host of the 53rd Super Bowl. After a bad performance in the NFC Championship game, Gurley expects to bounce back in a big way in the biggest game of his professional career.

The weather was a nice 55 degrees, and the sun was shining in Flowery Branch, Georgia underneath a cloudless sky. That allowed the Rams to practice on natural grass and alternate work between the first-team offense and the first-team defense. Music was also played for the first time, but more for fun and entertainment, rather than to simulate crowd noise inside Mercedes Benz Stadium.

“Typically what we do is we’ll really blare it depending on if we’re at home or away,” McVay told Williams.. “If we’re on the road, it’ll be blaring during offensive periods. If we’re at home, it’ll be during defensive periods. Now, in a static environment, we just kind of had it in the background. Hopefully there will be more Rams fans than Patriots, but you never know.”

The Rams are now 48 hours away from kickoff, and will leave Flowery Branch for downtown Atlanta on Saturday. The team expects to tour the Mercedes Benz stadium for the first time, as they go through a walk through before the big game.

"We’ll go over to the stadium and allow the families and friends who are here to come over and enjoy that," added McVay. "That will be more of an appreciation with all the people that are here to share in this journey with our players and our coaches. Then, we’ll have quick, little meetings tomorrow night. We’ll get up on Sunday and have some walk-throughs and meetings and anxiously await that kickoff at 6:30 or whatever it is.”

After that, McVay and his players will try to get some rest before the big game. Kickoff is scheduled for 3:30PM PT on Sunday, February 3, 2019.



Photo Credit: AP Photo/John Bazemore]]>
<![CDATA[Jared Goff Calls Tom Brady Handsome in This Hilarious Video]]>Fri, 01 Feb 2019 15:49:59 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/207*120/Brady+and+Goff.png

Most of the country already knows that Tom Brady is handsome, but rarely does it come from the opposing quarterback in the Super Bowl's mouth.

Brady is married to one of the world's top super models in Gisele Bundchen, so he has to be at least somewhat attractive, at least that's what Los Angeles Rams quarterback, Jared Goff, said in a funny video produced by Red Bull that was released on Monday.

Goff was asked to read messages in order to impersonate how NFL fans sound, and there was a couple noticeable comments about the Rams opponent in Super Bowl LIII on Sunday in Atlanta.

"Ok, I'm just gonna say it. Tom Brady is really handsome," Goff starts the video saying.

Later, he personifies the college-aged NFL fan when he says that, "I bet Gronk [Rob Gronkowski] is just average at beer pong.'

A couple more jabs at Brady come later, when Goff says he has a pair of 'Uggs' signed by Brady, and that he's currently on the 'TB12' diet, eating only kale, yam milk, and robin eggs.

Last week, Goff admitted the first time he had met Brady was when the Rams traveled to Foxborough in December of 2016 in one of Goff's first games as the Rams starting quarterback.

Things changed for the Northern California native as he got to meet his childhood hero again on Monday during NFL's Opening Night media festivities.

The two California quarterbacks met on the stage and were asked by moderator Chris Rose questions about each other. Goff was asked what advice he sought from Brady, and he responded by saying, "What's important and what's not important, and how to avoid distractions."

Brady was then asked what advice he had for Goff, and his answer was a classic:

"I'm not giving him any advice!" said the ultimate competitor in Brady. "They got a great team. I've got to go against [Aqib Talib] all night, so that's what I'm concerned about. And I know how great of a player he is."

At 24 years old, Goff is playing in his first Super Bowl in just his third season in the NFL. By comparison, Brady is 41 years old, and playing in his ninth overall Super Bowl.

However, there are some comparisons between the two. Like Goff, Brady was also 24-years-old when he won his first Super Bowl, which ironically came against the Rams in the Superdome.

That was Super Bowl XXXVI and the Rams were playing in their second straight Super Bowl at the time, and were a heavy favorite. Flash forward 17 years later, and the Patriots are now playing in their third consecutive Super Bowl, and the overwhelming favorites (-3) with their experience and physical style of play.

The full video is below: 



Photo Credit: AP Photo/John Bazemore
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<![CDATA[Rams Practice Outside, Address Media For Final Time]]>Thu, 31 Jan 2019 17:56:38 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Rams_Media_Thursday_1200x675_1435525699571.jpg

The countdown has begun.

The Los Angeles Rams and the New England Patriots are a little over three days away from kickoff in Super Bowl LIII, but before they make their final preparations for the big game, they had to first address the media for the last time on Thursday morning.

"I'm looking forward to not having to sit here and do media every day," joked Rams place-kicker Greg Zuerlein when asked what he's looking forward to this weekend before kickoff. "Normally I sit and don't talk to anybody. Nobody cares about specialists."

No Greg, when you're the final two teams left standing, everyone cares. Just ask the nearly 40,000 fans that showed up for the Super Bowl send-off rally on Sunday in Inglewood at the site of the new stadium set to open in 2020. Those fans proved they care about "specialists" as they chanted in unison "Greg the Leg," for the 31-year-old kicker that sent the Rams to the Super Bowl after converting a 57-yard field goal in the NF Championship game.

"That was pretty cool," admitted Zuerlein. "That's been my nickname since high school. It was a cool experience seeing all the love, but at the end of the day I still have to make kicks." 

You see, Greg? Specialists do matter.

Zuerlein and the rest of his 53-man team were all in attendance at the Marriot in Buckhead, Georgia to answer any final funny questions before heading out for an outdoor practice in the cold.

Temperatures reached as low as 30 degrees on Thursday, but that was a lot warmer than the 20 degrees experienced the day prior. With the uptick in the weather, Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay opted to hold practice outdoors on a grass field in nearby Flowery Branch, Georgia, home of the Atlanta Falcons facility.

"It really was (the plan to go outside)," McVay said. "We were flexible with it, but I think just having the ability to go outside and get on this surface, we felt like it was going to be a little bit better on our bodies, and the weather allowed us to do that, so it was a great day." 

Now that their media obligations are behind them, the NFC Champions will fine-tune the game plan before taking the field on Sunday at the new Mercedes Benz Stadium.

Thursday's practice session started with a walk-through before stretching, and then a 70-minute practice session, that McVay called a "spirited practice."

After another practice on Friday, the Rams will head to Mercedes Benz Stadium on Saturday for one final walk-through before the big dance on Sunday.

"I'm looking forward to Sunday," said Rams center John Sullivan. "That's the only thing I'm focused on. I'm looking forward to competing for a World Championship. That's what this whole thing is about. You can take it all in, soak it up, and enjoy it, but don't lose sight of what's important this week and that's going out there and trying to win a Super Bowl."

Super Bowl LIII kicks off at 3:30PM PT on Sunday, February 3rd from the Mercedes Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia.

]]>
<![CDATA[LA Rams Address Media For Final Time Ahead of Super Bowl LIII]]>Thu, 31 Jan 2019 17:10:14 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Rams_Media_Thursday_1200x675_1435525699571.jpgLos Angeles Rams players John Sullivan, Marcus Peters, Cory Littleton, Greg Zuerlein, Samson Ebukam, Josh Reynolds and John Johnson III address the media for the final time ahead of Super Bowl LIII in Atlanta on Sunday.]]><![CDATA[Chargers Visit the Chiefs: What's at Stake on Thursday Night]]>Wed, 12 Dec 2018 14:13:33 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-1030080780.jpg

The Kansas City Chiefs are missing their star running back, likely without his backup and could have their top two wide receivers hobbled or shelved for their crucial AFC West showdown against the Los Angeles Chargers on Thursday night.

They still have Patrick Mahomes, though.

And they're still playing the Chargers.

Yes, the Chargers (10-3) are one of the hottest teams in the NFL, having won three straight and nine of 10 to close within a game of Kansas City (11-2) in the division race.

But the Chargers also have had about as much luck against the Chiefs as the Redskins have had with quarterbacks this year, losing nine straight and many of them in lopsided fashion.

That includes this season's opener in Los Angeles, when Mahomes announced his arrival to the NFL with his first four touchdown passes in the Chiefs' 38-28 victory at StubHub Center.

"We're familiar with this group, but they do so many things. It's never easy going up against Kansas City," Chargers coach Anthony Lynn said. "Go back to September. You can go back to last year, to 2017, when we lost to those guys twice -- same things. They are just really good."

The Chiefs have continued to play at a high level despite some personnel challenges.

Running back Kareem Hunt was released nearly two weeks ago because of off-the-field issues, and new starter Spencer Ware hurt his hamstring last Sunday against Baltimore.

Wide receiver Sammy Watkins is likely to miss Thursday night's game with a lingering foot problem, and speedster Tyreek Hill is nursing wrist and heel injuries, but has insisted all week that he'll be ready.

"One thing we have been talking about all season long, you never know when your number is going to be called, so it is important that you are ready," Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy said. "It's all hands on deck. When it's all said and done, we go out and play."

Besides, it's not as if the Chargers haven't had injury issues of their own.

Running back Melvin Gordon is expected to be a game-time decision after spraining his right knee against Arizona and missing the past two games. His primary backup, Austin Ekeler, is likely out after hurting his neck and sustaining a concussion in last week's win over the Bengals.

"I've been grinding hard to get back," Gordon said. "I know Coach (Lynn) is trying to be careful and doesn't want me to further hurt myself or things like that. So we'll see where that goes."

If he's unable to play, rookie Justin Jackson would get his first NFL start.

"What is it, Week 15 in the NFL? These things happen," Chargers offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt said. "We'll see who shows up Thursday and go from there."

As the Chiefs and Chargers prepare to meet, here are things to know:

DIVISION RACE

The Chiefs can clinch their third straight AFC West title and a first-round bye in the playoffs with a win. But even with a loss, the Chiefs would hold the tiebreaker over the Chargers by virtue of their better division record. Los Angeles needs a win to clinch its first postseason trip since the 2013 season.

"Both teams are going to be all hyped up and ready to go," said Chiefs coach Andy Reid, who is 11-3 against the Chargers in his career.

BERRY'S BACK, MAYBE

There have been signs this week that Chiefs safety Eric Berry will make his season debut against the Chargers. Berry sustained a season-ending injury in last year's opener, then hurt his heel early in training camp.

"It is killing him not to be out there," Reid said, "but at the same time, you want to be smart with it. I know he would like to play in the game."

RIVERS RUNS THROUGH IT

Mahomes has been getting all the attention, but Chargers counterpart Philip Rivers has been nearly as good this season. He already has 29 touchdown passes, five shy of his career best, and his interception rate is the lowest of his career.

But Rivers also has struggled against the Chiefs, throwing 14 interceptions during the Chargers' nine-game losing streak. "He's a guy who can make all the throws," Chiefs cornerback Kendall Fuller said.

BENJAMIN'S DEBUT

The Chiefs hope wide receiver Kelvin Benjamin, who was cut by the Bills and signed with Kansas City last week, will be active for the game. Benjamin would provide a big body on the outside and some additional depth with Watkins likely to be out.

SHORT WEEK

Both teams dismissed the challenges of playing on a short week, especially given how well they know each other. But the Chiefs also were at home Sunday, and the Chargers will be traveling across two time zones to Arrowhead Stadium, one of the toughest venues in the NFL.

"We have a lot to prepare for," Lynn said, "and like I said, it's going to be more of a mental week. So we have to find ways to get that done."



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Chargers Turn Focus to Possible Playoff Preview Vs. Chiefs Thursday]]>Mon, 10 Dec 2018 22:32:04 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-1070861756.jpg

Philip Rivers and the Los Angeles Chargers didn't have much time to celebrate reaching double-digit wins for the first time in nine seasons.

While most teams get 24 hours to savor a victory, the Chargers spent about 24 minutes to revel in their 26-21 win over the Cincinnati Bengals before preparations began for Thursday's pivotal AFC West matchup at Kansas City.

"I heard some of the guys going back to the facility right now, get in a cold tub, start that. Start watching tape. We have to get going, start shifting gears and hurry," quarterback Philip Rivers said after the game.

Los Angeles (10-3) goes into the game one game behind the Chiefs (11-2). A win would clinch a playoff spot for the first time since 2013 while also keeping its hopes of a division title and possible top seed in the AFC alive.

Even if the Chargers won, Kansas City would hold the tiebreaker based on a better division record. The Chiefs end the season at Seattle and hosting Oakland while the Chargers wrap up with a home game against Baltimore and a trip to Denver.

Kansas City, which has already secured a postseason berth, would clinch the division with a win.

Coach Anthony Lynn is keeping the same preparation plan that he used for last year's Thanksgiving Day game at Dallas. The Chargers ended up winning that game 28-6.

Monday was a walkthrough and Tuesday will be non-padded before the team travels to Kansas City on Wednesday.

"One of the biggest things about this week is recovery, getting guys to recover and play fast and physical and how you handle that and we always struggle with doing too much and not doing enough. Same thing with X's and O's," Lynn said.

"That's kind of what we're doing right now. We're working to get that balance as best we can and go out and play a football game."

About the only benefit preparation-wise is that it is a division game. However, the Chiefs have won the past nine in the series.

"I think mentally with a team being in the division, and again, there will be some wrinkles that they'll have and wrinkles that we'll have, but at least we know personnel-wise who we are playing," Rivers said.

"Schematically, for the most part, we know what their base stuff is and they know what our base stuff is. It's not a matter of, 'Gosh, we need to dig into this opponent and figure out who they are.' Now, you still have to get all of your preparation in, in a short period of time, but I think that can get done."

The biggest concern going into the week is the status of running backs Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler. Gordon, who is fourth in the league in yards from scrimmage per game (125.5), has missed the past two games because of an MCL sprain to his right knee. Ekeler is in the concussion protocol after reporting symptoms during the walkthrough. Ekeler, who had 66 yards on 15 carries against Cincinnati, was hit in the head by Clayton Fejedelem on an onside kick and also suffered a pinched nerve in his neck.

Lynn said not having a full-speed practice to evaluate Gordon is a bit of a concern, but that the same cuts and moves Gordon would make on the practice field can also be done on the side.

If Gordon and Ekeler are unable to play, rookies Justin Jackson and Detrez Newsome would be the running backs. Jackson had 63 yards in the Dec. 2 win at Pittsburgh. Newsome has appeared in only seven games — mostly on special teams — and has only five carries.

The Chargers' biggest worry defensively is trying to contain quarterback Patrick Mahomes and wide receiver Tyreek Hill. Mahomes passed for 256 yards and four touchdowns while Hill scored three touchdowns in a 38-28 win in the regular-season opener on Sept. 9.

Hill has seven touchdowns — five receiving and two on punt returns — in five games against the Chargers.

"They're a different team and different players, but we're a different team too," safety Derwin James said. "Every week Mahomes is getting better too. He's making some crazy throws. You know what type of guy you are getting this week."

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Chargers Pull Off Comeback, Beat Steelers 33-30 on Late Field Goal]]>Sun, 02 Dec 2018 22:01:48 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/LA-Chargers-beat-Steelers-12-2-18.jpg

Michael Badgley kicked a 29-yard field goal on the final play to lift the Los Angeles Chargers to a 33-30 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday night.

Badgley initially missed a 39-yard kick but Pittsburgh was called for offsides. Badgley's ensuing 34-yard attempt was blocked, but the Steelers were again flagged for jumping across the line of scrimmage before the snap. He drilled his third attempt at the game-winner, and the Chargers gleefully declined another Pittsburgh penalty while they poured onto the field in celebration.

Philip Rivers completed 26 of 36 passes for 299 yards and two touchdowns for Los Angeles (9-3). Keenan Allen caught 14 passes for 148 yards and a score and Justin Jackson ran for 63 yards and a touchdown in place of injured starter Melvin Gordon. Desmond King added a 73-yard punt return for a score as the Chargers erased a 16-point halftime deficit.

Ben Roethlisberger threw for 281 yards and two scores for the Steelers (7-4-1), who have lost two straight and are now clinging to the AFC North lead over surging Baltimore. Antonio Brown caught 10 passes for a season-high 154 yards and a touchdown. James Conner added 60 yards rushing and two touchdowns before leaving in the fourth quarter with a leg injury.

Rookie Jaylen Samuels replaced Conner and caught a 10-yard touchdown pass with 4:10 remaining that tied the game at 30, leaving Rivers ample time to one-up Roethlisberger, a fellow member of the vaunted 2004 draft class that includes New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning.

Rivers calmly led the Chargers 64 yards in 11 plays, including a 12-yard pass to Allen on third-and-4 at the Pittsburgh 34 that pushed Los Angeles close enough to win in the Steel City for just the fourth time in 19 tries while giving the Steelers their first two-game losing streak of the season.

Roethlisberger publicly tweaked Brown following a loss to Denver last week, though the star wide receiver stressed he knew it was nothing personal. It certainly didn't seem to have an impact on their play. Roethlisberger hit Brown for a 9-yard gain on Pittsburgh's second play from scrimmage and again for 46 yards on the following snap, a strike that set up the first of Conner's two 1-yard touchdown runs in the opening quarter.

The Steelers seemed poised for another masterful December performance. Pittsburgh came in 18-3 in December since 2013, the best mark in the NFL over that span.

The Chargers, however, responded thanks in part to a questionable non-call by the officials. Rivers hit a streaking Travis Benjamin for a 46-yard touchdown to get Los Angeles on the board, a play that began with Chargers right tackle Sam Tevi standing up and shuffling his feet backward an instant before the ball was snapped. It marked the second time this season Los Angeles benefited from a non-call on what appeared to be a pre-snap penalty. The Chargers scored a touchdown in Cleveland in October on a play in which left tackle Russell Okung moved before the ball was hiked to Rivers.

A beautiful 28-yard dart from Roethlisberger to Brown pushed Pittsburgh's lead to 23-7 at the break but Los Angeles ripped off the next 23 points thanks to a bit of luck some dynamic playmaking.

Allen caught a 10-yard touchdown pass from Rivers late in the third quarter on a play in which Pittsburgh defensive backs Sean Davis and Joe Haden collided going for the ball, which popped up in the air and landed in squarely in Allen's hands.

King then dashed 73 yards on a punt return, with Allen pulling in the 2-point conversion that tied the game at 23.

Los Angeles — which managed just two yards rushing in the first half with Austin Ekeler filling in for Gordon — then turned to Jackson. The rookie seventh-round pick used his quickness to squirt through Pittsburgh's defensive line, and his 18-yard burst up the middle gave the Chargers a 30-23 lead.

INJURIES

Pittsburgh WR Justin Hunter, given a spot on the game-day roster over rookie James Washington, left in the first half and did not return after injuring himself while diving for a Roethlisberger pass in the end zone. ... Steelers WR Ryan Switzer was taken to the locker room to be evaluated for a concussion after taking a vicious hit by Los Angeles linebacker Jatavis Brown in the fourth quarter.

UP NEXT

Chargers: Host Cincinnati next Sunday.

Steelers: Travel to Oakland to play the Raiders next Sunday. Pittsburgh hasn't won in Oakland since 1995.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Rams Beat Lions 30-16, Clinch NFC West Title]]>Sun, 02 Dec 2018 16:52:25 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/172*120/AP_18336715853381.jpg

The Los Angeles Rams returned to their lockers in the Motor City, where NFC West championship shirts and hats were waiting to be worn.

The victors, though, refuse to be spoiled by this accomplishment.

Todd Gurley ran for 132 yards and two touchdowns to help the Rams overcome a sputtering start to beat the Detroit Lions 30-16 Sunday and clinch the division title for a second straight season.

"We're not satisfied yet," said defensive tackle Aaron Donald, who had two sacks and forced a fumble. "But we're headed in the right direction."

The Rams (11-1) moved a step closer to earning home-field advantage in the NFC playoffs, taking a one-game lead over New Orleans after it lost to Dallas on Thursday night. It is a cushion Los Angeles needs because its only loss was against the Saints last month.

"We're in a position right now that we feel good about," coach Sean McVay said. "If we take care of our business, all the rest of that stuff takes care of itself."

The Lions (4-8) have lost five of six since a surge of success gave them a winning record in late October.

"I'm extremely tired of losing," center Graham Glasgow said.

Detroit's defense held Los Angeles' high-powered offense in check for three quarters, giving the slumping team a shot to potentially pull off a stunning upset. The Lions, though, failed to make the most of the opportunity because their offense struggled to move the ball and score.

Donald helped seal the win by forcing Matthew Stafford to fumble midway through the fourth quarter. The star defensive tackle had two strip-sacks in his last game on Nov. 19, a 54-51 win over Kansas City.

"He held the ball and was loose with it," Donald said. "I just took advantage."

Donald has an NFL-high 16½ sacks this season, and the Rams say he should be an MVP candidate.

"He's unlike anything I've ever seen," quarterback Jared Goff said of the 2017 Defensive Player of the Year.

Linebacker Samson Ebukam recovered Stafford's fumble at the Detroit 24 and Gurley scored on a 13-yard run three snaps later, giving the Rams a 23-13 lead.

Goff, perhaps rusty coming off a bye week, was off the mark on many passes and lost a fumble to help keep the game close. His lackluster performance led to Los Angeles settling for Greg Zuerlein kicking three field goals. Goff was 17 of 33 for 207 yards with a tiebreaking, 8-yard touchdown pass to Robert Woods late in the second quarter. Goff also threw an interception on an overthrown pass in the second quarter and lost a fumble in the third quarter.

The Rams were able to lean on Gurley, who has a single-season franchise record with 15 rushing touchdowns. The star running back also caught three passes for 33 yards.

Stafford was 20 of 33 yards for 245 yards with an 11-yard touchdown pass to tackle Taylor Decker, who faked the Rams out by blocking for a moment before releasing into the flat where he was left wide open. Decker's touchdown pulled Detroit within three points late in the third quarter.

The Lions had a chance to cut its deficit to three again late in the game, but Kenny Golladay couldn't get both feet in the end zone on a pass from Stafford and they had settle for Matt Prater's third field goal.

SAVVY MOVE

Gurley converted a third down late in the game, and after breaking free, he chose not to score to run more time off the clock and force Detroit to take timeouts. It proved a good move because Gurley ran for a 2-yard score with 1:54 left and the Lions were left with no timeouts on their final drive. That ended with Troy Hill intercepting a pass in the end zone with 12 seconds left.

"I wanted to waste some time," Gurley said.

SUH OR BOO?

Rams defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh played against Detroit for the first time and made six tackles.

"I got a warm welcome back," he said.

Detroit drafted Suh No. 2 overall eight years ago and he left for Miami as a free agent in 2015. After the Dolphins cut him earlier this year, he signed a one-year deal with the Rams.

When he played for the Lions, the fans would say his last name after he made a play. When his name was announced after his first tackle Sunday, the crowd seemed to jeer him.

"I don't believe it was a boo," Suh said.

STILL COOKING

Los Angeles receiver Brandin Cooks, who had four receptions for 62 yards, became the first player in NFL history with 1,000 yards receiving in three straight years with three different franchises. He helped set up a field goal that gave the Rams a 13-3 halftime lead.

Cooks surpassed 1,000 last year with New England and in 2016 with New Orleans. Cooks also had a 1,000-yard season with the Saints in 2015.

INJURY REPORT

Rams: RB Malcom Brown left the game with a shoulder injury. CB Aqib Talib played for the first time since going down with an ankle injury in Week 3.

Lions: LB Devon Kennard went out with a hip injury.

UP NEXT

Rams: Play at Chicago on Sunday night.

Lions: Play at Arizona on Sunday.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[LA Rams' Gerald Everett Eager for More After Standout Performance Vs. Chiefs]]>Wed, 28 Nov 2018 21:16:08 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/LA-Rams-Gerald-Everett.jpg

Gerald Everett isn't the first name mentioned when fans discuss the Los Angeles Rams' offensive skill players.

The backup tight end probably wasn't the eighth or ninth name mentioned, either — at least not before last week.

Everett realizes plenty of people will know his name going forward after the second-year pro with the unique collegiate past emerged as the unlikely hero of the NFL's most eye-catching game of the year.

Everett caught two touchdown passes during the Rams' epic 54-51 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs last week, including an athletic grab on a 40-yard throw from Jared Goff for the game's final points with 1:49 to play.

Although he had just 31 career catches entering that showcase victory, Everett appears to be surging into a significant role as the Rams (10-1) ramp up for the playoff push. While he doesn't yet have the bulk and blocking power of a classic tight end, his speed and hands are already being exploited with increasing frequency by coach Sean McVay.

"Playing in this offense is a dream come true," Everett said after returning to work from the Rams' bye week. "It's one of the most highly-fueled offenses in the league, and I'm glad to be here. I mean, however many snaps I get, I'm going to make the most of them, just be there for my team."

Everett isn't getting a tremendous amount of opportunities to make plays in the Rams' fluent, talent-packed offense. He has been on the field for only about 25 percent of their offensive snaps, and he has been targeted only 27 times by Goff.

Everett has turned it into 18 catches for 210 yards and three touchdowns. Everett and fellow tight end Tyler Higbee aren't often primary targets for the Rams' sophisticated offense, but Everett's ability to beat defensive backs from a standup position makes him useful in mismatches — such as the one he exploited to score his big TD.

"No doubt, he's really come along," Goff said. "Just seeing his progression from even the beginning of this season until now, and just how much more he's taking command of everything he's doing and really just dialing in on the details, has been great to see. Just proud of his progression and excited to see how far he can go."

Everett hit a new height when he made the play of his career to date.

With Everett lined up outside as a receiver, Goff looked at the Chiefs' defensive scheme and figured Everett probably would be open. Everett did his part by getting loose from safety Daniel Sorensen at the line of scrimmage, and after Goff delivered the exceptional throw down the sideline, Everett caught it and somehow stayed inbounds, tiptoeing his way to a score.

"It was kind of crazy to actually watch it after the game," Everett said. "That's probably one of my best plays. It was pretty surreal to see it in the air in a moment like that, but I was glad I could be there."

Everett's entire career has been fairly unlikely. He was a second-round pick by the Rams in 2017 out of South Alabama, which had never before produced a drafted NFL player. He only ended up with the Jaguars after starting his career at two junior colleges and then going to UAB, which subsequently dropped football.

Everett made just 16 catches as a rookie, and he had a shoulder injury during his second training camp. He has played his way into a larger role, making nine catches and scoring all three of his touchdowns over the past four games.

Everett's friends on other teams tell him they know the Rams have called a passing play when he's on the field, so he realizes he needs to work on his blocking. Until then, he hopes to continue to grow as a target for Goff and McVay.

"It's been exciting, (but) I wouldn't say surprising, just because of the confidence he has," McVay said about Everett. "I just think it's great to be able to see him be healthy and maximize the opportunities."

NOTES: CB Aqib Talib participated in practice Wednesday in the next step of his comeback from ankle surgery. Talib has missed the Rams' past eight games, but he returned to the active roster from injured reserve Monday. ... DT Ethan Westbrooks didn't participate in practice due to an illness. The Rams are otherwise largely healthy.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Rams' Game Moved From Mexico City to LA Due to Field]]>Tue, 13 Nov 2018 15:24:57 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/LA-Rams-game-Moving-Chiefs.jpg

The NFL has moved the Los Angeles Rams' Monday night showdown with the Kansas City Chiefs from Mexico City to Los Angeles due to the poor condition of the field at Azteca Stadium.

The league announced the extraordinary decision Tuesday, six days before one of the most-anticipated regular-season games of the year.

In a news release, the league says it determined that the recently re-sodded field at Mexico City's historic stadium "does not meet NFL standards for playability and consistency, and will not meet those standards by next Monday."

Recent rains and several big events at Azteca combined to damage the field.

The Rams (9-1) will host the Chiefs (9-1) at the Coliseum instead.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Aaron Donald's Dominance Leading Rams' Unbeaten Start]]>Mon, 22 Oct 2018 21:02:38 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-1052716488.jpg

Although Sean McVay was standing on the sideline to watch it, the head coach still had to check the video before he truly realized the scope of Aaron Donald's dominance in the Los Angeles Rams' latest win.

The All-Pro defensive lineman was in vintage form against the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, leading a stellar defensive effort as the Rams (7-0) extended their longest perfect start to a season since 1985 with a 39-10 victory.

McVay saw Donald's four sacks, and he knew Donald had forced a fumble that led to a score. Turns out, there was much more.

"I knew he had a really productive day, but then you go back and you just tally up all the plays that he made," McVay said. "How he's getting there and affecting and influencing the game in a variety of ways from his position was really impressive. That's why he's the man."

Donald is back at the peak of his disruptive powers after a self-described slow start to the season possibly caused by missing the Rams' entire offseason program and preseason during his contract holdout. With the $135 million man causing regular misery for opponents' offenses, the rest of the Rams' defense is backing him up with big plays — particularly against offenses that are still works in progress, such as the Niners' injury-plagued unit.

All told in Santa Clara, Donald had nine tackles, five quarterback hits, six tackles for loss, that forced fumble from Matt Breida and a fumble recovery.

Los Angeles will need Donald's leadership during its upcoming four-game stretch against four of the NFL's best quarterbacks. The Rams are the NFL's only unbeaten team as they begin the gauntlet with a visit from Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers (3-2-1) on Sunday.

McVay and Wade Phillips, his veteran defensive coordinator, haven't said much to their players about the Rams' unbeaten record yet. They're aware of the length and difficulty of a full NFL season, and they don't want the Rams to get ahead of their next challenge — particularly not before their bye week next month.

"The narrative is written every single week, and we want to continue to try to do a good job," McVay said. "We don't have to do anything other than try to be the best that we can one day at a time, and hopefully that leads to a good performance."

The rest of the defense fed off the advantages created by Donald's performance by forcing two fumbles and two interceptions. None of those turnovers arose from lucky bounces or deflections: Instead, McVay praised his defense for actively making plays to create opportunities for the Rams' prolific offense.

"That was a big part of being able to win," McVay said. "Get those short fields. Ultimately, it's about scoring points. The yards are the yards. That doesn't matter. What matters to us is scoring as many points as we can."

McVay's offense could be healthier when the Packers get to town on Sunday. Playmaking receiver Cooper Kupp is making steady progress back from the knee injury that sidelined him against the Niners, although McVay isn't sure whether he'll need one more week of rehab before playing again.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Longtime Chargers Owner Alex Spanos Dies at 95]]>Tue, 09 Oct 2018 13:23:57 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/178*120/291481.jpg

The longtime San Diego Chargers owner Alex Spanos died Tuesday, his family announced. He was 95.

The team Spanos bought and ran as a family business for decades relocated to Los Angeles in 2017 under the management of his son, Dean Spanos. 

"From humble beginnings to becoming the top apartment builder across the nation and the owner of an NFL franchise, Alex proved that dreams do come true," according to the family's statement.

Funeral arrangements will be announced later this week, the family said.

Spanos borrowed less than $1,000 in the early 1950s to buy a used catering truck. The truck was used to sell meals to migrant farm workers in the Central Valley, according to his biography on the Chargers’ website.

His autobiography “Sharing the Wealth: My Story” describes his early business ventures.

Spanos bought an interest in the Chargers in 1980 and acquired the team outright in 1984. Ten years later, he put his son, Dean, in charge of operations and retired.

In fact, he built the A.G. Spanos organization and the San Diego
Chargers as family-run operations.

"His uncompromising drive for success – one rooted in toughness, resilience and hard work – made an indelible mark on the team," the Los Angeles Chargers said in a statement Tuesday.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell hailed Spanos as "an American success story, driven by a tireless work ethic inspired by his humble beginnings."

"Laura and I send our condolences to the Spanos family on the death of their beloved patriarch, Alex Spanos," former President George W. Bush said in a statement. "Alex was one of a kind. ... He was a wonderful citizen and friend, and the Bush family will miss him."

In 2008, Spanos announced he was suffering from dementia by publishing a letter in the San Diego Union-Tribune.

That same year he was awarded the Medal of the Commander of the Order of Honor by the Greece president.

He and his wife, Faye, met when Spanos was stationed with the U.S. Air Force in Tarpon Springs, Florida. They were together for 77 years until her death in August at age 92.

He had four children, Dean, Dea Spanos Berberian, Alexis Spanos Ruhl and Michael along with 15 grandchildren, and 12 great-grandchildren.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be sent in the name of Alex Spanos to the following charities: American Legion – Karl Ross Post #16, 2020 Plymouth Road, Stockton, CA 95204; The Stockton Scholars Endowment Fund at UOP, University of the Pacific, Attn: University Development/Stockton Scholars, Endowed Fund, 3601 Pacific Avenue, Stockton, CA 95211; The Discovery ChalleNGe Academy, 2922 Transworld Drive, Stockton, CA 95206; or YMCA of San Joaquin County, 2105 West March Lane, Suite 1, Stockton, CA 95207.



Photo Credit: Getty Images/Stephen Dunn
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<![CDATA[Kirk Cousins, Sean McVay Reunite for Vikings Vs. Rams Thursday]]>Wed, 26 Sep 2018 20:48:10 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/LA-Rams-vs-Minnesota-Vikings-9-27-18.jpg

Kirk Cousins was an eager young quarterback and Sean McVay was a precocious offensive coordinator when they got together in Washington.

After they collaborated on two tremendously productive seasons, the partnership led to big things for both men: McVay became the NFL's youngest head coach in Los Angeles, and Cousins got an $84 million contract in Minnesota.

"I'm very grateful for having crossed paths with him," Cousins said. "And I'm always rooting for him. But certainly, though, we want to get the 'W' this week."

Indeed, they're getting back together Thursday night in a compelling early season NFC showdown between McVay's Rams (3-0) and Cousins' Vikings (1-1-1).

And both say they wouldn't be there under the Coliseum lights without the other.

"I feel fortunate to have worked with Kirk," McVay said.

"Sometimes you hear people talk about not having the strongest arm or whatever, (but) I'm not sure what film they're watching," McVay added.

"He can make every single throw. I think he has the ability to speed it up with excellent twitch. He can change the launch point. So you're not limited in any way that you can utilize him. And I couldn't be happier for Kirk, and I'll be rooting for him the rest of the year after Thursday night."

Their meeting will be an interesting barometer for both teams' early season fortunes.

The Rams have been largely outstanding during their unbeaten start to a season that has picked up right where McVay's first team left off.

But coach Mike Zimmer's Vikings defense gave perhaps the most impressive performance of last season against the high-octane Rams, who managed only one early touchdown from Todd Gurley in a 24-7 loss at Minnesota.

"We didn't run the ball as well as we had in other games against this defense," said Aaron Kromer, the Rams' running game coordinator. "They're a stout defense. They're built to stop the run. That's their No. 1 goal. ... We have to do a much better job. I think we're a lot smarter football team than we were in the past, so I hope that shows on Thursday night."

More things to watch:

WEEKNIGHT PARTY

The Rams realize Thursday afternoon isn't an ideal time to brave LA traffic for a football game at a stadium undergoing renovation that has severely curtailed its parking and tailgating.

So they're trying to make this important NFC game into a civic duty: McVay sent out a funny "memo" through newspapers and social media to all employers in Los Angeles, urging them to allow their employees to leave work early so they can head downtown for the 5:20 p.m. local start time — which he says is the "typical bedtime" of his 71-year-old defensive coordinator, Wade Phillips. They also got Vanessa Hudgens to sing the national anthem, while Compton rapper YG will perform in the second quarter.

EARLY DEPARTURE

The Vikings flew to Los Angeles on Tuesday evening, hoping to better acclimate to the two-time-zone change. The Vikings are 1-5 in Thursday night road games, winning only at Dallas in 1978. Traveling cross-country to play one of the NFL's best teams with three days of rest is a daunting task.

"Yeah, it's a problem," coach Mike Zimmer said. "We haven't had a home game on a short week since I've been here in five years. But you play the schedule how it is."

NOT A FAN

The Rams are also unenthused about their short-week schedule, although they're grateful they got to stay home for it. McVay joked that he's running on "maybe two" hours of sleep per night. Last weekend, Gurley summed up many players' feelings about Thursday football: "It's the dumbest thing ever."

GOING WITHOUT GRIFFEN

The Vikings will play without defensive end Everson Griffen, a captain and three-time Pro Bowl pick. The former USC star won't make his Coliseum return while he is sidelined indefinitely for treatment of mental illness following a pattern of erratic and threatening behavior. With players, coaches and staff concerned about Griffen's well-being, the show must go on. Stephen Weatherly had his first career sack against the Bills while starting in place of Griffen.

INJURED CORNERS

The Rams have bigger problems than a late start time: Their star-studded defense is suddenly short-handed after former Pro Bowl cornerbacks Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters both incurred injuries in last week's win over the Chargers.

Talib needs ankle surgery and will be out for at least eight weeks. Peters' calf injury isn't so serious, but still might keep him out. The Rams are likely to go against Cousins with backup cornerbacks including Sam Shields, Troy Hill and Nickell Robey-Coleman.

"I feel like we're going to be great," Robey-Coleman said. "I can't take away from the hard work that every guy on this depth chart put in to get an opportunity to get on the field."

SLOW START

After ranking seventh in the NFL last season in yards rushing, the Vikings are next-to-last with just 66 yards per game, although they've been throwing excessively with two late deficits in their first three games. There still hasn't been much room for Dalvin Cook or Latavius Murray to run, and going against the Rams' stout defensive line won't help. Pat Elflein will return to the starting lineup at center, his rehab from offseason surgeries finally complete.

"We're not in panic mode. We're not in that," said Cook, who is expected to play after sitting out last week's loss to Buffalo. "We're going to get this thing going. It's just a matter of time."

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[LA Rams CB Aqib Talib Likely Needs Ankle Surgery]]>Mon, 24 Sep 2018 18:17:00 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Aqib-Talib-LA-Rams-injury-9-24-18.jpg

Los Angeles Rams cornerback Aqib Talib could miss a significant amount of time because of an ankle injury.

Talib will likely need surgery to repair the injury he sustained in the second half of the Rams' 35-23 win over the Chargers on Sunday, Rams coach Sean McVay said.

Talib, who was acquired in a trade with Denver for a fifth-round pick in the offseason, will get a second opinion Tuesday before finalizing plans to address the injury.

A 2016 All-Pro and five-time Pro Bowler, Talib has six tackles and two passes defended for a Rams defense that has allowed a league-low 12 points per game and two touchdown passes through its first three games.

A decision whether to place Talib on injured reserve would come once there is more information available and a course of treatment is determined, McVay said.

McVay said the Rams caught a break regarding the injury to their other starting cornerback Marcus Peters. Peters, who sustained a calf injury in the second quarter, is day to day and could play against Minnesota on Thursday night.

The injuries to Talib and Peters, who was acquired from Kansas City for a fourth-round pick and 2019 second-round pick, left the Rams with three cornerbacks available to close out the game against the Chargers.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Rams Top Chargers 35-23 in LA's Newest NFL Rivalry]]>Sun, 23 Sep 2018 18:42:34 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Rams-vs-Chargers-9-23-18.jpg

Jared Goff was about four weeks old the previous time two NFL teams based in Los Angeles played each other.

When this long-dormant derby returned in its newest form Sunday, the young quarterback was the biggest reason why the Rams won this round in the long fight ahead for the hearts of LA.

Goff passed for 354 yards and three touchdowns, and Todd Gurley rushed for 105 yards and another score, leading the Rams to a 35-23 victory over the Chargers in the franchises' first meeting since their relocations to Los Angeles.

"It felt like a good rivalry," said Goff, who was 29 for 36 in perhaps his most impressive pro performance. "I think you could feel the crowd. You could tell there were two sides in here. Ultimately I think we had a little bit more, being at home, but you could definitely feel it. I think they are a great team, we're a great team, and hopefully that can continue for a long time."

Cory Littleton blocked a punt in the end zone and Blake Countess recovered it for an early touchdown for the Rams (3-0), who racked up 521 yards and remained one of the NFL's four unbeaten teams.

Two seasons after the Rams kicked off professional football's return to the nation's second-largest market after 21 years away, they got their first meeting with the Chargers, who moved a year later. Both teams put on an entertaining show for a Coliseum crowd of 68,947 containing a surprisingly significant turnout of Chargers fans, but the Rams' offensive brilliance kept them ahead all day.

These teams are likely to have a friendly coexistence in LA instead of a real rivalry, since they'll only play each other roughly once every four years while they share a multi-billion-dollar stadium complex in Inglewood starting in 2020.

Neither side ascribed much cultural significance to this win — but the Rams were thrilled to defend their turf.

"Coming out, they were kind of loud, but I think we quieted them up," Rams receiver Robert Woods said. "At the end of the game, you knew whose house it was, who is LA's team."

Woods caught two TD passes and Cooper Kupp made a 53-yard scoring catch from Goff.

Philip Rivers passed for 226 yards and hit Mike Williams with two touchdown passes for the Chargers (1-2), whose two losses have come against the powerhouse Chiefs and Rams without injured pass-rusher Joey Bosa. Melvin Gordon rushed for 80 yards and a score .

"(The Rams) are good in all areas, but I feel like we had a lot of opportunities to make plays," Williams said. "We know the talent that we have in the locker room. We've just got to put it on the field."

Despite their prolific offensive performance, the Rams never got comfortable. They lost starting cornerbacks Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib to injuries during the game, and the Chargers twice drove deep into Rams territory in the fourth quarter, only to come away with three points.

Chargers rookie safety Derwin James got his first career interception in the end zone to kill a likely scoring drive, but he blamed the defense for the loss.

"We couldn't get a stop," James said. "We made them punt one time. Offense put up enough points."

The Rams racked up 313 yards and held the ball for almost 20 minutes in the first half, but also committed two red zone turnovers that allowed the Chargers to stay close. Gurley fumbled on the Rams' opening drive, and James picked off Goff in the end zone in the second quarter.

Kupp and Goff put the Rams up 28-13 early in the third when Goff evaded pressure and slung a perfect, long throw to Kupp, who shook off Trevor Williams' tackle and ran away.

The Rams didn't punt until they led 35-23 with 7:38 to play, but the Chargers couldn't get into the end zone in the final 23 minutes of the game.

BIG BLOCK

James, the Bolts' stellar rookie safety, went out of bounds at the 1 after his pick, and the Chargers eventually had to punt out of their end zone. After a Bolts blocking mistake, Littleton easily blocked the punt to give a 21-6 lead to the Rams.

"Everything went perfectly for us, and that was the result," said Littleton, who is still playing special teams even after becoming a starting inside linebacker this year. "It was wide open. You don't get those very often."

INJURY REPORT

Chargers: P Drew Kaser injured his leg when Littleton rushed in to block his punt in the first half. Rivers replaced Kaser as a kick holder in the first half, but Kaser returned for the second half. ... WR Travis Benjamin missed his second straight game with an injured right foot.

Rams: Peters injured his leg during the first half and had to be helped off the field. The Pro Bowl selection didn't return. Talib then left in the second half. McVay said the Rams will know more Monday. ... Kick returner JoJo Natson injured his hand in the first half and didn't return. He was signed two weeks ago to replace injured Pro Bowl returner Pharoh Cooper. ... LB Dominique Easley was sidelined with a knee injury. McVay didn't know the extent.

UP NEXT

Chargers: Host the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, Sept. 30.

Rams: Host the Minnesota Vikings this Thursday, Sept. 27. With only three days to prepare, the players were already getting extensive treatment in the locker room after the game. "Recovery process starts now!" receiver Brandin Cooks yelled.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Chargers Focus on Rams Not the “Fight for LA”]]>Thu, 20 Sep 2018 06:24:58 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/178*120/GettyImages-1034499376.jpg

The Chargers are coming off a victory in Buffalo and are preparing for their cross town rival, the LA Rams, but the team isn’t into the hype about “Fight for LA.”

What the players and coaches are focused on is how to stop a red-hot Rams team that has bulldozed the competition in their first two games this season.

“That doesn’t mean anything for us,” said Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn about the “battle” over territory. “I'm sure it's good for the storylines and all that, but we fight for one another. We fight for ourselves. We don't pay attention to the ‘Fight for LA’ thing. It's just another game for us.”

The Chargers are going to have their hands full this Sunday against the Rams because their defense is no joke. The Rams have outscored their opponents 57-0, picked off the opposing quarterback four times, and haven’t allowed a single touchdown all in the last six quarters.

As we all know, games are won and lost in the trenches and the Rams have one of the best interior defensive linemen in the NFL in Aaron Donald, and he’s flanked by Ndamukong Suh, and Michael Brockers. All three have been dominant at the beginning of the season and the Chargers have taken notice.

“It is somewhat different because most weeks — it's a big-named edge rusher it seems like every week, but obviously these inside guys get a ton of attention. Not to take away from the outside guys, but rightfully so those inside guys get most of the attention. They're really solid players. It's a heck of a challenge,” explained quarterback Philip Rivers.

One player that could have some insight on one of the Rams interior players is center Mike Pouncey. He played with Suh for three seasons in Miami and knows what it is like to be out there on a hot day going up against a bull like Suh.

“You’ve just got a guy (Suh) who’s been a dominant player for a long time,” Pouncey said, “And he’s next to another dominant player. It’s going to be a real challenge for the offensive line. It’s going to be a really good test for us to see how we are up front as a unit.”

One thing the team will have to work on is not getting complacent. Last weekend against the Bills, the Chargers went into halftime up 28-6 but ended up only scoring three points in the second half, and against a team like the Rams you have to continue applying pressure.

“It really came down to we didn't get going. We had opportunities and we missed a play here or a play there. It seemed like [there] was one in every one of those series. I think it was three series in a row where we didn't get going. If we just made one of those plays, if we had stayed on the block a half-second longer, if we had used the correct technique, then I think we would have been back in that mode of the way we were playing in the first half,” explained offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt.

“If’s” won’t cut it this weekend against a team that plays “knock you out” football. When they sense the opposing team is about done they go for the final blow. So, if the Bolts have any chance of winning this game they will have to go blow for blow with the Rams. They may be in the same city, but the only thing they are both fighting for is another win in a long season.

 

NUTS N’ BOLTS

•Chargers injury report: defensive end Joey Bosa (foot), right tackle Joe Barksdale (knee), fullback Derek Watt (thumb), tight end Antonio Gates (illness) did not practice. Receiver Travis Benjamin (foot) was limited in practice and running back Melvin Gordon (neck) was a full participant.

•The Chargers worked out defensive end Kony Ealy. Coach Lynn downplayed the situation and said he has full confidence in Isaac Rochell starting in place for Bosa. He said they worked him out just in case they need a player in the future they know they are ready to play and are in shape.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[LA Chargers Player Sues Trainer Over PED Suspension]]>Tue, 18 Sep 2018 14:47:31 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Chargers-Liuget-sues-trainer.jpg

Los Angeles Chargers defensive tackle Corey Liuget has sued the trainer who he says is responsible for his four-game suspension for using a performance-enhancing substance.

Liuget filed suit against Ian Danney and his Arizona-based business in Los Angeles, asking for a jury trial and no less than $15 million in damages.

Liuget says in the suit that Danney injected him with a substance banned by the FDA and the NFL. He also says Danney gave him another product that required a prescription which Liuget did not have.

A message left with Danney's office was not returned Tuesday.

Liuget, who is in his seventh year in the NFL, said in a statement sent through his attorney that he is filing suit because the suspension has compromised his ability to be a leader in the community and that he wants to set the record straight.

Liuget is eligible to return to the Chargers after their Sept. 30 game against the San Francisco 49ers.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Photos: Rams Clobber the Cardinals in 2018 Home Opener]]>Mon, 17 Sep 2018 07:27:47 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/160*122/AP_18259815321822.jpgThe Rams dominated in Sunday's 34-0 win over Arizona -- LA's home opener for the 2018 season. The Rams yielded only five first downs and didn't allow the Cardinals to cross midfield until the final minute of the game.


Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Rams Crush Cardinals 34-0 in Home Opener]]>Sun, 16 Sep 2018 16:13:50 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Rams-Cardinals-Gurley-9-16-18.jpg

Todd Gurley ran for three touchdowns, Jared Goff threw for 354 yards and a touchdown and the Los Angeles Rams dominated the Arizona Cardinals 34-0 on Sunday.

The Rams have won their first two games for the first time since 2001, when they started 6-0 en route to the third Super Bowl appearance in team history.

It was the second time in Gurley's four-year NFL career that he has three rushing scores in a game. The other time it occurred was Week 15 at Seattle last season. Gurley finished with 42 yards on 19 carries as he played only three quarters due to cramps.

Goff, who has six 300-yard games, completed 24 of 32, marking the third time in 24 starts he has completed more than 70 percent of his passes when making 25 or more attempts. The 354 yards were only a yard off of his career high, set last season against Houston.

Brandon Cooks had seven receptions for 159 yards.

The Cardinals didn't cross midfield until the final minute and managed only five first downs as they fell to 0-2 for the first time since 2005. Sam Bradford, the first overall draft pick by the Rams in 2010, was 17 of 27 for 90 yards in his first start against his former team.

The Rams opened the scoring early in the second quarter with Gurley's 11-yard run off right end. They successfully went for the 2-point conversion on Gurley's run; Greg Zuerlein sustained a groin injury.

Johnny Hekker's 20-yard field goal extended the lead to 11-0 before Gurley had a 1-yard touchdown and 2-point conversion on the final plays of the first half.

The Rams extended their lead to 27-0 in the third quarter on Gurley's 2-yard run and Goff's pass to Malcolm Brown on the conversion. They added another touchdown in the fourth period when Goff connected with a wide-open Tyler Higbee from 3 yards.

SPECIAL TEAMS ADJUSTMENTS

The Rams went for the 2-pointers after their first three touchdowns due to Zuerlein's injury, which was announced during the first quarter. The Rams received the opening kickoff, so it is likely the injury happened in pregame warmups.

Hekker handled kickoff duties as well as punting.

JoJo Natson, signed on Wednesday after 2017 All-Pro Pharoh Cooper was lost for the year with an ankle injury, had a strong debut as the team's returner, averaging 22.2 yards on six punt returns and one kick return for 22 yards. His 60-yard punt runback in the second quarter helped set up Gurley's second touchdown.

INJURIES

Cardinals: WR Larry Fitzgerald injured his hamstring during the fourth quarter and did not return.

UP NEXT

Cardinals: Have two straight home games, beginning next Sunday against Chicago.

Rams: Host the Chargers in the first regular-season Battle of Los Angeles between the two teams.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Chargers Beat Bills 31-20, Gordon Scores 3 TDs]]>Sun, 16 Sep 2018 16:20:25 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Chargers-Bills-Melvin-Gordon-9-16-18.jpg

Los Angeles Chargers running back Melvin Gordon isn't concerned about an injury that sidelined him for much of the fourth quarter against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday.

"Nah, it's just a little upper body, but I'll be straight," Gordon said.

Whatever pain there might have been was offset by Gordon matching a career high by scoring three touchdowns, and the Chargers holding off a late Bills comeback attempt to secure a 31-20 win.

"It felt good because that just showed us what type of offense we can be," said Gordon, who left with just over 11 minutes remaining. "It's good to have confirmation, so we've just got to keep that going."

A week after putting up 541 yards but lacking finish in a season-opening 38-28 loss to Kansas City, the Chargers were less productive but more efficient. Gordon scored on three consecutive drives in helping the Chargers build a 28-3 lead with 1:55 left in the second quarter.

The Bills, meanwhile, continued to show signs of unraveling even though rookie quarterback Josh Allen provided the offense some semblance of a spark in his first career start, and a week after a season-opening 47-3 meltdown at Baltimore.

Veteran cornerback Vontae Davis created a significant stir by leaving the team at halftime, coach Sean McDermott said. Running back LeSean McCoy did not return and was still experiencing pain in the locker room because of a rib injury. And McDermott revealed he took over the defensive play-calling from coordinator Leslie Frazier to start the second half.

On Davis, McDermott said: "Pulled himself out of the game. He communicated to us that he was done."

That move didn't sit well with Buffalo's two senior defensive leaders.

"I think the only thing to say is he's where he needs to be right now," tackle Kyle Williams said.

Asked where that might be, Williams responded: "That's not here point blank and simple."

Defensive end Lorenzo Alexander was equally blunt when asked about Davis.

"I don't have nothing to say about Vontae so I'll give him a little bit more respect than he showed us today as far as quitting on us in the middle of the game," Alexander said. "Never seen it, ever. Pop Warner. High school. College. Pros."

Davis was credited with one tackle. He's a 10-year veteran who signed a one-year contract in free agency in March.

The Bills provided Davis a chance to re-start his career after a dispute with former Colts coach Chuck Pagano led to Indianapolis cutting him in November.

Davis made his Bills' debut against the Chargers after being inactive against Baltimore last week.

A message left with Davis' agent, Todd France, was not returned.

The Bills defense wilted in the first half in allowing the Chargers 17 first downs and 284 yards.

Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers finished 23 of 27 for 256 yards and three touchdowns, including a 10-yarder to Mike Williams , 5½ minutes in.

The Chargers defense did their part in limiting the Bills to 110 yards and two field goals in the first half.

Melvin Ingram III had 1½ of the Chargers' five sacks on a defense that was playing without Joey Bosa (foot) and Corey Liuget (suspension).

Allen produced two touchdown drives in the second half, including a seven-play, 75-yard third-quarter opening drive capped by Chris Ivory's 1-yard plunge.

Allen finished 18 of 33 for 245 yards with a 3-yard touchdown pass to Kelvin Benjamin with 38 seconds remaining, and two interceptions.

It was a modestly better showing at quarterback a week after Nathan Peterman was yanked after completing 5 of 18 attempts for 24 yards, with two interceptions, and overseeing an offense that managed just one first down over 10 series.

MCCOY INJURED:

McCoy was shaken up late in the third quarter when he was tackled from behind and had Buffalo center Ryan Groy fall down on him. Groy landed heavily on the left side of McCoy's chest as he was on the ground.

McCoy returned and had a 3-yard run on the final snap of the third quarter, before missing the remainder of the game.

STILL HAVEN'T TRAILED:

The Chargers won their fourth straight meeting against the Bills, and haven't trailed Buffalo since a 23-14 loss on Oct. 19, 2008.

FINALLY:

It took nearly 95 minutes of game time for the Bills to finally find the end zone. The drought finally ended on Ivory's 1-yard plunge with 11:06 left in the third quarter. Buffalo was the only team not to score a touchdown in Week 1.

INJURIES:

Chargers: Receiver Travis Benjamin did not play because of a foot injury.

Bills: RB Taiwan Jones was being evaluated for a head injury after he was tackled in Buffalo's end zone after his helmet came off while recovering a fumbled punt midway through the fourth quarter. CB Philip Gaines hurt his right elbow while tackling Gordon.

ANTHEM UPDATE:

Chargers offensive tackle Russell Okung stood 3 yards in from the sideline with his right arm raised. No other players appeared to protest during the anthem.

UP NEXT:

Chargers: At Los Angeles Rams, Sunday, Sept. 23.

Bills: At Minnesota, Sunday, Sept. 23.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Rams Seek First 2-0 Start Since 2001 Against Cardinals]]>Sun, 16 Sep 2018 09:21:49 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Jared+Goff.jpg

The Los Angeles Rams will play host to the Arizona Cardinals in their 2018 home opener at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum Sunday, seeking their first 2-0 start since 2001.

The Rams opened the season with a 33-13 victory at Oakland Monday night, outscoring the Raiders 23-0 in the second half. Arizona lost to Washington, 24-6, in its season opener last Sunday.

The Rams recorded their first sweep of the Cardinals since 2012 in 2017, winning 33-0 in London and 32-16 in Glendale, Arizona. The regular-season series is tied, 38-38-2. The Rams won the only playoff game between the two teams, in 1975 when the Cardinals were based in St. Louis.

Arizona has both a new coach (Steve Wilks) and a new starting quarterback (Sam Bradford), who replaced Bruce Arians and Carson Palmer, who both retired. There were 18 Cardinals who made their debuts with the team in last Sunday's loss to the Redskins.

The game is a matchup of the only two quarterbacks the Rams have selected with the first overall choice in the NFL draft since the inception of the common draft in 1967. The Rams chose Bradford with the first pick in the 2010 draft, when they were based in St. Louis. They selected Jared Goff with the first pick in 2016.

Arizona's roster includes two UCLA alumni, quarterback Josh Rosen, its first-round choice in the 2018 draft, and fullback Derrick Coleman. Rosen did not play in the opener. Rosen (St. John Bosco), is among four Cardinals who played on the high school level in Los Angeles County, along with cornerback Bene Benwikere (Serra), defensive end Benson Mayowa (Inglewood), offensive lineman Daniel Munyer (Sherman Oaks Notre Dame). Coleman is among two Cardinals who played on the high school level in Orange County, he was a teammate of long snapper Aaron Brewer at Troy High School.

For the third consecutive year, the Rams will honor Pro Football Hall of Famers at their season opener. Eric Dickerson, Orlando Pace, Jackie Slater and Jack Youngblood will light the torch in the Peristyle end of the Coliseum.

They will also be on the field at halftime, supporting the youth football programs scrimmaging. Rapper Jay Rock, born Johnny Reed McKinzie Jr., who was raised in Watts and attended Locke High School, will perform on the field before the game.

The rhythm and blues and pop singer Tinashe, who attended Crescenta Valley High School, will sing the national anthem. One hundred firefighters from Los Angeles-area departments will unfurl a "Rock the Rams House" flag in the southeast end zone before player introductions. Immediately following the national anthem, the Rams Empire Booster Club will unfurl the new "Whose House, Rams House" banner in Section 29.

Retired U.S. Marine Corps 1st Sgt. Brice Bartlette will be recognized during the first quarter. He was deployed in combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan and protected U.S. Embassies in Saudi Arabia and Lithuania. Bartlette's honors include the Meritorious Service Medal, the Navy Commendation Medal, the Navy & Marine Corps Achievement Medal and the Combat Action Ribbon.

The Camarillo Road Runners will scrimmage the Calabasas Wolfpack in the northwest end zone and the Thousand Oaks Titans will scrimmage the Moorpark Musketeers in the southeast end zone at halftime. Patrick Moya, a volunteer with the Hollywood-based Uplift Family Services at Hollygrove will be honored at halftime as the Rams first Community Quarterback honoree of 2018. Donald Rubin will be honored as the season ticket member of the game. The 90-year-old Rubin was also a season ticket holder during the Rams first tenure in Southern California, 1946-94.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Rams, Raiders Start Season on Monday Night ]]>Sun, 09 Sep 2018 22:48:45 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/185*120/GettyImages-630503096.jpg

The Los Angeles Rams and Oakland Raiders spent most of the lead-up to the season in the same predicament, with their Defensive Players of the Year holding out while seeking new contracts.

When the teams open the season against each other Monday night in Oakland, that will have changed. The Rams will have last year's winner of the league's top defensive award on the field anchoring the middle in Aaron Donald. The Raiders will be without 2016 winner Khalil Mack, who was traded to Chicago.

The Raiders dealt Mack for a package including two first-round draft picks a day after Donald signed a six-year, $135 million deal, with $87 million guaranteed. Oakland was unwilling to pay that price for Mack, forcing defensive coordinator Paul Guenther to shelve plans he made after getting hired on how to use Mack, and proceed the way he approached training camp with the rest of the overhauled defense.

"I think I saw the guy in a restaurant in March one time," Guenther said. "My kids pointed it out to me, 'Hey, its Khalil Mack. He's got the new Jordans on.' You know, I wouldn't know. With as many new players we brought in, new coaching staff we just kind of got use to him not being here and operating with what we got, so we are going to move along that way."

The Raiders spent much of the offseason trying to improve their pass rush by moving Bruce Irvin to a full-time defensive end position, and drafting P.J. Hall, Arden Key and Maurice Hurst. That group helped generate 12 sacks in the preseason and will have plenty of pressure starting Monday night to fill Mack's void.

"It's an opportunity for me and the rest of the guys on the D-line," Key said. "That's just another opportunity. Khalil Mack is gone. We can't dwell on it. We have to move forward and somebody has to step up in his spot."

The Rams said they weren't exactly upset to see Mack traded, considering he has averaged more than 12 sacks and 60 quarterback pressures over the last three seasons. But they noted they still have to face Mack in Week 14 and that the Raiders' other rushers present enough of a challenge this week.

"He's a great player, and he's not going to be on the team we're playing this week, but they've got plenty of good players, and they've got a great defense and a great team that we're preparing for," quarterback Jared Goff said. "We're not thinking very much about Khalil right now."

The Raiders have plenty to worry about on Los Angeles' defense now that Donald is back to team with three former All-Pros added this offseason: defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, cornerbacks Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib.

The new-look lineup gives coordinator Wade Phillips one of the game's best pair of cornerbacks in Peters and Talib, as well as interior rushers in Donald and Suh.

The Raiders have a good idea what to expect with Peters and Talib having spent the past few years in the AFC West; Oakland playing against Suh in Miami last year; and Phillips serving as defensive coordinator in Denver in 2015-16 when he faced the Raiders four times overall.

"They're all great players," quarterback Derek Carr said. "They have a great team, great defense. Great challenge they present us. Then (defensive coordinator) coach Phillips calling it. I've gone against him a number of times. He does his stuff, man, and he's really good at it. It's going to be a good challenge for us. I can sit here and talk good things about all those guys. They know how I feel about them, they're great players."

The Rams have spent the past week incorporating Donald into the mix after he held out all offseason and training camp. They have experience doing it from last year, when he didn't report until one day before the season opener and missed the first game.

He's had more than a week of practice and should be ready for the opener for what could be the most star-packed defense in the league.

"We haven't played in any games or any meaningful snaps, so we're still figuring out how to come together as a defense," coach Sean McVay said. "You feel good about those two players and some of the other guys that will play with them up front. It looks good right now, but it's about playing together as a unit and doing a great job against what we know is going to be an excellent challenge with a great offense on Monday night."

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[New Year, Same Result: Chiefs Beat Chargers]]>Sun, 09 Sep 2018 16:13:09 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/209*120/Tyreek+Hill+Chargers+Carson.JPG

The 2018 season started like the 2017 season started for the Chargers: really bad special teams play hurt them.

Of course, pretty much everything hurt them in a 38-28 loss to the division rival Kansas City Chiefs in front of a "sellout" crowd of 25,351 at StubHub Center in Carson (which, yes, featured a majority of Chiefs fans).

Tyreek Hill took a punt back 91 yards for a touchdown less than two minutes into the game to put Kansas City up 7-0. Hill chased that on their next possession with a 58-yard touchdown reception, the first of K.C. quarterback Patrick Mahomes' career, to make it a 14-3 game.

The Chargers worked their way back and should have taken the lead by halftime but their pass catchers were neglecting to catch passes. Wide receiver Tyrell Williams lost his man and was drifting all alone in the end zone but he had the ball bounce right off his hands. Rivers overcame that mistake by finishing the drive with a 13-yard TD pass to running back Austin Ekeler.

Head coach Anthony Lynn opted to go for two and a tie game but Rivers' pass was knocked away from Mike Williams to it was a 14-13 KC lead.

The Chiefs upped it to 17-12 with a field goal and then another drop was more dismaying. Travis Benjamin ran by everyone and Rivers dropped a rainbow right into his lap 50 yards downfield but Benjamin dropped it. Even if a defender had caught him the Chargers would have been in field goal range. Instead the Chiefs took a 17-12 lead to the half and extended it immediately.

Mahomes led another TD drive that ended with a 1-yard TD run by De'Anthony Thomas who came out of the slot and caught a small toss from Mahomes that technically went forward so it counted as a TD reception. Thomas was able to take his time crossing the goal line because the Chargers defense was completely fooled by the play.

The Bolts had a promising drive going but Rivers tried to squeeze a ball to Keenan Allen at the 10-yard-line and safety Ron Parker jumped in front of him for an interception. Mahomes made them pay for the mistake with an 86-yard TD drive, capping it with a beautifully-placed 36-yard scoring pass to fullback Anthony Sherman that gave Kansas City a 31-12 advantage.

The final nail in the proverbial coffin came on another special teams gaffe. Rookie punt returner J.J. Jones misjudged a punt, muffed it, scooped it up and tried to make a play, got hit, fumbled, and the Chiefs had it at the two yard line. Mahomes did another little toss, this time to Hill, for the QB's 4th TD pass of the day and a 38-20 lead.

Tyrell Williams caught a 4-yard TD pass to cut the lead to 38-28.

The Chargers have now lost nine straight games to the Chiefs. They travel to Buffalo next week while Kansas City plays another road game, this time on the opposite coast against the Steelers in Pittsburgh.

]]>
<![CDATA[Chargers' Joey Bosa Out For Opener With Left Foot Injury]]>Sat, 08 Sep 2018 21:45:36 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Joey-Bosa-Chargers.jpg

Chargers' Joey Bosa out for opener with left foot injury

Los Angeles Chargers defensive end Joey Bosa will miss the opener against Kansas City after reinjuring his left foot.

Coach Anthony Lynn said Friday that Bosa's first foot injury had healed but that he suffered a new injury during Wednesday's practice. Bosa first injured the foot on Aug. 7 during training camp and missed the preseason.

The Chargers had been cautious with Bosa during the preseason, hoping that another injury wouldn't occur.

"He's real frustrated. He's been waiting for a while to get back on the field," Lynn said. "It's going to be week to week. We hope it doesn't linger but it could."

This will be the first time Bosa has missed a game because of injury since being selected with the third overall pick in the 2016 draft. He has 23 career sacks in two seasons, including an NFL-record 19 in his first 20 games.

Bosa led the team last season in tackles (54) and sacks (12.5) while being second in tackles for loss (17.5) and quarterback hits (22).

With Bosa's injury, the Chargers will be without two starters on their defensive line. Defensive tackle Corey Liuget is serving a four-game suspension for violating the NFL's policy on performance-enhancing drugs.

Isaac Rochell will get his first NFL start in Bosa's place. The second-year player saw extensive playing time during the preseason and led the team in tackles for loss (3) along with two sacks.

"Isaac had a great camp. He's grown like a weed, stepped up and got the job done," Lynn said.

Rochell said the increased snaps have allowed him to develop more confidence and also gain the trust of coaches. He added that "you don't want your coaches to feel like they are in survival mode."

The defense's biggest challenge this week will be containing Patrick Mahomes. The second-year quarterback uses his athleticism to keep plays alive, which has led to big gains downfield.

"He has a strong arm but has the threat of running," Rochelle said. "With the other threats they have, there are going to be a lot of challenges."

Lynn also said that he expects tight end Antonio Gates to be active for Sunday's game. Gates re-signed with the team Monday, and Lynn said it looked as though Gates picked up where he left off last season.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[After No Preseason, Jared Goff Eager to Unveil Rams' Offense]]>Tue, 04 Sep 2018 16:37:12 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Jared-Goff-Rams-offense-2018.jpg

Jared Goff watched the Los Angeles Rams' entire preseason from the sideline. He hasn't thrown a pass in a game since last January, when he lost his first NFL playoff start.

When he steps under the Monday night lights in his native Bay Area, the third-year quarterback is eager to show what he's learned and how he's grown during eight long months without real football.

And for fans expecting a thrilling encore to last season's utter transformation by Goff and the Rams' offense, he plans to have a little something for them, too.

"There's a bunch of stuff we've been working on this offseason that we're ready to display on Monday night," Goff said. "A lot of the stuff is from last season that we're going to continue to do, and then a lot of new stuff that we're doing. What we're going to do, and how we're going to do it, I don't know. But there's a lot of stuff that we're excited to put on the field finally that we've been working on for so long this offseason."

Goff is aware of the expectations on him as the Rams begin a season with Super Bowl expectations against the Oakland Raiders. With new coach Sean McVay guiding him last year, Goff shrugged off a disappointing rookie season and became one of the NFC's most productive quarterbacks as the Rams doubled their point total from 2016 and made a seven-win improvement in the standings.

But Goff also knows he and the Rams haven't actually proven much in the areas that matter, beyond winning a division title and asserting themselves as a contender. Goff's 3,804 yards passing were 10th in the league — although he probably would have been higher if he hadn't been rested for the season finale — and his completion percentage (62.1) was 17th.

Goff went into the offseason knowing he had ample work to do. His teammates and coaches say he has done it well, and they're already seeing the results in practice.

"Just little stuff, like him telling me stuff when he doesn't need to," running back Todd Gurley said. "You just see his progression. Just going through his routes, going through the first receiver all the way down to his checkdown and to me. He's been getting better each day, just taking those little steps. (He) doesn't like when he's out there messing up, and that's what you love in a quarterback."

Goff got no preseason snaps because McVay decided he didn't want to play his first-string offensive line, which started 15 consecutive games together last season and played a major role in keeping Goff upright and effective. So even though Goff probably could have used the work, however brief, he sat out in August along with Gurley and all of the Rams' top skill-position players.

That means Goff will go into Monday's game at Oakland having never thrown a pass in a game to Brandin Cooks, the Rams' high-priced new receiver.

The way Goff looks at it, the inactivity means no opponents will know exactly what to expect from Los Angeles' inventive coach and talented group of playmakers.

"Very excited to get some truly competitive action with our offense," Goff said. "It'll be really cool. The defense only played a little bit (in the preseason) too, and I know they're excited as well."

Goff, who grew up a 49ers fan in Marin County, has played in only one real NFL game back home. He beat the Niners last September with three touchdown passes in Santa Clara, earning the first road victory of his NFL career and the Rams' first of 10 wins in 13 games.

But Goff's NFL career technically began with another Monday night game in the Bay Area: The No. 1 overall pick was inactive as the third quarterback in the Rams' season-opening, 28-0 loss to the 49ers two seasons ago. That year's misery, which included Goff's 0-7 record as a starter, was largely erased in the public mind by his impressive sophomore season.

Goff hasn't forgotten the frustration of his rookie year, and it lingers as a motivating force.

"It does feel like a long time ago," Goff said of that trip to Santa Clara in 2016. "I guess it was what, two years ago? It feels like forever ago. ... I've grown up a lot in those two years. I was 21 then. I'm 23 now. Not too old now, but a little bit older than I was then."

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Chargers Re-Sign Antonio Gates for 16th Season ]]>Sun, 02 Sep 2018 14:38:38 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/Gates+TD+in+Denver.jpg

The Los Angeles Chargers aren't ready to say farewell to Antonio Gates after all.

Four months after the Chargers bade a public goodbye to the leading receiver in franchise history, Gates returned to the team on Sunday, one week before the start of his 16th season. The 38-year-old franchise stalwart is getting a one-year deal and another shot at his first trip to a Super Bowl. 

The Chargers intended to part ways with Gates last spring after his role declined behind starting tight end Hunter Henry in 2017. Their plans changed when Henry tore a knee ligament during offseason workouts in May, likely sidelining him for the upcoming season. 

Although they've been discussing a reunion for many weeks, Gates and the Chargers waited until the day before the first week of game preparation for the regular season to formalize his return to his only NFL team. Gates' 114 career touchdown catches are sixth in NFL history and the most among active players. 

"I'm grateful that he wants to come back and play with us," Chargers general manager Tom Telesco said. "But I'm also grateful he's coming back for all the right reasons. He's not coming back to put up more statistics. He's not coming back to prove anything to anybody, because he doesn't have to do that. He's coming back because he loves his teammates, and I think he sees something special in this football team that he wants to be a part of, and that's exciting." 

The Chargers are a popular pick to be a playoff contender after winning nine of their final 12 games last season. Gates and the Chargers have made the postseason just once since 2009. 

Telesco wouldn't say whether he expects Gates to play when the Chargers open the regular season at home against the Chiefs on Sept. 9. 

"I guess we'll see," Telesco said. "I certainly wouldn't want to tell Kansas City." 

Once an undrafted free agent who played only basketball at Kent State, Gates is an eight-time Pro Bowl selection and the Chargers' career leader in receptions (927), yards receiving (11,508) and touchdown catches. He set the NFL record for touchdown receptions by a tight end last September, surpassing Tony Gonzalez with his 112th TD catch. 

But Gates' 30 receptions last season were his fewest since his rookie year in 2003, and his 316 yards receiving were a career low as Henry took the majority of the big snaps. Gates started only four games, but he stepped up capably into a larger role when Henry was out with a bruised kidney late last season. 

The Chargers spent the past four months with a clear need for a pass-catching tight end. Newcomer Virgil Green is a veteran blocking tight end with pass-catching ability, but the only other tight end on Los Angeles' 53-man roster Sunday was undrafted second-year pro Sean Culkin, who has never caught a pass in an NFL game.

"I guess we're very lucky to have a player like Hunter get hurt and have a player like Antonio available and willing," Telesco said. "He knows the offense. He knows the quarterback. He knows our head coach. He knows this organization very well, and he finished the year on a strong note last year." 

Gates has a profound connection with Philip Rivers, who joined the Chargers in 2004 and has been their starting quarterback in every game since 2006. Rivers has thrown 87 touchdown passes to Gates, and they trail only Indianapolis' Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison as the most prolific TD duo in NFL history. 

Rivers publicly advocated for Gates' return in recent months, and Gates will be another solid target in the Chargers' potent offense, which led the NFL with 276.9 yards passing per game last season. With Gates back in powder blue, Rivers' top eight receivers from last season are still with the Bolts. 

The Chargers made several additional moves Sunday, a day after setting their roster and choosing Caleb Sturgis as their new kicker.

Los Angeles released linebacker Hayes Pullard, who played extensively last year, and quarterback Cardale Jones. Telesco said the Bolts hope to re-sign Jones to the practice squad as their third quarterback behind Rivers and Geno Smith. 

Los Angeles claimed linebacker Emmanuel Ellerbee off waivers from Atlanta and nose tackle T.Y. McGill off waivers from Kansas City. Telesco believes Ellerbee can fit in well with the Chargers after learning the Falcons' defense of coach Dan Quinn, whose scheme is derived from the system run by Chargers defensive coordinator Gus Bradley when they both coached on Pete Carroll's staff in Seattle. 

Telesco also lamented the season-ending ankle injury of receiver Artavis Scott, who spent last season as a rookie on the Chargers' practice squad after winning a national title at Clemson alongside receiver Mike Williams, the Chargers' first-round pick last year. 

"He had earned a spot on this team and had done a great job," Telesco said. "Last year at this time, we thought he could play, but this time, we know he can play."

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Rams Head Into 2018 Season as NFC West Favorites]]>Sun, 02 Sep 2018 12:31:48 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/208*120/Goff+and+Rams+hold+on+to+beat+Niners+.png

The Los Angeles Rams have gone from one of the NFL's biggest surprises to one of the top Super Bowl favorites in just one year. 

The Rams didn't rest after an impressive turnaround campaign in coach Sean McVay's first season, bringing in an impressive offseason haul led by three former All-Pros on defense in defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh and cornerbacks Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib, along with big-play receiver Brandin Cooks. 

It's perhaps the most talent added in one offseason since the San Francisco 49ers brought in Deion Sanders, Ken Norton Jr., Rickey Jackson and Richard Dent 24 years ago and ended up as Super Bowl champs. 

The newcomers join a roster that features a promising young quarterback in Jared Goff, an elite running back in Todd Gurley, a stout offensive line led by left tackle Andrew Whitworth -- and perhaps Defensive Player of the Year Aaron Donald, who held out for a second straight training camp but could be back for the start of the season.

The Rams figure to be challenged most in the NFC West by a rejuvenated San Francisco team that won the final five games last year after Jimmy Garoppolo took over as quarterback. 

Seattle still has Russell Wilson but few other key pieces from the 2013 Super Bowl team, and Arizona has three of the division's top players in receiver Larry Fitzgerald, cornerback Patrick Peterson and running back David Johnson, who is coming back from a wrist injury.

Some things to know about the NFC West:

STABLE OFFENSE: For all the big changes on defense for the Rams , they predictably kept things very stable on offense after going from worst to first in the NFL in scoring in the initial year under McVay.

Los Angeles brings back 10 of 11 starters on offense, with the only change at receiver where Cooks replaced Sammy Watkins. It's a far cry from last year when the Rams broke in two new offensive linemen and a new receiver around Goff, who was getting ready for his first full season as an NFL starter in a brand new offense.

This team clearly has big-play potential. Cooks is one of the league's best deep threats and Gurley led the NFL in yards from scrimmage (2,093) and TDs (19) last season, earning him the rare big-money contract as a running back.

JIMMY G: The 49ers fortunes changed almost immediately after acquiring Garoppolo at last year's trade deadline. A team that started 2017 with nine straight losses finished with five straight wins after Garoppolo took over as starter. 

He completed 67.4 percent of his passes last season, averaging 8.8 yards per attempt with seven TDs, five interceptions and a 96.2 rating to improve to 7-0 in his career as a starter. His 308.4 yards passing per game in his five starts also would have led the league had he played a full season. 

His offense got dealt a blow when versatile running back Jerick McKinnon went down with a season-ending injury. The Niners also have some questions on defense, where they are hoping Richard Sherman can get back to his pre-injury level as a shutdown cornerback, and someone can provide an outside pass rush to complement defensive tackle stud DeForest Buckner. 

QB SHUFFLE: There have been big changes in Arizona with quarterback Carson Palmer retired and coach Bruce Arians moving from the sideline to the broadcast booth. 

But the biggest deal for the Cardinals this year is the health of Johnson, the do-everything back whose 2017 season ended with an injury in the opener. Johnson is healthy again, and if he can get back to the form with which he ranked second in the NFL with 2,118 yards from scrimmage in 2016, that should take plenty of pressure off the quarterback. 

Oft-injured Sam Bradford begins the year as starter, but he has only played 80 games in eight seasons. He has torn the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee twice, and another left knee injury wiped out nearly all of his 2017 season in Minnesota. 

But Bradford is likely only a stopgap. The Cardinals traded up to take Josh Rosen 10th overall in hopes that he can be a franchise quarterback for new coach Steve Wilks. 

LAST HURRAH: The Seahawks have been one of the most consistent teams in the league under coach Pete Carroll the past few years. Seattle has posted six straight seasons of top two finishes in the division and winning records, missing the playoff only last year. But much of the core of the team that went to back-to-back Super Bowls in the 2013 and '14 seasons is gone.

Defensive end Michael Bennett was traded, cornerback Richard Sherman was cut and wound up with the archrival 49ers, tight end Jimmy Graham left as a free agent and defensive stars Cliff Avril and Kam Chancellor have had career-ending injuries. Even safety Earl Thomas' status is in doubt as he has held out all offseason in hopes of getting a new contract. 

While star power remains led by Wilson, receiver Doug Baldwin and linebacker Bobby Wagner, the rest of the roster likely has too many holes for the Seahawks to be able to challenge the top teams in the NFC.

PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH: Rams, 49ers, Cardinals, Seahawks.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Rams' Aaron Donald Signs Whopping New Contract, Ending Holdout]]>Fri, 31 Aug 2018 15:08:52 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Aaron-Donald-skips-Mandatory-minicamp.jpg

All-Pro defensive tackle Aaron Donald agreed to a massive new contract with the Los Angeles Rams on Friday, ending his second consecutive preseason holdout as the highest-paid defensive player in NFL history.

The Rams announced a new six-year deal through 2024 for Donald, the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year.

ESPN and the NFL Network reported the new deal is worth $135 million over six years, with a $40 million signing bonus and $87 million guaranteed. Donald is already under contract this season for $6.89 million in the final year of his rookie deal.

Donald was chosen for the Pro Bowl after each of his four NFL seasons. The 27-year-old Pitt product is the centerpiece of the Rams' defense and one of the NFL's most dominant linemen, demonstrating remarkable effectiveness against the run and the pass.

Donald was a key component of Los Angeles' extraordinary one-year turnaround under rookie coach Sean McVay in 2017. With Donald leading their defensive efforts under veteran coordinator Wade Phillips, the Rams won their division for the first time since 2003 and ended the franchise's streaks of 13 consecutive non-winning seasons and 12 straight non-playoff seasons.

But Donald also took a hard line in negotiating his football future. He skipped the past two training camps and preseasons while seeking a new contract, and he also skipped the Rams' entire offseason program this year.

He didn't report last year until the day before the regular season opener, forcing him to miss the Rams' first game. He still earned recognition as the NFL's top defensive player despite playing in only 14 games, racking up 11 sacks and 41 tackles while forcing five fumbles for the NFC West champions. He also led the NFL with 91 quarterback pressures, according to Pro Football Focus.

With his holdout ended, Donald finally will be able to team up with Rams newcomer Ndamukong Suh and veteran Michael Brockers on a potentially destructive defensive line. Donald has yet to work out alongside Suh after the five-time Pro Bowl selection joined the Rams as a free agent in March.

Earlier this week, McVay said Donald should be able to play in the Rams' Monday night regular-season opener in Oakland on Sept. 10 if he reached a deal with the Rams within the next few days. Donald has been working out at home in Pittsburgh during his holdout, and McVay checked in regularly with him.

"Getting him in here sooner than later, which is something that we do feel good about, is hopefully going to happen," McVay said Tuesday.

The Rams managed to maintain a civil relationship with Donald throughout the two years of difficult negotiations. Donald and his representatives were determined to make him one of the NFL's highest-paid players at any position, while the Rams wanted to reward Donald while keeping their overall salary structure intact.

Los Angeles demonstrated its willingness to pay top dollar for talent in recent months while agreeing to lucrative long-term deals with NFL Offensive Player of the Year Todd Gurley, receiver Brandin Cooks and right tackle Rob Havenstein. With Donald in camp, they've finally got their near-term roster settled while still maintaining significant room on their payroll for 2019 -- just in time for quarterback Jared Goff to reach the fourth year of his rookie deal with the chance to negotiate a long-term contract.

A compact powerhouse with a ferocious work rate, the 6-foot-1 Donald has been uncommonly dominant since joining the Rams in St. Louis in 2014 as the 13th overall pick in the draft. He was the defensive rookie of the year, and he only sharpened his game while the Rams returned home to Los Angeles in 2016.

Although Donald has 39 sacks in four NFL seasons, traditional statistics don't reflect the full measure of his disruptive play on the line. Phillips rhapsodizes about Donald's ability to force opposing offenses into bad decisions by his ability to wreck any blocking scheme with his low, ferocious charges through the offensive line.

After months upon months with no change in the Rams' talks with Donald's representatives, a breakthrough clearly was achieved in the past few weeks. Rams general manager Les Snead both began to speak of the process with new optimism, and McVay brightened recently at the thought of not talking about Donald's contract during every preseason media briefing.

"I don't really know anything else," McVay said with a laugh.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Photos: See the Changes Coming to LA Memorial Coliseum]]>Wed, 15 Aug 2018 13:40:06 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/214*120/05-Coliseum.JPGUSC is breaking ground on renovations to the historic Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The Coliseum opened in June 1923 and went on to serve as a stage for the Olympics, two Super Bowls and other NFL battles, Los Angeles Dodgers baseball games, a World Series, a Papal Mass, presidential visits and USC football.

Photo Credit: KNBC]]>
<![CDATA[Rams' Late Signing of Ryan Davis Could be Answer at OLB]]>Sun, 12 Aug 2018 12:29:32 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/200*120/04-29-2016-rams-helmet-generic-1.jpg

The Los Angeles Rams made a series of high-profile defensive acquisitions during the offseason. Defensive end Ryan Davis was not one of them.

Davis signed a one-year contract two days before training camp started, an addition that could prove to be just as significant as signing defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh and trading for cornerbacks Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters.

"I was on my way to Detroit, actually, for a workout, and Arizona called," Davis said. "And then as soon as LA called, I told my agent: 'Come on, we gotta go. We got to make this happen.'"

Davis' intuition was right on, and he has found himself working extensively with the starting defense as an outside linebacker during the first three weeks of training camp. Coach Sean McVay has frequently identified Davis as one of the early standouts, though the praise apparently has not filtered down to the seven-season veteran who last played for Buffalo.

"I'm not looking for any kind of cheers or pat on the back from the coaches, but if they are fans of me, then obviously that's a good thing," Davis said. "My thing is going out there and not letting the guys down next to me. Just giving it my best and playing hard."

The quick transition Davis has made at outside linebacker is all the more important because the Rams must replace both starters there after trading Robert Quinn to Miami in March and not re-signing free agent Connor Barwin.

Quinn and Barwin combined for 13.5 sacks last season. Davis has flashed pass-rush ability with 14 career sacks, including 6 1/2 in 2014 for Jacksonville. Getting to the quarterback has always come naturally for Davis, but he is adjusting well to the coverage responsibilities of his new position. Recruited to Bethune-Cookman University as a tight end before moving to defense, Davis showed he still has soft hands during a post-practice session Saturday night catching balls from a JUGS machine.

"Some things you just don't lose. Hands, I just don't lose 'em," Davis said. "I'm outside linebacker now, so I have opportunity to get my hands on the ball. I want to be able to cash in." 

Instead, the biggest change for Davis has been rebuilding his body to handle the athletic demands of playing outside linebacker. He reported to training camp at 280 pounds, which was fine by the Rams, but it quickly became evident to Davis that he had to drop weight.

"They liked the way I moved when I came in," Davis said. "I came in and ran (the conditioning test) perfectly fine and was moving around perfectly fine, but for me personally I knew I have to shed weight to be able to keep this up the whole year. I'm down 10 pounds already from the start of camp and I'm looking to lose another 10, 15."

Davis is still surprised by his sudden elevation to the first-unit defense, which has confirmed his belief that the Rams were the best fit.

"I know I had to switch over to Sam linebacker, but that's really why I came. The defense, the Wade Phillips defense is a good fit," Davis said. "I've been talking with the Rams the whole offseason. We kind of sensed that this is where I wanted to be, and we went back and forth about everything, but I was just glad to be here. The Rams, LA just made a ton of sense for me as a player. The atmosphere, the city, everything about it just felt right."

NOTES: Tight end Gerald Everett (sprained shoulder) will miss at least another week, McVay said. Everett was at practice Saturday with his left arm in a sling.



Photo Credit: Getty]]>
<![CDATA[Photos: Rams Uniforms Throughout the Years]]>Wed, 26 Sep 2018 06:29:10 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/184*120/LA+Rams+Fans.JPG]]><![CDATA[What to Know: A Fan Guide to Rams Training Camp 2018]]>Thu, 26 Jul 2018 10:10:35 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/174*120/GettyImages-901979386.jpg

The Los Angeles Rams will conduct their first practice of their 2018 training camp Thursday at UC Irvine amid optimism the team will contend for a Super Bowl berth following their first NFC West title since 2003.

Here's what to know.

The Basics: The practice is set to begin at 3 p.m., with gates opening at 1:30 p.m. Admission is free, offering fans who brave the 90-degree heat an opportunity to see the team.

Where to Park: Parking will be available in the Mesa Parking Structure, next to the Bren Events Center. Fans are encouraged to purchase parking passes in advance for the discounted rate of $10 at TheRams.com/TrainingCamp. Parking purchased in-person on the day of practice is $15.

For the Fans: The training camp includes an expanded fan activation area, which will open two hours prior to every practice. The area will include a DJ, face painting, interactive photo experience, enter-to-win opportunities and a virtual reality gaming tent.

New Bleachers: Another change to training camp is there will be select bleachers that will be shaded. Seating is available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Autographs: At all of the 12 practices open to the general public children 5 to 14 years old have the opportunities to be selected to get autographs from players after practice and to participate in the Rams Rookies program, in which they are paired with a player during the autograph signing, get autographs and help their paired player carry his equipment off the field.

Parents or guardians can register their children for the programs in the Rams Kids Club tent in the Fan Zone.

The team's linebackers and special teams players will sign autographs after Thursday's practice.

Welcome the Players: Fans will have the opportunity to form a Fan Tunnel when the players take the field for practice. Each practice, 20 fans along with a guest of their choosing will be selected to form the tunnel. Fans must register in advance for the chance to take part in the Fan Tunnel. The fans selected will be notified by the Rams 48 hours in advance of their respective date.

What to Bring, What to Leave at Home: Fans may bring the following items to practice -- hats, jackets, rain gear, sunglasses, sunscreen, binoculars, umbrellas, and strollers.

The following items will not be permitted at training camp -- outside alcohol, outside food and beverage, coolers, glass containers, noise makers, loud radios, large signs or inappropriate attire.

Pets are not allowed, although service animals are permitted.

No weapons of any kind, regardless of persons with concealed carry handgun permits, will be allowed.

Fans may bring cameras. Flash photography is not allowed. Video cameras are prohibited.

UC Irvine is a smoke-and tobacco-free campus.

What's Next: The Rams second practice open to the general public will be Saturday, also beginning at 3 p.m. The first 3,000 fans will receive a Rams-branded sling backpack.

To attend any practice held on a Saturday or Sunday, fans must sign up in advance for their free ticket, which will be used to redeem the giveaway. The tickets are available at therams.com/freetickets.

All but one of the practices open to the general public will begin at 3 p.m. The exception is the final one, Aug. 16, which will begin at 9:45 a.m. The other open practices will be conducted July 29-30, Aug. 1-2, 4, 11-13 and Aug. 15.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Are Chargers Contemplating a Successor to Philip Rivers?]]>Wed, 25 Apr 2018 16:36:35 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/192*120/AP_18001041512959.jpg

For any NFL team with a star quarterback of a certain age, the draft is an annual chance to anoint a successor.

It's also a chance for fans, pundits and the rest of the league to spend several months enthusiastically discussing whether that team will make the move.

The Los Angeles Chargers have had the same starting quarterback in every game since 2006, and Philip Rivers will turn 37 years old in the fall.

Already one of the most prolific passers in NFL history, Rivers said last week he is nowhere near retirement and intends to play "a handful more years."

That hasn't stopped the football world from wondering whether general manager Tom Telesco will decide that this is the year to grab his next quarterback when he makes the 17th overall pick on Thursday night.

After winning nine of their final 12 games and barely missing the playoffs last season, the Chargers have a solid roster with few obvious weak spots. The time could be right for a move toward the future behind center, but Telesco isn't sure.

"That's a question we know we'll get every year until we draft a quarterback," Telesco said Monday.

"The great thing right now is that we're very happy with Philip. He's our quarterback, hands down, rest assured, for this year and hopefully beyond. But we always have to have an eye on the future. That's part of our job. There are a lot of other areas on our football team that we'd like to add to, too. That's all part of it."

Telesco realizes the questions are particularly sharp this spring not because of any decline in Rivers' play, which was largely outstanding last season, but because a handful of elite prospects could be available when the Chargers are on the clock.

Local product Josh Rosen and Heisman Trophy winners Lamar Jackson and Baker Mayfield all are conceivable possibilities for the Bolts, particularly if they elected to trade up a bit.

Telesco agrees the crop of quarterbacks in this draft is "a deep class, not only in the first round, but some other rounds as well. We've seen it the last couple of years. The quarterback classes have been pretty good. Guys are coming into the league and playing a little bit quicker than they used to."

With Geno Smith and Cardale Jones on the roster behind Rivers, Telesco has the luxury of knowing he doesn't need to draft a quarterback. He'll decide soon whether the succession plan will wait another year.

Here are more things to contemplate before the Chargers make their picks:

TOUGH CHOICES

The Chargers' prolonged surge into playoff contention last season left them squarely in the middle of the pack for the draft. Telesco would have rather been in the postseason than the 17th overall slot, but his scouts and executives believe they can get a worthy talent with their current position.

"You typically have about 18 to 20 first-round-graded players, give or take a couple," Telesco said. "If we don't trade out, we'll still get someone who we feel is a first-round player on our board. It's just more scenarios you have to work through."

BACK ON D

Telesco's team has plenty of desires, but no gaping needs that would compel them to value position over talent. Telesco said he will stick to his philosophy of picking the top available player, but he sees "more defense" among the desirable picks in this particular draft pool.

If that's a clue to the Chargers' intentions, they have plenty of needs, including a topflight safety to replace Tre Boston or a starting linebacker to help out Denzel Perryman.

While Los Angeles has one of the NFL's best pass-rushing duos with Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram, another defensive tackle such as Vita Vea or Da'Ron Payne would bolster a sometimes porous run defense.

RUN IT BACK

Telesco acknowledges he could be looking for an offensive playmaker who can double as a kick returner after Los Angeles finished 30th in the league in return yards. The Bolts already have elite talent at receiver in Keenan Allen, Tyrell Williams and Mike Williams, who is hard at work in the offseason program after an injury-filled rookie year as the seventh overall pick.

DO THE WORK

The Chargers' front office executives and scouts were busy this week preparing for the draft by sifting through hundreds of scouting reports and making their final evaluations before going into a massive mock draft.

"We'll go through different scenarios of where guys would go, and what we would do," Telesco said. "Because (on) draft day, you can't have those discussions. It's hard enough making decisions with the clock ticking down in front of you. You can't have those long discussions at that point. You have to have that decided."

HITS, MISSES AND BARGAINS

Telesco's first five years in charge included big hits in 2016 with first-round pick Bosa and second-round tight end Hunter Henry, both budding stars. He also grabbed running back Melvin Gordon in the first round in 2015 and got starting linebacker Denzel Perryman in the second round.

Telesco hasn't been as successful in unearthing hidden gems, with few later-round picks becoming major contributors. For instance, 2016 third-round pick Max Tuerk lasted just two years and failed to become the Bolts' starting center. But he got a huge hit in the third round in 2013 when he drafted Keenan Allen, who overcame injuries to become a Pro Bowl receiver.

Much of the evaluation of last year's class must wait, since first-round receiver Mike Williams didn't play much and second-round offensive lineman Forrest Lamp missed the whole season because of injuries.


Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[New L.A. Rams WR Brandin Cooks Wants to Stay Long Term]]>Fri, 06 Apr 2018 00:56:30 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/181*120/AP_18095751562074.jpg

Brandin Cooks has been traded twice in the past 13 months despite being one of the NFL's most productive receivers over the past three years, so the Rams' new top target knows he probably shouldn't get completely comfortable in Los Angeles.

He's still grateful to be joining another talented team with a shot at another Super Bowl — and perhaps he can still find a long-term future at home in California, too.

"It would be an extreme blessing to be here for a long haul, coming in here to be with a special group of guys," Cooks said Thursday at the Rams' training complex. "At the end of the day, it's not something I'm pressing. I just want to come in here and be the best that I can be."

Los Angeles coach Sean McVay and general manager Les Snead praised Cooks' character and talent when they formally welcomed him to the defending NFC West champions, who had the NFL's highest-scoring offense last year.

They've been interested in acquiring Cooks since before his first trade from New Orleans to New England last March. After Cooks posted another 1,000-yard season and reached the Super Bowl with New England, the Rams finally got him Monday.

"I'm hard-pressed to remember a player that's got so many positive things said about him from different people he's been exposed to," McVay said. "You're talking about a special person and a special player. Clearly he's going to be a big part of our offense, being able to play our 'X' receiver (position) and do a variety of things."

Cooks' ability as a deep threat makes him a strong replacement for Sammy Watkins, who was acquired by the Rams last season after they failed to get Cooks. Watkins parlayed his single season in McVay's high-powered passing game into a lavish free-agent deal with Kansas City.

Cooks also can be a free agent next year, but the Rams were willing to take the risk because they're determined to build a Super Bowl contender with the payroll space available while Jared Goff is still in his rookie contract.

"Simply put, 2018 is important," Snead said. "We definitely want to repeat as NFC (West) champions, but ... a lot of the players we've acquired are young and have evolved to be in the prime of their careers, and we would love to take advantage of that over not just '18, but '19, '20, '21 and moving forward."

The Rams' trades for Watkins and Cooks have left them without a pick in the first two rounds of the upcoming draft, but Snead doesn't sound terribly worried about the potential loss of organizational depth.

The Rams would rather have Cooks, who has already put together three seasons that were more productive than anything Watkins has done in the same four-year stretch. Cooks also is still three months younger than Cooper Kupp, who just finished an impressive rookie season for the Rams.

Cooks' 1,082 yards receiving with the Patriots last season were 11th-most in the NFL. He was seventh in the league with 1,173 yards in 2016 during his final season with New Orleans, and he is one of just three active players with 1,000 yards and at least five touchdowns in each of the past three seasons.

Cooks had the benefit of catching passes from Drew Brees and Tom Brady. He already seems confident in Goff's ability to provide him with similar service.

Cooks did have to playfully bat down one rumor that had already excited Rams fans: Although he has met Goff several times, and although they share the same agent, they haven't already had throwing sessions before the trade.

There's plenty of time for that now.

"I'm extremely excited about the opportunity to be able to grow with a young guy," Cooks said. "I'm young myself, so to be able to start that rapport this offseason is going to be extremely huge. I look forward to getting to work right away."



Photo Credit: Greg Beacham/AP]]>
<![CDATA[Rams Acquire WR Brandin Cooks From Patriots]]>Tue, 03 Apr 2018 15:09:14 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/162*120/GettyImages-913128050.jpg

The Los Angeles Rams have traded for a wide receiver.

No, it isn't who you think. 

According to ESPN's Adam Schefter, the Rams have acquired WR Brandin Cooks from the New England Patriots in exchange for two draft picks. 

Cooks, a former first-round pick in 2014, was acquired for a first and sixth-round pick. The Rams will also receive a fourth-round pick from the Patriots. 

Cooks had 65 receptions for 1,082 yards and seven touchdowns last season with the Patriots and has 280 receptions for 3,943 yards and 27 touchdowns in his career which started with the New Orleans Saints. 

The move likely means that the Rams are out on the Odell Beckham Jr. sweepstakes as the mercurial New York Giants receiver has been rumored to the Rams in recent trade talks. 

The trade for Cooks also likely means that the Patriots will hold on to tight-end Rob Gronkowski who flirted with the idea of retirement after New England lost in the Super Bowl to the Philadephia Eagles, 41-33, in February. 

More to follow. 



Photo Credit: Elsa/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Chargers Beef Up O-Line With Veteran Center Mike Pouncey]]>Tue, 20 Mar 2018 06:21:57 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-865099808.jpg

Veteran center Mike Pouncey agreed to a two-year contract Monday with the Los Angeles Chargers, who added a standout run-blocker to their powerful offense.

Pouncey was released by Miami last week after the three-time Pro Bowl selection refused a pay cut. He started all 16 games for the Dolphins last season, his seventh in the NFL.

The Chargers swooped in to grab a new centerpiece for what's likely to be an impressive offensive line. Los Angeles finished fourth in the league last season with 376.6 yards per game despite fielding only the 26th-best rushing attack.

Philip Rivers was sacked a career-low 18 times last season, but Los Angeles sometimes struggled to get traction with its running game. The offensive line's blocking was considered the primary reason for running back Melvin Gordon's inconsistency, and Pouncey is among the NFL's best run-blocking centers.

Pouncey is the second big-name veteran addition to the Chargers' line in two seasons. Los Angeles signed left tackle Russell Okung to a four-year, $53 million deal last year, and he promptly earned his second Pro Bowl selection in a standout season.

Okung and starting right tackle Joe Barksdale are returning for Los Angeles. Promising right guard Forrest Lamp is healthy after missing his rookie season due to injury, and fellow second-year pro Dan Feeney is likely to be the starting left guard.

Spencer Pulley started all 16 games at center last season. The former undrafted free agent from Vanderbilt could be a versatile reserve after playing extensively at guard in college.

After winning nine of their final 12 regular-season games and barely missing the playoffs, the Chargers waited several days to make a splashy move in free agency. Los Angeles signed run-blocking tight end Virgil Green away from Denver, and also added kicker Caleb Sturgis to address last season's most problematic position.

The Chargers' only significant free-agent departure so far is seldom-used defensive lineman Jerry Attaochu's move to San Francisco.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Rams Announce Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters]]>Wed, 14 Mar 2018 21:06:27 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/205*120/DYSBBNrU8AEM3Ym.jpg

Meet the new members of the Mob Squad. 

The Los Angeles Rams introduced their two new cornerbacks Aqib Talib and Marcus Peters, at their training facility in Thousand Oaks on Wednesday. 

It didn't take long for the former Denver Bronco and Kansas Chiefs, old friends in the AFC West to start to act like best friends as they laughed and joked with members of the media during a brief press conference. 


"Oh, let's do it," Peters said of joining the Rams. "For me, I get to have another All-Pro corner on the other side, so now you don't know where you're going to go. And then when you've got a safety like Joyner and then you're adding Sam Shields and you keep Robey? Come on now. It's just going to be fun. You've got to find a way. Pick your poison."

Peters was referring to the team's re-signing of safety LaMarcus Joyner via the franchise tag, and Nickell Robey-Coleman who re-signed on Tuesday. Sam Shields was signed via free agency after playing with the Green Bay Packers the last seven seasons. 

The reigning NFC West champions began the offseaon by acquiring two of the best cornerbacks in the league in order to address a weak spot in the secondary which played its first full season under defensive coordinator Wade Phillips.

“This is a great day for our organization," said head coach Sean McVay "Anytime that you're able to acquire two players of this caliber, we'll take that all day. These guys are special players [and] they bring a great passion for the game."

The moves could not officially be announced until the 2018 NFL season oficially began on Wednesday.

"These guys are special players," head coach Sean McVay said. "They bring a great passion for the game. You can see these are both cerebral players, and then they have the physical talents to match up. Guys that love football, these are the types of guys we love to be around."

In order to assemble his arsenal in the secondar, Rams' general manager Les Snead needed to part ways with to stellar linebackers and fan favorites in Alec Ogletree and Robert Quinn in order to make room for Talib and Peters.

"It's rare to be able to acquire two players of this caliber," said McVay. "So when the opportunity does present itself, you want to be ready."

In additon to their defensive captain and leader in sacks behind Aaron Donald, the Rams lost cornerback Trumaine Johsnon after the signed a $15 million/year deal with the New York Jets. 

The Rams placed the franchise tag on Johnson each of the last two seasons, but were able to acquire Pro-Bowlers Talib and Peters for significantly less money that it would have cost them to re-sign Johnson. 

Talib and Peters are excited to finally be playing alongside each other, and the duo who have seven Pro-Bowl selections between them are even more thrilled to join an upstart Rams team that had one of the single greatest turnarounds in 2017 under McVay.

"I saw a bunch of guys having fun," Talib said of watching the Rams last season. "They were playing for somebody who they believed in. You watch half the teams in the league, they just go through the motions and kind of collect a check, but there's another half of those teams, and playoff teams, they've got a coach who they respect, and whatever he's preaching, he's got guys believing that they can really go do it."

Despite the fact that Talib and Peters are among the best in the game at their position, it's their attitudes on the field, and their off-the-field problems that have many fans concerned. 

Talib has had legal issues off the field over the last 10 years, and famously shout himself in the leg after the Broncos won the Super Bowl in 2015. Last season, his rivalry with Oakland Raiders receiver Michael Crabtree reached a boiling point when the two fought on the field, each ejected from the game, and suspended for the following week's game.

Peters, was kicked off his college team at Washington, and was suspended for one game last season after he threw the referee's flag into the stands following an overtime loss to the New York Jets. During that same game, Peters was caught on camera arguing with a Chiefs assistant coach. 

"When we look back into the game, passionate players have always been the ones that got the bad rep of not being a team player and being selfish," Peters said of his reputation. "That's not the case for me. My ultimate goal is to be a winner. I was born a champion."

Time will tell how the two passionate players pan out, but one thing is for certain, the duo will be a nightmare for opposing quarterbacks and receivers in 2018.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr"><a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/LARams?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#LARams</a> LIVE: Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib Introductory Press Conference <a href="https://t.co/JGLyq14XLY">https://t.co/JGLyq14XLY</a></p>&mdash; Los Angeles Rams (@RamsNFL) <a href="https://twitter.com/RamsNFL/status/974042823933673472?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">March 14, 2018</a></blockquote>
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Photo Credit: Nick Hamilton
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<![CDATA[Rams Trade For Another All-Pro Cornerback]]>Thu, 08 Mar 2018 22:43:40 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-873391142.jpg

The Rams are making money moves.

The reigning NFC West champions continued their busy offseason on Thursday as they traded for All-Pro cornerback Aquib Talib from the Denver Broncos in exchange for a fifth-round draft pick in next month's NFL Draft.

The move reunites Talib with his former defensive coordinator in Denver, Wade Phillips, who will enter into his sophomore season as the Rams defensive coach.

"Man, I'm so excited," said the five-time Pro Bowler on Thursday night. "I can't wait to play for Coach Sean McVay, go back with working with Wade, and playing with my young man, Marcus Peters. He's going to bring that young energy to me."

Talib was referring to former Kansas City Chiefs All-Pro cornerback Marcus Peters who was traded to the Rams last month.

"I'm super excited to play with those guys," continued Talib. "Aaron Donald is a good friend of mine, too, so I get to go from playing behind Von Miller to playing behind Aaron Donald. That's not too shabby. I got another MVP in front of me."

Talib was rumored to be reuniting with the New England Patriots earlier in the day, but by late afternoon, the NFL Network reported the trade to the Rams.

As part of the deal, the Rams will inherit all of Talib's six-year, $57 million deal signed with the Broncos in 2014. Talib is due $11 million this season and $8 million next season.

Talib and Phillips helped lead the Broncos to an NFL Championship in Super Bowl 50 during the 2015 season.

Shortly thereafter, Talib famously shot himself in the leg during a night of partying celebrating the Super Bowl, but was able to bounce back and have an All-Pro season the following year.

Much like Peters, Talib has a strong personality and is no stranger to controversy both on and off the field. Talib was suspended for one game last season after fighting with Oakland Raiders receiver Michael Crabtree.

Talib was not the only addition to the Rams defense on Thursday, as Los Angeles has made a flurry of moves in the last few weeks.

On Wednesday, the team agreed to trade defensive captain and linebacker Alec Ogletree to the New York Giants in exchange for two draft picks. On Monday, they placed the franchise tag on safety LaMarcus Joyner, and signed former Green Bay Packers cornerback Sam Shields on Thursday morning.

Shields made 23 interceptions, including the playoffs, from 2010-2015. He also won a Super Bowl with the Packers. But his 2016 season was cut short after one game after he suffered a concussion and he didn't play at all in 2017.

Ogletree spent his entire five-year NFL career with the Rams, and was the team's leading tackler last season. The first round pick out of Georgia in 2013, has been the play caller on the field for the defense for the last two seasons and was known as a strong leader in the locker room.

The flurry of moves likely means that the Rams will not re-sign All-Pro cornerback Trumaine Johnson. None of the trades can be announced until March 14th.



Photo Credit: Justin Edmonds/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Rams, Chargers Ready to Sell Best Seats in New Stadium]]>Thu, 08 Mar 2018 22:01:32 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Stadium+Bowl.jpg

The massive football stadium complex at Hollywood Park is currently a bustling construction site. The $2.6 billion project won't welcome fans through its doors for another two years.

But the Rams and the Chargers are eager to show you to your seat.

Los Angeles' two NFL teams will begin selling season ticket memberships for their new stadium for the first time next week. Both will start with only their premium seating, offering an array of privileges and amenities befitting the sizable price tags for the best 13,000-odd seats in what could be the most expensive arena in the world.

With relocation fading into memory after a pair of winning seasons in LA, both franchises are eager to move into the bright future promised by the palatial project rising in Inglewood. The 70,240-seat arena will also host the Super Bowl, the College Football Playoff title game and Olympic events in its first decade of existence after it opens in 2020.

"This has been a long time coming," said A.G. Spanos, the Chargers' president of business operations. "When I was at USC, we were talking about a new stadium in LA back then. This has been a slow pot to boil in Los Angeles, but the future is here. This venue is incredibly exciting."

In an office building in coastal Playa Vista, the teams will begin showing off the project to their fans on Tuesday, starting with visits from many current season ticket holders for both clubs. The sleek LA Stadium Premiere Center features detailed scale models, video hype reels and a staff with carefully curated sales pitches for the privately financed project spearheaded by Rams owner Stan Kroenke.

"It's exciting when you fly in and you see the steel coming out of the ground, or when you drive up and you see the stadium starting to take shape," Rams chief operating officer Kevin Demoff said. "And now this is the first chance the fans really get to participate in being part of the stadium and seeing Stan's vision come to life."

The Rams and Chargers have also unveiled the first prices for tickets — and the prices for the stadium seat licenses that provide the opportunity to buy tickets.

Instead of selling the now-ubiquitous personal seat licenses, with which fans pay a sometimes-hefty fee for the opportunity to buy their tickets, the Chargers and Rams are selling a similar concept with a similar name, but one big difference: For the first time in NFL stadium history, that money will be returned to the fans — albeit in 50 years.

Instead of the naked cash grab of a PSL, the SSL is essentially an interest-free loan to finance the stadium construction. The structure also allows both the teams and the fans to avoid paying taxes on the licenses.

"We really feel like they are making an investment, and they're a shareholder in the team and the stadium project," Demoff said. "For us, rather than fan money going to taxes, it can go directly to the construction of the building. It builds a better building, and it requires no taxpayer money to do so. It's a unique concept that we expect will be replicated from here on out."

The Rams' stadium seat licenses will begin at $100,000 for the stadium's 500 "all-access" seats, located in two sections on either end of the 50-yard line. The Chargers' SSLs will be $75,000 for the same seats, which include food and beverages, access to clubs, special parking and the guaranteed opportunity to buy tickets to the Super Bowl and every other event controlled by the stadium owners.

Those prices are higher than the most top PSLs for many recent NFL stadiums, but significantly lower than the reported $150,000 charged by the Dallas Cowboys for their top seats at AT&T Stadium, which opened in 2009. The 49ers charged $80,000 for the PSLs for the top 1,000 seats at Levis Stadium, which opened in 2014.

The Rams' remaining SSLs for the premium seats range from $80,000 to $15,000, with most falling in the lower category for club seats. The Chargers' other SSLs range from $50,000 to $10,000.

The Rams and Chargers are confident the structure will help as they persuade fans to pay for the licenses while knowing they'll get all the money back in 2068 — or at least their heirs will.

Once the SSL is purchased, the Rams' tickets for those premium seats are $375 per game, and the Chargers' are $350.

Both teams obviously will sell the other three-quarters of the stadium at much lower prices, and the ticket prices won't change during the stadium's first three years.

"It's very hard to compete at the highest level if you don't have a first-class facility, and that's something that our family has been working toward for a long time," said John Spanos, the Chargers' president of football operations. "We're excited that it's here soon."

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Los Angeles Stadium]]>
<![CDATA[Photos: Relive the Eagles Upset Over the Patriots in SB52]]>Mon, 05 Feb 2018 10:37:45 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/Overhead_View_of_SuperBowl.jpgRelive the Eagles First Ever Super Bowl Win Through These Images

Photo Credit: Hannah Foslien/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Rams Clean Up at NFL Honors Awards]]>Sat, 03 Feb 2018 18:30:44 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/160*160/RamsAwards.jpg

Now that's what I call a clean sweep.

The Los Angeles Rams capped off a great 2017 campaign with not one, not two, but three awards, at the annual NFL Honors Awards ceremony in Minneapolis, Minnesota on Saturday night.

Running back Todd Gurley was named the NFL Offensive Player of the Year, defensive tackle Aaron Donald was named the NFL Defensive Player of the Year, and head coach Sean McVay was named NFL Coach of the Year as the Rams took home three of the top prizes on the night.

Gurley had a resurgence in his third season after he struggled in his sophomore season under former head coach Jeff Fisher.

Gurley's memorable 2017 saw him accumulate over 2,093 yards from scrimmage (over 35 percent of the team's offense), 1,305 rushing yards, 788 receiving yards, and 16 total touchdowns (10 rushing, 6 receiving).

Gurley earned 37 of the 50 votes, beating out Pittsburgh Steelers WR Antonio Brown (8), New England Patriots QB Tom Brady (4), and Houston Texans WR DeAndre Hopkins (1).

Aaron Donald surprised a lot of people when he edged out Jacksonville Jaguars DT Calais Campbell to win the Defensive Player of the Year award despite not leading the league in a single statistical category.

Donald finished the year with 32 tackles, 11 sacks, five forced fumbles and one pass defensed in just 14 games in 2017, but according to Next Gen Stats, is the NFL's most productive pass rusher based on his total pressures and hurries on the quarterback.

"Aaron Donald is better than everybody, and I didn't know he was better than everybody," said Rams Defensive Coordinator Wade Phillips. "I thought he was good, but I didn't know he was better than everybody, but he is."

Donald received 23 of the 50 votes, beating out Campbell (17) and Arizona Cardinals LB Chandler Jones (5).

The youngest coach in NFL history to reach the playoffs, also became the youngest coach to ever win Coach of the Year when Sean McVay took home the top coaching prize during the NFL Honors award show.

The 31-year-old play caller turned a 4-12 Rams team into an NFC powerhouse with an 11-5 season in his first year ever as a head coach in the NFL.

McVay's play-calling took the Rams from the worst scoring offense in 2016, to the highest scoring offense in the league in 2017, the first time in the Super Bowl era a team has gone from worst to first in those categories. McVay also guided the Rams to their first NFC West title since 2003.

McVay received 35 of 50 first place votes, defeating Minnesota Vikings coach Mike Zimmer (11), Jacksonville Jaguars coach Doug Marrone (2) and Super Bowl coaches Doug Pederson of the Philadelphia Eagles (1) and Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots (1).

The NFL Honors Award show will air on NBC at 9:00PM PST. 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[LA Rams Need to Learn From Their Playoff Loss]]>Sun, 07 Jan 2018 01:29:23 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-902016126.jpg

His eyes were red, fresh from the sting of recent tears. As he stood in front of his locker in front of a melee of reporters, Rams returner Pharoh Cooper did his best to avoid direct eye contact with any of the hands that were extended in front of his face with microphones in tow.

"I'm going to be thinking about this all offseason," Cooper said. "You always have to protect the ball. It's always about the ball, and I didn't do a good job protecting the ball tonight. I already told my team this is my fault. I can't let that happen."

His words came just minutes after the Los Angeles Rams remarkable bounce back season came to a sudden and crashing end at the hands of the reigning NFC Champion Atlanta Falcons.

Yes, Matt Ryan played like the reigning NFL MVP. 

Yes, Julio Jones played like the unstoppable wide receiver we've always known he was.

Yes, the running back duo of Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman combined for over 100 yards.

But it was Pharoh Cooper's fumbles—or responsibility for those fumbles—that fans will always remember, and it's in those moments of silent reflection at your locker, that the agony of defeat stings the most.

"It's humbling," Cooper continued. "I promise it's not going to happen again, especially in a big situation like this. I'm going to learn from it."

Sometimes in those moments, proclamations such as that seem hollow, but for some reason coming from the Pro Bowl special teams player, playing in just his second season in the NFL, it felt real.

The 2017 Los Angeles Rams are a captivating story. One year removed from arguably one of the worst seasons in franchise history, one that saw Jeff Fisher get fired in the middle of it, the Rams revived a stale and static offense with one of the best seasons in the last 15 years.

They won the NFC West for the first time since 2003. They hosted a playoff game in Los Angeles for the fist time since 1986, and for the first time at the Coliseum since 1979.

Yet they failed to reach their goal of playing in a Super Bowl, or even winning a single postseason game. For all the accolades, for all the milestones, for all the records they broke, at the end of the night on Saturday, it was all for naught.

"It sucks we fell short," said Robert Woods who led the team in receptions. "We had big goals and aspirations for this team. It's unfortunate it came to an end like this. We'll just have to pick it up next year."l

The Rams are one of the youngest teams in the NFL, and they definitely were one of the biggest surprises of the 2017 NFL season. However, just because you had success with a collection of talent in one season, does not guarantee success in the seasons to come.

Just ask the Oakland Raiders who went from 12-4 in 2016, to 6-10 in 2017. Just because you ascend the mountaintop, does not mean that you'll continue to climb back up it.

The Rams have not won back-to-back NFC West Division titles since the 1978and 1979 seasons. Nor has any NFL team repeated as Super Bowl champions since the New England Patriots did it in 2004 and 2005. Even Bill Belichick and Tom Brady will tell you just how difficult it is to build a dynasty.

There's a lot of work to be done in the offseason for the Rams, a lot of players that need to be re-signed in order to get back to reaching their goal of hoisting a Lombardi Trophy. Saturday was a great first step, but it does not guarantee the same success in 2018. 

Many of the faces will be the same for the Rams next season, including that of their 31-year-old head coach Sean McVay, but with more time and tape to study on the young offensive-minded coach, teams will only develop similar strategies on how to stop him.

The Rams now must go through the difficult task of forgiving themselves for this heartbreaking loss, and never forgetting the valuable lessons they learned from it.

Put in extra work in the offseason and return more motivated than ever before. For if there's any team in the NFL who knows this the most, it was the Rams opponent the Atlanta Falcons.

Less than a year removed from the biggest collapse in Super Bowl history, the Falcons could have remained in a melancholy fog all season long. Instead, they rallied around each other in a shared goal of redemption, and they took their first step to getting back to the top of the mountain with their win over the Rams. 

Not only can the Rams learn from this loss, but they can learn from the Falcons overall. Nothing is guaranteed. Nothing is promised. Nothing should be taken for granted. Work hard for everything you want, and you will reap the rewards. 

For as every fan of 31 NFL teams says at some point in the year: "There's always next year."



Photo Credit: Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[LA Rams Playoff Postgame Comments]]>Sun, 07 Jan 2018 00:21:19 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Rams_Playoff_Postgame_1200x675_1131156035898.jpgLos Angeles Rams players Pharoh Cooper, Andrew Whitworth, Tavon Austin, Robert Woods and Todd Gurley discuss the season and their heartbreaking loss to the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC Wild Card Game on Saturday, January 6, 2018.]]><![CDATA[Falcons Prove Experience Matters in 26-13 Victory Over Rams ]]>Sun, 07 Jan 2018 00:51:14 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/175*120/GettyImages-902006820.jpg

Experience matters. 

The Atlanta Falcons proved that experience matters as Matt Ryan and the Falcons upset the Los Angeles Rams, 26-13, in the NFC Wild Card Game at the Coliseum on Saturday night. 

Atlanta committed no turnovers compared to the Rams two fumbles on special teams, and the Falcons dominated the time of possession, proving that the best way to beat the best scoring offense in the NFL this season is to keep them off the field. 

Here's the breakdown of the game:

First Quarter: 

Jared Goff looked like a deer in the headlights for much of the first quarter.

The Rams defense, affectionately known as the "Mob Squad," looked rested and spry on defense as they put constant pressure on Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan.

Disaster struck early in the first quarter when a punt by Matt Bosher bounced off the foot of Rams cornerback Blake Countess and was recovered by the Falcons on the L.A. 17-yard-line.

Matt Bryant converted the field goal three plays later and the Falcons jumped out to an early 3-0 lead. 

Bryant converted a 51-yard field goal on the Falcons next possession as Atlanta took a 6-0 lead at the end of the first quarter. 

On the ensuing kickoff, Pro-Bowl returner Pharoh Cooper fumbled the ball, giving the Falcons the ball on the Rams 31-yard line.

Second Quarter: 

The Falcons wasted no time capitalizing on the turnover as Devonta Freeman punched the ball in from 3-yards out and Atlanta took a 13-0 lead.

The Rams offense finally got rolling at the end of the second quarter as head coach and play caller, Sean McVay started to feed the ball to MVP candidate Todd Gurley. 

Gurley busted one down the sidelines for a 26-yard gain, and Goff found rookie receiver, Cooper Kupp, a few plays later for the Rams first score of the game.

The Rams defense stepped up on the Falcons final possession of the first half, as they recorded back-to-back sacks on Ryan, handing the ball back to the offense for one final drive for the Rams. 

Goff found Robert Woods for a 38-yard gain, and Sam Ficken made a 35-yard field goal just before the half to cut the Falcons lead to 13-10 at the break.

10 of the 13 points scored by the Falcons were off turnovers. 

Halftime: 

Snoop Dogg performed. 

3rd Quarter: 

The Falcons started the second half with a long, clock grinding drive that took 8:15 off the game clock. However, the Rams defense kept Atlanta to a 25-yard field goal by Bryant as the Falcons took a 16-10 lead. 

After forcing the Rams to punt on their next possession, the Falcons once again marched down the field with a long drive, and Bryant nailed a 54-yard field goal to give Atlanta a commanding 19-10 lead. 

4th Quarter: 

The Rams started the final quarter of the game with a nice drive, but were unable to find the end zone, settling for a 32-yard field goal by rookie Sam Ficken. 

The reigning NFC Champion Falcons put the final nail in the Rams playoff dreams after Ryan found Mohamed Sanu for a 53-yard catch and run, and then capped the drive off with an 8-yard touchdown pass to Julio Jones.

The Rams thought they had a touchdown with just over two minutes remaining in the game, but after a review, tight end Tyler Higbee did not maintain posession in the endzone and the Rams turned the ball over on downs. 

Final: 26-13 Falcons

Please refresh this page for more stats, updates and player reactions…



Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Rams Make Playoff Return Tonight]]>Sat, 06 Jan 2018 16:56:55 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/163*120/GettyImages-630314022.jpg

40 years is a long time to wait.

The NFL playoffs are back in Los Angeles, and the L.A. Memorial Coliseum will play host for the first time since January 7, 1979, a span of nearly 40 years.

The young upstart Rams, fresh off one of the greatest single season turnarounds in sports history, will play the reigning NFC Champion Atlanta Falcons, in an NFC Wild Card matchup on Saturday night.

The Rams are led by the youngest head coach in NFL history to take his team to the playoffs in 31-year-old Sean McVay, and will be guided by a 23-year-old sophomore quarterback in Jared Goff.

So to say that the Rams are inexperienced is an understatement to say the least.

"I don't think it is a concern," McVay said at practice during the week. "When I say that, I have a whole lot of respect for experience and what that does and the value that it provides. But I do think that we've got a confident group, a mature group for a young football team." 

On the other side of the ball is the experienced and veteran-laden Falcons. One year removed from arguably the greatest collapse in Super Bowl history.

Atlanta has had their share of ups and downs in 2018. After losing their offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan to the San Francisco 49ers, and their quarterbacks coach, Matt LaFleur to the Rams, the Falcons had to replace a lot of coaches on the staff this season.

One of those coaches is new offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian who fans in Hollywood know well from his troubled days as the head coach of the USC Trojans before he was fired for showing up to a practice drunk and disorderly.

Sarkisian struggled early in the season and the Falcons offense suffered. However, Atlanta has won four of their last six games, including victories over the Saints and Panthers, to playoff teams out of the NFC South.

The Falcons are led by reigning NFL MVP Matt Ryan, who is more than ready to shed the demons from a 28-3 disintegration that occurred in front of the world on national television.

"I love the resiliency and the toughness of this team," Falcons head coach Dan Quinn said. "When you've been through some of the fire together, you come out the other side stronger as a brotherhood."

The first step in the Falcons journey of a redemption trip back to the Super Bowl begins in Los Angeles, where the Rams franchise will be playing in it's first prime-time game of the season, and their first playoff game in Southern California since 1986 when they shutout the Dallas Cowboys, 20-0 at Anaheim Stadium.

The Rams expect a packed house within the friendly confines of the Coliseum as they reportedly have sold over 70,000 tickets for the game (the Coliseum's capacity is over 90,000, but they lowered the capacity in order to improve the overall fan experience).

"It's definitely a cool thing," Goff said. "After football has been gone here for so long and we came back year two and being able to bring a playoff game to the Coliseum is very cool." 

Celebrities across Tinseltown are expected to come out to the game, which should feature a star-studded atmosphere as the Rams look to advance to the second round of the NFC Playoffs in a rematch from earlier in the season with the Minnesota Vikings. 

One of those stars is running back Todd Gurley, who has become the face of the Rams since the team relocated from St. Louis before the 2016 season.

Gurley led the NFL in total yards, touchdowns, and rushing touchdowns this season, and is many experts favorite to win the 2018 NFL MVP Award. First however, he and his teammates must go through the reigning MVP in order to accomplish their goals. 

The Rams come into the game well rested after 20 of the team's 22 starters did not play in the team's Week 17 loss to the 49ers.

Meanwhile, the Falcons enter the contest bruised and battered, and on short rest, after dispatching the rival Carolina Panthers in Week 17 to punch their ticket to the playoffs.

In order to secure the victory, and advance deep into the playoffs, the Rams will need to strike early and often, allowing their Top 10 defense, led by Pro Bowl tackle Aaron Donald, to pin their ears back and go after the quarterback.

If the Rams come out struggling, and the game remains close, the absence of Pro Bowl kicker Greg Zuerlein could loom large for Los Angeles, who does not have the postseason experience that Atlanta does.

In the end, we expect the Rams to come out rolling after the extra week of rest, and control the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. Enabling Goff and Gurley to operate with space on offense, and putting pressure on Ryan on defense.

Prediction: 30-24 Rams

Betting Odds (Courtesy of Bovada):

Atlanta Falcons: +6 (-115)
Los Angeles Rams: -6 (-105)
Over/Under: 48.5

The game will kickoff at 5:15PM PST from the L.A. Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles and will air live on NBC. The game can be livestreamed here.



Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[GM Tom Telesco Reflects on Chargers' Season, 'Hard Knocks']]>Thu, 04 Jan 2018 18:27:03 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Tom-Telesco-0422.jpg

On Thursday afternoon Chargers General Manager Tom Telesco addressed several needs for the offseason including the draft, signing a kicker and his team's potential appearance on HBO's Hard Knocks series.

Telesco immediately admitted to failing first year head coach Anthony Lynn in the kicking game, yet remains optimistic about the future of Chargers. Telesco spoke with an extreme confidence when he mentioned Lynn and assessed his first year and his coaching style.

"I really saw a high level of grit and determination that I didn't see last year (2016)," Telesco said.

He went on to mention what his off-season plans would be especially concerning Antonio Gates, and Tre Boston, as both players' contracts are up with the Bolts.

"We'll probably let some time go a little bit now after the season's over, and then sit down with Antonio and just kind of talk with him, see what his thoughts are and what he's thinking, see what our thoughts are and what we're thinking."

Being in Los Angeles can change a perspective when it comes to elevating your brand, and in the case of the Chargers moving from San Diego, Telesco seemed a lot more open at the idea of the team being featured on 'Hard Knocks' series.


"We have a really good relationship with NFL Films and Ross Ketover and his staff, they do really excellent work," Telesco said. "And that show is really good because they give great access."

Telesco did show a small amount of reserve when it came to cameras and microphones following the players and coaches arounds for several weeks.

However, if given the opportunity this would be a huge move to making Los Angeles know more about the Chargers and their players.

Other teams who are in contention for 'Hard Knocks' are the San Francisco 49ers, Cleveland Browns, Denver Broncos, Baltimore Ravens and Washington.

Jason Verrett missed 15 games of the 2017 season due to a knee injury that required surgery, Telesco seemed pleased about the recovery of Verrett.

Based on his chronic knee problems over the past years, it's highly likely that Verrett will move to safety. Telesco was amazed on how much production his team received for all three cornerbacks.

Of course with a 36-year-old Philip Rivers come off another excellent season, however the question remained will the Bolts look for Rivers successor in the draft this year?

"It's been a priority every year to have the next guy," Telesco said. "Kellen [Clemens] is the backup, and he's older as well, so you have to have a future plan. And you just never know when that opportunity is going to be there. So you just can't sit back and wait and then decide when you're going into one year and say, 'You know what, this year we're going draft a quarterback,' because it may not line up for you. You don't go into a draft saying we're going draft a QB, a RB and a WR. You never know how it's going to play out. So we'll be prepared whatever year it is. If the right guy is there at the right spot, then we'll do it. Because as well as Philip is playing, we know he's not going be here for 10 more years."

With the Senior Bowl, NFL Combine, and Free Agency period coming up along with the NFL Draft, there is truly no off season for Telesco and his staff. He informed us on his itinerary for the future as they continue to build a contender in Los Angeles.

"Still assessing our current team, getting together with the coaches... and some of them, we've got to take a little bit of time off," Telesco said. "Not time off, but step away and not do some evaluations right away, right after the season is over, because I know for the coaches, it's a long year. It's a grind. We're all upset we didn't make the playoffs. In this month, we also have some college All-Star games (where we'll) do some college draft work. Scouts will be at different All-Star games. I'm trying to get to a couple as well. So January is a pretty big planning month except for the college work, that's a little more scouting. And then February is really a lot of the same thing, starting again in March."



Photo Credit: NBC 7 San Diego
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<![CDATA[Rams Revealed: Samson Ebukam]]>Thu, 04 Jan 2018 05:11:10 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Samson_Ebukam_RR__1200x675_1128914499856.jpg

NBC LA Sports Reporter Michael J. Duarte interviews Los Angeles Rams linebacker Samson Ebukam about growing up in Nigeria, playing video games when he got the call he was drafted, and which teammate would help him take down the cartel.]]>
<![CDATA[Rams OC Matt LaFleur is Secret Weapon Against Falcons]]>Wed, 03 Jan 2018 21:31:06 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/170731_RamsCamp_HU_027.jpg

The Los Angeles Rams have an ace up their sleeve for their NFC Wild Card Playoff matchup with the Atlanta Falcons on Saturday, and it's not MVP Todd Gurley.

It's offensive coordinator, Matt LaFleur, and he could be the secret weapon the team needs to take down the reigning NFC Champion Falcons.

LaFleur is in his first year with the Rams as offensive coordinator, but he spent last season as quarterbacks coach for the Falcons when he guided Matt Ryan to an MVP season.

For fans that don't know his backstory, LaFleur was a former college quarterback at Saginaw Valley State and briefly played in the National Indoor Football League with the Omaha Beef before turning to coaching in 2003.

He began his coaching career where it all began at Saginaw Valley State, but quickly bounced around the college ranks, coaching quarterbacks at Central Michigan and Northern Michigan, respectively.

In 2008, he jumped to the NFL where he was an Offensive Quality Control coach with the Houston Texans before joining Mike Shanahan's staff in 2010 with the Washington Redskins as their quarterbacks coach.

It was in Washington, that LaFleur met a young assistant named Sean McVay, a man that would not only become his friend, but one day his boss.


McVay was the assistant tight ends coach at the time, but he quickly rose up the Redskins' ranks, becoming the team's offensive coordinator from 2014 to 2016.

LaFleur left in 2016 to the Falcons, but when McVay was offered the Rams head coaching position following the 2016 season, his old friend Matt was the first person he called.

"You look at Matt LaFleur and where he's been. It seems like successful quarterback play follows him," said McVay during his press conference with the media on Wednesday. "Matt LaFleur's a great coach. We're fortunate that he's here and I think he's done a great job with our guys and certainly his time in Atlanta—they had a lot of success as well." 

LaFleur worked his quarterback magic on Jared Goff, who threw for over 3,800 yards and 28 touchdowns in just 15 games during his sophomore season in 2017.

Goff threw for more touchdowns than Ryan this season, and the two quarterbacks had nearly identical yards per game numbers at 255 and 253, respectively. Goff also had just seven interceptions this season to Ryan's 12.

The most glaring difference between the two quarterbacks was Goff led the Rams high potent offense, which led the league in scoring at 29.9 points per game this season.

It was the Falcons who led the league in scoring at 34.1 points per game in 2016, but averaged just 22 points this season without LaFleur and offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, who left to take over as head coach of the San Francisco 49ers.


Throughout the week, LaFleur has been helping McVay, and the Rams defense led by veteran defensive coordinator, Wade Phillips, as they plan and scheme for the Falcons vaulted offensive attack. 

"Some of the nuances in what they're doing are similar, and he's been able to help with that," said Phillips on Wednesday. "The guy [Ryan] was a great player last year and he's continued that. He's [LaFleur] has helped us overall with a concept, but it doesn't influence how we play in certain coverages. It's how well we cover."

As mentioned, LaFleur will be able to provide his coaches with insight and information on Matt Ryan, and the subtle nuances that could be the difference from the Rams going home, or advancing to the next round of the NFC Playoffs against the Vikings.

"I think it is helpful," McVay said about having LaFleur provide him with insight on the Falcons for their NFC Wild Card matchup. "The experience that he had is very helpful. Matt's got a great way of being able to kind of give information in those small bite-sized increments where they can utilize it to their advantage this week."

The Rams host the Atlanta Falcons at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum on Saturday at 5:15PM PST. 



Photo Credit: LA Rams]]>
<![CDATA[Here's How the Rams' and Chargers' Future Home is Shaping Up]]>Tue, 18 Sep 2018 18:02:57 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Stadium+Bowl.jpgThe Rams and the Chargers won't move into their new Inglewood home for some time, but construction is already progressing on their new digs.

Photo Credit: Los Angeles Stadium]]>
<![CDATA[Pharoh Cooper Proving Valuable Component in LA Rams Success]]>Tue, 02 Jan 2018 17:11:31 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/201*120/08-29-2016-pharoh-cooper-rams-1.gif

When anyone mentions the Los Angeles Rams, many think of Jared Goff, Todd Gurley, Aaron Donald, Alec Ogletree, Sammy Watkins or head coach Sean McVay. However, another important name to remember is Pharoh Cooper, who had a solid season and made the 2018 Pro Bowl for the first time in his career.

Cooper caught eleven receptions for 84 yards this season.

"He's been tremendous all year for us and has done a great job in the return game," Goff told reporters of Cooper after a dominant Seahawks win. "He's found a little niche for himself."

The second-year receiver out of South Carolina entered the year without a defined role. But thanks to the meticulous efforts of McVay and the coaching staff, they - along with Cooper - realized his talents would best be served as a kickoff returner. He made the confession before the season that he wanted to be the best at his position and by Week 6, punt-return duties were a part of his assignment.

Cooper, who also plays receiver, averaged 26 yards per kickoff return and 13.4 yards per punt return. He led the NFL in total kickoff-return yardage (845) and is second in punt-return yardage (390). The transformation from last season to the 2017 season has been phenomenal for Cooper. Throughout the hard work and dedication he has, he continues to excel by leaps and bounds on this team.

"After the season last year, I found out a lot about myself," Cooper said. "I was hurt last year, then went through the injury, but I never lost faith, and I had confidence in myself. As the season kept growing, we started to break out some kick returns and my confidence got even higher."

His hard worked paid off. Not only did his team achieve their first winning record since 2003, but he was also awarded with Pro Bowl honors along with teammates Todd Gurley, Aaron Donald, Johnny Hekker, and Greg Zuerlein.

"It's really exciting and a dream come true," Cooper said about making the Pro Bowl. "When you're a little kid watching the NFL, and seeing all of the top guys making it. I give a lot of credit to the guys who were blocking for me as well as the coaching staff."

With all the right pieces in place, the Rams have a great chance of standing alone at the mountaintop.

If they win on Saturday night against the Atlanta Falcons at the LA Coliseum, this tight-knit bunch of players will have to band together on the road and have that 2Pac "Me Against The World" mentality in order to make it to Minnesota in February.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Niners Rout Rams in Regular Season Finale]]>Sun, 31 Dec 2017 20:43:29 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/160*123/GettyImages-900124620.jpg

The regular season has come to a close.

Without 20 of their 22 starters, the Los Angeles Rams lost the final game of the regular season, 34-13, to Jimmy Garoppolo and the San Francisco 49ers on New Year's Eve at the L.A. Coliseum.

Garoppolo threw for 292 yards, two interceptions and two touchdowns on the day, as he improved to 5-0 as the starting quarterback for San Francisco.

"They've definitely improved," said L.A. Rams head coach Sean McVay about the new-look Niners with Garoppolo under center. "It's impressive just to watch the way those guys play. I'm impressed with those guys and they did a nice job finishing up the right way this year."

Overall, the man known as "Jimmy G," is 7-0 as a starting quarterback to start his career (two wins with New England).

Jimmy G got the Niners on the board when he found Marquise Goodwin on a screen pass in the first quarter for an 8-yard touchdown pass that put San Francisco up 10-0.

Carlos Hyde had 84 yards and two touchdowns for the Niners who finish the season on a tear, winning six of their last seven games under first-year head coach Kyle Shanahan.

Jimmy G added an extra insurance touchdown to start the fourth quarter when he found Aldrick Robinson over the middle in the end zone for the score.

After the Rams clinched the NFC West last week with a win over the Tennessee Titans last week, head coach Sean McVay opted to rest nearly all of his starters before their NFC Wild Card matchup against the Atlanta Falcons.

"We feel good about being able to allow some of our players to get some rest, a little bit of recovery time that I think is much needed for some of those guys and then you keep a couple guys out of harm's way," said McVay of his decision. "Hopefully, they'll be fresh and ready to roll whenever our game is."

Among the notable starters to rest in the game were quarterback Jared Goff, pro-bowl tackle Aaron Donald, and MVP candidate Todd Gurley.

In place of Goff, backup quarterback Sean Mannion made his first career NFL start, and threw for 169 yards with no touchdowns and one lost fumble.

Lance Dunbar scored the only Rams touchdown on the day when he rushed it up the middle for the 5-yard score late in the fourth quarter. 

Rams kicker, Sam Ficken, making his second career NFL start, bounced back from a bad week against the Titans, and was 2-for-2 on field goal attempts and 1-1 on extra-point attempts.

"He did a nice job today," McVay said of his kicker. "He made the most of his opportunities, and had some good kickoffs as well. He definitely improved from the previous week, so pleased with Sam today."

Backup cornerback Kevin Peterson had two interceptions for the Rams in the first start of his NFL career. 

"I knew going into the game that I was going to get a lot of opportunities," said Peterson of his two interceptions. "They came into a formation that I recognized, and we had a call that matched it well and I just went and got it. I'm really more mad because I feel like I made some worse plays than the interceptions, so I didn't really get a chance to celebrate those."

Scary Moment:

Late in the second quarter, San Francisco 49ers receiver, Marquise Goodwin, was hit in the head by cornerback Blake Countess, and laid motionless on the field for several minutes. He eventually was carted off the field and taken to a nearby hospital with a concussion.

Up Next:

The playoffs! The Los Angeles Rams will host the Atlanta Falcons on Saturday, January 6, at 5:15PM PST in the NFC Wild Card game at the L.A. Coliseum.



Photo Credit: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Rams Revealed: John Sullivan]]>Fri, 29 Dec 2017 04:58:41 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/John_Sullivan_RR_1200x675_1125781571588.jpg

NBC LA Sports Reporter Michael J. Duarte interviews Los Angeles Rams center John Sullivan about his decision to sign with the Rams, his ability to read a defense, and the secret undercover mission he would go on with Andrew Whitworth.]]>
<![CDATA[Gurley, Kupp, and Whitworth Win Annual LA Rams Team Awards]]>Wed, 27 Dec 2017 20:23:20 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-898097674.jpg

And the award goes to… 

The Los Angeles Rams announced the winners of their annual team awards on Wednesday, and running back Todd Gurley, wide receiver Cooper Kupp, and left tackle Andrew Whitworth, were the recipients of awards voted on by their teammates.

Gurley received the Daniel F. Reeves Memorial Award given to the team's Most Valuable Player. The award was introduced in 1969 to honor former Rams owner Dan Reeves.

Reeves owned the Rams from 1941-71 and won World Championships in 1945 and 1951. He was inducted into the NFL Hall of Fame in 1967.

Gurley leads the NFL in touchdowns with 19, and ranks first in the league in yards from scrimmage (2,093), and rushing yards (1,305). He is also the first NFL player since former Ram Marshall Faulk to have at least 2,000 yards from scrimmage, 10 or more rushing touchdowns, and at least six receiving touchdowns in a single season.

Whitworth was the recipient of the Carl Ekern Spirit of the Game Award, given to the Rams player that best exemplifies sportsmanship, ethic, and commitment to his teammates.

The award was introduced in 1990 in memory of Rams linebacker Carl Ekern who was killed in an automobile accident in 1990. Ekern exemplified these traits while starting for the Rams from 1982-88.

Despite playing his first season with the Rams in 2017, Whitworth is one of the leaders in the locker room and a mentor to young players both on and off the field.

Whitworth is a 12-year NFL veteran and was voted as one of the team's captains before the season began. Whitworth is the leader of an offensive line that has allowed just 25 sacks this season.

Kupp was the recipient of the Carroll Rosenbloom Memorial Award given to the team's best rookie.

The award was introduced in 1979 in honor of the passing of former owner Carroll Rosenbloom who became the owner of the Rams in an unprecedented franchise trade in 1972.

Kupp is one of eight rookies in 2017, and leads the team in receiving yards (869) and is second in receptions with 62. As a rookie, he's posted five receiving touchdowns, and leads all rookie receivers in the NFL in yards, first downs, and 20-plus yard receptions.

Kupp was drafted No. 69 overall in the 2017 NFL draft out of Eastern Washington University. 



Photo Credit: Wesley Hitt/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Rams to Rest Starters in Week 17]]>Wed, 27 Dec 2017 19:20:32 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-898114238.jpg

It's going to be a starless night sky at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum on New Year's Eve.

The Los Angeles Rams have locked up their first NFC West division title since 2003, and have guaranteed themselves a first-round home playoff game next week (Jan. 6 or 7).

The Rams are unable to earn a first round bye (by virtue of Vikings tiebreaker) by beating the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, so with either the 3rd or 4th seed guaranteed, the team has decided to rest their starters for the final game of the regular season.

"For us, everything that we do is intentional and designed to try to be best for our team and our players," said head coach Sean McVay in his media availability on Wednesday afternoon. "I think they understand that. I know sometimes people might not always agree, but when situations like this come up, we talk about it's a nice luxury to be able to have. We feel that this is the best approach for us."

Among the rested starters for the final game of the regular season are linebacker Alec Ogletree, defensive tackle Aaron Donald, quarterback Jared Goff, running back Todd Gurley, center John Sullivan, offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth, and linebacker Connor Barwin.

Offensive lineman Rodger Saffold is also expected to sit out the contest as he nurses an oblique injury, and wide receiver Cooper Kupp could miss the contest with a knee injury.

The decision to rest players when there's nothing to play for in the final game of the season is one that has long haunted teams and coaches in the NFL. There's no right or wrong answer, either. Some teams rest their starters, some teams play them for the entirety of the game. Others, like the New England Patriots, treat the game like a preseason game, opting to play starters for the first half or first quarter before inserting their backups. 

For example, the Jacksonville Jaguars are in a similar situation as the Rams. They have clinched the AFC South division, and the no. 3 overall seed in the AFC playoffs. Despite nothing to play for, Jaguars coach Doug Marrone has chosen to play all his starters and play to win against the Tennessee Titans on Sunday (something the Chargers are thankful for).

In the case of Gurley, the week off could hinder his MVP bid as the running back could have added to his case, following his back-to-back breakout performances in Week 15 and 16, respectively. 

Gurley became the third player in NFL history with over 2,000 yards from scrimmage, 10 or more rushing touchdowns and six or more receiving touchdowns in a single season, joining former Ram Marshall Faulk and O.J. Simpson.

However, as coach McVay mentioned, Gurley and Goff's production could be limited anyways, especially if three starters on the offensive line don't suit up for the game as expected.

Sean Mannion will start at quarterback for the Rams on Sunday, with Goff dressed and serving as the backup in an emergency.

The resting Rams give 49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo the opportunity to improve to 5-0 on the season as the starting quarterback in San Francisco, and 7-0 overall to start his NFL career. 



Photo Credit: Frederick Breedon/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[How to Purchase LA Rams Playoff Tickets]]>Wed, 27 Dec 2017 19:04:07 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-873362586.jpg

Yes, we're talking about playoffs.

The Rams are headed to the NFL playoffs for the first time since 2004, and the first time in Los Angeles since 1989. (The Raiders were the last LA-based NFL team to make the playoffs in 1993).

The team celebrated their first NFC West division title since 2003 in the visitor's locker room of Nissan Stadium on Sunday, as they donned their NFC West Champion shirts and hats, following a 27-23 win over the Tennessee Titans.

Now that the regular season is all but wrapped up, it's time for fans to direct their attention towards the postseason as tickets go on sale on Friday, December 29th.

Tickets were offered on Tuesday to current season ticket holders, and on Thursday will be offered to 2018 season ticket holders, and season ticket holders of the Rams new stadium in Inglewood set to open in 2020.

After all those presale tickets have been accounted for, the Rams will release the remaining tickets to the NFC Wild Card game on Friday at 10:00 AM PST.

Rams Chief Operating Office Kevin Demoff said that if the public wants to guarantee themselves playoff tickets, that they can place a deposit for 2018 season tickets or 2020 season tickets at the new stadium, and will have a presale opportunity on Thursday, Dec. 28.

The Rams will host one of four teams: The New Orleans Saints, Carolina Panthers, Atlanta Falcons or Seattle Seahawks at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum on either Saturday, January 6 or Sunday, January 7.

The NFL will announce the date and time of the playoff game following Week 17, which will also be when the Rams discover who their first round opponent will be.

Fans interested in purchasing tickets can buy them at:  therams.com/playoffs.



Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[NFL Won't Have Sunday Night Game on New Year's Eve]]>Wed, 27 Dec 2017 12:00:35 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/saintfalcon_1200x675.jpg

The NFL has announced there will be no Sunday night game on New Year's Eve to ensure matchups with playoff implications that impact each other are played at the same time on the final week of the season.

The league said Sunday night all Week 17 games will begin at either 1 p.m. or 4:25 p.m. EST. The league moved Cincinnati-Baltimore, Buffalo-Miami, Jacksonville-Tennessee, Carolina-Atlanta and New Orleans-Tampa Bay to the latter time slot.

Every division except the NFC South has already been clinched. Both wild cards in the AFC are up for grabs between Baltimore, Tennessee, the Los Angeles Chargers and Buffalo, while Atlanta and Seattle are competing for the final NFC wild card.


Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images/Sean Gardner]]>
<![CDATA[Eagles, Pats Dominate Playoffs, Will Meet in Super Bowl LII]]>Mon, 22 Jan 2018 13:36:50 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/eaglespatsplaysb52.jpgHere's a look top moments from the playoff.

Photo Credit: AP/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[What to Know About Rams Post-Season Tickets]]>Tue, 26 Dec 2017 11:50:11 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/212*120/Jared-Goff-Rams-vs-Colts.jpg

The Los Angeles Rams have announced plans for fans who want tickets to the team's home wild card playoff game.

The game will be either Saturday Jan. 6 or Sunday Jan. 7 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The date will be decided during Week 17 of the NFL season.

Starting Tuesday at 1 p.m.: Rams 2017 season ticket members can buy two additional seats beyond their regular season allotment.

Starting Thursday at 10 a.m.: Rams 2018 season ticket deposit holders and 2017 Flex Plan holders can purchase four tickets per account. Fans must join the 2018 Season Ticket Deposit list by Tuesday at 5 p.m.

Starting Thursday at 1 p.m.: Fans on the Rams Deposit List for the New LA Stadium can buy four tickets per account. 

Starting Friday at 10 a.m.: The Rams will make a limited number of tickets available to the general public at therams.com/playoffs.

The 11-4 Rams clinched their first division title since 2003 with a 27-23 win over Tennessee on Sunday. Los Angeles will be either the No. 3 or No. 4 seed in the NFC, depending on how things shake out in Week 17 when they host the San Francisco 49ers. 






Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[LA Rams: 'Twas the Night Before Christmas']]>Sun, 24 Dec 2017 20:57:10 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-898124612.jpg

Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the field
Not a Titan was stirring, not even Marcus Mariota's shield.
The Rams had arrived by a plane with care,
In hopes that a NFC West Crown soon would be there;

The Rams were nestled in huddles and threads,
While visions of the playoffs danced in their heads;
And Jared Goff in his helmet, and Gurley in his pads,
Had just told their teammates, 'Let's win Lads!'

When out on the field, there arose such a clatter,
Fans across the country arose to see what was the matter.
It was the Rams new kicker, he missed left and right,
So fans and players knew, they were in for a long night.

The sun on the breast of the freshly cut field,
Was evidence enough that one team must yield.
When, what to my wondering eyes should appear,
But an 80-yard touchdown that saw Gurley reach top gear.

With the youngest head coach in the NFL, so lively and play,
I knew in a moment it must be Sean McVay.
His protégé, more accurate than Mariota, as his passes they came,
As they whistled by defenders, receivers shouted his name;

"Goff! I'm Open! Throw it now! We'll score!
Said Woods, and Watkins, and Cupp Galore!
From beyond the 50! To inside the red zone!
Touchdown after touchdown was thrown!"

Four in total as the offense it roared,
Even the mighty defense almost scored.
So up the NFC West to their first division title they flew,
The first since 2003, to accomplish that too.

The final score, 27-23, read the board,
The Rams had now become, an unstoppable horde.
They celebrated on the field, with smiles all around.
Back to Los Angeles for Christmas they soon would be bound.

McVay the youngest in history to win the NFC West,
The youngest since Madden, who was one of the best.
"One more game!" He said with a 'woo!"
Maybe even a first-round bye for the yellow and blue.

A new franchise record for points (250) they scored on the road,
and a force to be reckoned with to the NFL they showed.
So on to the playoffs for the Rams, how merry!
For many of these players, uncharted territory, how scary!

So off to the Nashville airport they went with a flash,
Escorted by the police to make sure they didn't crash.
As the plane took off, and flew out a sight,
I heard the Rams yell, "Happy Christmas to all, and to all a good night!"



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Rams clinch 1st NFC West title since '03]]>Sun, 24 Dec 2017 19:50:47 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-898124618.jpg

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Los Angeles Rams and first-year coach Sean McVay saved the real celebration for the locker room.

That's where McVay, the youngest coach in modern NFL history, channeled wrestler Ric Flair after the Rams clinched the franchise's first NFC West title since 2003 by beating the Tennessee Titans 27-23 on Sunday.

"When you find a way to come on the road and finish up your road record 7-1 and win a division title, there's only one thing you can say. Woooo! One more: Woooo!" McVay said before giving the Rams off until Wednesday.

Los Angeles trailed 23-20 before Jared Goff threw a 14-yard touchdown pass to Cooper Kupp with 11:41 left. The Rams (11-4), who came in needing a win or a loss by Seattle to secure the division, took care of business themselves, with Todd Gurley II and Goff leading the way again.

Gurley bolstered his argument for NFL MVP with 118 yards rushing and 158 yards receiving with two TDs, including a screen he took 80 yards for the longest reception of his career. He became only the third in NFL history to put together such a performance in the same game, joining Ollie Matson (1954) and Herschel Walker (1986). Goff finished with four touchdowns and 301 yards passing.

"He is in my book," Goff said, vouching for Gurley for MVP. "If there's anyone out there that's a running back that deserves it, he's the guy."

Gurley finished the game with two receiving touchdowns, giving him 19 on the season, a new Rams franchise record.

Gurley's 80-yard touchdown catch and run in the second quarter was the longest by a running back in franchise history, surpassing Marshall Faulk in 2000.

The Titans (8-7) lost their third straight game, damaging their chances of ending their own playoff drought stretching to 2008. The loss handed the AFC South title to the Jaguars, and Tennessee hosts Jacksonville in the regular-season finale needing a win to reach the postseason.

"We still have an opportunity to get into the playoffs, and that is the next objective," coach Mike Mularkey said.

The Titans had the ball and a chance to win late in the game. On fourth-and-4 at the Rams 44, Marcus Mariota rolled right and chucked the ball incomplete under pressure from Connor Barwin.

The Rams ran out the final 1:35 for their second straight victory and fourth in five games.

Head coach Sean McVay became the youngest head coach in NFL history to make the playoffs, and surpassed John Madden's record as the youngest head coach in the NFL to win their division. Madden was 34 years old when the Raiders won the AFC West in 1970.

The Rams finished the season 7-1 on the road, and set a new franchise record for most points scored on the road in a single season with 250. 

OFFENSIVE STRUGGLES

The Titans' penchant for settling for field goals was costly once again. They had four trips inside the Rams 20 and scored only one offensive TD on DeMarco Murray's 6-yard run. Ryan Succop kicked three field goals and missed a 45-yarder wide right. Linebacker Wesley Woodyard scored Tennessee's first defensive TD of the season on a 4-yard fumble return.

MISSING ZUERLEIN

Greg Zuerlein was placed on injured reserve Wednesday, and the Rams really missed their Pro Bowl kicker. Instead of letting Sam Ficken kick with Los Angeles at the Titans 32 on their opening drive, the Rams picked up a delay of game penalty the Titans declined. Then punter Johnny Hekker's pass intended for Michael Thomas was batted down. Ficken also missed his first point after attempt.

When the Rams turned first-and-goal at the Titans 7 into fourth-and-18, McVay sent Ficken out for a 36-yard field-goal try. The kick bounced off the right upright no good.

ONSIDE CONFUSION

It looked as if the Rams benefited from a confusing sequence in the third quarter. After Murray scored on a 6-yard run, the Titans recovered an onside kick. Succop said the official signaled live ball, so he tried the onside kick to steal a possession. But officials threw a flag, and referee Walt Anderson announced the Rams took their first timeout just before kickoff. Then he announced there was no timeout because the ball had not been put in play. Then he said, "First down." The Titans kicked deep on the next try.

MORE TURNOVERS

The Rams forced a turnover on the opening drive for the eighth time this season. Linebacker Cory Littleton, starting with Mark Barron scratched, intercepted Mariota on the Titans' second play from scrimmage.

INJURIES

Rams left guard Rodger Saffold hurt his ribs late in the game, and Rams safety Marqui Christian hurt a shoulder.

Murray was helped to the sideline with 2:23 left with an injured right knee. Mularkey said Murray will have an MRI exam, but it doesn't look good.

UP NEXT

Rams: Host 49ers on Sunday.

Titans: Host Jaguars on Sunday.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Chargers Have Record-Setting Day On The Road]]>Sun, 24 Dec 2017 18:35:00 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/172*120/12.24.17_Anotion-Gates-Chargers.jpg

Not only did the Los Angeles Chargers pull off a narrow 14-7 victory over the New York Jets Sunday, they also kept their playoff hopes alive with the win and the Bills' and Titans' losses.

Several Chargers players set records on Sunday that were extremely important.

In the second quarter, quarterback Philip Rivers found Antonio Gates on a 3-yard pass in the end zone for the touchdown. It was the 114th touchdown catch of Gates' career, but his just third of the season. It's also the 87th time that Rivers and Gates have connected in the end zone.

In the second half, running back Melvin Gordon not only scored his eighth touchdown of the season, and also became a 1,000-yard rusher for the first time in his three-year career. Gordon currently has 1,012 yards rushing with one game remaining against the Oakland Raiders.

It is the first time the Bolts had a 1,000-yard rusher in Gordon and a 1,000 yard receiver in Keenan Allen (1,250) since 2013. Former Bolts running back Ryan Mathews (1,255 rushing yards) and rookie Allen (1,046 yards) were the last combo to achieve this milestone.

Quarterback Philip Rivers completed 22-of-40 passes for 290 yards and a touchdown in Sunday's victory. Rivers passed for 4,000 yards on the season for the ninth time in his illustrious career. He's only the fourth quarterback to ever accomplish that milestone in the NFL.

If Los Angeles is fortunate enough to make the post season, this is truly a Hollywood script, or a future "30-For-30" documentary.

The Chargers finish the regular season against AFC West opponent Oakland Raiders at Stubhub Center next weekend. Kickoff is on Sunday, Dec. 31 at 1:25 p.m. PT on CBS.




Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Chargers Remain Alive for Postseason In Win Against Jets]]>Sun, 24 Dec 2017 15:46:20 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-898089064.jpg

On 4th down in the final quarter, New York Jets quarterback Bryce Petty decided to throw the ball toward Robby Anderson in the end zone, and was broken up by Pro-Bowl cornerback Casey Hayward. That play broke the spirit of the Jets as the Los Angeles Chargers held on for the 14-7 win at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey on Sunday afternoon.

If the Kansas City Chiefs win one more game, the Chargers cannot win the AFC West. And the only way Los Angeles can get a wild card spot is if the Ravens (8-6) or Titans (8-6) get the No. 5 seed, the other loses both their remaining games to finish 8-8, and the Chargers finish tied with the Bills for the No. 6 seed at 9-7, because they beat the Bills in Week 11.

Chargers tight end Hunter Henry, the team's third-leading receiver with 579 yards and four touchdowns, was placed on injured reserve Tuesday because of a lacerated kidney suffered against the Chiefs. Running back Austin Ekeler broke his hand and was out of action. The Bolts were without middle linebacker Denzel Perryman with a hamstring tendon strain, and Corey Liguet.

After a lethargic start by both the Chargers' and Jets' offenses, Los Angeles finally found their rhythm in the second quarter when Philip Rivers connected with Antonio Gates for a huge 27-yard catch for a first down. The Bolts caught a break when Rivers threw a pass for Tyrell Williams in the end zone, but couldn't hold on due to a pass interference penalty.

Two plays later, Rivers found Gates for the 3-yard touchdown catch and the 7-0 lead. That's the 114th touchdown catch of Gates' career, but his just third of the season. It's also the 87th time that Rivers and Gates have connected in the end zone.

The Jets offense gets off of life support as Bilal Powell ran thought the holes and outran every Chargers opponent for a 57-yard touchdown. That tied the game 7-7 early in the third quarter.

C. Jonathan Harrison started his first game for the Jets, and provided protection the entire way for Powell down the sidelines to the end zone.

Rivers answered quickly as he spread the ball around to Melvin Gordon, Keenan Allen and Sean McGrath, who caught an imperative pass near the 2-yard line. Next play, Gordon spun around for the one-yard touchdown and the 14-7 lead. Gordon scored his 8th touchdown of the season. On the next drive Gordon had a 7-yard run that gave him over 1,000 yards rushing, the first time the Bolts had a 1,000 yard rusher in Gordon and a 1,000 yard receiver in Allen since 2013.

Bryce Petty overcame a horrible first half and made sure that he beat the Chargers with his legs, since his arm wasn't getting the job done in the second half. Two solid runs by Petty kept the Jets offensive drive alive in the final quarter. The Jets didn't enter the red zone until midway through the fourth quarter, which spoke well for the Chargers defense all afternoon.

The Chargers remain alive in the playoff hunt due to the Los Angeles Rams victory over the Tennessee Titans, and the New England Patriots victory over the Buffalo Bills on Sunday.

Philip Rivers completed 22-of-40 passes for 290 yards and a touchdown. Rivers passed 4,000 yards on the season for the ninth time in his illustrious career. He's only the fourth quarterback to ever accomplish that milestone.

Running back Melvin Gordon currently has 1,012 yards on the season, and left the game late in the fourth quarter with a mild left ankle injury. Gordon is expected to be available for the Dec. 31 showdown against the Oakland Raiders at Stub Hub Center.

"He'll be listed a day-to-day; it's an injury that he's nursed all week," Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn said on the status of Gordon this coming week. "It's an ankle he was dealing with all (last) week."

Byrce Petty completed 15-of-28 passes for 119 yards and one interception. Petty was also sacked three times in the loss to the Chargers. Running back Bilal Powell finished with 19 carries for 145 yards and a touchdown on Sunday.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Rams Revealed: Tanzel Smart]]>Thu, 21 Dec 2017 06:32:01 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/205*120/Tanzel+Smart+Rams+Revealed.png

NBC LA Sports Reporter Michael J. Duarte interviews Los Angeles Rams rookie defensive tackle, Tanzel Smart, about playing alongside Aaron Donald, growing up in Baton Rouge, and what he wants to do after his playing career is done.

Photo Credit: Michael Duarte]]>
<![CDATA[LA Rams Greg Zuerlein Placed on IR]]>Wed, 20 Dec 2017 17:54:55 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/160*125/GettyImages-894373206.jpg

"Legatron" has been shut down.

The Los Angeles Rams Super Bowl chances took a hit on Wednesday, as the team announced that Pro-Bowl kicker Greg "Legatron" Zuerlein, was being placed on injured reserve with a back injury, effectively ending his season.

According to Rams head coach Sean McVay, Zuerlein has been dealing with a herniated disc in his back throughout the season, but on Saturday night, while sleeping at the team hotel in Seattle, Zuerlein re-aggravated the injury and could barely get out of bed Sunday morning, let alone walk.

McVay was told about Zuerlein's condition before kickoff, and said that punter Johnny Hekker was prepared to be the emergency field goal kicker, with Cooper Kupp being the holder. 

However, just hours before the game, Zuerlein said he would give it a go, and played injured during the team's  42-7 victory over the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday. 

The hope was that Zuerlein would be better by Monday or Tuesday, and the team had planned to sign another kicker, giving Zuerlein a week to rest, but doctors told the Pro-Bowler he would need to undergo surgery.

Rams COO Kevin Demoff told NBC LA that the team worked out 10 different kickers at the practice facility located on the campus of Cal Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks, CA on Wednesday. One of those kickers was former Chargers kickers Younghoe Koo and Travis Coons, who was released by the Chargers on Monday.

The team announced late Wednesday afternoon that in place of Zuerlein, they signed former Penn State kicker Sam Ficken, despite the fact that he's never attempted a field goal in an NFL game.

Ficken went undrafted in 2015, but signed with the Jacksonville Jaguars before the 2016 season. He was waived before the season officially began, and signed by the Kansas City Chiefs before this season after an injury to Cairo Santos.

However, Santos recovered from his injury in time and Ficken was released by the Chiefs. He will now be the Rams primary kicker for the duration of the regular season and the postseason.


Zuerlein, was named to his first ever Pro Bowl on Tuesday, and was on a historic pace this season, converting 38 of 40 field goals on the season and 44 of 46 extra points. 

UPDATE: Zuerlein will undergo back surgery performed by Robert Watkins on Thursday and is expected to be out until Training Camp in 2018. 



Photo Credit: Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Rams on Verge of First Division Title Since 2003]]>Wed, 20 Dec 2017 06:28:27 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/179*120/12-19-2017-rams-gurley-trumaine-johnson.jpg

Somewhere in Sean McVay's house are two hats celebrating division titles from his time as an assistant coach in Washington. A win at the Tennessee Titans on Sunday would get McVay his first as a head coach and give the Los Angeles Rams their first NFC West crown since 2003.

"Those are tough to get," McVay said Monday. "That's a special accomplishment, to be able to win a division. To win games in this league is so hard, and you appreciate every single opportunity. When you do win, you certainly cherish that, especially division championships."

After their 42-7 win at the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday to take a two-game lead in the division with two games remaining, the Rams (10-4) can assure themselves a home playoff game by winning at Tennessee this week or beating the San Francisco 49ers at home on Dec. 31. Even if the Rams lose this weekend, they could still clinch the division with a Seattle loss or tie. 

A win would set up the first playoff game in Los Angeles since the Raiders defeated the Cincinnati Bengals 20-10 at the Coliseum in the divisional round on Jan. 13, 1991.

McVay has continually preached an emphasis on process over results, but will acknowledge the opportunity to seize the tangible benefit of the team's hard work as soon as this weekend.

"We don't shy away from what is at stake, but we do keep our same approach in terms of just kind of that weekly rhythm, but absolutely something you talk about," McVay said.

The Rams' surprising turnaround has plenty of people talking about various ways of recognizing it. McVay, in his first year at the helm, is a leading candidate for coach of the year honors. Plenty of players are likely to be included when the Pro Bowl rosters are announced Tuesday. Even running back Todd Gurley is starting to get mentioned as a possible option in most valuable player voting.

McVay will gladly lead the charge for Gurley's candidacy, coming off his eruption for 152 yards rushing and four total touchdowns against the Seahawks, as a way of saluting his resurgent third season and the Rams' revival. Gurley's performance was the result of the offensive line and receivers getting physical in the run game and quarterback Jared Goff's game management, and McVay said it can be extrapolated throughout the entire season.

"I'm obviously going to be biased to Todd, but I think if you just look at it from a production standpoint he's been as productive as any player," McVay said. "He's got over 1,800 all-purpose yards, 17 touchdowns leading the league, over 630 yards receiving. He has a great game yesterday, but Todd will tell you that success he's had is a credit to his teammates."

Outside the uptick in Gurley's workload against the Seahawks, which McVay joked about after receiving some criticism for only giving him 13 carries in the 43-35 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, there hasn't been much the head coach has had to change this season. A tweak to the midweek schedule has been one of the few exceptions.

McVay will hold a walkthrough instead of a practice Wednesday after having to reduce the level of activity on each of the past two Wednesdays because of poor air quality caused by the Thomas Fire in Santa Barbara. It isn't a significant change as the Rams were already using Wednesdays to give veteran players like left tackle Andrew Whitworth, center John Sullivan and outside linebacker Connor Barwin an extra day off. After seeing a "fresh" and "fast" team against the Seahawks, McVay believes the reduced physical workload had a beneficial effect on the entire roster on game day.

"As long as they continue to understand how important it is to just be locked in, great focus and concentration from a mental standpoint, we feel like that's going to be the best thing and that's the approach we'll take this week again," McVay said.

NOTES: Linebacker Mark Barron was limited against the Seahawks with a knee injury that McVay believes was exacerbated by the cold weather. McVay expects Barron to play against the Titans, where the forecast on Sunday includes a high of 44 degrees and a mix of rain and snow showers.


Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Rams Have Five Pro-Bowl Players ]]>Wed, 20 Dec 2017 04:47:27 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-508227254.jpg

Now that deserves a high five.

The National Football League announced the rosters for the 2018 Pro Bowl on Tuesday, and the hometown Rams landed five players on the roster, the team's highest output since 2003.

Ironically, 2003 was the last time the Rams had a winning season, and it's no coincidence that their 10-4 record, and first place position in the NFC West were determining factors in the roster choices.

Among the five selections were punter Johnny Hekker, kicker Greg Zuerlein, punt and kick returner Pharoh Cooper, defensive tackle Aaron Donald, and running back Todd Gurley.

"The presence of five of our players on the Pro Bowl roster is a testament to the collective effort of our team," said Rams first year head coach Sean McVay. "While we emphasize football as a team sport, we appreciate their individual contributions to our overall success. We're extremely proud of them, and it's great to see other players, coaches and fans recognize their achievements as well."

Cooper and Zuerlein were selected for the first time in their careers, Gurley for the second time in his three-year career, and Hekker and Donald will be heading to the Pro-Bowl for the fourth time in their careers.

In addition to the five selections, the NFL also announced that quarterback Jared Goff, offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth, and cornerback Trumaine Johnson were Pro Bowl alternates.

In the NFC, only the New Orleans Saints and Philadelphia Eagles had more Pro Bowl selections than the Rams with six players. The Pro Bowl will take place in Orlando, FL on January 28, 2018 at 3:00PM EST at Camping World Arena. It will be televised on ESPN, ESPN Deportes and simulcast on ABC.

For tickets, visit: www.VisitOrlando.com/ProBowl.



Photo Credit: Kent Nishimura/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Four Los Angeles Chargers Named to 2018 Pro Bowl]]>Tue, 19 Dec 2017 21:02:46 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/172*120/AP_173511826968861.jpg

On Tuesday, the league announced the 2018 Pro Bowl roster, that included four Los Angeles Chargers to represent the AFC. The Bolts will be represented by DE Joey Bosa, QB Philip Rivers, CB Casey Hayward, and WR Keenan Allen.

"It’s always an honor to be selected," Rivers told reporters. "Knowing that opposing coaches and players vote you in, it’s meaningful."

The seven time Pro Bowler led the Bolts to the leagues third-ranked passing offense. Rivers completed 310-of-498 attempts for 3,838 yards with 24 touchdowns and 10 interceptions for a 93.8 QBR.

"I’m so excited for Keenan, Joey and Phil," Casey Hayward said. "This team and organization is pulling in the right direction. To be a good team in this league, you’ve got to have good Pro Bowl and Hall of Fame-type players. We have two Hall of Fame players, and now we’ve got four Pro Bowlers this year."

Hayward ranks seventh in the NFL with four interceptions. He leads a secondary that has not given up a single 100-yard receiver all season.

Bosa's motor remains in high gear as he totaled 61 tackles, 10 tackles for loss, 11.5 sacks and four forced fumbles over the first 14 games of the season. His 11.5 sacks rank fifth in the NFL and second in AFC. He also finished first in fan voting for AFC defensive ends.

Allen caps off a dynamic season, receiving his first Pro-Bowl call coming off missing the 2016 season due to injury. He's caught 88 passes this season for 1,197 yards and five touchdowns, setting new career highs for receptions and yards in a single season. His 88 catches are tied for fifth-most in a single season in Chargers history. Allen became the first player in NFL history to catch at least 10 passes, record at least 100 yards and notch at least one touchdown reception in three straight games.

Four other Chargers were named Pro Bowl alternates, including DE Melvin Ingram, RB Melvin Gordon, OT Russell Okung, and DT Corey Liuget.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Charger's Hunter Henry Placed on IR for Rest of Season]]>Tue, 19 Dec 2017 21:02:22 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/160*121/3rd+cowboys+game+%2821%29.jpg

Not only did the Los Angeles Chargers suffer a 30-13 loss at the hands of the Kansas City Chiefs on Saturday, but they also lost their top-notch tight end.

The Bolts lost Hunter Henry due to a laceration of the kidney. On Tuesday Henry was placed on Reserved /Injury list.

He suffered the injury early in the fourth quarter in Kansas City. The second-year tight end finishes his season with 45 receptions for 611 yards and four touchdowns.

In 19 career games, he has 81 receptions for 1,059 yards and 12 touchdowns. Henry is currently tied with running back Melvin Gordon for second on the Bolts in receiving touchdowns.

The Chargers will move on without Henry to face the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, Dec. 24.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Gurley's 4 Touchdowns Lead Rams in Win Over Seahawks]]>Sun, 17 Dec 2017 22:15:47 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/161*120/GettyImages-894379404.jpg

Move over Seahawks, you've been dethroned. 

The Los Angeles Rams are going to win the NFC West after they dominated the rival Seattle Seahawks, 42-7, on Sunday afternoon at CenturyLink Field.

The Rams must have watched the film on the Seahawks defense last week, as Seattle allowed 157 yards on the ground to the Jacksonville Jaguars.

With the Seahawks depleted on defense, the Rams ran early and often, as Todd Gurley finished the game with 152 yards and three touchdowns on the ground.

Gurley also did damage in the secondary as he caught three passes for 28 yards and a touchdown, giving the All-Pro running back a total of four touchdowns in arguably the biggest game of the season for Los Angeles.

In total, the Rams rushed for 244 yards against the Seahawks, as Seattle had no answer for the likes of Gurley and backup running back Malcolm Brown.

Jared Goff did not need to do a whole lost as he was 14-for-21 for 120 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.

The Rams started slow with a couple of field goals by Greg "Leg-A-Tron" Zuerlein, but it didn't take long for LA's patient offensive attack to find the end zone as Gurley punched in his career-high 11th rushing touchdown of the season midway through the first quarter.

Gurley did it again, to start the second quarter, capping off a five-play, 36-yard drive with another 1-yard touchdown up the middle, his 15th of the season overall.

Leading 20-0, the Rams changed it up a little bit on their third score, as Goff found receiver Robert Woods in the front left corner of the end zone for the score.

Woods missed the last three weeks with a shoulder injury, but returned for the NFC West matchup with the Seahawks, making six receptions for 45 yards and a touchdown.

A few minutes later, Gurley made it a hat-trick when he found the end zone for the third time, breaking through the Seahawks front four, running 57-yards for the score. 

By halftime, the game was all but over as the Rams led 34-0 at the break. Nonetheless, Gurley and the Rams put a cherry on top of their "Sunday," as he caught a pass from Goff out of the backfield, and walked in for the 14-yard score.

Gurley now has an NFL-best 17 touchdowns this season, and also leads all running backs with 11 100+ yard games from scrimmage this season.

Seattle's only score of the game on pass from Russell Wilson to tight end Luke Willson late in the third quarter. 

The Rams improve to 10-4, and have a two-game lead in the NFC West, owning the tiebreaker, provided they are able to defeat the San Francisco 49ers at home in the final game of the season.

Meanwhile, the Seahawks (8-6) suddenly find themselves on the outside looking in on the NFC playoff picture. The Seahawks will need wins against the Cowboys and Cardinals in their final two games of the season.

Up Next:

The Rams will spend Christmas in the Music City as the travel to Tennessee to face the Titans on Christmas Eve. Kickoff is scheduled for 1:00PM PST. 

Please refresh this page for more stats, updates and player reactions…



Photo Credit: Steve Dykes/Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Rams vs. Seahawks: Preview and Predictions]]>Sun, 17 Dec 2017 07:32:13 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-859144018.jpg

The NFC West is up for grabs on Sunday when the Los Angeles Rams travel to CenturyLink Field to battle the Seattle Seahawks.

It wouldn't be winter if the Rams didn't make their annual visit up to the rain-soaked city, as the team has travelled to Seattle each of the last eight seasons to play the Seahawks in either December or January.

Over the span of those last eight years, the Rams have been mostly bad. Struggling to stay above .500, while the Seahawks seemingly won the division each year, including four out of the last five years.

This year is different however, as the Rams enter the game in first place in the NFC West, and have a winning record this late in the season for the first time since 2003. 

Despite the fact that the Rams have been subpar over the last few seasons, they've still managed to play the Seahawks well, as the two teams have split the last head-to-head matchups against each other. 

"It's going to be a big one," Rams QB Jared Goff said about the game. "A big one for us, and a big one for them." 

Goff isn't lying. Both teams are coming off disheartening losses in week 14, and are looking to bounce back. The Rams (9-4) need to win, in order to put two games between them and the Seahawks, with two games left to play in the season, all but guaranteeing themselves the division title.

Meanwhile, the Seahawks (8-5) need a win over the Rams to move into a first place tie in which they would hold the tiebreaker over the Rams. If both teams somehow finish with an identical record at the end of the season, the Seahawks would be crowned the winners of the NFC West, and the Rams likely would have to play a road game in the Wild Card round of the playoffs, if they even make the playoffs at all. 

The Rams will be without starting CB Kayvon Webster who was lost for the season with a ruptured achiles, but WR Robert Woods is expected to return after missing the last three weeks with a shoulder injury. 

The Seahawks are riddled with injuries and are expected to be without starting safety Kam Chancellor, DE Nazir Jones, LB K.J. Wright, and perhaps All-Pro LB Bobby Wagner.

The Rams and Seahawks will kickoff at 1:05 PM PST from CenturyLink Field in Seattle, WA. The game will air live on FOX. The game can be live streamed here and on FuboTV.

Fantasy Football Start/Sit:

Start: Russell Wilson, Todd Gurley, Mike Davis, Doug Baldwin, Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods, Jimmy Graham, Greg Zuerlein, Seahawks Defense. 

Sit: Jared Goff, Paul Richardson, Sammy Watkins, Tyler Higbee, Gerald Everett, Blair Walsh, Rams Defense.

Betting Odds (Courtesy of Bovada):

Rams: +1 (-105)
Seahawks: -1 (-115)
O/U: 47 

Prediction: 30-28 Seahawks

Each and every week, NBC LA reporters Michael J. Duarte and Nick Hamilton bring you an NFL podcast entitled, "Bolts by the Horns," as the writers breakdown what's going on inside the worlds of both Los Angeles based football teams including; insider information, interviews with players and experts, latest injury updates, previews, predictions, betting odds, fantasy advice and more.

Give it a listen below:



Photo Credit: Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Robert Woods Interview: Rams' Receiver Is Ready to Return]]>Fri, 15 Dec 2017 22:57:18 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Robert+Woods+Returns.png

He's back. 

The Los Angeles Rams have been without their number one receiver Robert Woods for the past three weeks.

Woods injured his shoulder against the Vikings back in Week 11, and since that time the Rams are 2-2, and currently one game ahead of the Seattle Seahawks for first place in the NFC West.

That makes Sunday's pivotal showdown in Seattle at CenturyLink Field, a must-win game for the Rams, if they want to win the division and host a home playoff game in 2018.

Woods spoke to NBC LA reporter Michael Duarte after practice this week and stated he was ready to go for the big game on Sunday.

Here's the transcript of the interview:

Robert, you have been dealing with a shoulder injury the past few weeks, and have not been able to play, how has the rehab process been for you?

Everything's good. Long process trying to get back, trying to get healthy. Guys did well prepping up to this. Getting wins and everything, and I'm finally back trying to finish it off with the team.

You practiced last week, could you have suited up and played against the Philadelphia Eagles if you needed to?

It felt good. I was going out there and running routes and everything, but I just wanted to play it cautious, play it safe. It's a long season. We're looking forward to playing these games, so I wanted to make sure I'm healthy and can last.

Is your shoulder still bothering you? Are they any final hurdles you need to clear this week before returning to the field? 

I wouldn't say so. The movement and everything is there. Everything is good and ready. I've been in practice last week and starting this week, I'm very confident in it.

When I first talked to you after you went down with the injury, you said there was no structural damage and you would not require surgery. Just how close were you from this injury being a lot worse, and how relieved were you it was nothing too serious?

I was very grateful that I didn't need surgery and I didn't hit anything important. Just looking at Aaron Rodgers injury, he broke his. Fortunately, mine wasn't broken. Just a little injury. Being able to bounce back and able to recover quick enough to return this season is a big testament to our training staff and our coaches.

Is this the biggest game of the season for the Rams so far this Sunday against the Seahawks with the NFC West division on the line?

We look at it like any other game. We know it's Seattle, we know there's a lot on the table. But we go in prepping to win. There's always a lot on the table when you're trying to win, no matter if it's Seattle, Philadelphia, whomever lines up, we're going in with all we got like it's our last game.

How do you think your team looked these past three weeks without you?

They moved the ball well. Gurley was doing Gurley things running all over the field. Sammy made big plays. Josh stepped up and so did Cooper Kupp on the outside.

Why do you think the Seahawks are just so good each and every year, despite the injuries?

Their unity. They play well as a unite on the defensive side and offensive side. Just looking at them on a defensive side, they play as a unit, they communicate well, they fly over, and their communication from Earl [Thomas] to Bobby Wagner at the linebacker position.

What's it like entering that hostile environment at CenturyLink Field, they have one of the best home field advantages in the NFL?

The environment helped. It's loud and fun. It's a competitive game, a competitive team. You just want to go out there and go against good competitors and good opponents and when they play well, you play well, and the team plays well. Our main goal is just to go out there and get a win.

How's your timing going to be with Jared Goff?

I did some throwing and route running last week. I wanted to make sure to keep my timing down with Jared. I didn't do a whole lot with the team, but just wanted to make sure me and Jared still had our timing straight.

Did you happen to see that "Snow Game" in Buffalo on Sunday? Did it bring back any memories?

No, it didn’t. [laughter] I actually walked past the TV and had to do a double-take. It was pitch white out there. It looked fun for a little bit, but I know playing in it before it probably wasn't the best. Happy that they got a win though.

How glad were you watching it that you were here in Southern California where it's 80 degrees and sunny and not out there playing in the Snow Bowl?

This is football weather right here. 

The Rams and Seahwaks will kickoff at 1:05PM PST from CenturyLink Field in Seattle, WA on Sunday, Dec. 17, 2017. The game will air live on FOX. 



Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Is Chargers QB Philip Rivers An MVP Candidate?]]>Fri, 15 Dec 2017 12:22:13 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/3rd+cowboys+game+%288%29.jpg

Running back Melvin Gordon told reporters on Wednesday that Rivers deserves to be in the MVP conversation, especially if the winning continues toward a division title. 

"At the end of the day, it’s a great compliment to say you’re the MVP," Gordon said. “You don’t get it when you’re losing. It’d be awesome right now if Philip was able to get that. Later on down the line, I think he’d appreciate it a little more. I think right now, he would just look at it as it what it is. He’s super focused."

Aside from the MVP talk, Rivers remains focused on the upcoming battle against the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium on a cold Saturday night. He reminisced about the battles between the two teams and understands what this game means to the entire Chargers season.

As he continued to speak from the podium on Wednesday, Rivers smiled and said how much he respected the fans in Kansas City and how playing there is a good place to compete. After starting the season 0-4, the veteran quarterback knows how to rally his troops and pull out a big victory in the moment. With the AFC West and playoff implications hanging in the balance, Rivers knows his team has to continue to play loose and with control.

“We’re going to Kansas City on a Saturday night in December, playing for the division lead with three weeks to play," Rivers said. "I think it’s good to acknowledge that, but make sure that we don’t get too caught up in the hype. It can turn the other way in a hurry.”



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Eagles' Chris Long Gets Into Heated Exchange With Rams Fans]]>Sun, 10 Dec 2017 22:03:43 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-889874586.jpg

This wasn't a pleasant reunion.

Current Eagles defensive end Chris Long got into a heated exchange with fans from his former team, after Philadelphia defeated the Los Angeles Rams, 43-35, at the L.A. Coliseum on Sunday.

Before you watch the video, it's noteworthy to mention that the L.A. Coliseum had a season-high 67,752 in attendance for the highly anticipated matchup of NFC heavyweights.

However, the Eagles loyal fans were out in full force as "Fly Eagles Fly" nation came out in droves to support their team, engulfing many sections of the heralded arena in a sea of green.

One of those sections was section 17, where an assemblage of Eagles fans had gathered along the railing to cheer on their 11-2 team.

As evidenced in the picture below of the section, it's mostly Eagles fans with the exception of this one Rams fan who is showing his support with a "Central Valley Rams" flag.

 

Minutes after this photo was taken, the Rams had a 1st and 10 from their own 24-yard line with one second remaining on the clock. Jared Goff threw a quick pass to Pharoah Cooper who lateraled to Tavon Austin, who then lateraled the ball into the arms of Eagles defensive end Brandon Graham, who scored a 16-yard fumble return touchdown just as time expired.

Graham immediately ran to the fans in Section 17 to attempt his own version of the "Lambeau Leap," as he jumped into the awaiting arms of Eagles fans with his teammates.

Late to the celebration was Long, who also tried to jump into the stands that he once patrolled for the first eight years of his life when his father, Howie, played for the L.A. Raiders.

Unfortunately for Long, he jumped into the stands of three Rams fans who immediately pushed him back onto the field. After the incident, the fans and Long exchanged words, and Long can be seen yelling "[Expletive] You!" to the fans as he walks away.

Our own Michael J. Duarte was in the end zone when they exchanged happened, and NBC Philadelphia also tweeted out a video of the TV showing a different angle of the incident.

 

In the end, Long, who was drafted by the then St. Louis Rams in 2008 with the second pick overall, and played for the Horns from 2008 to 2015, left the Coliseum with the victory and has a chance to add another Super Bowl ring to his collection after he won his first with the Patriots last season.

The Eagles clinched the NFC East with the victory and are in pole position to claim the No. 1 overall seed in the NFC Playoffs including a first round bye, and home field advantage throughout. 



Photo Credit: Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Eagles Soar Over Rams in NFC Showdown]]>Sun, 10 Dec 2017 20:03:49 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-889854070.jpg

This was a good old fashioned shootout. 

The Philadelphia Eagles rallied from a fourth quarter deficit to defeat the Los Angeles Rams, 43-35, in a showdown of NFC Supremacy at the L.A. Coliseum on Sunday afternoon.

Carson Wentz threw for four touchdowns before leaving the game in the fourth quarter with a knee injury, finishing with 291 yards, four touchdowns and one interception. 

His counterpart, Jared Goff, threw for 199 yards and two touchdowns, as the two teams took turns delivering knockout blows throughout the afternoon.

A Jared Goff fumble late in the fourth quarter gave the Eagles the ball inside Rams territory, and shortly thereafer, a Jake Elliot field goal gave them a 37-35 lead with just over two minutes left.

After a Rams punt, the Eagles were able to wind the clock down to one second, time for one final play for Goff and the Rams.

Goff threw to Pharoah Cooper who tried to lateral the ball to Tavon Austin, but he dropped the ball and it was recovered by Brandon Graham for the game clinching score.

Here are all the highlights of one of the best game you'll see this year:

Todd Gurley started the opening drive with a 30-yard run down the sidelines, and capped it off with a 2-yard touchdown run that gave Los Angeles their eighth consecutive score on the opening drive. 

The Eagles answered right back as Carson Wentz quickly found tight end Brent Celek to tie the game at 7-7.

Philadelphia continued to pile on as they scored on their next possession as Wentz found backup tight end, Trey Burton for the go-ahead touchdown.

Philadelphia pulled away to open the second quarter as it was once again Wentz who found Burton in the corner of the end zone and the Eagles took a 21-7 lead. 

The Rams responded as Jared Goff threw his first passing touchdown of the game, finding his former roommate Cooper Kupp for the score.

The Rams scored to open the second half on a touchdown pass from Goff to Sammy Watkins, but just as it looked like the Eagles were in total control, the Rams special teams came up with the play of the game as Michael Thomas blocked a Donnie Jones punt and Blake Countess returned it for a touchdown. 

The Eagles took the lead at the end of the third quarter as Alshon Jefferey made a sensational shoestring catch to put Philadelphia up, 31-28 heading into the fourth quarter. 

 

The back and forth battle continued as Todd Gurley scored his second rushing touchdown of the game to give the Rams back the lead.

Up Next:

The Rams will travel to CenturyLink Field in Seattle next Sunday in a NFC West showdown that could decide the division. Kickoff is set for 1:05PM PST.



Photo Credit: Jeff Gross/Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Rams Johnny Hekker Delivers Supplies to Wildfire Victims]]>Thu, 07 Dec 2017 18:37:33 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/198*120/Johnny+Hekker+Helps+Fire+Victims.png

We're all in it together.

Johnny Hekker was relaxing in his Thousand Oaks home on Tuesday afternoon when he turned on his television and saw that a handful of wildfires were ravaging the Southland.

So the Rams All-Pro punter did what many of us wanted to do, but didn't. He took action. 

"I saw how fast it escalated with the winds and it got out of hand," said Hekker. "I went outside and smelled the smoke. I saw the ash on my car and realized something needed to be done."

On Sunday, Hekker will be taking the field in arguably the biggest and most anticipated game of the Rams season. But that didn't stop him from leaving the comfortable confines of his home in order to help others.

Knowing that their community—both in Los Angeles and Ventura Country—were under threat from fire and dangerous air quality, Hekker sprung into action with his wife Makayla, who is seven-months pregnant, by his side.

Hekker contacted Ventura County Star beat writer Joe Curley to ask where he could go and what he could do to assist those in need. Curley, who ironically was helping out with coverage of the fires himself, was at the Ventura County Fairgrounds at the time, where a press conference was being held.

Curley sent Hekker a list of shelters in the area, and told him that there was a shelter at the fairgrounds and that victims of the Thomas Fire, which burned down hundreds of homes in the Santa Paula area, were in need of warm clothing and other supplies.

So the Hekker's immediately jumped into their truck and headed to Target in Newbury Park, where they filled up four shopping carts full of sweatshirts, sweatpants, underwear, diapers, baby wipes, socks and toys.

"I didn't spend enough," Hekker said. "Walking around the store, I couldn't grab enough stuff. I really want to go back and just buy out the whole place because there are so many people here who are in need of so much."

Hekker said initially he was concerned about his wife wanting to go with him because he wasn't sure if the smoke in the air was good for the baby, but once they reached Target, she took action, and helped him with purchases he would otherwise not have known to make.

"It made walking through Target that much easier," Hekker said of his wife. "She knew what to grab. I would have been lost in the Women's section. She has a big heart. "

As the Hekker's were waiting in the line to check out, he was touched by a token of generosity that moved him to tears.

"One of the men at the store came up to me and gave me $40. He said, 'I know what you're doing,'" continued Hekker. "It moved me to tears."

Together, Johnny and Makayla drove to the Ventura County Fairgrounds and hand delivered the items to the shelter shortly after 8 p.m.

"The people were grateful. A lot of them had nothing.," Hekker said of what he saw. "They didn't have sweatshirts or sweatpants and it was cold there in the shelter. We bought a lot of sweatshirts and sweatpants. I grabbed some footballs and a bat for kids to play with. I saw a little kid running around playing with it and it moved me quite a bit.

"It was moving, to see everyone, including the firefighters who were just taking a quick break before heading back out into the mountains."

Hekker shook the hands of all the volunteers and met with some of the evacuees and first responders to tell them he was feeling for them and praying for them. 

"We're all in it together. It's a real situation where wen can kind of rally around one another and try to lift the spirits of these people who have lost everything that they knew."

Hekker grew up in a family that frequently served his community in Washington. His parents were active in the community and with the local church. He said when people were in need growing up, his family was always quick to act.

"A lot of my teammates were also texting me throughout the day asking me how they could help," added Hekker. "People told me to start a GoFundMe, so I'm going to get that going as well."



Photo Credit: Leon Bennett/Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Rams Revealed: Cooper Kupp]]>Tue, 05 Dec 2017 06:17:07 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Cooper_Kupp2_1200x675_1109728323883.jpg

NBC LA Sports Reporter Michael J. Duarte interviews Los Angeles Rams Receiver Cooper Kupp about living with Jared Goff, his favorite restaurants in L.A., and his NCAA records.]]>
<![CDATA[Rams Keep Rolling With Win Over Arizona]]>Sun, 03 Dec 2017 17:37:54 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-884958494.jpg

Sometimes the hardest games to win are the ones you're supposed to.

Jared Goff threw for two touchdowns and the Los Angeles Rams held on to defeat the Arizona Cardinals, 32-16, on Sunday afternoon in Glendale.

Goff, who passed for 220 yards and two touchdowns, did not show the flashes of brilliance he's shown over the past month, as he was hurried and sacked throughout the day.

Linebacker Kareem Martin intercepted Goff in the first quarter, and the 23-year-old fumbled in the fourth quarter when Chandler Jones recorded a strip sack on Goff, but thankfully the ball was recovered by the Rams.

For the first time since 2003, the Rams (9-3) are guaranteed to finish the season with a winning record, and will remain in sole possession of first place in the NFC West regardless of the outcome between the Seahawks and Eagles on NBC's Sunday Night Football.

The Rams extended their scoring streak on the opening drive to six consecutive games after Greg Zuerlein nailed a 56-yard field goal on the first possession to give the Rams a 3-0 lead.

Zuerlein, the NFL's scoring leader, converted four field goals in the game, but snapped a streak of 33 consecutive extra points made when he missed after the team's first touchdown of the game.

Goff gave the Rams a 9-0 lead when the team went for it on 4th and goal from the Cardinals 1-yard line. Rather than run the ball, head coach Sean McVay dialed up a pass play to tight end Gerald Everett for the score.

The Rams defense continued to show why they are among the best units in the league as the "Mob Squad," intercepted Cardinals' quarterback Blaine Gabbert on his first passing attempt of the game.

One possession later, Alec Ogletree intercepted Gabbert and took it all the way to the house for a pick-six that gave the Rams a 16-0 lead. 

The Rams defense finished the game with four sacks and two turnovers.

Gabbert finished the day throwing for 2065yards, with two interceptions and one fancy touchdown strike to veteran receiver Larry Fitzgerald.

The future Hall of Famer passed former Rams' receiver Isaac Bruce for fourth all-time on the NFL's receiving yards list, and finished the day with 10 catches for 98 yards and a touchdown.

Kerwynn Williams played well for the Cardinals in place of the injured Adrian Peterson, rushing for 97 yards on 16 carries.

As they did in their dominating, 33-0, victory over Arizona in London earlier in the year, Goff and the Rams pulled away late as the sophomore quarterback found Sammy Watkins for a 13-yard score. 

The Rams improved to 6-1 away from Los Angeles this season, including a win in London that was considered a "home game."

Up Next:

The battle for NFC supremacy and potential a first round bye in the postseason begins next Sunday when the L.A. Rams host the 10-1 Philadelphia Eagles at the Coliseum. Kickoff is scheduled for 1:25PM PST. 

Please refresh this page for more stats, updates and player reactions…



Photo Credit: Christian Petersen/Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Rams vs. Cardinals Preview]]>Sun, 03 Dec 2017 15:35:19 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-884946704.jpg

A nice bounce back by the Rams with a 26-20 win over New Orleans that followed a loss at Minnesota.

This one can be tricky — witness what the undermanned Cardinals did to Jacksonville last Sunday.

These teams went at it in London in October, a 33-0 Rams win that was Arizona's worst performance and cost it QB Carson Palmer (broken left arm).

"Preparation during the week for us is important," said L.A. Rams receiver Sammy Watkins about the matchup. "When we fall off, we lose. Make no mistake, they're going to come out and play hard. They're going to have that 33 to nothing in the back of their heads and they're going to play with an edge. We're going to have to come out and fight. It's not going to be a blowout game."

Los Angeles has displayed balance on both sides of the ball and was especially hard on Adrian Peterson, who rushed for 21 yards on 11 carries in London.

Peterson is expected to miss the game with an injury on Sunday.

An LA win would even the all-time series, which now is 38-37-2 for the Cardinals. It would also give the Rams a season sweep of the Cardinals. 

The Rams and Cardinals will kickoff at 1:25 PM PST from the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. The game will air live on FOX. The game can be live streamed here and on FuboTV.

Fantasy Football Start/Sit:

Start: Jared Goff, Todd Gurley, Cooper Kupp, Larry Fitzgerald, Sammy Watkins, Gerald Everett, Greg Zuerlein, Rams Defense

Sit: Blaine Gabbert, Kerwynn Williams, D.J. Foster, Jaron Brown, John Brown, Tavon Austin, Josh McReynolds, Chad Williams, Ricky Seals-Jones, Tyler Higbee, Phil Dawson, Cardinals Defense.

Betting Odds (Courtesy of Bovada):

Rams: -7 (-110)
Cardinals: +7 (-115)
O/U: 43 

Prediction: 30-14 Rams

Each and every week, NBC LA reporters Michael J. Duarte and Nick Hamilton bring you an NFL podcast entitled, "Bolts by the Horns," as the writers breakdown what's going on inside the worlds of both Los Angeles based football teams including; insider information, interviews with players and experts, latest injury updates, previews, predictions, betting odds, fantasy advice and more.

Give it a listen below:

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Norm Hall/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Browns vs. Chargers Preview]]>Sun, 03 Dec 2017 15:35:34 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/163*120/GettyImages-884945312.jpg

We know what you're thinking: Cleveland got off the schneid last season in Game 15 by beating the Chargers for the Browns' only win.

For that to happen again would be a huge upset considering how LA has gone from 0-4 to contention in the AFC West.

The Browns are 1-26 in two seasons under coach Hue Jackson and 4-44 in the past 48 games — the worst stretch in NFL history.

"They're really good," said Chargers' tight end Hunter Henry about the winless Browns. "Everyone knows about their record and knows what people say on the outside world, but they're in every single game and fighting to the finish and you would never really know that's what their record is. They have a really good defense."

The Chargers could go sack-happy with Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram.

The Browns and Chargers will kickoff at 1:05 PM PST from the StubHub Center in Carson, CA. The game will air live on CBS. The game can be live streamed here and on FuboTV.

Fantasy Football Start/Sit:

Start: Phillip Rivers, Melvin Gordon, Isaiah Crowell, Austin Ekeler (Flex only), Keenan Allen, Hunter Henry, Chargers Defense. 

Sit: DeShone Kizer, Duke Johnson, Corey Coleman, Josh Gordon, Tyrell Williams, Mike Williams, Antonio Gates, David Njoku, Travis Coons, Zane Gonzalez, Browns Defense.

Betting Odds (Courtesy of Bovada):

Browns: +13.5 (-115)
Chargers: -13.5 (-125)
O/U: 45 

Prediction: 28-14 Chargers

Each and every week, NBC LA reporters Michael J. Duarte and Nick Hamilton bring you an NFL podcast entitled, "Bolts by the Horns," as the writers breakdown what's going on inside the worlds of both Los Angeles based football teams including; insider information, interviews with players and experts, latest injury updates, previews, predictions, betting odds, fantasy advice and more.

Give it a listen below:

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Streak Busters! LA Rams Beat Saints, 26-20]]>Sun, 26 Nov 2017 19:49:05 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/204*120/Rams+Defense+Against+Saints.png

Call them the streak busters.

Jared Goff threw for two touchdowns and the Los Angeles Rams snapped the New Orleans Saints eight-game winning streak with a 26-20 victory at the L.A. Coliseum on Sunday afternoon.

The matchup of first place teams featured the second and third best offenses in the NFL as the Rams and Saints are both top 5 in the league in points-per-game and yards-per-game this season. 

The 62,006 fans in attendance were expecting a good old fashioned shootout, but it was the Rams defense that was the difference on Sunday as defensive coordinator Wade Phillips held Drew Brees and the Saints to just 20 points. 

"Wade and those guys did a good job of keeping us off-balance and playing the run well," said Saints head coach Sean Payton following the loss. "We weren't able to throw it enough to take advantage of it, but there wasn't any wholesale adjustment. As soon as we had a series, we'd get a penalty and we'd be first-and-20."

For the second straight week, Jared Goff, led the L.A. Rams offense down the field for a touchdown on the opening drive. 

Goff capped off a 7-play, 59-yard opening score when he found Sammy Watkins on a slant over the middle for the game's first score. 

A few minutes later, NFC Offensive Rookie of the Year frontrunner, Alvin Kamara, flashed his game-changing speed as he took the handoff from Brees 74-yards to the house for the Saints first touchdown of the game. 

The 74-yard touchdown run was the longest by a rookie in Saints history since Lorenzo Neal in 1993. It was also the longest rushing play of the season for New Orleans.

The Rams extended the lead to 17-7 midway through the second quarter when Goff found rookie wide receiver Josh Reynolds in the back of the end zone for his first career NFL touchdown.

 

Before the score, the drive was punctuated with a 53-yard over the shoulder pass from Goff to another rookie, Cooper Kupp, who caught the ball in stride to set up first-and-goal for the Rams. 

The Saints made it interesting with a last minute touchdown from Brees to Kamara, but Watkins recovered the ensuing onside kick and the Rams held on for the victory.

"We just didn't execute," kamara said after the game. "We didn't execute on third down. That's not our standard. We're going to watch the film and correct it."

Kamara had six catches for 101 yards and a touchdown, in addition to his 87 yards on the ground. 

"He's a playmaker," said McVay of Kamara. "You look at a couple plays that Kamara made and you just say 'hat's off to him.' He's a special player."

Brees was 22-for-32 for 246 yards and a touchdown, but was held mostly in check until the Saints final drive of the game. 

Goff threw for over 300 yards for the third time in his last four games as he went 28-for-43 for 354 yards with two touchdowns and an interception. 

Kupp had a career-high eight catches for 116 yards and Watkins grabbed four balls for 82 yards and a touchdown. 

Todd Gurley finished with 74 yards on the ground as the Rams won their eighth game of the season, the first time they've accomplished that feat since the 2006 season. 

"I think it was the biggest win of the season," said L.A. Rams' head coach Sean McVay. "I think it was the biggest because it's the most recent and it's a very important one because it is against a great team like that, that's won eight in a row."

Greg Zuerlein continued to show why he leads the NFL in field goal percentage and total points as the man known simply as "Leg-a-Tron" converted four field goals including a 50 and 49-yarder. 

The difference in the game was the Rams defense, who despite not recording a turnover, held the Saints to just 14 first downs, and forced them to go 3-for-13 on third down. 

Robert Quinn recorded his fifth career sack against Drew Brees and Aaron Donald and Samson Ebukam also recorded sacks in the game.

"Brees is a Hall of Famer, no doubt," said Quinn after the game. "So if we let him get going early, we know the type of chaos he can cause for a defense. Guys just stayed to our game plan. Once we got to him tried to get him down and just make his day a little hectic."

The Dark McKnight

R&B recording artist, Brian McKnight sang the National Anthem in front of a nearly sellout crowd of 62,006 at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum before the game. (The Rams capped the capacity for the 2017 season at 65,000 despite the fact that the Coliseum fits over 80,000). 

Up Next:

The Rams will travel to the desert to face the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday, Dec. 3 at 1:25PM PST.



Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA[Rams Revealed: Gerald Everett]]>Sun, 26 Nov 2017 04:21:30 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Rams_Revealed_Gerald_Everett_1200x675_1103710275513.jpg

NBC LA Sports Reporter Michael J. Duarte interviews Los Angeles Rams Tight End, Gerald Everett about being the first player from South Alabama to get drafted to the NFL, his love of basketball, and his earliest childhood memory.]]>
<![CDATA[Saints vs. Rams Preview]]>Sun, 26 Nov 2017 04:26:05 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-626149176.jpg

Oh, when the Saints go marching in.

The Los Angeles Rams (7-3) will look to bounce back from last week's loss to the Minnesota Vikings when they host the first place New Orleans Saints (8-2) at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum on Sunday.

Drew Bees and "Who Dat Nation," are the hottest team in the NFL, and enter the game riding a wave of momentum after rallying from a 15-point fourth quarter deficit to stun the Washington Redskins, 34-31, in overtime last week.

New Orleans has won eight in a row after starting the season 0-2, an NFL record. Brees has been revitalized this season, throwing 15 touchdowns to just five interceptions, as the 38-year-old quarterback now has a running game to go with his high potent offense.

Since they traded Adrian Peterson to the Arizona Cardinals, the Saints two-headed monster in the backfield of Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara has been a nightmare for opposing defenses.

"They have more threats," said L.A. Rams' All-Pro defensive lineman Aaron Donald. "When they can run the ball, and then you have a Hall of Fame quarterback like Drew Brees who can make plays, it makes it tough for your job trying to stop them."

There's no doubt that the Saints offense is elite, but the Rams offense is no slouch either. Led by sophomore sensation, Jared Goff, the Rams have one of the best scoring offenses in the NFL. 

Running back Todd Gurley is having a bounce back season, and the additions of Robert Woods, Sammy Watkins and Cooper Kupp has made the Rams' receiving corps one of the best in the league.

Woods will miss Sunday's contest with a shoulder injury, and Tavon Austin will have more of a role in his place, as will rookie Josh Reynolds. Look for the Rams to get Gurley more involved in the game early, in order to open up the passing game for Goff.

Everyone knows that this matchup features two of the best offenses in the NFL, but this game will likely be decided by defense. The Rams defense should be able to put pressure on Brees and the secondary defends the pass well.

Donald has vowed to make up for his late-game personal foul call in the Rams loss to the Vikings last week, and should be motivated against the Saints on Sunday.

The Saints and Rams will kickoff at 1:20 PM PST from Los Angeles, CA on Sunday afternoon. The game will air live on CBS and can be live streamed here and on FuboTV.

Fantasy Football Start/Sit: 

Start: Drew Brees, Jared Goff, Todd Gurley, Mark Ingram, Alvin Kamara, Michael Thomas, Cooper Kupp, Sammy Watkins, Ted Ginn, Greg Zuerlein, Will Lutz.

Sit: Tavon Austin, Pharoah Cooper, Josh Reynolds, Brandon Coleman, Tyler Higbee, Coby Fleener, Rams Defense, Saints Defense.

Betting Odds (Courtesy of Bovada):

Saints: +1.5 (Even)
Rams: -1.5 (-120)
O/U: 53.5 

Prediction: 30-24 Rams.

Each and every week, NBC LA reporters Michael J. Duarte and Nick Hamilton bring you an NFL podcast entitled, "Bolts by the Horns," as the writers breakdown what's going on inside the worlds of both Los Angeles based football teams including; insider information, interviews with players and experts, latest injury updates, previews, predictions, betting odds, fantasy advice and more. 

Give it a listen below:





Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Chargers' Mike Williams Avoids Season Ending Injury]]>Fri, 24 Nov 2017 18:11:46 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/chargers-mike-wms.jpg

On a warm Thanksgiving afternoon the Los Angeles Chargers captured their second straight dominating victory over  the Dallas Cowboys at AT&T Stadium.

Rookie wide receiver Mike Williams left the game early in the first half with a right knee injury. At the conclusion of the game, Williams was seen in the locker room on crutches with a knee brace on his right leg.

On Friday, Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn said the team received "very encouraging news" that Williams did not sustain an ACL injury.

"We have ruled out an ACL injury, so that's good news for Mike," Lynn told reporters. "He's meeting with doctors and trainers. We'll see where it goes from here ... but the ACL has been ruled out. I think we can deal with the rest."

Williams leading up to the game against Dallas, recorded nine receptions for 84 yards. Williams showed real signs of progress after missing the entire offseason, and five regular season games due to a severe back injury.

More updates to come on Mike Williams when they are made available.

The Chargers return to action on Sunday Dec. 3 against the Cleveland Browns at Stub Hub Center.



Photo Credit: Jae C. Hong/AP]]>
<![CDATA[This Thanksgiving, Chargers Thankful for Win Against Cowboys]]>Fri, 24 Nov 2017 04:05:37 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/160*120/GettyImages-878078738.jpg

Keenan Allen and Hunter Henry individually had outstanding games, leading the Los Angeles Chargers to a 28-6 victory over the Dallas Cowboys on Thursday afternoon.

Allen finished with 11 receptions for 172 yards and one touchdown on the day.

"We had a great play call. I had a corner route," Allen explained about 42-yard touchdown catch and run. "The two men, they're playing inside and I'm outside. Obviously, that's a good play. Philip [Rivers] threw a great ball. After that, gotta make them miss and get into the end zone. I just know the safety was coming. Once I felt the safety, I broke out I had to get up field really fast. It was a matter of making those guys miss."

Desmond King intercepted a pass intended for Cole Beasley, and ran it back for 90 yard touchdown that sealed the deal in front of 93,015 fans at AT&T Stadium.

The Chargers (5-6) came off an impressive 54-24 win over the Buffalo Bills last Sunday at Stub Hub Center. On a short week, the Chargers traveled to AT&T Stadium and faced the Cowboys (5-6), a team that has struggled offensively without suspended running back Ezekiel Elliott. Alfred Morris is the Cowboys' primary running back, and averaged 6.2 yards per carry on the year. Morris had 17 carries a week ago for 91 yards against the Philadelphia Eagles.

At one point in the season the Chargers had the second-worst run defense in the league. That stat was before the return of Denzel Perryman, who debuted in Jacksonville against the Jaguars with 8 tackles.

After a solid opening debut for the Chargers defense, quarterback Philip Rivers kept the opening drive alive with a 46-yard pass to Travis Benjamin for a crucial 1st down. Unable to continue the drive in the end zone, Chargers kicker Nick Novak missed a 35-yard field goal attempt.

Later in the opening quarter, Rivers found Keenan Allen for two bail-out catches, along with Hunter Henry's dynamic catch that kept the drive alive. With Novak out for two series due to a back injury, Los Angeles was unable to convert in the red zone on fourth down.

Outstanding defense by the Bolts allowed the offense to have one more chance before halftime to put points on the board. Rivers, in a series of passes to Allen and Henry, allowed them into the red zone for the third time, which proved to be the charm. The Bolts settled for a 22-yard field goal by Novak for the 3-0 lead late in the second quarter.

The first half was filled with penalties from both the Cowboys and Chargers and a highly contested defensive battle between both teams. Prescott was sacked twice and never got the Cowboys past midfield.

It was the first time the Cowboys have been shut out in the first half in five seasons.

Rivers found Austin Ekeler for a 38-yard catch that set off the drive. Two plays later Rivers found Allen on a skinny post route for the hard-fought first down. Eventually Rivers found Henry in the back of the end zone for the 3-yard touchdown pass and the 9-0 lead midway through the third quarter.

It was Henry's first touchdown since Oct. 8, as Los Angeles is 4-1 this season when Henry gets at least five targets, and 0-5 when he doesn't.

Dak Prescott ran for a touchdown, but it was called back due to a holding penalty by left tackle Tyron Smith. The Bolts defense buckled down and forced Dallas to punt on that drive.

Late in the third quarter, Rivers with great field vision found a sprinting Tyrell Williams for a 27 yard touchdown.

The Cowboys offense looked putrid for three quarters, as the Chargers defense continued to break their spirits. The only bright spot for the Cowboys was a 2-yard touchdown run up the middle by Rod Smith. However, they failed to score on the two-point conversion where Dallas still trailed 16-6 early in the final quarter.

The Cowboys (0-2) are one of three teams (excluding the Chargers) never to beat Philip Rivers, along with the 49ers & Giants (each 0-3).

Philip Rivers completed 27 of 33 passes for 434 yards and three touchdowns in the win. Hunter Henry finished with five receptions for 76 yards and a touchdown.

Hunter Henry finished with five receptions for 76 yards and a touchdown.

"We want Hunter involved every week like that," Rivers said. "It just didn't happen on a consistent basis. He was big today, especially early. Everybody contributed. It was a team effort. It's exciting."

Dak Prescott completed 20 of 27 passes for 179 yards and two interceptions in the loss. Morris finished with 9 carries for 36 yards.

The Chargers return home to face the Cleveland Browns on Dec. 3 at Stub Hub Center.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Chargers vs. Cowboys Thanksgiving Preview]]>Thu, 23 Nov 2017 14:35:10 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-876415546.jpg

If the Chargers want to take the next step towards making the NFL Playoffs, it all starts on Thanksgiving Day in the "House That Jerry Built." 

The Chargers (4-6) will face the Dallas Cowboys (5-5) in a pivotal game that could catapult the victor to the postseason, and the loser, looking forward to the NFL Draft.

"We are still in the hunt," said Chargers' quarterback Phillip Rivers after his team started the season 0-4. "We're still right there in the division and the wild card which is a good thing."

L.A. is riding high after an impressive 54-24 blowout win over the hapless Buffalo Bills last Sunday at StubHub Center. However, after just three days of rest and preparation, they traveled across the country to face the reeling Cowboys.

Dallas is coming off a 37-9 blowout loss to their NFC East rivals, the Philadelphia Eagles and is still coming to grips with the six-game suspension to star running back Ezekiel Elliot.

In his place, Alfred Morris and Rod Smith have stepped up, combining for 102 yards on 25 carries in the loss to the Eagles. 

On Thursday, the Cowboys will have to skip the mashed potatoes and try and carve through the Chargers defense, which is one of the best in the NFL. 

Led by linebackers Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram, the Chargers defense will put tremendous pressure on Cowboys' quarterback Dak Prescott throughout the day. The bookend linebackers have a combined 19 sacks on the season.

"They have a good quarterback," Chargers' cornerback Casey Hayward said about Prescott. "But we will go in there and play our game [on Thursday]." 

The Chargers and Cowboys will kickoff at 1:30 PM PST from AT&T Stadium in Arlington, TX. The game will air live on CBS in front of a national Thanksgiving audience. They game can be live streamed here and on FuboTV.

Fantasy Football Start/Sit:

Start: Dak Prescott, Phillip Rivers, Dez Bryant, Melvin Gordon, Alfred Morris, Keenan Allen, Nick Novak, Chargers Defense.

Sit: Terrance Williams, Tyrell Williams, Mike Williams, Hunter Henry, Antonio Gates, Jason Whitten, Dan Bailey, Cowboys Defense. 

Betting Odds (Courtesy of Bovada):

Chargers: -1 (-115)
Cowboys: +1 (-105)
O/U: 47.5 

Prediction: 28-20 Chargers

Each and every week, NBC LA reporters Michael J. Duarte and Nick Hamilton bring you an NFL podcast entitled, "Bolts by the Horns," as the writers breakdown what's going on inside the worlds of both Los Angeles based football teams including; insider information, interviews with players and experts, latest injury updates, previews, predictions, betting odds, fantasy advice and more.

Give it a listen below:





Photo Credit: Jeff Gross/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Kupp's Mistakes Cost Rams in Loss to Vikings]]>Sun, 19 Nov 2017 18:36:30 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/172*120/GettyImages-876308234.jpg

The Rams scored on their first drive of the game.

They would not score again.

Latavius Murray ran for two touchdowns and the Minnesota Vikings snapped the Los Angeles Rams four-game winning streak, 24-7, on Sunday afternoon at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.

Vikings' quarterback Case Keenum got revenge on his former team as he alluded defenders all day long, keeping plays alive with his legs, as he refused to get sacked a single time against one of the best defenses in the NFL.

Keenum played two seasons with the Rams in 2015 and 2016, but was benched by then head coach Jeff Fisher exactly one-year ago in favor of rookie Jared Goff. 

On Sunday, the mentor got the best of his former protégé as Keenum outplayed Goff, throwing for 280 yards and a touchdown. 

After back-to-back games with 300+ yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions, Goff struggled against the Vikings stifling secondary, completing 15-of-25 passes for 225 yards and no touchdowns in the loss. 

Despite his stats, Goff was impressive, standing in the pocket and delivering dimes under pressure from the Vikings devastating defensive front that put pressure on him all afternoon.

The Rams started faster than the speed of light, as they opened the game on a nine-play, 75-yard drive that was capped off by a 6-yard touchdown run from Todd Gurley. 

Minnesota answered to open the second quarter as Latavius Murray bust up the middle for an 8-yard touchdown run that tied the game at 7-7.

The Rams had a chance to take the lead before the half, but wide receiver Cooper Kupp fumbled the ball on the 1-yard-line, and Vikings' safety Anthony Harris recovered, ending the Rams threat just seconds before they were about to score.

Murray put the Vikings up 14-7 when he opened the fourth quarter with his second touchdown of the day. Murray finished with 95 yards and two touchdowns as the Rams stellar defensive front allowed over 170 yards on the ground.

Once again, the Rams had a chance to tie the game on the ensuing drive, but Kupp dropped a wide-open pass on third down that would have put the Rams inside the red zone. 

Five plays later, Keenum threw a screen pass to receiver Adam Thielen who blew past cornerback Dominique Hatfield and run untouched 65-yards down the field for the score.

Hatfield, a backup for the Rams, only has one tackle on the season, and was only in the game because of a thigh injury to starting cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman.

Theilen led all receivers with a game-high six catches for 123 yards and a touchdown. 

Santa Monica kid, Kai Forbath, missed not one, but two field goals for the Vikings before finally converting a 39-yarder that sealed the victory late in the fourth quarter.

The Vikings improved to 8-2 on the season and have now won six consecutive games as they take a stranglehold on the NFC North.

The Rams fall to 7-3, and will likely fall into a first place tie with the Seattle Seahawks who host the Atlanta Falcons on Monday Night Football, for first place in the NFC West.

It was the first loss for the Rams on the road this season as they fall to 4-1 away from the L.A. Memorial Coliseum.

Up Next:

The Rams will return home to the Coliseum next Sunday where they will host the leaders of the NFC South, the New Orleans Saints. Kickoff is 1:25PM PST on CBS.



Photo Credit: Hannah Foslien/Getty Images
This story uses functionality that may not work in our app. Click here to open the story in your web browser.]]>
<![CDATA[Rams Revealed: WR Robert Woods]]>Sun, 19 Nov 2017 07:03:17 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Rams_Revealed_Robert_Woods_1200x675_1099291203517.jpg

NBC LA Sports Reporter Michael J. Duarte interviews Los Angeles Rams Wide Receiver Robert Woods about playing for his hometown team, his days at USC, and who would play him in the Hollywood movie about the Rams.]]>
<![CDATA[Rams and Chargers: Week 11 Preview and Predictions]]>Fri, 17 Nov 2017 19:29:56 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-873383992.jpg

The City of Angels has two NFL teams, and they're both headed in opposite directions.  

The Los Angeles Rams are 7-2 and currently riding a four-game winning streak as they sit perched atop the NFC West. After a dominant, 33-7, victory over the Houston Texans, the Rams now have their sights set on old friend Case Keenum and the Minnesota Vikings. 

Keenum is third in the NFL in QBR rating this season and he's out for revenge against the team that famously benched him in favor of rookie Jared Goff exactly one year ago.

Meanwhile, Goff has also excelled this season, and has posted back-to-back games of 300+ yards with three touchdowns and no interceptions. Despite not ranking in the top 10 in the league for QBR rating, Goff still has the best QBR improvement over any other quarterback from last season.

Both offenses are rolling right now, but it’s the defenses that will make the biggest impact on Sunday's game at U.S. Bank Stadium. The Vikings and the Rams are both ranked in the top 5 in the NFL in points per game allowed by their opponents at 18.3 and 18.0, respectively.  

This should be a close game throughout as the Rams put their undefeated road record (4-0) on the line against the Vikings who have won their last five games overall. Something has to give on Sunday as the immovable object meets the unstoppable force on the gridiron. 

The Rams and Vikings will kickoff at 10:00 AM PST from U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The game will air love on FOX and can be live streamed on NFL.com and FuboTV.

Fantasy Football Start/Sit: 

Start: Jared Goff (only if you don't have a better option), Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp, Todd Gurley, Greg Zuerlein, Rams Defense.

Sit: Sammy Watkins, Tavon Austin, Tyler Higbee.

Betting Odds (Courtesy of Bovada):

Rams: +2 (+115)
Vikings: -2 (-135)
O/U: 46 

Prediction: 24-21 Vikings

The Chargers limp home to Los Angeles this weekend after a stunning loss to the Jaguars, 20-17, in Jacksonville last Sunday.

Rookie running back, Austin Ekeler, had two touchdowns in the game, and the Chargers led, 17-14, with the ball in their hands and under two minutes left in the game on two separate occasions, but were unable to seal the victory.

After a fumble by Ekeler and an interception by Phillip Rivers in overtime, the Jaguars busted through the door that the Chargers left open for them, and stole the victory at home, sending Los Angeles to a record of 3-6, and a steep climb ahead in the AFC Playoff picture. 

Rivers announced on Monday that he suffered a concussion in the game, and did not practice all week as he went through the NFL's concussion protocol.

However, the team announced on Friday afternoon, that Rivers would indeed start against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday, extending his consecutive games started streak to 195 (including playoffs).

Rivers has not missed a start since 2006, and that's bad news for the Bills who made a controversial quarterback change of their own this week as they benched starting quarterback Tyrod Taylor, in favor of rookie Nathan Peterman. 

Taylor has only thrown three interceptions in nine starts this season, and led the Bills to a record of 4-2 before losing in blowout fashion in the team's last two games. 

After throwing for just 57 yards and no touchdowns through three quarters in a 47-10 loss to the New Orleans Saints last Sunday, Taylor was benched in favor of Peterman who subsequently led the Bills down the field for their only touchdown drive of the game.

New Orleans rushed for nearly 300 yards in the game, so look for the Chargers to hand the ball off early and often to All-Pro running back Melvin Gordon, as they look to gain most of their yards on the ground.

The Chargers have the worst rushing defense in the league, but linebackers Denzel Perryman, Melvin Ingram, and Joey Bosa know how to get after the quarterback and will be licking their chops at the sight of Peterman behind center.

The Chargers have won four of their last five head-to-head matchups with the Bills.

The Bills and Chargers will kickoff at 1:05PM PST from StubHub Center in Carson, CA. The game can be watched live on FOX, and live streamed on NFL.com and FuboTV

Fantasy Football Start/Sit:

Start: Melvin Gordon, Keenan Allen, Hunter Henry, Chargers Defense.

Sit: Phillip Rivers, Tyrell Williams, Travis Benjamin, Mike Williams, Nick Novak.

Betting Odds (Courtesy of Bovada):

Chargers: -6
Bills: +6
O/U: 41 

Prediction: 24-20 Chargers

Each and every week, NBC LA reporters Michael J. Duarte and Nick Hamilton bring you an NFL podcast entitled, "Bolts by the Horns," as the writers breakdown what's going on inside the worlds of both Los Angeles based football teams including; insider information, interviews with players and experts, latest injury updates, previews, predictions, betting odds, fantasy advice and more. 

This week's guests on the show were Rams' wide receiver Robert Woods and Chargers' rookie running back, Austin Ekeler. Give it a listen below:



Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[LA Rams Get Revenge on Houston]]>Sun, 12 Nov 2017 19:27:02 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-873360430.jpg

Houston, now you have a problem. 

Jared Goff threw three touchdowns and the Los Angeles Rams avenged the Dodgers World Series loss to the Astros, by defeating the Houston Texans, 33-7, on Sunday afternoon at the LA Memorial Coliseum. 

After a defensive battle in the first half, the Rams (7-2) blew the game open in the second half as Goff threw touchdown passes on three possessions in the third quarter.

The former No. 1 pick in the 2016 NFL Draft, finished the game 25-for-37 with a career-high 355 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions. 

Goff, joined Kansas City’s Alex Smith and New England’s Tom Brady as the only three quarterbacks in the NFL this season with multiple games passing for at least 300 yards, three passing touchdowns and zero interceptions.

Goff also became the only quarterback in Rams franchise history to accomplish that feat in back-to-back games. 

All Pro lineman Aaron Donald set the tone early for the Mob Squad as he sacked Texans' starter Tom Savage on the team's opening drive, forcing a fumble that was recovered by Matt Longacre on the Houston 20-yard line.

"I just got a one-on-one, I won my one-on-one, and I got to the quarterback," Donald said of his strip sack to start the game. "That's my college quarterback. It's important to give the ball back to the offense and let them keep rolling."

Greg Zuerlein put the Rams on the board with a field goal, and then converted two more in the second quarter to put the Rams up 9-7 at halftime.

Houston's only score in the game came on a 26-yard pitch-and-catch as Savage found Bruce Ellington over the middle and the Texans' receiver scampered 26-yards into the end zone for the score.

"Bruce ran a good route on that," said Savage of the play. "He's been running good routes all season, I wanted to give him a shot. But we lost. So, our performance today was bad."

One week after finding Sammy Watkins open for a deep 67-yard catch in New York, Goff delivered a dime to Robert Woods to start the third quarter as the Rams scored their longest touchdown of the season, and third longest in franchise history, on a 94-yard bomb. 

"I heard the play call, I looked up and checked the coverage and saw a one-on-one matchup," Woods said of the big play. "I ran my route, I felt like I beat the guy, and Jared put the ball on the money. I was able to catch it and run, I saw the end zone and just raced to the end zone."

Following back-to-back three and outs by the Rams defense, Goff found Sammy Watkins on a quick screen, and the former Clemson receiver did the rest, as he ran down the sideline for a 17-yard touchdown.

On the ensuing Texans possession, Savage once again fumbled and the Rams recovered deep in Houston territory.

Faster than you can say "Holy Veteran's Day, Batman!" Goff found Woods again on a dump off out of the backfield, as the former USC Trojan ran 12 yards for his second touchdown of the game.

"When they come they come in bunches," joked Woods of his back-to-back games with two touchdowns. "Back-to-back two touchdown games. Credit to my teammates. We've just been clicking so far."

Woods led all the L.A. receivers for the second straight week, finishing with eight catches for 171 yards and two touchdowns in the win. 

Todd Gurley did not find the end zone on Sunday, but he did finish with 68 yards on the ground along with six catches for 68 yards.

"We made some adjustments at halftime," Gurley said of the offense in the second half. "We were a little sluggish, but we found some energy in the second half. Everybody was doing their job and that's what it's all about."

Savage finished 18-for-36 for 221 yards, a touchdown, and two interceptions in his third start of the season for the Texans. 

"Sure," Texans head coach Bill O'Brien said when asked if he felt his quarterback played well. "I haven't done a good job coaching this team this year and that was my message to the team. I have to figure out how to coach this team better and try to get them to play better."

The Rams defense shut out the Texans in the second half, sealing the deal with a late fourth quarter interception by Blake Countess, as L.A. won their fourth consecutive game and first at home since Week 1. 

Kick It Into Gear:

The NFL's leading scorer, Greg Zuerlein finished with four field goals, and set a new career high with 28 field goals on the season and there's still seven weeks to go. Zuerlein has only missed one field goal all year. 

Up Next:

The Rams will travel to Minneapolis next week where they will meet old friend Case Keenum and the Minnesota Vikings in a showdown of NFC powerhouses. Kickoff is at 10:00AM PST.



Photo Credit: Getty Images/Harry How
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<![CDATA[Jaguars Claw Back to Stun the Chargers]]>Sun, 12 Nov 2017 19:20:41 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/172*120/GettyImages-873361742.jpg

The Chargers are still the Chargers. 

Phillip Rivers threw a backbreaking interception in overtime, and Josh Lambo kicked the game-winning 30-yard field goal moments later, as the Jacksoville Jaguars clawed back to stun the Los Angeles Chargers, 20-17 at EverBank Field on Sunday afternoon. 

After forcing the Jaguars to punt on their first possession of overtime, Rivers was intercepted on third down by A.J. Bouye, and the cornerback returned it down to the 2-yard line, setting up the game-winning field goal by Lambo. 

Lambo's kick was tipped at the line of scrimmage, but the ball still had enough to just barely sail over the uprights, giving the Jaguars the victory.

Before the the dramatic finish, the Chargers appeared to have secured the victory late in the fourth quarter when Tre Boston intercepted Blake Bortles with 1:48 left in the game. 

One play later, Austin Ekeler fumbled the ball and Jaguars' defensive tackle Malick Jackson recovered it and ran all the way to the end zone for the touchdown. However, after a replay review, Jackson was ruled down after recovering the fumble, negating the touchdown, but setting up Jacksonville nicely on the Chargers 36-yard-line.

As fate would have it, Bortles was again intercepted by Tre Boston three plays later and for the second time in less than a minute, it appeared as if the Chargers defense had stepped up to seal the victory. 

However, Jacksonville still had all three of their timeouts and after forcing the Chargers to punt on a three-and-out, they got the ball back near midfield with 1:08 remaining in the ball game. 

This time, Bortles drove the Jaguars down the field (with some help from a Joey Bosa penalty) and Lambo connected on a 34-yard field goal that sent the game to overtime, ending a wild two-minute sequence in regulation. 

Bortles finished the game 28-for-51 for 273 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions, as the Jaguars have won 3-in-a-row for the first time since 2013.

Rivers finished the game with 235 yards and two touchdowns, but his lone interception proved to be the difference in the game. 

Both Rivers touchdowns went to rookie running back Austin Ekeler who finished with five catches for 77 yards and two scores, the first running back to have two touchdowns of 20 or more yards since Jamaal Charles in 2013. 

Corey Grant scored the first touchdown of the game for the Jaguars on a fake punt that he took on a direct snap and ran for 56-yards for the score. 

Former USC Trojans receiver Marquis Lee caught a 6-yard touchdown in the third quarter and then completed the two-point conversion one play later to tie the game at 14-14. 

Coming off their bye week, the Chargers knew they were in for a daunting task facing the NFL's number one ranked defense in Jacksonville. 

Entering the game, the Jaguars were allowing a paltry 14 points per game and featured one of the best secondaries in the league. 

However, the Chargers also have a top 10 defense, and led by former Jaguars coach and current defensive coordinator Gus Bradley, the Bolts kept the vaulted Jacksonville running attack in check, as they held rookie Leonard Fournette, Chris Ivory and T.J. Yeldon to just 45 yards combined. 

Bradley was fired by the Jaguars just 11 months ago after going 14-48 as head coach. Before the game, many of Bradley's former players and assistants greeted the coach in a reunion on the field. 

Injury Update: 

The Chargers received good news earlier in the week that middle linebacker Denzel Perryman was cleared to play and returned to action on Sunday. Perryman led the game with eight solo tackles. No one else in the game had more than five.

Jaguars receiver Allen Hurns left the game with a right leg injury.

Up Next: 

The Chagers will host the struggling Buffalo Bills next Sunday at StubHub Center as head coach Anthony Lynn faces his former team for the first time. 



Photo Credit: Logan Bowles/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Rams and Chargers: Week 10 Preview and Predictions]]>Fri, 10 Nov 2017 19:10:42 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/198*120/Bolts+and+Horns+Week+10.png

The Los Angeles Rams are back.

This is meant both figuratively and literally. After a month-long road trip including a visit to London and a bye week, the Rams return to the L.A. Memorial Coliseum on Sunday in sole possession of first place in the NFC West. 

At 6-2, the Rams will look to extend their winning streak to a season-high four games as they welcome the Houston Texans to Tinseltown.

For L.A. based sports fans, the Sunday afternoon game offers a chance at revenge against the city of Houston after the Dodgers were dealt a heartbreaking blow by the Astros in Game 7 of the World Series on Nov. 1.

The Texans are limping into Los Angeles with season-ending injuries to former Defensive Player of the Year, J.J. Watt, and presumed Rookie of the Year, DeShaun Watson. Week 10 won't be easy for new starter Tom Savage, as the NFL's 9th ranked defense will be waiting for him.

On the other side of the ball, sophomore quarterback Jared Goff is coming off a career-best game against the New York Giants and leads the best scoring offense in the NFL with 32.9 points per game.

The Texans and Rams will kickoff at 1:05 PM PST from the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Southern California. The game will air on CBS and can be live streamed on NFL.com and FuboTV

Fantasy Football Start/Sit:

Start: Jared Goff, Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp, Todd Gurley, Tyler Higbee, Greg Zuerlein, Rams Defense.

Sit: Sammy Watkins, Tavon Austin.

Betting Odds (Courtesy of Bovada):

Texans: +11.5 (+450)
Rams: -11.5 (-700)
O/U: 45.5

Prediction: 28-17 Rams

Meanwhile, the City of Angels "other team," is headed to Florida this Sunday where the Chargers will face the number one ranked defense in the NFL in the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Led by shutdown corner Jalen Ramsey, the Jaguars allow just 14 points per game, so Phillip Rivers, Melvin Gordon and Keenan Allen will have their work cut out for them if they want to escape the Sunshine State with a victory. 

On the bright side, the Chargers will have middle linebacker Denzel Perryman back on the field for the first time this season. Perryman will lineup alongside Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram, adding ammunition to the team's already stout defense.

The Chargers and Jaguars will kickoff at 10:00AM PST from EverBank Field in Jacksonville, Florida. The game can be watched on CBS, and live streamed on NFL.com and FuboTV.

Fantasy Football Start/Sit:

Start: Melvin Gordon, Keenan Allen, Hunter Henry

Sit: Phillip Rivers, Tyrell Williams, Travis Benjamin, Mike Williams, Nick Novak, Chargers Defense.

Betting Odds (Courtesy of Bovada):

Chargers: +4.5 (+190)
Texans: -4.5 (-230)
O/U: 41 

Prediction: 27-24 Jaguars

Each and every week, NBC LA reporters Michael J. Duarte and Nick Hamilton bring you an NFL podcast entitled, "Bolts by the Horns," as the writers breakdown what's going on inside the worlds of both Los Angeles based football teams including; insider information, interviews with players and experts, latest injury updates, previews, predictions, betting odds, fantasy advice and more.

Give it a listen below:



Photo Credit: Josh Lefkowitz/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Denzel Perryman's Return Bulks Up Chargers Defense]]>Fri, 10 Nov 2017 14:24:12 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/AP_23102806359.jpg

The Los Angeles Chargers officially announced on Tuesday that middle linebacker Denzel Perryman has been activated from injured reserve.

Perryman will start in his first regular season game of the 2017 season this Sunday in Jacksonville against the Jaguars. He started the regular season on injured reserve, and has been out since suffering a left ankle injury in the Chargers preseason opener against the Seattle Seahawks in August.

The injury required surgery and a vigorous rehab assignment in order for Perryman to return on the field this season. Throughout the process, this man of hard work, determination, and faith was supported by his family, friends, and most importantly his daughter.

"My daughter used to tell me every time, 'Daddy, be careful with your leg. Be careful with your leg,'" Perryman said. "That just took my mind off the injury, period."

Perryman being the hard-hitting run stopper, gives the defense more depth in stopping the run along with Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram pushing the line hard. It's something defensive coordinator Gus Bradley, gladly welcomes with open arms especially against his former team.

Like Kendrick Lamar, Perryman has loyalty and royalty inside his DNA, and he'll bring all of it on Sunday for his teammates. The Chargers will start him at weakside linebacker, keeping Hayes Pullard in the middle of the defense.


His return will spark the defense, yet it's unknown if he'll be on a snap count this week. Eager to make his return, it's expected that Perryman will improve a Chargers run defense allowing 135 rushing yards a game.

"I may be a little winded for maybe a day," Perryman said. "I give it a day, but I'll be right." 



Photo Credit: AP
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<![CDATA[L.A. Rams Rout Hapless Giants]]>Sun, 05 Nov 2017 14:55:08 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/215*120/Rams+Rout+Giants+.png

Don't look now but the L.A. Rams are for real. 

Jared Goff threw a career-high four touchdowns, and the Los Angeles Rams routed the hapless New York Giants, 51-17, in a rainy game at Met Life Stadium on Sunday.

The contest was a classic tale of two teams headed in opposite directions, as the revamped Rams won their fifth game in their last six, and are off to their best start since 2011 at 6-2.

Meanwhile, the G-Men have lost seven of their last eight games and find themselves in the cellar of the NFC East, a whopping six games behind the first place Philadelphia Eagles.

Goff threw three touchdowns in the first half, finishing with 311 yards passing in arguably his best game as a pro. 

Todd Gurley ran for two second half scores as the Rams easily blew out the defenseless Giants on their home turf to move into first place in the NFC West. 

The Rams new and improved offense scored on eight of their first nine possessions, starting with a Goff touchdown to tight end Tyler Higbee after All-Pro lineman Aaron Donald strip-sacked Eli Manning on the Giants first drive of the game. 

Higbee's touchdown made him the ninth consecutive tight end to score against the Giants defense, setting a new NFL record for futility.

After that, the Rams ran away with the game, completing big play after big play, starting with a 52-yard touchdown on a screen pass from Goff to Robert Woods that took place on a 3rd and 33.

On the next Rams possession, Goff unloaded on a deep 67-yard touchdown bomb to Sammy Watkins that put the visiting team up 24-7 halfway through the second quarter.

Rams' place kicker Greg Zuerlein continued his excellent season going a perfect 9-for-9 on kick attempts, including three field goals and six extra points. 

Eli Manning threw for 220 yards, with two touchdowns and an interception in the loss. The lone bright spot for the Giants was an 11-yard touchdown catch by rookie Evan Engram late in the game.

Manning's future in New York could be in peril as the Giants are heading towards a top 5 draft pick this offseason, and a massive rebuild that could take place without head coach Ben McAdoo, who's job is in jeopardy despite leading the team to the playoffs last season. 

Up Next:

After a long road trip that saw stops in Jacksonville, London and New York, the Rams will return home to Los Angeles next Sunday where they will host the Houston Texans at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum at 1:05PM PST.



Photo Credit: AP Photo/Bill Kostroun]]>
<![CDATA[Rams Shutout Cardinals 33-0 in London]]>Sun, 22 Oct 2017 13:42:34 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-865106418.jpg

LONDON (AP) — The Los Angeles Rams will finally have something to celebrate on their long flight home.

Jared Goff ran for a touchdown and threw for another and Greg Zuerelein made four field goals as the Rams won for the first time in three appearances in Britain, beating the Arizona Cardinals 33-0 at Twickenham Stadium on Sunday.

Goff completed 22 of 37 passes for 235 yards with an interception and Todd Gurley ran for 106 yards and a touchdown for the NFC West-leading Rams (5-2). Los Angeles has won five of its first seven games for the first time since 2003 — the last time the Rams finished with a winning record.

Arizona (3-4) heads home with significant questions after quarterback Carson Palmer injured his left arm in the second quarter and did not return.

Palmer, who finished 10 for 18 for 122 yards, was hit by Rams linebacker Alec Ogletree and intercepted with 5:48 remaining in the first half. He was replaced by longtime backup Drew Stanton, who completed 5 of 14 passes for 162 yards and an interception and was unable to close what began as a 6-0 deficit.

Gurley's 18-yard touchdown run immediately followed Palmer's interception, and Goff helped push the Rams' lead to 20-0 after he took a zone-read keeper 9 yards for a touchdown.

Zuerlein, who set a franchise record by making seven field goals in a win against the Dallas Cowboys on Oct. 1, connected from 23, 33, 53 and 34 yards, and Kupp finished off the scoring by taking a screen pass 18 yards for a touchdown with 3:53 remaining.

Adrian Peterson, in his second game for the Cardinals since being acquired via a trade with the New Orleans Saints, was held to just 21 yards on 11 carries. He ran for 134 yards and two touchdowns in his debut a week ago, a win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

The Rams had not shut out an opponent since a 24-0 road victory against the Washington Redskins on Dec. 7, 2014, while the Cardinals had not failed to score since a 58-0 loss at Seattle on Dec. 9, 2012.

It was also the second consecutive shutout in Britain after both teams scored in each of the previous 19.

OTHER INJURIES

In addition to Palmer, the Cardinals lost two players to injury who later returned: inside linebacker Karlos Dansby (left hand) and defensive tackle Frostee Rucker (right knee). Meanwhile, Rams center John Sullivan (left knee) and rookie wide receiver Josh Reynolds (concussion) left the game and did not return.

UP NEXT

Cardinals: Will have their bye week before visiting the San Francisco 49ers on Nov. 5.

Rams: After a bye week, will visit last year's Twickenham opponents, the New York Giants.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Alan Crowhurst/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Bolts Battle Back Against Raiders in Oakland]]>Sun, 15 Oct 2017 17:13:30 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/Melvin+Gordon+Chargers.jpg

The Chargers found a way down the stretch thanks to timely running by Melvin Gordon, and a game winning field goal by Nick Novak for the 17-16 win over the Raiders. 

The Bolts captured their second win of the season, as Philip Rivers took over at his 8 with 4:09 remaining and launched two long passes by Hunter Henry that moved Los Angeles into field-goal range. Head coach Anthony Lynn showcased good clock management skills, keeping the ball in the hands of Gordon five straight times. 

The Chargers running game looked to be more consistent as Melvin Gordon could dominate, as the Raiders have allowed 124 yards rushing per game. Raiders quarterback Derek Carr returned after missing only one game with a fracture in his back. 

The Chargers best defensive duo, Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram, have been a lot for offenses to handle as they have a combined 13 sacks on the season. 

Chargers Trevor Williams picked off Carr for the 31-yard return. Rivers was unable to find any offensive rhythm in the first half. Nick Novak missed a 48 yard field goal, as the Bolts missed out on a golden opportunity to take a significant lead in the opening quarter. 

Carr lead the Raiders down the field, that set up a 23-yard touchdown pass to Michael Crabtree for the 7-0 lead.

The Bolts defense appeared to be thrown off by Carr's decision to throw the ball.

The Bolts have been outscored 50-7 in the opening quarter this season through six games. 

The Raiders defense neutralized the Bolts offensively, especially during third down conversations in the first half.

However, with under two minutes remaining in the first half, the Bolts offense decided to have a sense of urgency as they capped off an amazing drive with a one yard touchdown by Gordon. 

After a crucial pass interference penalty on Jahleel Addai kept the Raiders drive alive, Carr immediately went into a hurry up offense, that brought Oakland to the 26-yard-line.

A few plays later, Oakland settled for a 44 yard field goal by Giorgio Tavecchio and the 10-7 halftime lead. 

Bolts rookie wide receiver Mike Williams played just three snaps on offense in the first half, and was not targeted.

Williams made a huge catch in the fourth quarter for a 15 yard gain, that later set up a Gordon six yard touchdown run for the 14-10 lead.

After a scoreless third quarter, Oakland took the lead on a 47-yard end-around by Cordarrelle Patterson, but Carr's play was still not enough to carry them to victory. 

Rivers finished 25-for-36 for 268 yards and one touchdown. Gordon ran for 83 yards and currently has seven touchdowns on the season.

Carr finished 21-for-30, for 171 yards, one touchdown and two interceptions in the loss.



Photo Credit: Don Feria/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Rams Remain Undefeated on the Road]]>Sun, 15 Oct 2017 17:03:57 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/185*120/RamsJags.jpg

The Los Angeles Rams scored not one, but two touchdowns on special teams as they came from behind to defeat the Jacksonville Jaguars, 27-17, on Sunday in North Florida. 

Pharoh Cooper got things started when he returned the opening kickoff 103 yards to help put the Rams in sole possession of first place in the NFC West.

Later in the first half, the Rams blocked a punt and retruned it for a score as they overcame a 14-10 deficit to take a 24-14 lead into the half.

After scoring just 10 points against the Seahawks at home last week, the offense rebounded behind running back Todd Gurley who had 116 yards rushing on 23 carries.

Quarterback Jared Goff was 11-for-21 for 124 yards and a touchdown. Robert Woods led all Rams receivers with five catches for 70 yards. 

Rookie Leonard Fournette set the tone for the Jaguars when he broke open the game with a 75 yard rushing touchdown, his sixth touchdown on the ground this season.

Entering Sunday's game, Fournette had rushed for 465 yards in five games. He finished with 130 yards in the game, giving him a total of 595 yards through six games, just a yard shy of averaging over 100 yards per game.

The Rams remain undefeated on the road this season, improving to 3-0 away from the L.A. Memorial Coliseum. Greg Zuerlein's 29-yard field goal with 2:32 remaining in the game, helped seal the victory.

Blake Bortles lost an opportunity to tie the game in the final quarter when he fumbled the ball on one play and threw an interception on the next.

Bortles finished 23-for-35 with 241 yards, one touchdown and one interception.

The Rams defensed sack Bortles five times in the game and Nickell Robey-Coleman came up with the interception for the Rams secondary.

Los Angeles is currently on an 11 day road trip as they will remain in Jacksonville this coming week, before they depart to London to face the Arizona Cardinals next Sunday.



Photo Credit: Logan Bowles/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[LA Rams Alec Ogletree Vows to Lead Defense]]>Sun, 15 Oct 2017 00:23:09 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/199*120/LA+Rams+Alec+Ogletree.png

It's been a wonderful weekend for Los Angeles Rams inside linebacker Alec Ogletree. 

On Thursday, following a hard fought practice at the Rams facility in Thousand Oaks, California, the team announced that they had signed Ogletree to a four-year contract extension.

Olgetree has been the Rams leading tackler for the past three seasons, with 54 tackles.

Ogletree was drafted by the Rams in the first round of the 2013 NLF Draft out of Georgia and has made his impact on the team each and every year since as he's led the team in tackles eac of his first four seasons.

"Alec has evolved into a true leader of our football team and we are excited to sign him to this extension," Rams general manager Les Snead said. "His teammates voted him as a captain in back-to-back seasons for a reason -- and it's not only because of his production, but his character and resiliency. We look forward to Alec helping our team emerge as a consistent winner for years to come."

His new deal is worth $42 million, and $30 million in guaranteed money. At the beginning of off-season workouts, Ogletree  moved inside as apart of the Rams new 3-4 defense. 

"Besides his athletic ability, his leadership is through the roof," Rams defensive coordinator Wade Philips said. "It's just natural to him. he doesn't go out of his way. He can call all of the signals on defense, make all of the adjustments and all of those things, so they (players) look to a guy like that." 

He has a total of 441 tackles, 5.5 sacks to date, and with those numbers Olgetree only looks to get better with time and experience. 

"It's not just simple, it's a lot that goes into it," Ogletree explained. "Credit to my agent, the Rams for all working to get the job done. I couldn't be more happy that it's done."

Ogletree is known for his tough play on the field, however his leadership qualities have been a gift that has abound towards his teammates. He credits his upbringing and those veteran players that have mentored him along the way. 

"It’s always great to see good people, good players – especially when you look at they invested in him a while in the draft and then you always want to take care of your own," head coach Sean McVay said. "But, since I got here, my exposure to Alec has been one of the more influential players in this locker room. He always goes about his business the right way, he brings people with him. You always talk about what a real true sign of a great leader is – do you bring people with you? It’s not only being a great player, but making people around you better as well. That’s what you see from him."



Photo Credit: Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[LA Rams Extend Contract With Inside Lineback Alec Ogletree]]>Fri, 13 Oct 2017 05:49:53 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-856371304_master.jpg

The Los Angeles Rams announced Thursday they had agreed to terms on a four-year contract extension with inside linebacker Alec Ogletree, their leading tackler three of the past four seasons.

"Alec has evolved into a true leader of our football team and we are excited to sign him to this extension," Rams general manager Les Snead said. "His teammates voted him as a captain in back-to-back seasons for a reason -- and it's not only because of his production, but his character and resiliency."

Ogletree leads the team with 54 tackles. He was the team leader in the category in 2013, 2014 and 2016. His 2015 season was cut short after four games because of a broken fibula.

Entering Thursday's play, Ogletree had the most "splash play" among NFL inside linebackers since 2014 with 28. A splash play is defined as a play where a batted pass, pass defensed, forced fumble or interception occurs.

The Rams chose Ogletree in the first round of the 2013 draft out of Georgia, the 30th overall selection.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Taste Of The Rams Fed a Message To Everyone]]>Wed, 11 Oct 2017 05:38:48 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/201*120/Rams+Shock+Cowboys.png

Since migrating to Los Angeles from St. Louis in 2016, the Rams have been committed to serving the communities in the City of Angels. On Monday night, the organization partnered up with the LA Food Bank for the 2nd annual "Taste of the Rams" Event at Universal Studios.

Rams running back Todd Gurley served as the honorary chair of the event, and brought many of the players out to support a great cause.

Gurley served as the host in many ways, and brought out many Rams players such as Tavon Austin, Sammy Watkins, Andrew Whitworth, Gerald Everett, Cooper Kupp, Robert Quinn and Pharoh Cooper. Rams COO Kevin Demoff also mingled in the crowd and spoke with many fans throughout the night. Rams play-by-play announcer Andrew Siciliano served as the announcer and introduced the Rams players to the crowd, and emphasized the purpose of the LA Food Bank's program.

"It's great to be the honorary chairman of the Rams," Gurley said on the red carpet. "Last year, we raised over $200,000, and it's a good opportunity to eat some good food. Being here at Universal Studios with my teammates and everyone is supporting it, so it's going to be a good event."

Proceeds from the 2017 sponsorship opportunities, ticket sales and live and silent auctions will help the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank provide meals to families struggling with food insecurity in our community. Last year, the event raised nearly $200,000 to provide meals to feed the hungry.

Many of the Rams players sampled the variety of food made by a host of chefs throughout the Globe Theater. Between taking photos and signing autographs with fans, the players and the Rams organization showed how many of them continue to have a vested interest in the community. With over 500 guest in attendance, it was an evening for a great cause. A cause that made anyone be grateful for what they have, and it provided an opportunity to help out those who are less fortunate than them.

About the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank.

For 44 years, the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank has worked to mobilize resources in the community to alleviate hunger. Under the leadership of President and CEO Michael Flood and Board Chairman David Bishop, the L.A. Food Bank provides food to more than 300,000 people monthly in Los Angeles. It collects food from hundreds of resources, which it distributes through a network of 625 partner agencies throughout Los Angeles County. With the help of 27,000 volunteers annually, 97 percent of funds raised and in-kind donations go directly to programs. In 2017, over a billion people are scheduled to be fed by the organization.



Photo Credit: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[LA Rams Turnovers a Problem in Loss to Seahawks]]>Sun, 08 Oct 2017 18:45:47 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/205*120/Jared+Goff+Rams+vs+Seahawks.png

Turnovers were the difference. 

The Los Angeles Rams turned the ball over five times as they were shutout in the second half, losing to the Seahawks, 16-10, on Sunday afternoon in Los Angeles. 

Jared Goff's pass with 0:08 seconds remaining in the game bounced in front of Cooper Kupp and the Seahawks defense came up big on the final play, as they did all game.

"We all played so well on defense," Earl Thomas said. "Even when our back was against the wall, we squared up in the red zone. This is the No. 1 offense, and we did a great job."

Entering the game, the Rams were undefeated inside the Coliseum all-time against Seattle, with a blowout win on Oct. 31, 1976 and a 9-6 win in the home opener last season. 

Similar to that game, it was a defensive battle throughout as neither team could score more than one touchdown in the game. 

Blair Walsh converted three field goals, and Russell Wilson threw a touchdown pass to Jimmy Graham for the Seahawks only score. 

Wilson was 24-for-37 for 198 yards, a touchdown and an interception on the day. 

Thomas Rawls was Seattle's leading rusher with just 20 yards on the ground and Graham led all receivers on the team with six catches for 37 yards and a touchdown.

Tavon Austin scampered 27-yards for the first score of the game as the Rams went up early. Austin, became the only wide receiver in NFL history to have a rushing touchdown in each of his first five seasons in the NFL.

In his first career start, rookie John Johnson III, intercepted Wilson deep in the Rams territory and returned it 69-yards, setting up a field goal from reigning NFC Special Teams Player of the Week, Greg Zuerlein. 

"I broke on the ball as quick as I could and caught it," Johnson III said of his first career interception. "I should have taken it to the house, but it was great to finally get an interception. I hope there's a lot more coming."

Goff was shutout in the second half, going 22-for-47 for 288 yards and two interceptions in the game. Goff also fumbled late in the fourth quarter to set up the Seahawks final field goal. 

Reigning NFC Offensive Player of the Week Todd Gurley was held to just 43 yards rushing on 14 carries and had two catches for seven yards. 

Robert Woods led the receiving corps with five catches for 66 yards. 

Despite the fact that both teams were brilliant defensively, the Rams can look at the film and say "so close," in so many situations. 

"I'm extremely concerned about the turnovers," Rams head coach Sean McVay said after the game. "If we don't fix that, it's going to be really tough to win football games. As far as the red zone, it starts with me and I've to make sure that I'm looking at myself critically."

Early in the first quarter, it had appeared that Gurley had reached for the pylon and scored a touchdown, but after replay review, Earl Thomas had kung-fu chopped the ball away, and the play resulted in a touchback instead of a touchdown. 

"I've got to do a better job of taking care of the ball," Gurley said of the frustrating play at the pylon. "I should've just lowered my shoulder. Good thing it did happen so I won't let it happen again. It was a tough one though--tough one to swallow."

The Rams were unable to covert in the red zone as they finished 0-for-4 inside the 20 during the game.

Their final drive of the game in the red zone also nearly resulted in a game-winning touchdown, as Goff's pass went off the fingertips of Kupp who had beaten his man on the route.

"You're expected to make those plays and my expectations are no different," a visibly upset Kupp said after the drop. "I expect to make that play. I can't say anything about whether it was behind me or a one-handed catch, if I'm putting my hands on the ball, I've got to make that play."

Up Next:

The Rams will travel to Florida next week where they will take on the Jekyll and Hyde team that is the Jacksonville Jaguars. Kickoff is set for 1:05PM PST and the game will air live on FOX.



Photo Credit: Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Chargers Find Their First Win on the Road]]>Sun, 08 Oct 2017 14:41:09 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/160*136/GettyImages-859096118.jpg

After countless mistakes and penalties, the Chargers squeaked out a 27-22 win over of the Giants in their first win of the season.

It was a battle of 0-4 teams that saw 11 punts and safety in the first half alone. Philip Rivers said earlier in the week this game would be a real barn burner, and it lived it up to that hype.

Eli Manning had a decent performance despite losing all of his wide receiver weapons to injury. He was also the recipient of five sacks delivered by the Chargers defense. Two were administered each by Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram. In the final quarter, Manning was sacked by Ingram and lost the ball as the Chargers took over near the 10-yard line. Rivers moved out to his right and found Gordon for the game-winning touchdown.

The Chargers' opening drive was a disaster on third down, as quarterback Philip Rivers couldn't handle a bad snap, and Rivers knocked the ball out of the end zone for a safety. The Giants defensive rush didn't make anything easy for the Chargers offense on the drive.

The Chargers had a nine-game losing streak dating back to last season, which is the longest in the NFL. Only nine teams have given up more points than the Bolts through four games (93), plus the defense spend a lot more on the field.

The Giants found the secret to evading the Chargers defense by using the running game. After a successful catch by Odell Backham Jr. from Eli Manning in Chargers territory, Giants sought running back Orleans Darkwa for a 23-yard touchdown and 9-0 lead.

The Chargers couldn't find any offensive rhythm until their third drive, when Tyrell Williams caught a 22-yard catch that continued the drive finally past midfield. A Jean-Pierre Paul penalty kept the Bolts drive alive, and later cleared the way for a Rivers to Melvin Gordon 6 yard breakaway touchdown.

Rivers found Hunter Henry to the Giants 29 yard line for an 11-yard gain. Several plays later, Rivers dumped a pass to Gordon, who stiff-armed Jenoris Jenkins for a 15-yard gain which continued the drive. Rivers and Keenan Allen still weren't communicating effectively on the field as Allen went out of bounds and came back in to touch the ball in the end zone. That resulted in a penalty where the Bolts settled for a 20 yard field goal by Nick Novak, for a 10-9 halftime lead.

Both Bosa and Ingram have a combined 12 sacks on the season.

With wide receivers Sterling Shepard and Brandon Marshall ruled out due ankle injuries they suffered in the first half, Odell Beckham became a bigger target for Manning in the second half. Manning continued his aerial attack, when he launched a pass downfield to Roger Lewis Jr. for a 29-yard touchdown. Lewis beat out top-notch cornerback Casey Hayward on the play for his third career touchdown catch.

Allen came through on both 3rd down conversions on the drive, that later set up Rivers' pass to Hunter Henry for the touchdown.

It was only a matter of time before Odell Beckham Jr. would heat up. After his sensational performance in the third quarter, Manning found Beckham on a 48-yard touchdown pass for a 22-17 lead in the final quarter. The Bolts did a solid job on Beckham in the first half; however, they were unable to keep him in check in the second half. Beckham's spectacular catches kept the Giants alive in the third quarter.

On the Giants drive, after an attempted catch, Beckham left the game late in the fourth quarter with an ankle injury, and was immediately sent to the X-ray room.

Eli Manning finished 21/35 for 21/36 for 225 yards passing, with two touchdowns and an interception in the loss. Philip Rivers finished with 21/44 for 258 yards passing and three touchdowns on the day.

The Los Angeles Chargers will face the Raiders in Oakland next Sunday. 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Rams Look to Make it 3 Wins in a Row Against Seahawks]]>Sun, 08 Oct 2017 08:31:05 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/212*120/Jared-Goff-Rams-vs-Colts.jpg

The Los Angeles Rams have designated Sunday's game against the Seattle Seahawks as their "Crucial Catch: Intercept Cancer" game, an expansion of efforts the past eight season to increase breast cancer awareness.

Each NFL team will designate a home game in Weeks 5 through 7 as their "Crucial Catch: Intercept Cancer" game, supporting the fight against multiple cancers.

In "Crucial Catch: Intercept Cancer" games players are allowed to wear cleats, shoelaces and wristbands in any color representing the type of cancer awareness they support or have been impacted by.

Twelve Rams will wear colored cleats for the game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum:

-- receiver Tavon Austin, guard Jamon Brown and defensive back Blake Countess pink (breast cancer)

-- safety Marqui Christain pearl (lung cancer)

-- safety Cody Davis and tackle Cornelius Lucas orange (leukemia)

-- defensive end Morgan Fox black (skin cancer)

-- punter Johnny Hekker lime green (lymphoma)

-- tight end Tyler Higbee light blue (prostate cancer)

-- receiver Cooper Kupp grey (brain cancer)

-- receiver Josh Reynolds maroon (multiple myeloma)

-- receiver Robert Woods (sarcoma)

"Crucial Catch: Intercept Cancer" games are played with game balls with the Crucial Catch logo.

Multi-colored equipment for players include helmet decals, captains' patches and quarterback towels.

There will be multi-colored ribbon pins for coaches and teams. Game officials will wear multi-colored caps and pins. There will be multi-colored goal post padding in the end zones, multi- colored ribbon stencils on the field and Crucial Catch wall banners.

Game-worn Crucial Catch merchandise and footballs will be autographed and auctioned at NFL Auction, nfl.com/auction.

The NFL does not profit from the sale or auction of Crucial Catch merchandise, a league official said. Charitable contributions are donated to the American Cancer Society to support its Community Heath Advocates implementing Nationwide Grants for Empowerment and Equity program, which provides outreach and cancer screenings to individuals in underserved communities.

A health care center in each NFL market will receive a $50,000 CHANGE grant to increase access to screenings and additional cancer prevention and early detection programs.

The Rams CHANGE grant will be used to fund adult heath screenings at the Venice Family Clinic's Irma Colen Health Center in Mar Vista from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Wednesday.

One hundred fans who have fought or are currently battling cancer will be recognized in the west end zone as the players take the field. Volunteers from the Zeta Tau Alpha sorority will pass out pink breast cancer awareness ribbons to fans as they enter the stadium.

The Coliseum torch will be lit by Chris Draft, a Rams linebacker in the 2007 and 2008 seasons, and two Team Draft Survivor Series representatives. Team Draft is an initiative of the Chris Draft Family Foundation dedicated to raising lung cancer awareness, increasing research funding and shattering the misconception that lung cancer is a smoker's disease.

Draft was assisted in establishing Team Draft by his wife, Keasha Rutledge who died from lung cancer in 2011.

The Rams will wear their royal blue and gold throwback uniforms. An online fan vote in May selected this game over those Sept. 10 against the Indianapolis Colts, the Sept. 17 against Washington and Dec. 10 against the Philadelphia Eagles to wear the uniforms worn by the team from 1973-99.

The uniforms consist of royal blue jerseys with yellow accents, yellow pants with blue and white stripes and blue helmets with yellow horns.

NFL rules limit teams to wearing throwback uniforms to two home games per season. The Rams will also wear the uniforms for their Dec. 31 game against the San Francisco 49ers.

Actor and singer-songwriter Jordan Fisher will sing the national anthem. Fisher is also a contestant on "Dancing with the Stars."

Recently retired Marine Corps 1st Sgt. Arturo Blancoromero will be honored for his 22 years of service, including deployments to the Persian Gulf, Iraq, Afghanistan and East Timor.

Blancoromero was awarded the Purple Heart, two Combat Action Ribbons, two Navy and Marine Commendation Medals, four Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medals, and Afghanistan Campaign Medal and an Iraq Campaign Medal.

The Rams honor a past or present service member at each game.

Los Angeles Police Department Officers Berny Gonzalez and Andy Salcido will be honored as Community Quarterback Award winners for their volunteer efforts on behalf of Operation Progress, a nonprofit organization that pairs students with LAPD officers to help them become educated, capable, ethical and productive people who will lead, mentor and positively contribute to society at large.

The Community Quarterback Award is a volunteer recognition and grant program that awards funding to volunteers and their nonprofit organizations. Each winner's organization receives a $5,000 grant.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Tyrell Williams is the Spark the Chargers Need]]>Thu, 05 Oct 2017 19:59:56 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/AP_17274816774991.jpg

Chargers wide receiver Tyrell Williams clearly had his best game of the 2017 season last Sunday against the Philadelphia Eagles. The Chargers lost 26-24 to the Eagles at Stub Hub Center, yet Williams had a spectacular 75-yard reception, and finished with five receptions for 115 yards and one touchdown.
 
"Definitely it felt good personally to get going personally, especially getting that first touchdown (of the season)," Williams said.

He posted a breakout season in 2016, catching 69 passes for 1,059 yards, and seven touchdowns.

In October 2016, Williams had his first career game with over 100 receiving yards against the Oakland Raiders. He finished the game with five receptions for 117 yards and a touchdown in the Chargers' 31-34 loss.

The journey for Williams wasn't always a smooth one, as he signed with the San Diego Chargers in 2015 as an undrafted free agent. On Sept. 9, 2015, he was waived, and three days later he was signed to the Chargers practice squad. His ridiculous belief in self, execution of work ethic and timing paid off as Williams is a huge target for Rivers passes on Sundays as one of the starters.

Although Williams is third among Chargers wide receivers, when in full motion he's a hard target to track down and neutralize. Last Sunday he was the second target next to Keenan Allen, especially in the second half as quarterback Philip Rivers began to spread the ball around. As part of a high-octane passing attack, the Chargers have a solid weapon in Williams, with Keenan Allen, tight end Hunter Henry, and speedy receiver Travis Benjamin can all give defenses nightmares on any given Sunday. Williams is a unique route runner who can block very well and create opportunities not only for himself but for his teammates.

"Blocking well, and make sure I can run and make the right plays is going to be key (moving forward)," Williams explained.

The question remains what made week four such a special breakout week for Williams. Has he hit stride? Head coach Anthony Lynn certainly thinks this could be another break out year for the Salem, Oregon, born receiver.

"He's running after the catch, he's running by defenders down the field," Lynn said about Williams. "I like what I saw last week, he's blocking on the perimeter. He had a complete game and I expect him to continue that going forth. I think the (groin) injury he had in the off season may have slowed him down."

Williams tenacity for the game could spark the rest of the Chargers offense in a mode they will need for the next several weeks.



Photo Credit: AP Photo/Jae C. Hong
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<![CDATA[Rams Shock Cowboys at AT&T Stadium]]>Sun, 01 Oct 2017 15:39:32 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/201*120/Rams+Shock+Cowboys.png

Todd Gurley can help make Jared Goff's second go-round in the NFL much more enjoyable than the first.

What better way for the Los Angeles Rams running back to show it than to lead a win over last year's dynamic rookie duo of Dallas quarterback Dak Prescott and 2016 NFL rushing leader Ezekiel Elliott?

Gurley scored the go-ahead touchdown on a 53-yard catch-and-runwhile generating 215 total yards, Greg Zuerlein kicked a career-high seven field goals and the Rams beat the Cowboys 35-30 on Sunday.

Gurley finished with 121 yards rushing and 94 receiving as the Rams overcame two first-half touchdowns from Elliott the day before a federal appeals court hearing related to the star running back's blocked six-game suspension over a domestic incident in Ohio.

"Me being able to step up takes a lot of stress off everybody, and we obviously have a lot of guys that can do a lot of things, just being able to have diversity on offense," Gurley said.

The Rams (3-1) rallied from 11 points down late in the first half and matched their start from a year ago, when they went 1-11 the rest of the way as Goff, the No. 1 overall pick, was sitting and later lost the first seven starts of his career.

Goff showed more poise in first-year coach Sean McVay's offense, throwing for 255 yards and two touchdowns without an interception. He has seven TD passes and one interception this season.

The Cowboys (2-2) are already a loss shy of their total from last season when Prescott, the 135th pick in Goff's draft, was the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year for the top-seeded team in the NFC.

And Prescott is already one interception away from last year's total of four after a play that was originally ruled a fumble was changed to a diving pick by linebacker Mark Barron at the Dallas 29. Zuerlein's sixth field gave the Rams 19 straight points and a 32-24 lead.

"We're not going to lose confidence," Prescott said. "We feel like we're getting better. Even in a loss, we're going to find a way to get better."

Dallas held the Rams to 131 yards in the first half, but the absence of All-Pro linebacker Sean Lee (hamstring) showed up after halftime. After punting on their first possession of the second half, the Rams scored five straight times, including Gurley's long TD catch.

The Cowboys, meanwhile, punted on their first three possessions of the second half after scoring on all four first-half drives. Prescott's interception came on the fourth possession after halftime against a defense led by former Cowboys head coach Wade Phillips.

"Just had little corrections we had to fix here and there," said All-Pro Aaron Donald, who had Prescott wrapped for a sack in the first half before losing his grip as Prescott ducked and spun away on an 18-yard throw to Dez Bryant. "Once we did that we were solid."

Prescott was 20 of 36 for 252 yards with three touchdowns, including a 10-yarder to Elliott. Bryant had five catches for a season-high 98 yards.

MINI-ME, MINI-ME TWO

Gurley had 30 touches: 23 carries and a team-high seven catches. Receiver Tavon Austin had six carries for 48 yards and at one point had 40 yards rushing to Gurley's 41. "Tavon, I guess he's the mini-running back now and I'm the mini-receiver," Gurley said.

SUB-100 AGAIN

Elliott had 85 yards on 21 carries for his third straight sub-100-yard game, matching the longest such streak from last season. Backup Alfred Morris had the longest Dallas run of the season and longest of his career, a 70-yarder to set up Elliott's second TD. The 1-yard plunge came after a review overturned a touchdown. Both times, Elliott took the ball to his mom in a field-level suite behind the end zone. Morris had 76 yards.

TRY, TRY AGAIN

Terrance Williams dropped a potential tying 2-point conversion pass on the third try midway through the fourth quarter after Prescott's 28-yard scoring toss to James Hanna got Dallas within 32-30. Center Travis Frederick was called for holding when Prescott ran in the first attempt. Dallas got another shot after a defensive holding call.

CAREER DAY

Zuerlein said he never before had more than five field goals in a game at any level. The sixth-year pro had five in a 22-7 win over Denver in November 2014. He had a 44-yarder on the final play of the first half, and the long was from 49.

UP NEXT:

Rams: Will be in first place for first meeting next Sunday with Seattle, winner of three NFC West titles in the past four seasons.

Cowboys: Green Bay returns to Arlington next Sunday after beating the top-seeded Cowboys on their home field in a divisional playoff last January.



Photo Credit: Ronald Martinez/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Chargers Look to Halt 0-3 Skid]]>Sun, 01 Oct 2017 08:04:40 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/160*122/GettyImages-853283248.jpg

The Chargers will face the Philadelphia Eagles Sunday at StubHub Center, trying to avoid their first 0-4 start since 2003 when they lost their first five games en route to a 4-12 season.

After losing their first two games by a total of five points, the Chargers are coming off a 24-10 loss to Kansas City last Sunday, where the Chiefs turned three first-half interceptions thrown by Philip Rivers into 17 points.

"The way we lost the first two and then last week, it can cause you to go, 'Oh shoot, are we ever going to win one?" Rivers said.

"In a way you can say we're struggling because we are 0-3 and we're not averaging that many points, but if you watch each play as its own play ... you see a lot of good things," although "none of us in here are sitting there and going 'We're doing a lot of good things' and feel good about that," Rivers said.

The Chargers are tied for 26th in the 32-team league in scoring, averaging 16 points per game, 28th in rushing, averaging 70.7 yards per game, and 11th in passing, averaging 244.7 yards per game.

Rivers said he keeps telling his teammates "let's win a football game and then I think we have the capabilities of going on a run, but we got to win one first."

"Seems like years past ... when being put in situations like this ... we play our best when we're a little bit backs against the wall and a little bit nothing to lose," said Rivers, who is in his 14th season with the Chargers.

"Don't worry about the 0-3, don't worry about what the percentages are of teams that bounce back, don't worry about the other teams in the division, just go play, find a way to win a game and hopefully we can start a little bit of a run."

Chargers first-year coach Anthony Lynn said the team has "to play smarter, learn from our mistakes and continue to work the way we're working."

"I'm very confident this team is going to turn around," Lynn said.

The Chargers worked on techniques and fundamentals in their three practices leading up to Sunday's game, including emphasizing eliminating penalties on special teams, Lynn said.

"It's the little things we have to continue to improve on," Lynn said.

The Eagles (2-1) are 10th in the league in scoring, averaging 25.7 points per game, ninth in rushing, averaging 119.3 yards per game, and 10th in passing, averaging 252.7 yards per game. Philadelphia leads the league in time of possession, averaging 34 minutes, 12 seconds per game, and in plays with 10 or more yards, 53.

The Eagles have also lost to Kansas City, falling 27-20 on Sept. 17.

Philadelphia's roster includes receiver Nelson Agholor, a USC alumnus, and linebacker Joe Walker, a former Palos Verdes High standout.

The Chargers will celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month during the game. The national anthem will be performed by the genre-bending rock band The Last Bandoleros.

The El Rancho High School Marching Dons will perform the field show "Tribal Affect" at halftime, which will reflect tribal energy and ideologies and create a sense of community and the coming together of cultures, ideas, education and traditions, a team official said.

An NFL Hispanic Heritage Leadership Award will be presented to Cynthia Telles, the director of the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute Spanish-speaking Psychosocial Clinic.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Rams' Jared Goff Looks to Be a Star At Jerry's World ]]>Fri, 29 Sep 2017 18:17:00 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/jared-goff-GettyImages-851115586.jpg

Los Angeles Rams quarterback Jared Goff continues to look impressive every week, especially coming off a solid victory over the San Francisco 49ers last Thursday. Goff is responsible for the team being the highest scoring offense in the NFL in three games.

Los Angeles averages 35.7 points per game so far this season.

The Rams have been tested weekly, however head coach Sean McVay has not only made the environment better for Goff but has simplified the offense, which has paid dividends.

This will be Goff's first experience playing at AT&T Cowboys Stadium, known as Jerry's World, on Sunday. It's a big stage to play on and he'll have to drown out being in that atmosphere to focus on a victory.

"It's my first time playing there and I'm excited," Goff said. "I've heard all about it. I heard it's awesome, heard the fans are great and we're excited to get out there. Will be a good challenge for us, but a fun one and one we're going to be ready for."

Last season he started seven games, lost all seven and threw five interceptions under former head coach Jeff Fisher. This season under McVay, Goff has a renewed confidence and playing with control and poise in order for him to make his throws to the right target, keeping drives alive. A major reason for Goff's success this season has been the offensive line.

"They (offensive line) haven't gotten any credit and it's been mainly them. With (RB) Todd (Gurley's) production, I know Todd would say the same thing he's been running well but he ain't running anywhere without any holes," Goff explained. "He's not catching the ball out of the back field and (WR) Robert (Woods) and (WR) Sammy (Watkins) and (WR) Cooper (Kupp) and (WR) Tavon (Austin) and all the guys we got aren't catching the ball - if we don't have time. So, yeah, they've done a tremendous job so far."

The most interesting angle of this game is the dynamic friendship between Goff and Cowboys quarterback Dak Prescott. Both have shown a mutual respect toward each other, despite where both were drafted and their results from season one until now.

"You get picked No. 1 for a reason and he's had a lot of success early this year, so he's good," said Prescott of Goff. "He's slinging the ball and he's got some great weapons and he's doing a great job."

Prescott who was drafted 135th, has taken the Cowboys to higher heights, while Goff continues to desire taking the Rams in the same direction. The two quarterbacks met at the Manning Camp a couple of years ago.

"I know Dak, he's tremendous," Goff said. "I don't care what you say about who he's got around him, he's done a tremendous job. Hell of a player, hell of a person, leads those guys. He's done a great job and a guy that, being in my own class, you see him and you're like, you tip your hat to him."

The maturation of Goff is happening on a weekly basis, and some who labeled him a potential bust are dialing back and eating their words now. It also helps that GM Les Snead made sure to surround him with quality weapons on offense, which is something he didn't have last season. The team offensively seems more organized than before under McVay.

"We're very grounded and understand we need to get better, but we believe in each other," Goff said. "I think that's the biggest part of it. I believe in Sammy, Sammy believes in me and vice versa with every receiver on the team and the O-line, and I think that's the most important thing. I think you can build that confidence through, like I said, success on the practice field and success when communicating and stuff like that."

If Goff can pull out a victory on Sunday against the Cowboys, he'll be a star quicker than many anticipated. With that win, it could set the tone for the rest of the Rams' season that may surprise many critics and fans alike.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Keenan Allen Looks for Breakout Season ]]>Thu, 28 Sep 2017 18:27:54 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/keenan-allen-GettyImages-848582896.jpg

Keenan Allen has been an imperative part of the Los Angeles Chargers offense for the past few years, but it didn't come with its share of peaks and valleys in his young career.

The California Golden Bear wide receiver was drafted in 2013 when the Chargers were in San Diego. Making his way up the depth chart in his rookie season, an unfortunate injury to Malcom Floyd allowed Allen's number to be called. In that moment is when he shined brightest and finished with Rookie of the Year honors with 1,046 yards, eight touchdowns, and 71 catches. The following year he continued to excel with 77 receptions, four touchdowns and 783 yards in just 14 games.

After a major ACL injury in the first game of the 2016 season, which caused him to miss the rest of the year, Allen was determined to come back stronger than ever.

"Just watching the guys, watching everyone compete last year," Allen said. "Just not being able to play and knowing I could help. Knowing when I'm on the field it's a little bit better."

Allen worked extremely hard in returning to the field, and never lost sight of the goal at hand.

Beyond his rehab, Allen had to adjust to not only getting on the field for the Bolts again, but where would his field be? The talk of the team moving out of San Diego to Los Angeles came to fruition. They're now in a new market, with some new fans, and a new head coach in Anthony Lynn. That meant different plays and satisfying the hunger to return to the field.

Allen has a great work ethic, and many times, Lynn raved on how Allen was eager to make his return in Organized Team Activities and training camp. Lynn joked about how they had to hold Allen back and pace himself in order for him to be ready in the regular season.

"I try to (pace myself)," Allen said in training camp. "I definitely feel 100 percent, but I'm (going to) definitely slow it down to keep my health up to be able to last this season."

Allen has one touchdown with 19 receptions for 196 yards in three games this season. He is a top-notch wideout looking to aid the Chargers in securing a win against the Philadelphia Eagles this Sunday. The one area Allen wants to focus more on is the yards after the catch. He's determined to improve on gaining more in order to help his team.

A lot has changed for Allen in the last four season on and off the field. Besides him being a father of two young daughters, he recently got engaged to his longtime girlfriend. On the field, he is still a young wideout but does have some veteran qualities.

"I think the game speed has changed (for me)," Allen said. "(I just) play comfortable, I don't think too much I don't worry about it, I just know the ins and outs of the game. I definitely feel like a vet, a lot of young guys around here, and I've been here the longest with the Chargers."

With that type of talent and work ethic it won't be long before we speak about him being a top five serious offensive threat. He also has other talents that can benefit the Bolts on the offense, with blocking and being a decoy on various plays.

"I want to get the ball every play like those other receivers like Terrell Owens and [Chad] Ochocinco did, but I understand that's not always going to happen," he said. "I'm not that type of player to demand it. I can impact the game a lot of other ways like blocking."

Allen caught three touchdowns against NFC opponents. He aims for his fourth in a row against the NFC with over 12 catches and 130 receiving yards.

The Chargers face the Eagles on Sunday at Stub Hub Center.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Boltman Meets Stub Hub Security & It Doesn't Go Well]]>Wed, 27 Sep 2017 06:24:38 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Boltman-Chargers-Stub-Hub.jpg

The man who is arguably the most recognizable Chargers fan is threatened with ejection from the team's new home, according to a video posted to the mascot's Facebook account.

In the clip titled "Charger's Boltman is detained at Stub Hub Center," it appears security officers at the football stadium used by the Los Angeles Chargers asked Boltman to remove his mask on the concourse or risk ejection. 

In the video, a security supervisor and eventually the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department gets involved. 

After several minutes of discussion, it appears security has a change of heart and allows Boltman to keep his mask on and enjoy the game.  

Boltman has been the team's unofficial mascot for more than 20 years. He's had a love-hate relationship with team ownership. 

The original costume has been featured with a Hall of Fans exhibit at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.  


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<![CDATA[Stan Kroenke Weighs in After Trump's National Anthem Remarks]]>Sun, 24 Sep 2017 14:39:10 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-845412134.jpg

Los Angeles Rams owner Stan Kroenke weighed in Sunday on the issue of NFL players kneeling during the national anthem, as the protests appeared to be growing in the wake of sharp criticism from President Donald Trump.

"The Los Angeles Rams, our fan base and our city are all comprised of people from a variety of backgrounds and beliefs," Kroenke said in a statement released this morning. "When we recognize that this diversity is our strength and seek to understand different perspectives, we are more enlightened and empathetic human beings. Our organization is committed to celebrating diversity, inclusion and respect, values that help define Los Angeles. We are proud of the work that our players and all NFL players do to make our communities better places to live. We believe in the tenets of the national anthem, which is a pillar of this country; just as freedom of speech is another pillar and a constitutional right. We will continue to support our players' freedom to peacefully express themselves and the meaningful efforts they make to bring about positive change in our country."

Trump slammed the players during a speech in Alabama on Friday, saying "Wouldn't you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, 'Get that son of a bitch off the field right now, out, he's fired. He's fired!' You know some owner is going to do that. He's going to say, 'That guy disrespects our flag; he's fired.' And that owner, they don't know it. They're friends of mine, many of them. They'll be the most popular person, for a week. They'll be the most popular person in this country."

In response, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell hit back at the president on Saturday. "Divisive comments like these demonstrate an unfortunate lack of respect for the NFL, our great game and all of our players, and a failure to understand the overwhelming force for good our clubs and players represent in our communities," Goodell said.

A handful of other NFL leaders also criticized Trump's comments, including New York Giants owners John Mara and Steve Tisch, Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross and San Francisco 49ers CEO Jed York.

At Sunday morning's game between the Baltimore Ravens and Jacksonville Jaguars in London, several players on both teams kneeled and locked arms during the playing of the anthem.

Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick started the protests last season by refusing to remain standing during the playing of the anthem, as a protest against the treatment of African-Americans in the United States. His feelings were prompted in part by a series of high-profile cases of law enforcement officers shooting unarmed African-Americans over the last few years.

Kaepernick is now out of a job, which many NFL players and analysts have attributed to his anthem protests.

The Rams' next home game is Oct. 8 at the Coliseum against the Seattle Seahawks.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Chargers Facing First 0-3 Start in 14 Years]]>Sun, 24 Sep 2017 08:29:59 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-848582896.jpg

The Los Angeles Chargers will try to avoid their first 0- 3 start since 2003 when they play at StubHub Center Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs, who Chargers coach Anthony Lynn calls "the best team in the National Football League."

The 2-0 Chiefs lead the league in yards per play (7.59), are second in yards per game (440.5), rushing yards per game (148.5) and red zone touchdown percentage (83.3) and third in scoring with 34.5 points per game.

"Because we're 0-2 right now, it's a very important game for us," Lynn said. "If we beat this team, what does this say about us? We've been in both of our games so we feel like we can play with anybody."

Kansas City rookie running back Kareem Hunt led the league in rushing entering play in Week 3 with 229 yards. (Carlos Hyde of the San Francisco 49ers and Todd Gurley of the Los Angeles Rams, who both played Thursday, moved past Hunt with 253 yards and 241.)

Hunt has scored five touchdowns in his first two games. The only player with more touchdowns in his first two games was Dutch Sternaman, who had six touchdowns while playing for the Decatur Staleys in the league's inaugural 1920 season.

"He's a very instinctive, good football player," Lynn said of Hunt, who was drafted in the third round out of Toledo.

"He's not the type of kid that goes to the combine and measure well and run well, but he's just a football player. He's doing what he's always done. He's been very consistent and productive his whole life."

The Chargers have lost six consecutive games to the Chiefs since 2014, including 33-27 and 37-27 losses last season.

Both Charger losses this season have been by three points or less.

They opened the season with a 24-21 loss to the Denver Broncos Sept. 11. They appeared to have tied the game on a 44-yard field goal by Younghoe Koo, on the rookie's first NFL field goal attempt, but Denver called a time out just before the kick with five seconds left. The second kick was blocked.

Koo missed a 44-yard field goal with five seconds left last Sunday in a 19-17 loss to the Miami Dolphins. Koo also missed a 43-yard field goal with 30 seconds remaining in the first half.

An injury and an illness have resulted in two new members of the Chargers 53-player active roster since the Miami game.

The Chargers signed Tyler Marz from the Tennessee Titans practice squad Wednesday after placing fellow offensive lineman Chris Harrison on the reserve/non-football illness list because of an undisclosed illness, sidelining him for the remainder of the season.

Cornerback Jason Verrett was placed on the reserve/injured list Saturday because of a knee injury. Linebacker Nick Dzubnar was promoted from the practice squad to fill Verrett's spot on the roster.

The 6-foot-7-inch, 316-pound Marz spent the 2016 season and first two weeks of the 2017 season on Tennessee's practice squad. He was a teammate of Chargers running back Melvin Gordon and fullback Derek Watt at Wisconsin.

Verrett began training camp on the physically unable to perform list after being sidelined for the final 12 games of the 2016 season because of a partially torn ACL he was unable to pinpoint when it occurred.

Verrett played in the third preseason game, making an interception, and in 63 of 69 defensive plays and four on special teams in the opener against Denver.

Verrett participated in the first practice before the Miami game, then missed the next two and the game. He did not participate in any of the three practices leading up to the Kansas City game.

"It was never right in my opinion just watching him in practice," Lynn said. "But he's such a competitor (that) he kept wanting to go out, save himself and play the first week. But he wasn't able to play to his standard. So we just want him to get healthy."

Verrett was the Chargers Defensive Player of the Year in 2015 and played in the Pro Bowl following the season.

Dzubnar is a Mission Viejo High alumnus made the Chargers as an undrafted free agent out of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo in 2015, playing all 16 games that season. He played the first four games of the 2016 season, then was sidelined the remainder of the season because of a knee injury.

The Chiefs roster includes two players who played on the high school level in Los Angeles County -- offensive tackle Mitchell Schwartz (Palisades) and receiver De'Anthony Thomas (Crenshaw). Coach Andy Reid is an alumnus of John Marshall High in Los Feliz.

Throughout the game, the Chargers will highlight NFL Play60, the league- wide initiative focused on increasing the wellness of young fans by encouraging them to be active for at least 60 minutes a day.

Chargers Play60 youth ambassadors will be invited onto the field during both pregame ceremonies and at halftime.

Members of the Agoura-Oak Park Chargers Youth Football team will get the opportunity to run through the Chargers tunnel and join players for the national anthem, which will be sung by Tinashe, an American singer-songwriter, dancer, actress and record producer.

The High School Quarterback Challenge will be held at halftime. The participants are Jaja Bellinger (Carson); Matt Corral (Long Beach Poly); Cooper Jones (El Toro); Griffin O'Connor (Edison); and Brevin White (Paraclete).

Corral has committed to Florida, O'Connor to Yale and White to Princeton.

The winner will have an opportunity to meet Pro Football Hall of Fame member LaDainian Tomlinson.

"American Ninja Warrior" host Akbar Gbaja-Biamila will fire the Chargers Cannon just before the opening kickoff. Gbaja-Biamila played three games for the Chargers as a defensive end in 2006 as part of a 22-game NFL career with three teams.



Photo Credit: Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[The Chargers Are Here to Stay]]>Fri, 22 Sep 2017 19:04:45 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/DeanSpanosGettyImages-607575460.jpg

Recently, reporter Don Banks suggested the NFL is considering moving the Chargers back to San Diego. But the team is here to stay for the long run.

"We are committed to and confident of the long-term success of two teams in Los Angeles," NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said.

Think about this logically for a moment — the NFL is one of if the most powerful entity in all of American sports. When the league makes a decision like moving a franchise to another bigger market, the due diligence necessary for that process has been completed.

Granted, the NFL did not want to vacate that market in San Diego, however due to stadium issues, Chargers owner Dean Spanos decided it was time to relocate the team after a 15 year battle with the city. The Rams were awarded the first opportunity to relocate from St. Louis to Los Angeles. The NFL finance committee — made up of a group of influential owners – rejected that notion last January on Spanos' attempt at a stadium plan with the Oakland Raiders in Carson. He later moved the Chargers to Los Angeles in March of 2016.

After settling in on a temporary home for the Chargers at the Stub Hub Center — which can host over 27,000 fans — Spanos has expressed excitement and anticipation for his franchise’s long-term future in Los Angeles.

The Chargers have sold out their season tickets to fans, and have added a wait list for future season ticket packages. Even though the attendance was over 25,000 fans for the Miami Dolphins game, the organization remains optimistic that the process to win over Los Angeles will come in due time, along with moving into the new Inglewood stadium with the Rams in 2020.

Banks, on the other hand, is convinced that the team will move back to their San Diego home sooner than later.

"I can tell you this, there are people in the league — including the commissioner — they did not want to see San Diego forsaken. They would rather there be a team in San Diego. If there's anything viable that they could find to put the league back in to San Diego, I think they will be in that camp strongly," Banks said.

It makes zero financial sense for the league and the Chargers to move back. The team has invested millions into their current facility in Costa Mesa as well as into upgrading Stub Hub Center. If they did move back, the Bolts would still have no new stadium to call their own in San Diego. With plans of finding a permanent site to for practices and office space in the future, the team will remain in the City of Angels for a long time.

Plans remain for marketing the new Inglewood stadium for the price of two teams and 16 games a year to be played, along with the extensive entertainment complex surrounding the venue. Remember the naming rights will also be negotiated for the new stadium. The NFL's vision of a two-team plan in the second largest media market remains intact.



Photo Credit: Dean Spanos]]>
<![CDATA[Chargers' Melvin Ingram On the Best Start of His Career]]>Fri, 22 Sep 2017 16:58:05 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/chargers-melvin-ingram-image-2017-09-22+%281%29.jpg

The gritty Los Angeles Chargers defense has played with passion this season, with one man alongside Joey Bosa possibly on his way to making a Pro Bowl appearance.

Linebacker Melvin Ingram has 2.5 sacks heading into week 3, and he has shown how much he's mastered the new defense. Defensive coordinator Gus Bradley has raved about Ingram's intellect and passion for the game. While Ingram and the defense see Bradley as an Obi-Wan Kenobi, soaking up his every word.

"He's a players coach, he knows how to communicate with us," Ingram said of Bradley. "He's a great coach, he's know how to break it down for us in simple terms for us to make plays."

Ingram enjoys playing at StubHub Center, and has the second highest productivity of any edge rusher in the NFL.

"I feel like everyone (on this team) is motivated. It doesn't take one person to motivate the group," Ingram said on Friday.

Chargers head coach Anthony Lynn has been thoroughly impressed with Ingram thus far.

"He's a heck of a player. He gives you everything he's got every play," Lynn said. "He's stepping up and becoming a leader."

Ingram studies the game intensely every week, and understand the importance of a win for the Bolts and how to obtain it.

The Chargers have not started their season they way they envisioned, but they have an opportunity to pick up a victory Sunday against the Kansas City Chiefs.

"We just have to come out and cancel every aspect of their offense, whether it's the run or the pass," Ingram said.

Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith has been known to beat teams with his arm, but lately he's tried to beat teams with his legs. The Chargers defense will have their work cut out for them, and Ingram doesn't seem phased by Smith.

"We just have to rush the quarterback consistently. That's it," Ingram said.

Beside being a top notch linebacker, Ingram introduced us to his other passion, which is music. Many athletes turned artists have come and gone. Los Angeles Lakers legend Shaquille O'Neal made his mark in the rap world, and many years later other athletes such as Pittsburgh Steelers RB Le'Von Belle and Portland Trail Blazers guard Damien Lillard (aka Dame Dolla) released projects.

Unlike those athletes, Ingram is also a producer. The Roc Nation represented artist has co-production credit on his latest EP "Reap What You Sow.”

The preparation Ingram puts in on the football field is matched is his studio sessions. He's all about representing his “Lifestyle,” which happens to be the lead single off of his EP.

"All of the prep, passion and intensity is all of that when you're putting your heart into something. It's all the same. My music speaks for itself," he said. "I feel like I'm the most talented athlete in music, period."

Ingram's favorite quarterback to sack is everyone who's on the Bolts’ schedule this season. He is off to the best start of his career, and the balance that he displays on and off the field, is a sure sign of great things to come for Ingram’s lifestyle.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Rams Hold On to Defeat 49ers in Shootout ]]>Fri, 22 Sep 2017 02:04:53 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/208*120/Goff+and+Rams+hold+on+to+beat+Niners+.png

This isn't last year's Rams.

Todd Gurley scored three first half touchdowns, and Sammy Watkins scored two in the second half, as the Los Angeles Rams held on to defeat the rival San Francisco 49ers, 41-39, on Thursday Night Football at Levis Stadium in Santa Clara.

The revamped Rams offense was on full display on primetime as Jared Goff threw three touchdowns for 292 yards in his return to his hometown.

"I was Really pleased with Jared tonight," said Rams head coach Sean McVay, who also calls the plays on offense. "I thought he made great decisions with the football. I thought Jared managed the game extremely well, distributed to his playmakers, gave guys a chance down the field — you look at Sammy and Robert coming away with over 100 apiece. And, really, those are the kinds of things we expect from him."

Both Robert Woods and Watkins both had over 100 receiving yards as Woods had six catches for 108 yards, and Watkins had six catches for 106 yards and two touchdowns.

"I felt like we were just out there playing — like I didn’t know numbers or whatever," Woods said of his and Watkins’ performances. "We were just going out there and making plays, just doing our assignment and the ball was finding us. Jared put up some nice balls for us to catch and I think we’re doing that."

Gurley had five catches for 36 yards and a score and had over 100 yards rushing with two touchdowns on the ground.

"We just got in a rhythm," said Gurley. "Everybody was getting going. We were able to have a little success running the ball and then we opened up the passing game. So it just felt good to be out there and execute as an offense."

Los Angeles became the fastest team to score this season when starting on defense after Neckell Robey-Coleman intercepted Brian Hoyer's first pass of the game, returning the ball to the San Francisco three-yard-line.

"Oh the first play? Yeah that was lit," Robey-Coleman said with a laugh. "The first play was great — broke on the ball, got a good read on the quarterback, the D-line got a good rush, and I came away with an interception. I feel like that set the tempo for the night."

One play later, Gurley rushed up the middle for the first touchdown of the game, as the Rams took the lead just 12 seconds in.

Last season, the Rams were shutout in San Francisco at Levis Stadium, but they quickly turned the tables on Thursday night.

On the ensuing San Francisco drive, the Rams had appeared to stop the Niners, forcing a punt, but defensive back Blake Countess jumped offsides on the punt, handing the 49ers a new set of downs.

Brian Hoyer made the most of his second chance as he scored on a nine-yard run to tie the game at 7-7.

The scramble by Hoyer was the first touchdown of the season for the 49ers after they failed to find the endzone in their first two games of the season against the Carolina Panthers and Seattle Seahawks, respectively.

Gurley scored his second touchdown of the quarter and of the game when he caught a pass from Jared Goff and scurried seven yards to the endzone to put the Rams up 14-7.

Gurley got the hat trick right before the half when he took the toss from Goff and beat the San Francisco defense to the left pylon for the score.

If at first you don't succeed, try, try, and try again as the 49ers found out when they handed the ball off to Carlos Hyde on three straight possessions at the goaline. After a third down and goal stop by the Rams defense, San Francisco went for it on fourth down and Hyde finally broke through the Mob Squad for the score.

Sammy Watkins scored his first touchdown in a Los Angeles Rams uniform when he caught a slant from Goff to put L.A. back up by 14 points.

San Francisco would respond right away as the game suddenly became a shootout in the second half.

After a deep 50-yard completion to Marquis Goodwin just before the end of the quarter, Brian Hoyer found tight-end Garrett Celek in the endzone for the touchdown.

Watkins scored his second touchdown of the game when he caught a pass from Goff over the middle, carrying defenders on his back as he wrestled and reached for the goaline.

San Francisco would not go quietly into the Bay Area night as they quickly responded with a touchdown from Hoyer to Trent Taylor that once again put the 49ers within a single score.

On the ensuing kickoff, Pharaoh Cooper fumbled the ball on the Rams 25-yard-line, and the 49ers recovered, putting them in business for the game-tying score.

San Francisco did indeed score on another goaline run by Hyde, but were unable to tie the game as the two-point conversion was intercepted by defensive lineman Michael Brokers.

Hyde finished with 25 carries for 84 yards and two touchdowns and Hoyer threw for 332 yards with two touchdowns and an interception.

After an onside kick was recovered by San Francisco, it appeared that the 49ers were primed and ready for the game-winning score.

However, the comeback was not meant to be as lineman Aaron Donald sacked Hoyer on 4th and 20 to secure the victory for the Rams.

"We just knew we needed to make a big stop,” said Donald after the game. “We had given up a lot on defense and their offense was putting up points. So, it felt good to get those three and outs, and come off the field, and close the game out."

Up Next:

Los Angeles will have the next 10 days off to prepare for the Cowboys as the Rams head to the "House that Jerry Built" at AT&T Stadium on Sunday, October 1, at 10:00AM PST.



Photo Credit: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Rams Take on 49ers]]>Thu, 21 Sep 2017 16:03:44 -0700

Fans geared up for the Rams game against the San Francisco 49ers. Mario Solis reports.]]>
<![CDATA[Rams Take on 49ers: What to Watch]]>Thu, 21 Sep 2017 16:09:35 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/212*120/Jared-Goff-Rams-vs-Colts.jpg

Two first-time head coaches square off Thursday night when the Los Angeles Rams faces the San Francisco 49ers in Santa Clara.

Programming Note: Tonight's game will be broadcast on NBC4

Here's what to look for as the teams take the field in Week 3 of the NFL season.

FAVORITE FOE: Ever since beating Chicago on Dec. 6, 2015, the 49ers have been unable to beat any other team -- except for the Rams. San Francisco won the season finale that year against the Rams and then swept Los Angeles last season. Over a 22-game span, the Niners are 3-0 against the Rams and 0-19 against everyone else.

"We're done with that. We're on to this year," Rams quarterback Jared Goff said. "Last year was a whole different deal and this year is exciting."

FAMILY AFFAIR: Rams coach Sean McVay has a family connection to the 49ers through his grandfather. John McVay spent more than two decades in the front office in San Francisco and was a key part of the dynasty that brought five Super Bowl titles to the franchise. Sean McVay hopes to get a chance to see his grandfather before the game.

"I want to ask him who he'll be rooting for," he said. "I'd like to think that family runs a little thicker, but you have to ask him that."

SEARCH FOR SIX: The 49ers have had 21 drives this season and are still waiting for their first touchdown. San Francisco has 11 punts, four field goals, three turnovers and three failed fourth-down attempts so far. The biggest culprit has been quarterback Brian Hoyer, who is averaging just 4.7 yards per attempt thanks in part to just two completions on throws that traveled more than 10 yards downfield.

"You've just got to get completions and move the chains," he said. "`I think that's the one thing we've got to do as an entire offense is stay on the field longer. Our defense is doing a great job. Keep them off the field. Keep them fresh. For us it would be great to just go out and sustain a drive."

GOFF GROWS: Goff looks like a completely different quarterback than the one who struggled as a rookie late last season against the 49ers. Goff went 11 for 24 for 90 yards in a 22-21 loss on Christmas Eve as part of a 0-7 rookie season. Goff got his first win in the opener against Indianapolis and has thrown for 265 yards per game, up from 155.6 as a rookie.

SAFETY DANCE: The 49ers have been hit with the injury bug at safety. Strong safety Eric Reid will miss at least a couple of games with an injured left knee, free safety Jimmie Ward is still working his way back from a training camp hamstring injury and hasn't played a complete game and backup Jaquiski Tartt has been slowed this week by a neck injury. The only fully healthy safeties on the roster are a pair of rookies in seventh-rounder Adrian Colbert and undrafted Lorenzo Jerome.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Former Coaching Colleagues Face Off When 49ers Host Rams]]>Thu, 21 Sep 2017 08:51:15 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/194*120/McVay+Rams+5+things.png

Sean McVay and Kyle Shanahan took similar paths on their journey to becoming NFL coaches.

Both rose from famous football families to their first NFL jobs as quality control assistants on Jon Gruden's staffs in Tampa Bay and then spent four years together on Kyle's father Mike's staff in Washington.

Now McVay and Shanahan are both first-time head coaches ready to face off as opponents on Thursday night when McVay's Los Angeles Rams (1-1) face Shanahan's San Francisco 49ers (0-2).

"Once I got around Kyle, it takes you about two minutes to realize what a bright offensive mind he is," McVay said.

"The next couple of years we just really continued to grow in our friendship and I learned a lot from him. ... He's one of the guys I respect as much as anyone in this business and he's been a huge influence on my coaching career."

McVay, the grandson of former 49ers executive John McVay, capitalized on the four years as an assistant for Washington when Kyle Shanahan was offensive coordinator to take over that job when Jay Gruden replaced Mike Shanahan as head coach and Kyle left for Cleveland.

A successful tenure there helped the 31-year-old McVay become the youngest head coach in modern NFL history when the Rams hired him this offseason. None of that came as a surprise to Shanahan.

"You never know until you get put in that spot, but usually when you get hired, you're capable of doing it," Shanahan said. "You don't know until you get on the job. And regardless of what your age is, you know, Sean's been a coordinator, he's been through it, he's been around football a lot.

"Whether he got this opportunity now, which he did, or eight years from now, Sean is going to adjust to the situation and rise to the challenge and I think he'll do a great job there."

Niners receiver Pierre Garcon knows both coaches well, having played for them in Washington and now with Shanahan in San Francisco. He said they are both passionate about football and run similar offenses, but there are some differences off the field.

"Sean might be a little bit smoother and funnier," Garcon said. "Kyle is on top of all the details. That's a little bit of difference."


Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Los Angeles Chargers Fan Photos]]>Mon, 18 Sep 2017 07:57:02 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/166*120/GettyImages-831186316.jpgChargers fans show their support for the Bolts.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Gates and Tomlinson Both Celebrate History at StubHub]]>Sun, 17 Sep 2017 19:27:59 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/178*120/AP_17260802874433.jpg

Antonio Gates made history at StubHub Center in the third quarter Sunday, catching a seven-yard pass in the end zone from quarterback Phillip Rivers to surpass the mark for most touchdown catches by a tight end.

Gates broke the record previously held by Tony Gonzalez who retired after his 17th season in 2013.

Ironically, this happened on the same day that his former teammate LaDianian Tomlison received his Hall of Fame ring during halftime at StubHub Center. Gates, a 15-year tight end vet made history of his own during the game and ensured his place in Canton, Ohio whenever he decides to hang up his jersey, which could be at the end of this season.

"I was a basketball star, I never imagined I'd be up here talking to you all about a football record," Gates explained after the game. "It goes to show you that God's plan always trumps your plans."

He is truly a man of faith and dedication. The 2003 undrafted free agent worked extremely hard in order to be make the team. By his second season, he set a record for touchdowns in a season with 13. He's elevated his game every year since, and revolutionized the tight end position.

"It's finally coming to an end," a relieved Gates said. "Six weeks of hearing about it, when are you going to break the record? Now. the opportunity present(ed) itself, and still being able to give our team a chance to win, I can't tell you... because it was a bittersweet moment. Even though we were still able to move forward in the game, you still want to get a win."

It was the 85th scoring connection between Rivers and Gates, that ties them for second-most by a quarterback-tight end duo with Jerry Rice and Steve Young.

"It was awesome. Too bad it didn't happen in a win, but it was awesome," Rivers said. "Its a lot of touchdowns, a lot of years, a lot of tight ends that have played in this league. Certainly a special accomplishment for him. I'm just thankful that I could be a part of a lot of them -- not all of them, but a lot of them."

Gates joked in a post-game press conference that he welcomed all of his team to celebrate with him -- except Rivers. He said he told Rivers to stay away from him because he didn't want to get emotional during that time.

Now Gates and the Chargers can put that mark past them, and solely focus on getting more wins this season in a goal to make the playoffs.

Chargers former running back LaDianian Tomlison was honored at halftime, with his Pro-Football Hall of Fame Ring on the field in front of over 25,000 fans.

He's a five-time Pro-Bowler and four-time All-Pro, rushed for 13,684 career yards and 145 touchdowns in 11 seasons. He spent nine seasons with the San Diego Chargers and two seasons with the New York Jets.

Tomlinson currently works as an analyst on the NFL Network and serves as a special advisor to the Chargers with community development.



Photo Credit: AP]]>
<![CDATA[Chargers Come Up Short 19-17 Against Dolphins]]>Sun, 17 Sep 2017 16:22:22 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-848582896.jpg

The Los Angeles Chargers came up short in the fourth quarter in a 19-17 loss to the Miami Dolphins in their regular season debut at StubHub Center.

On 4th and 5, Dolphins kicker Cody Parkey nailed a 54-yard field goal that gave them the lead.

This is the first regular season home game for the Chargers in Los Angeles since 1960.

After 56 years of playing in San Diego at Qualcomm Stadium, owner Dean Spaonos decided to move his franchise to L.A. after last season. Spanos struck a deal with Los Angeles Rams owner Stan Kroenke to play in his Inglewood stadium, scheduled to be ready in 2020. For the next three years the Chargers will play at the nearly 30,000 seat Stub Hub Center in Carson.

The Chargers defense played very well throughout the game, setting the tone, however the offense continued to struggle and didn't assist themselves with several penalties that killed them on their first two drives of the opening quarter.

The Chargers returned home after a close loss to the Denver Broncos 24-21 last Monday night at Mile High Stadium. The Chargers were determined to bounce back after a good week of practice, ready to face the Miami Dolphins.

Miami had not played a regular season game due to the conditions of Hurricane Irma, and flew out to Los Angeles early to practice.

The Dolphins showed no signs of rust as head coach Adam Gase decided to keep their offense simple with QB Jay Cutler, as RB Jay Ajayi did most of the heavy lifting on the ground. The Bolts defense stood up masterfully, preventing a touchdown opportunity and allowing Miami to settle for a 30-yard field goal, and a 3-0 lead.

Later in the second quarter the Bolts offense woke up, and with solid runs by Brenden Oliver and two key catches by Keenan Allen that landed them in the red zone, Gordon bulldozed his way through to score the team's first touchdown of the day for the 10-3 lead.

Adam Gase challenged a crucial play in the third quarter, and won the decision. The Dolphins kept their drive alive, as Cutler avoided pressure and found Kenny Stills on the right side of the end zone for a 29-yard touchdown reception.

Rivers continued to pick apart the Dolphins' defense as he found Henry and Allen driving down the field.

No target was more significant than finding Gates in end zone for the touchdown and the all-time record. Gates surpasses Tony Gonzalez on the All-Time list for most touchdown receptions for a tight end. It was the 85th time that Rivers connected with Gates for a touchdown, tying Steve Young and Jerry Rice for second-most in NFL history.

The Chargers had one last opportunity for victory. With just over a minute remaining, Rivers marched the Chargers down the field. With just 19 seconds left, Koo missed the game-winning field goal. The Chargers have now lost two straight and now must get ready for their AFC West rival in the Kansas City Chiefs next Sunday.

*Gates' caught his 900th career reception pass in the second quarter. He's only the 22nd play in league history to reach 900 receptions.



Photo Credit: Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Chargers Looking for Regular Season StubHub Center Win]]>Sun, 17 Sep 2017 09:49:01 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/LA-Chargers-Philip-Rivers-Aug-13-17.jpg

The Los Angeles Chargers will play their first regular-season game at StubHub Center Sunday after losing both preseason games in the 27,000-seat stadium with crowds nearly 6,000 short of capacity.

Attendance Sunday is expected to be larger than the preseason games. The Chargers, who are sold out of season tickets, released a limited number of team holds for the game against the Miami Dolphins, which are available, along with verified resale of season ticket member seats, at the Chargers website.

The Chargers will try to avoid their first 0-2 start since 2008 after losing their opener to the Denver Broncos, 24-21, Monday night. They appeared to have tied the game on a 44-yard field goal by Younghoe Koo, on the rookie's first NFL field goal attempt, but Denver called a time out just before the kick with five seconds left. The second kick was blocked.

Chargers tight end Antonio Gates needs one touchdown catch to become the NFL's career leader among tight ends. Gates is tied with Tony Gonzalez at 111. Quarterback Philip Rivers threw to Gates three times against the Broncos, with Gates catching six- and 11-yard passes.

The game is the season opener for the Dolphins, whose planned season opener last Sunday against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Miami Gardens, Florida was postponed because of Hurricane Irma.

"It will be exciting for our guys to just finally stop practicing and play a game," said coach Adam Gase. The Dolphins practiced in Oxnard at the Dallas Cowboys training camp facility adjacent to the River Ridge Golf Club Wednesday through Friday.

The Los Angeles Rams, who practice in nearby Thousand Oaks at California Lutheran University, sent what Gase described as "a whole bunch of"' equipment, making "it easy for our guys to get things rolling before our stuff got here." "Everybody's been great and making sure we're taken care of," Gase said. "It just seems like all hands were on deck to help us out."

Jay Cutler will be making his debut as Miami's quarterback, four months after signing with Fox Sports to become an analyst on NFL broadcasts. Cutler signed with the Dolphins in August after starter Ryan Tannehill tore his left ACL in the first non-contact practice of the season, sidelining him for the season.

The Chargers added two players to their 53-man active roster since Monday's loss.

Defensive tackle Tenny Palepoi was added to the active roster after completing a four-game suspension without pay issued Dec. 12 for violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing substances. Defensive end Whitney Richardson was waived to create a spot on the roster for Palepoi.

Rookie cornerback Michael Davis was promoted from the practice squad Saturday, replacing receiver Geremy Davis, who played against the Broncos Monday, the same day he was promoted from the practice squad.

The Chargers will commemorate their return to Los Angeles after 56 seasons in San Diego by having Pro Football Hall of Fame offensive tackle Ron Mix and four of his teammates from the 1960 Los Angeles Chargers recognized on the field in the first quarter. They will present the organization with an original 1960 team-signed football.

LaDainian Tomlinson, the Chargers career rushing leader, will be presented his Pro Football Hall of Fame ring at halftime. Tomlinson's Pro Football Hall of Fame bust was flown in from Canton for the ceremony.

Tomlinson is a special assistant to owner Dean Spanos, helping to further develop fan engagement and community relations programs. The national anthem will be sung by Jordin Sparks, the 2007 "American Idol" winner.

Before Sparks sings the national anthem, 125 service members representing the U.S. Air Force, Army, Coast Guard and Navy will take the field, holding red, white and blue ribbons, paying tribute to the flag.

As the anthem concludes, two F-35 Lightning II jets from Edwards Air Force Base will conduct a flyover, traveling south to north above StubHub Center.

Army Sgt. Gus Orozco and Air Force Lt. Col. Ed Reynolds Jr. will be honored during pregame ceremonies as the Military Heroes of the Week.

Orozco has served in the Army for more than 12 years, including a 2007 deployment to Iraq. He is veteran affairs commissioner in the president's cabinet at Cal State Long Beach.

Reynolds has served more than 22 years in the Air Force, amassed 5,000 flying hours, including 640 combat hours in 147 missions. He oversees "Wings Over Wendy's," a program where veterans convene weekly at a Wendy's restaurant in West Hills.

Pregame ceremonies will also include the presentation of a donation from the Chargers to Maj. Mike LaSorda from the Los Angeles Air Force Base to support its family recreation and youth programs.

The donation is being made in connection with the Chargers recognition of Monday's the 70th anniversary of the formation of the Air Force as a separate branch of the military. The base in El Segundo is the home of the Air Force Space Command's Space and Missile Systems Center.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Rams Looking for First 2-0 Start in 16 Years]]>Sun, 17 Sep 2017 09:53:27 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Jared-Goff-LA-Rams-LA-Chargers.jpg

The Los Angeles Rams will try to get off to their first 2-0 start since 2001 when they play host to the Washington Redskins Sunday at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

The game matches Rams coach Sean McVay against the team that employed him from 2010-16, including as offensive coordinator from 2014-16. McVay also worked with Washington coach Jay Gruden on the coaching staffs of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2008 and the Florida Tuskers of the short-lived United Football League in 2009.

"Jay's a guy (that's) been so good to me," said McVay, who guided the Rams to a 46-9 victory over the Indianapolis Colts last Sunday in his debut as an NFL coach. "I'm looking forward to seeing a handful of guys. We'll have our conversations and then we'll go play a football game and then we'll shake hands and it will be like anything else."

Three-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Aaron Donald will make his 2017 debut with the Rams after missing training camp as he sought a contract extension. Donald reported to the team's training facility Sept. 9, but did not play against the Colts.

Donald will start but McVay did not say how much he would play.

"He came in in good shape, he's looked good, looks fresh, looks like the Aaron Donald that you guys are accustomed to seeing," McVay said Friday in his final meeting with reporters before the game.

"He was doing everything that he could while not being here to make sure that when this opportunity presented itself, he would be ready to go and help his teammates out and try to be a positive thing that helps us win football games."

Washington opened the season with a 30-17 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles last Sunday and is trying to avoid its second consecutive 0-2 start.

The game will include a celebration of the return of the Olympics to Los Angeles.

International Olympic Committee President Thomas Bach will light the Coliseum's cauldron, joined by Mayor Eric Garcetti, Casey Wasserman, chair of LA 2028, the Games' bid committee, Olympic gold medalist Rafer Johnson, and IOC board members Larry Probst, Anita De Frantz and Angela Ruggiero.

Johnson lit the Coliseum cauldron during the opening ceremony of the 1984 Olympics.

Olympic gold medalists Lisa Fernandez (softball), Paul Gonzales (boxing) and Paralympian Alma Rodriguez (basketball) will participate in the coin toss.

Ron Brown, a member of the gold medal-winning U.S. men's 400 meter relay team who was a Rams receiver from 1984-89 and in 1991, will be honored during the game.

The game is the Rams Hispanic Heritage Game.

The national anthem will be sung by Jackie Cruz, who plays Marisol "Flaca" Gonzales on the Netflix women's prison drama "Orange Is the New Black."

The drumline, marching band and drill team from the Santee Educational Complex in South Los Angeles will perform at midfield during halftime. The band will perform the "Marcha De Zacatecas," a Mexican patriotic song. A ballet foklorico dance group in its traditional costumes will perform to accompany the band.

Fidel Vargas, president and CEO of the Hispanic Scholarship Fund, will receive the Hispanic Heritage Leadership Award prior to kickoff. The fund will receive a $2,000 donation in connection with the award.

Five thousand towels and 4,000 temporary tattoos embodying the artwork of graffiti and tattoo artist Mister Cartoon will be given to fans visiting the Corona Beach House.

Kristy Sandoval will begin painting a mural in the Corona Beach House at 10 a.m.

Retired Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Octavio Sanchez, an Iraq War veteran, will be honored during the game. Sanchez is now an ambassador for UCLA's Operation Mend, which provides charitable medical services to wounded service members and their families.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Antonio Gates Sets Trends, Not Just Records]]>Thu, 14 Sep 2017 16:06:26 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-500222866.jpg

Antonio Gates is on the brink of not only breaking a record but setting a trend for the future of the tight end position. The Chargers veteran is one touchdown away from setting the all-time record for most touchdowns by a tight end, surpassing former Chiefs and Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez. He currently has 111 touchdown catches.

"I mean obviously that milestone is an unbelievable accomplishment, I would definitely embrace it," Gates said of the possibility of setting the record. "I would celebrate with my teammates and my family. Every week is something different, once Monday hits whether I get it (the record) or not, I wouldn't allow that to live on past that week. If I get it, I would enjoy it and be appreciative of it. It's an incredible task to conquer, but it's week to week in the league. So my focus is on doing whatever I can and getting better."

Gates was an undrafted rookie in 2003 from Kent State, and the basketball star-turned-football pro approached the position with an uncanny method in order to force defenses to change and reconstruct their coverage on him in games.

Over the past 14 seasons, Philip Rivers and Gates have connected on 84 touchdowns, the most ever for a quarterback-tight end duo. These two will go down in history as one of the most effective dynamic duos in the NFL.

Ironically, Gates went from fighting for a position on the team in his first two seasons, to now mentoring younger players like Hunter Henry and others on his team. He continues to have fun while continually perfecting his craft after 15 seasons in the NFL.

"Doing the little details things, obviously everyone here can run, jump, catch, etc.," Gates explained. "It about doing the extra things that you can't see. I've always been about that in my career, and implement that in my play. I tried to lead by example, and hopefully the younger guys will follow that."

Of course he isn't focused on setting the record. When he does, however, the 27,000 fans in attendance on Sunday against the Dolphins will be witnessing history at the Stub Hub Center. When Gates is able to put on that gold jacket in Canton, Ohio and have his jersey retired, he will be missed tremendously in football.

He'll be missed not just because he has the all-time record, but because of what he meant to the game, the position, his preparation, and how he electrified the sidelines like no other.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[He's Back: Rams' Aaron Donald to Start Sunday]]>Thu, 14 Sep 2017 05:36:56 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-488073046.jpg

Three-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle Aaron Donald practiced with the Los Angeles Rams today for the first time after missing training camp and will start Sunday's game against the Washington Redskins, coach Sean McVay coach.

In the practice at California Lutheran University, Donald "looked fast, looked fresh, looked like the player that you've seen," McVay said.

"It didn't look like he missed a beat and it was good to have him back out there," McVay said. "Great demeanor, guys were excited to have him back, he's all smiles because he loves football, so nothing but positive things there. I was happy too."

Donald reported to team's training facility Saturday after missing all of training camp as he sought a contract extension. He did not play in Sunday's 46-9 victory over the Indianapolis Colts. Safety Maurice Alexander and cornerback Kayvon Webster missed the practice because of shoulder injuries sustained Sunday.

Alexander is expected to practice Thursday, McVay said.

Two other starters, offensive tackle Andrew Whitworth and outside linebacker Connor Barwin were given the day off, McVay said.

The Rams announced the signing of offensive tackle Cornelius Lucas on Wednesday. The 6-foot-9-inch, 330-pound Lucas played 35 games with the Detroit Lions over the past three seasons. He was among two player waived Sept. 3 to make room for two players claimed on waivers.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Goff, LA Rams Trample Colts 46-9]]>Sun, 10 Sep 2017 17:25:13 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/212*120/Jared-Goff-Rams-vs-Colts.jpg

On Opening Day of the 2017 NFL regular season, seemingly everything went right for the Los Angeles Rams, as the LA Memorial Coliseum witnessed the home team beat the Indianapolis Colts in convincing fashion, 46-9, and second-year quarterback Jared Goff had himself the best day of his young professional career.

Goff looked comfortable under center, calm in the pocket and confident in his throws. The 22-year-old finished the day with 306 passing yards on the day with 21 completions on 29 attempts, one touchdown and no interceptions. Sunday served as the first time Goff had ever thrown for over 300 yards as a professional, and the young quarterback's touchdown pass to rookie wide receiver Cooper Kupp hinted as a blossoming partnership.

Kupp finished with 76 yards to lead all receivers.

Though Goff's play deserved the headlines on the day, the Rams' first offensive touchdown came via running back Todd Gurley II rushing up the middle from five yards out. Gurley finished the day with 40 yards on 19 rushes and a touchdown. Though Gurley's yards per carry was less than stunning, the half back also caught five passes for 56 yards on the day.

Both Goff and Gurley struggled in 2016, so new LA Rams head coach Sean McVay had to feel encouraged by how his two star offensive players looked to start the season.

Of course, one should point out that the Colts were without Andrew Luck and contributed to their own demise. Backup quarterback Scott Tolzien looked awful and drew predictable responses wondering if Colin Kaepernick couldn't do better than 9/18 for 128 yards, no touchdowns and two interceptions.

Both those interceptions resulted in touchdowns, as Trumaine Johnson scored the Rams' first touchdown of the season on a 39-yard interception return. Lamarcus Joyner made an acrobatic interception of his own in the second half and raced to the endzone for the defense's second score of the day.

Before the end of the game, the Rams put the exclamation point on the defensive dominance with a safety.

The Colts did eventually score a touchdown, but that score arrived after McVay had already opted to rest his defensive starters.

From beginning to end, Sunday at the LA Coliseum looked like a highlight reel for the Los Angeles Rams, who started the season 1-0.

Next: The Rams host the Washington Redskins in Week 2.

Quote: "I thought it was okay," - McVay when asked about the offense after the game. The Rams scored the most points in a game since 2014.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Rams Look to Change Fortunes in Home Opener]]>Sun, 10 Sep 2017 11:23:57 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Jared-Goff-LA-Rams-vs-Cowboys.jpg

The Los Angeles Rams will open their second season of their second stay in Southern California on Sunday with changes to their coaching staff, roster and helmet after going 4-12 in 2016.

Sean McVay will be making his NFL head coaching debut in the game against the Indianapolis Colts at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum, part of a 23-man coaching staff that includes 20 newcomers. The 31-year-old McVay is the youngest head coach in modern NFL history.

McVay has eight years of NFL coaching experience, including serving as the Washington Redskins offensive coordinator from 2014-16.

The Rams' 53-man roster includes 23 newcomers -- seven players signed as veteran free agents, two acquired in trades, five claimed on waivers and nine rookies, seven draft choices and two undrafted free agents, former USC running back Justin Davis and cornerback Dominique Hatfield, a Utah alumnus.

The Los Angeles Rams have returned to wearing blue helmets with white horns, similar to what they wore from 1964-72. They wore blue helmets with white horns from 2000-16. The first 50,000 fans in attendance will receive a T- shirt featuring the helmet.

Both teams will be without standout performers.

Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald reported to team's training facility at California Lutheran University Saturday after missing all of training camp as he sought a contract extension, but will not play against the Colts. Tanzel Smart, chosen in the sixth round of the 2017 NFL draft out of Tulane, is expected to start in place of Donald, a Pro Bowl selection in each of his first three seasons.

Colts quarterback Andrew Luck will miss the game as he continues to recover from surgery on his right shoulder performed in January. Scott Tolzien will start in his place, making the fourth start of his seven-season NFL career. Tolzien started for Wisconsin in its 21-19 loss to Texas Christian in the 2011 Rose Bowl Game, completing 12 of 21 passes for 159 yards.

The Rams have lost two of their last three openers, including a 28-0 loss to the San Francisco 49ers last season.

The game is the Colts' first in Los Angeles since Sept. 15, 1991 when they lost to the Raiders, 16-0, at the Coliseum.

For the second consecutive year, the Rams will honor Pro Football Hall of Famers at their season opener. Eric Dickerson, Marshall Faulk, Tom Mack, Orlando Pace, Jackie Slater, Aenas Williams and Jack Youngblood will participate in the coin toss. Kurt Warner, a member of the hall's Class of 2017, will help light the torch in the Peristyle end of the Coliseum.

All eight Hall of Famers will take to the field at halftime through a tunnel of season ticket holder and will be honored on the 50-yard line.

The Rams announced on Aug. 31 that fans purchasing tickets for the game at therams.com/harvey and entering the code BROCKERS could have the Rams' full proceeds from the sale donated to the American Red Cross and United Way of Greater Houston.

The Rams also auctioned two opportunities to attend the game with proceeds going to the American Red Cross.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Kicker Younghoe Koo Blazes Path From South Korea to Chargers]]>Thu, 07 Sep 2017 17:08:45 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/chargers-kicking-koo.jpg

Younghoe Koo didn't know much about football when he saw his new seventh-grade classmates in New Jersey playing two-hand touch during lunch recess.

Koo got invited to kick off, and the South Korean-born, soccer-loving middle schooler booted the pigskin with authority. So he signed up for tackle football — and he discovered he really liked hitting people, too.

"I just fell in love with the whole thing," Koo said.

Koo recounts the story in the Los Angeles Chargers' locker room, where he has earned a seat. The undrafted rookie from Georgia Southern has beaten out veteran Josh Lambo to become the Chargers' kicker, and he makes his debut Monday night in Denver.

"I knew I was going to have to earn everything, but mentally, I just (wanted to take) small steps to just prove I belong here and I can compete with these guys," Koo said. "It was huge to find comfort inside to compete at a higher level."

Koo is the fourth South Korean-born NFL player, joining Hines Ward, Kyle Love and former UCLA kicker John Lee. Although he only missed one field goal during his outstanding senior year at Georgia Southern, he was best known for the viral videos of his incredible backflip trick kicks before getting his shot with the Chargers.

"I felt good because I thought I did everything I could out there during the preseason," Koo said. "But at the same time, you don't know what's going to happen. They're going to make the decision based on whatever they're looking at."

Whatever it was, Koo had it. After Lambo missed a handful of important kicks last season, the Chargers are entrusting the job to their third kicker in four years — a rookie with a burning desire to succeed in his adopted country's favorite sport.

Koo loved youth football in Ridgewood, New Jersey, but he still pursued soccer until high school, when he had to choose one sport because their seasons were simultaneous. Koo credits his middle school football coach with persuading his father that kicking could lead to a college scholarship and more.

Koo played kicker and defensive back in high school before heading to Georgia Southern, where the 5-foot-9 ex-cornerback reluctantly gave up defense.

"Going into college, I kind of had to calm down," Koo said. "I had to accept the fact that I was just kicking a football. I wanted to (keep playing defense), but they were kind of bigger in college."

Koo's father, Hyungseo Koo, is now a business professor at Induk University in Seoul. His mother, Seungmae Choi, is a nurse in Georgia. Neither can be in Denver to watch his debut next week, but Koo hopes to get them to a home game soon.

"Football isn't really big back there, but now my dad is getting attention from his colleagues and he's letting me know," Koo said.

Koo realizes that if he is successful, he should attract enormous interest to the Chargers from the Los Angeles area's estimated 200,000 Korean immigrants — the largest such community in the U.S.

Koo would welcome the chance to build his less-familiar pastime among the same sports fans who embrace Dodgers pitcher Hyun-Jin Ryu with fervor.

"It's exciting for me," Koo said. "Obviously there aren't that many (Korean players in football). Hopefully it will start the trend a little bit, and have people out there playing and see if we can get that going. But I love to represent."

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: AP Photo/Jae C. Hong, File]]>
<![CDATA[Chargers Season Preview: Facing the 'Fight for LA']]>Thu, 07 Sep 2017 11:15:37 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/LA-Chargers-Philip-Rivers-Aug-13-17.jpg

The Chargers' advertising campaign in their relocation season is built around what they call the "Fight for LA."

Realizing that the Los Angeles Rams have a head start in the nation's second-largest market, the Chargers humbly characterize their move north from San Diego as a battle for the heart and attention of a city that did just fine without the NFL for 21 years.

That hypothetical tussle with the Rams will be much easier to win if the Bolts can make a quick surge into playoff contention this fall.

Quarterback Philip Rivers thinks he has the team to do it.

"We've got a lot of work to do, but at the same time, we're confident about a lot of things," said Rivers, who hasn't missed a game in 11 consecutive seasons as the Chargers' starter. "There's a lot of talent on this roster, and it's up to us to get the most out of it. Relocation, you can't use that as an excuse. It's up to us as players and coaches."

Although the roster remained remarkably stable after two straight dismal seasons, much else is new for the Chargers as they start their serious work in Orange County.

First-time head coach Anthony Lynn was hired on the same day as the Chargers' relocation announcement, and the longtime assistant has an experienced staff around him led by offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt and defensive coordinator Gus Bradley, two former NFL head coaches.

Lynn has a steely leadership style shaped by mentors Bill Walsh, Bill Parcells and Rex Ryan, among others. He is confident in the Chargers' ability to handle the uncertainties of relocation by relying on their veteran leaders.

"We're never going to use the move as an excuse," Lynn said. "This is about these guys during the games. All the rest of the time doesn't matter."

The Chargers have won only nine games in the past two years, but injuries played a major role in their flops under former coach Mike McCoy.

Injuries have already hit Lynn's Chargers in training camp with the absences of their top two draft picks -- receiver Mike Williams and offensive lineman Forrest Lamp -- and starting middle linebacker Denzel Perryman.

But Rivers sees the ingredients for a winner in this relocated franchise, starting with a long list of offensive playmakers and a revamped line to protect him.

Here are more things to watch when the relocation season begins in a Monday night trip to Denver:

NEW DIGS: After finally fleeing dilapidated Qualcomm Stadium in San Diego, the Chargers are getting used to their unusual new home: StubHub Center, the 27,000-seat soccer stadium south of downtown Los Angeles, where they'll play for the next three years. Their preseason games showed off an earnest effort by the Chargers to create an intimate entertainment experience for the fans lucky enough to get tickets. If the Chargers are good, they could build a remarkable home-field advantage -- and if they're not, an opponent's fans could take over the stands without much trouble.

BLIND SIDE: The Chargers' offensive line struggled last season, and Rivers threw a career-high 21 interceptions. So Los Angeles signed left tackle Russell Okung to protect the star while reconfiguring much of the line around him. The result should be markedly improved, and it could even boost the running game for Melvin Gordon after his strong sophomore season.

WAITING GAME: The Chargers chose Williams with the seventh overall pick, but the Clemson product hurt his back in rookie camp and hasn't practiced since. He is making enough progress to allow him to stay on LA's active roster, but he won't practice for at least the opening week of the regular season. The Chargers are hoping he'll get healthy enough to make an impact early.

DEFENSE DECISIONS: Bradley earned a head coaching job by coordinating Seattle's dominant defense, and he built another powerhouse in Jacksonville before getting fired largely due to the offense's ineptitude.

Bradley can create his unit in LA around Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram, two of the best pass-rushers in the league. He also has Jason Verrett and Casey Hayward, two of the best man-to-man cover cornerbacks. When Perryman returns midway through the season, the Chargers' spine should be strong.

ON THE ROAD: Rivers and his wife decided to stay in their family home in San Diego with their eight children, which means the quarterback is a commuter this season.

He'll make the 90-mile drive on the I-5 three times per week in a luxurious $200,000 RV custom-fitted with equipment for film study. Not many of his teammates will need to hitch a ride -- almost everybody else is starting a new adventure up north.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Rams Season Preview: No 'Easy Fix' in Rebuilding Process]]>Thu, 07 Sep 2017 11:08:39 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/goff-jared_1.jpg

Sean McVay realizes the magnitude of the rebuilding job he's facing with the Los Angeles Rams, who haven't finished a season with a winning record since he was a high school senior.

McVay realized the scope of his task from the time he talked his way into the job last winter as the youngest head coach in modern NFL history. At 31 years old, he has time on his side.

"We're trying to take every step you should take to complete this process, and it isn't an easy fix," McVay said earlier in training camp. "But it's a lot of fun to work with guys who want to compete, and who want to get better. If we do things the right way, we'll get there."

McVay also knows he shouldn't wait too long to mold a contending team around quarterback Jared Goff. The coaching staff is mostly new, but the losing is not -- and this year, the Rams aren't the only team in LA.

The Rams have missed the playoffs in 12 consecutive seasons, and they haven't finished with a winning record in 13 straight seasons.

The Chargers, their future roommates in Rams owner Stan Kroenke's lavish Inglewood stadium, joined them in the Los Angeles market this season with a roster that appears to be much closer to playoff contention.

The Rams' defense was solid last season, and new coordinator Wade Phillips appears to have another competent unit. The onus is on the offense to improve from the NFL's worst in each of the past two seasons, and McVay knows it.

So the Rams acquired receiver Sammy Watkins from Buffalo to pair alongside Robert Woods. They signed left tackle Andrew Whitworth from Cincinnati, bolstering the most important position on the offensive line with a Pro Bowler who is four years older than his head coach.

And now McVay and new offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur are building a scheme to get more out of the NFL's worst offense.

"What you try to do is have an identity," McVay said. "We're continuing to figure and find that out. Like you guys have heard me say before, we're trying to figure out what our players do best and then fit our scheme to them."

Here are more things to watch when the Rams begin their second season back home this Sunday against Indianapolis:

ABSENT STAR: All-Pro defensive lineman Aaron Donald skipped the Rams' entire training camp while demanding a new contract after just three outstanding NFL seasons. Los Angeles GM Les Snead has kept the negotiations civil and private, but Donald has missed many weeks of work with the new coaching staff.

Donald didn't show up Monday when the Rams began preparations for the first week of the regular season, and his teammates are preparing to play without the run-stopping, pass-rushing dynamo at the heart of their defense. "We definitely wish he was here and preparing with us," linebacker Alec Ogletree said. "But there's a business side to this."

GOFF'S GROWTH: The No. 1 overall pick is winless as an NFL starter heading into the season opener, but his teammates and coaches believe he is much better equipped to handle the league's pressures and challenges this fall.

Goff worked strenuously in the offseason on his throwing motion and his physique. He also has the luxury of time: The Rams gave up an extraordinary amount to get Goff, and he's almost certain to get at least two more years to prove he can do the job. McVay is publicly confident that Los Angeles has a winner.

NEW TARGET: Watkins knows how to prepare for a new offense: "Over-study. Just study until you can't study anymore." The former No. 4 overall pick will have ample playmaking opportunities with his new team once he connects with Goff, who is already enjoying the upgrade in targets after the Rams' offseason moves.

BIG CORNER: Trumaine Johnson has been the Rams' top cover cornerback for three years, but he is playing his second year on the franchise tag after the Rams decided not to sign him to a multiyear deal. Johnson has said he thinks he'll be gone next year, so he should be amply motivated to impress other teams with a big season. Los Angeles lost backup corner E.J. Gaines in the trade for Watkins, so Johnson and Lamarcus Joyner will have heavy responsibilities in pass defense.

HOME SWEET HOME: The Rams are sharing the Coliseum with USC for the second of four consecutive years, but they've only got seven home games for the second straight season, thanks to yet another "home" game in England. The sharing arrangement worked out surprisingly well last year, and the Coliseum received offseason improvements including two large video boards. The Trojans host Stanford on Saturday, kicking off about 20 hours before the Rams host the Colts.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Matt Maiocco]]>
<![CDATA[Are You Ready for Some More Football Statistics?]]>Thu, 07 Sep 2017 10:49:37 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-72571455.jpg

The NFL will be able to know the speed, location and even the rotation of the league's footballs this season under new technology being used with the ball itself.

For fans, that will mean even more statistics.

Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags will be in footballs used in every NFL game this season after being tested last season during the preseason and in Thursday night games.

Vishal Shah, the NFL's senior vice president of digital media, says the league is excited to learn new information tracking the footballs in partnership with Zebra Technologies in a move announced Thursday.

The tags, similar to the technology used to make credit cards more secure, wirelessly communicate location data and speed. Each player wore a chip in his shoulder pads during games in 2015.

Copyright Associated Press / NBC Southern California



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[LA Rams Finalize Roster]]>Sun, 03 Sep 2017 12:12:28 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/Rams-vs-LA-Raiders-8-19-17.jpg

The Los Angeles Rams terminated the contracts of third-string quarterback Dan Orlovsky and reserve tight end Cory Harkey, waived 31 players, placed tight end Temarrick Hemingway on the reserve/injured list and running back Lance Dunbar on the reserve/physically unable to perform list to reach the NFL's 53-player regular-season limit.

The Rams also acquired tight end Derek Carrier from the Washington Redskins in exchange for a seventh-round choice in the 2018 NFL draft.

Linebacker Josh Forrest and wide receiver Nelson Spruce were among four players waived with an injury designation, allowing them to be placed on the team's injured reserve list should they clear waivers.

Forrest played 10 games with the Rams as a rookie in 2016, with four starts after being chosen in the sixth round of the NFL draft. as a rookie in 2016. Spruce made the 53-player roster in 2016 as an undrafted rookie free agent, but never played in a regular-season game because of a calf injury sustained in the preseason opener.

Four other players who played with the Rams last season were also cut -- Cody Wichmann, who started 11 games at right guard in 2016 and seven as a rookie in 2015, cornerback Michael Jordan, who played five games and started two, safety Isaiah Johnson, who played three games in 2016, and offensive tackle Pace Murphy, who played the final two games.

Fullback Sam Rogers was the only player chosen by the Rams in the 2017 NFL draft to be waived. The Rams selected Rogers with the second of their sixth- round picks out of Virginia Tech.

Three players who played NFL regular-season games with other teams were waived -- kicker Travis Coons, linebacker Andy Mulumba and nose tackle Mike Purcell.

Seven players who participated in past NFL training camps were waived -- running back Aaron Green, outside linebackers Cassanova McKinzy, Carlos Thompson and Davis Tull, receivers Paul McRoberts and Brandon Shippen and tight end Travis Wilson, a former San Clemente High and Utah quarterback.

Green also participated in the Rams 2016 training camp. His uncle Gary Green played cornerback for the Rams in 1984 and 1985.

Fifteen undrafted rookies were among the 31 players waived -- defensive tackles Omarius Bryant and Casey Sayles, wide receivers K.D. Cannon and Shakeir Ryan, offensive linemen Parker Collins, Michael Dunn and Alex Kozan, cornerback Carlos Davis, linebacker Kevin Davis and Folarin Orimolade, center Jake

Eldrenkamp, cornerbacks Tyquwan Glass and Aarion Penton, outside linebacker Willie Mays III and running back Lenard Tillery.

Mays is not related to the Baseball Hall of Fame center fielder.

Kevin Davis and Tillery were waived with injury designations. The cutting of Orlovsky leaves the Rams with two quarterbacks on their roster -- starter Jared Goff and backup Sean Mannion.

The 34-year-old Orlovsky has spent 12 seasons in the NFL, including the past three with the Detroit Lions. Orlovsky did not see any regular seasonaction in 2016.

Orlovsky signed with the Rams July 20 and played in three of their four preseason games, including starting Thursday's 24-10 preseason loss to the Green Bay Packers, completing 16 of 300 passes for 149 yards and one touchdown and had two passes intercepted.

Rams coach Sean McVay called Orlovsky "definitely a guy that could be a possibility for us to bring back in Week 2."

"I think very highly of Dan," McVay said. "I've heard a lot of great things about Dan from other people in the coaching world that have been with him and he certainly lived up to that reputation."

McVay coached Carrier in 2015 and 2016 as Washington's offensive coordinator.

"Derek is a great guy," McVay said. "He brings some versatility to the position. (Carrier) was a guy that we had potentially targeted knowing the depth that the Redskins had at that position. We feel fortunate to be able to acquire Derek. He is going to be a big help to us."

The acquisition of Carrier prompted the Rams to waive Harkey, McVay said. Harkey is an alumnus of Chino Hills High and UCLA who played five seasons with the Rams and was their starting tight end in 2013 and 2014 when they played in St. Louis.

"(I) can't say enough things about what he represents in terms of the toughness, the leadership, the character, all those good things that you want your players to embody," McVay said.

All NFL teams were required to reduce their rosters to the 53-player  limit before 1 p.m. Saturday. Teams often make changes to their rosters between the time they are required to get to the 53-player limit and the start of the regular season as they sign players cut by other teams and cut others to make room for them on their rosters.

Teams may begin signing players to the 10-player practice squads Sunday.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Chargers Cut Roster to 53 Players]]>Sat, 02 Sep 2017 15:51:53 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/176*120/Austin+Ekeler+Preseason.JPG

The Chargers trimmed 37 players from their roster to get down to the NFL-mandated 53-man limit on Saturday. There are a few interesting, if not surprising, names that did not make the cut.

Backup quarterback Kellen Clemens was released after a dismal exhibition season. 4th stringer Mike Bercovici was waived so the Chargers will only have two quarterbacks on the roster in starter Philip Rivers and recently acquired backup Cardale Jones.

Also not making the team are Dwight Lowery, last year’s starting free safety, and kicker Josh Lambo, who lost his roster spot to undrafted rookie Younghoe Koo. Another undrafted rookie who became a fan favorite earned a spot in the running backs room. Austin Ekeler, the 5-foot-9, 195-pounder from Division II Western St. University, is one of four backs the Chargers retained.

This is not necessarily the squad the Bolts will take to Denver for their season opener, though. With teams across the league making moves it is possible the Chargers will try to sign other free players that have recently become free agents. Some of the players who were waived could also end up on the 10-man practice squad. Here is the (as of this writing) 2017 Chargers roster:

Quarterback (2): Philip Rivers, Cardale Jones

Running Back (3): Melvin Gordon, Branden Oliver, Austin Ekeler

Fullback (1): Derek Watt

Wide Receiver (6): Keenan Allen, Tyrell Williams, Travis Benjamin, Dontrelle Inman, Geremy Davis, Mike Williams

Tight End (4): Antonio Gates, Hunter Henry, Sean McGrath, Sean Culkin

Offensive Line (8): Russell Okung, Joe Barksdale, Spencer Pulley, Matt Slauson, Kenny Wiggins, Dan Feeney, Chris Hairston, Sam Tevi

Defensive Line (9): Joey Bosa, Melvin Ingram, Corey Liuget, Brandon Mebane, Damion Square, Darius Philon, Chris McCain, Jerry Attaochu, Isaac Rochell

Linebacker (7): Denzel Perryman, Jatavis Brown, Kyle Emanuel, Korey Toomer, Nick Dzubnar, James Onwualu, Nigel Harris

Cornerback (5): Jason Verrett, Casey Hayward, Craig Mager, Trevor Williams, Desmond King

Safety (5): Jahleel Addae, Tre Boston, Adrian Phillips, Dexter McCoil, Rayshawn Jenkins

Long Snapper (1): Mike Windt

Kicker (1): Younghoe Koo

Punter (1): Drew Kaser

]]>
<![CDATA[Chargers to Release Limited Number of Single-Game Tickets]]>Thu, 31 Aug 2017 08:36:13 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/LA-Chargers-Philip-Rivers-Aug-13-17.jpg

The Los Angeles Chargers will release a limited number of team-held, single-game tickets for all eight of their regular-season home games at StubHub Center for public purchase.

The tickets can be purchased Thursday, beginning at 10 a.m., at TicketMaster.com. The number of tickets available varies by game.

The Chargers are sold out of season tickets at the 27,000-seat StubHub Center and have a waiting list.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Eric Dickerson to Sign a One-Day Contract, Retire as a Ram]]>Tue, 29 Aug 2017 07:41:32 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/182*120/walter+payton+19.jpg

Hall of Fame running back Eric Dickerson will sign a one-day contract with the Los Angeles Rams and retire as a member of the team with which he spent his first four NFL seasons. 

Dickerson will sign the contract Tuesday, nearly 35 years after he was drafted second by the Rams in the 1983 NFL draft. 

"It feels amazing to sign this contract and officially be a Los Angeles Ram for life," Dickerson said. "My passion for this organization during my playing days and for the players wearing Rams jerseys now, is undeniable. This is where my career started and this is where my heart is, so closing this chapter with the Rams back in Los Angeles feels right. I would like to thank Stan Kroenke and the Rams for this opportunity and all of the fans for their outpouring support over the years." 

Expectations were high for Dickerson, who was one half of Southern Methodist University's famed Pony Express backfield with tailback Craig James. His first season didn't disappoint.

Dickerson still has NFL rookie records for most yards gained in a season (1,808 yard) and attempts (390 rushes). He claimed NFC and NFL Rookie of the Year honors. He went on to set the league's single-season rushing record of 2,105 yards in his second season.

Minnesota's Adrian Peterson ended up 8 yards shy of Dickerson's rushing record at the end of the 2012 NFL season.

Dickerson sits at seventh on the NFL's all-time rushing yards list.

The bespectacled workhorse played three games for the Rams during the strike-shortened 1987 season before he was traded to the Colts. He led the league with 1,659 rushing yards in 1988, becoming the first Colt to lead the league in rushing since 1955.

He became the NFL's first player to gain more than 1,000 rushing yards in seven straight seasons in 1989. 

He closed out his historic NFL career with the Raiders (1992) and Falcons (1993).



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Rams, Chargers Sponsor Venice Pride Event, an NFL First]]>Sat, 03 Jun 2017 04:20:57 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-459501574.jpg

The Los Angeles Chargers have joined the Rams in making history by being the first NFL teams to officially sponsor an LGBTQ pride event.

Both teams will sponsor a letter of the VENICE sign that will illuminate in rainbow-colored lights as a symbol of inclusion at this weekend's west Los Angeles pride event.

The Rams signed on as a sponsor in May, becoming the first-ever NFL team to sponsor a pride event.

"We are proud to work with Venice Pride and to stand in alignment with the LGBT community that is such an important part of the fabric of Los Angeles," Rams vice president of affairs Molly Higgins said in a news release. "Inclusion has always been a valued part of our organization and we see this as a unique way to publicly celebrate the diversity that makes this community so special."

The team has adopted 14 blue lights in the letter "C" of the sign, which was officially lit at Friday's ceremony and block party.

The Rams have made history of making steps toward diversity. The Los Angeles Times reports in 1946, they signed on Kenny Washington, who became the first African American NFL player in the modern era. Most recently, in 2014, they signed on Michael Sam, the first openly gay player to be drafted.

The Chargers joined the Rams as the second NFL team to sponsor Venice Pride. They are sponsoring the letter yellow "N" of the sign.

Venice Pride will conclude its two-day celebration Saturday with a festival at Muscle beach. 



Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[LA's Super Bowl Pushed Back to 2022]]>Tue, 23 May 2017 18:47:19 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/207*120/01-12-2016-nfl-generic-field-football.jpg

Less than a week after it was announced that the opening of the football stadium in Inglewood would be delayed by a year, NFL owners voted Tuesday to relocate the 2021 Super Bowl from Los Angeles to Tampa, according to multiple reports.

Record rainfall has been cited for construction delays, and the league is relunctant to play a Super Bowl in the first year of a new stadium, NBC Sports reports.

NFL owners at the Spring League Meeting in Chicago unanimously voted to shift Super Bowl 55 to Tampa and Super Bowl 56 to Los Angeles, according to NFL.com.

The NFL would have needed to waive a rule that prohibits a Super Bowl being played at a stadium before it has hosted two full regular seasons. Instead, it chose to move the game to Tampa, runner-up to Los Angeles in the bidding.

Los Angeles has not hosted a Super Bowl in the area since 1993 in the Rose Bowl in Pasadena. Five Super Bowls have been played at the Rose Bowl and two at the Los Angeles Coliseum, where the Rams will play until the new $2.6 billion stadium opens.

Next year's Super Bowl will be played in Minneapolis, followed by Atlanta in 2019 and Miami in 2020.

The NFL has been eager to return to Southern California since the Rams and Raiders moved out of the area after the 1994 season. League owners approved the Rams' return from St. Louis, with owner Stan Kroenke's promise of a stunning new stadium — one that will be the most expensive in the league.

The 70,000-seat Inglewood stadium is expected to be the centerpiece of an entertainment and commercial center spanning roughly 300 acres at the site of the former Hollywood Park racetrack. The district is envisioned to include a roughly 6,000-seat arena, more than 1.5 million square feet of retail and office space, 2,500 residential units and possibly a 300-room hotel, along with 25 acres of parks and open space.

The Associated Press and City News Service contributed to this report.



Photo Credit: Getty]]>
<![CDATA[Los Angeles Rams Unveil New Uniforms for 2017 Season]]>Fri, 03 Mar 2017 14:35:03 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/160*144/RamsNewUniforms.jpg

The Rams are turning over a new leaf.

After a tumultuous first season back in Los Angeles, the NFL franchise is ready for a fresh start.  The team cleaned house in the offseason, firing head coach Jeff Fisher and most of his assistants before hiring Sean McVay, the youngest head coach in NFL history.

On Wednesday, the team continued the reinvention of the Rams by unveiling their new uniforms for the 2017 season. 

The team will wear white and navy blue, a nod to the team's long history in Los Angeles and playing at the L.A. Coliseum. The Rams wore similar uniforms in week 16 on a Thursday night game against the Seattle Seahawks.

The new uniforms consist of a white-horned navy helmet with a white face mask. As seen in the image above, the pants are white with just one navy stripe down the side, a detail that was voted on by fans on social media this week.

The team announced that over 90,000 fans voted for a single stripe over a double stripe on the pants in an online poll that was up for just 48 hours on Facebook and Twitter.

For fans of the Rams history in Los Angeles, the new uniforms are similar to the one's worn by the team between 1964 and 1972 when greats like Rosey Grier, Deacon Jones, Lamar Lundy and Merlin Olsen wore them. This quarter, otherwise known as the "Fearsome Foursome," struck fear in the hearts and minds of opponents.

"This just goes to show all the hard work my teammates and I put in while wearing those uniforms isn't forgotten," said quarterback of the Rams from 1962 to 1972 Roman Gabriel. "We loved those uniforms and wore them with pride. I know the current players will wear their uniforms, especially the white horns with just as much pride."

The Rams are not done with just new jerseys, the team is undergoing a full rebrand and will introduce new uniforms in 2019 when the new LA Stadium and Entertainment District at Hollywood Park opens.



Photo Credit: LA Rams]]>
<![CDATA[Rams Turn to Fans for Advice on New Fall Look]]>Thu, 02 Mar 2017 11:29:44 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/200*120/04-29-2016-rams-helmet-generic-1.jpg

The Los Angeles Rams are turning to fans for some style advice.

The team will unveil its full uniform for the 2017 season Thursday after online voting concludes on the color of their facemasks. The team is asking fans whether their facemasks should be blue or white.

Voting, which is being conducted on Twitter and Facebook, will end at 4 p.m.

The Rams announced Wednesday they will wear blue helmets with white horns, similar to what they wore from 1964-72.

They also asked fans this week to vote on the pants they'll wear. The team will remove the gold from their pants and conducted a poll Tuesday and Wednesday on whether their pants should have a single blue stripe or a double blue stripe.

The Rams will continue to wear the white jersey they wore for most of their home games in 2016; it contains navy and hints of gold.

The team is continuing to explore a full rebrand, including new uniforms, that will be unveiled in 2019, their first season in the stadium under construction in Inglewood.

NBC4's Jonathan Lloyd contributed to this report.



Photo Credit: Getty
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<![CDATA[Rams Announce 2017 Full Coaching Staff]]>Wed, 08 Feb 2017 19:01:50 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/LARamsCoachingStaff.jpg

The Rams are starting fresh.

After a tumultuous 4-12 record in their first season in Los Angeles, the Rams fired head coach Jeff Fisher and have now completed their offseason house cleaning as they have announced an entirely new coaching staff for the 2017 season.

The 18-member coaching team will be led by 31-year-old Sean McVay, the youngest head coach in NFL history.

"We have a great group of talented coaches that I'm very excited to work with this year," McVay said in a statement released by the team on Wednesday. "They have a vast array of experiences and the qualities we are looking for as we build this staff. Their unique insight to the game will collectively make this team better as we prepare for the 2017 season."

One of the only coaches retained by the Rams was interim head coach John Fassel who returns in his previous role as Special Teams Coordinator. A decision that three-time Pro Bowl punter, Johnny Hekker, hailed on social media.

After the departures of defensive coordinator Greg Williams to the Cleveland Browns and offensive coordinator Rob Boras to the Buffalo Bills, McVay quickly replaced each position with some well-respected names in the NFL.

Former head coach and renowned defensive coordinator Wade Phillips joins the Rams this season after winning a Super Bowl as DC with the Denver Broncos in 2016.

Speaking of Super Bowl, McVay nabbed Matt LaFleur as his new offensive coordinator. LaFleur was the quarterbacks coach for the NFC Champion Atlanta Falcons who collapsed in epic fashion on Sunday in a 34-28 loss to the New England Patriots.

LaFleur is a mentor of 2016 NFL MVP Matt Ryan and has spent the last two seasons in Atlanta molding Ryan into one of the elite quarterbacks in the NFL. Previously, he worked with McVay in Washington from 2010 to 2013 as quarterbacks coach of the Redskins.

Here is the complete list of coaches for the 2017 Los Angeles Rams:

Sean McVay (Head Coach) – McVay has been the offensive coordinator for the Washington Redskins under head coach Jay Gruden for the past three seasons. Prior to that he was the tight ends coach for the Redskins. He began his coaching career in 2008 as an assistant to Jon Gruden in Tampa Bay.

John Fassel (Special Teams Coordinator) – Served as the Rams’ special teams coordinator for the past five seasons where his units have consistently finished in the top tier of league rankings. Was Los Angeles’ interim head coach for the final three games of 2016. Led the Oakland Raiders’ special teams (2008-11) and served as an assistant in Baltimore (2005-07) prior to joining the Rams in 2012. Is the son of former Giants Head Coach Jim Fassel.

Matt LaFleur (Offensive Coordinator) – Entering his first NFL season as an offensive coordinator following a two-year stint with the Atlanta Falcons (2015-16) coaching quarterbacks, where he concluded the 2016 season with an NFC Championship title. Held the same position with the Washington Redskins (2010-13) where he coached alongside McVay. First NFL coaching position came in 2008 where he served as an offensive assistant with the Houston Texans (2008-09). Made five collegiate coaching stops over the course of his career which began in 2003 at his alma mater, Saginaw Valley State.

Wade Phillips (Defensive Coordinator) – Brings 39 seasons of coaching experience to Los Angeles, which includes 25 as a coordinator (seven teams) and nine as a full-time head coach (three teams). Previously held the same position with the Denver Broncos the past two seasons where he helped led the club to a victory in Super Bowl 50. Named Assistant Coach of the Year twice by the Pro Football Writers of America (2011 & 2015). Started his NFL career with the Houston Oilers under his father, Head Coach Bum Phillips.

Joe Barry (Assistant Head Coach/Linebackers) – Now in his 16th NFL season, including four as a defensive coordinator with the Washington Redskins (2015-16) and the Detroit Lions (2007-08). In his first stint coaching linebackers for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, he helped lead the team to their first championship with a 48-21 win over the Raiders in Super Bowl XXXVII.

Thad Bogardus (Defensive Quality Control) – Joins the Rams for his fourth season as an NFL assistant. Started his NFL career in 2014 with the Buffalo Bills as a defensive quality control coach and went to the Denver Broncos for the 2015 and 2016 seasons. Began his career as a graduate assistant at Ball State (2012-13).

Andy Dickerson (Assistant Offensive Line) – Enters his 11th NFL season and sixth with the Rams after serving as an assistant for the Cleveland Browns and New York Jets. Also worked in operations for the New England Patriots and played offensive line at Tufts University in Boston.

Ejiro Evero (Safeties) – Begins his first season with Los Angeles after spending 2016 as the defensive quality control coach for the Green Bay Packers. Spent five seasons with the San Francisco 49ers (2011-2015) as a defensive assistant, offensive assistant and quality control coach. Name is pronounced e-JEE-row EV-uh-row.

Bill Johnson (Defensive Line) – Coached defensive line for nearly four decades and boasts 16 years of NFL experience. Comes to Los Angeles from New Orleans where he developed the Saints defensive line for eight years. Served in the same role with the Denver Broncos (2007-08) and the Atlanta Falcons (2001-06). Son, Billy, is entering his fifth year with the Rams as an area scout.

Aaron Kromer (Offensive Line) – Was the Buffalo Bills’ offensive line coach the last two seasons and prior to that, served as the offensive coordinator/offensive line coach of the Chicago Bears (2013-14). Other NFL stops include the New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Oakland Raiders. Coached nine years on the collegiate level prior to entering the NFL ranks.

Zak Kromer (Offensive Quality Control) – Comes to Los Angeles after coaching in the same capacity for the Buffalo Bills during the 2016 season. Prior to joining the Bills, he was a student assistant for the University of Oklahoma’s football team.

Greg Olson (Quarterbacks) – Joins the Rams for his second coaching stint with the club where he previously served as an offensive coordinator from 2006-07. Resume includes nine seasons as an offensive coordinator in the NFL with four franchises and 30 years total of coaching experience.

Skip Peete (Running Backs) – Veteran of 18 seasons as an NFL assistant returns to Los Angeles for his second season. His previous coaching stops include coaching running backs for the Chicago Bears, Dallas Cowboys, and Oakland Raiders. His father, Willie, was a longtime college and NFL coach, and his brother, Rodney, played 16 seasons as an NFL quarterback.

Aubrey Pleasant (Cornerbacks) – Coached with McVay at the Washington Redskins for four seasons beginning in 2013. Started his NFL career as an offensive assistant in Washington before transitioning to a defensive quality control a year later. Became the Redskins’ assistant defensive backs coach in 2016.

Ted Rath (Strength and Conditioning) – Enters his ninth NFL season and first with Los Angeles after spending 2016 with the Miami Dolphins as the club’s strength and conditioning coach and the previous seven seasons with the Detroit Lions in the same capacity (2009-15).

Chris Shula (Assistant Linebackers) – Hired as a defensive quality control by the San Diego Chargers in 2015 and previously served as defensive coordinator at John Carroll University. Played college football with McVay at Miami (Ohio) and is the son of former Bengals Head Coach David Shula and grandson of Don Shula, Hall of Fame head coach of the Colts and Dolphins.

Zac Taylor (Assistant Wide Receivers) – Comes to Los Angeles after spending 2016 as the offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach for the Cincinnati Bearcats. Began his NFL coaching career coaching quarterbacks for the Miami Dolphins staff in 2012 and was named offensive coordinator in 2015. His brother, Press, is an assistant coach with the Philadelphia Eagles.

Shane Waldron (Tight Ends) – Was a member of the Washington Redskins’ staff last season and served as the team’s offensive quality control coach. His other professional football coaching experience includes the wide receivers for the Hartford Colonials (UFL), and tight ends and offensive quality control for the New England Patriots. 

Eric Yarber (Wide Receivers) – Most recently coached wide receivers at UCLA dating back to 2012 after two seasons with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and five seasons in the NFL overall. Other coaching stops include the Seattle Seahawks, Oregon State, San Francisco 49ers, University of Washington and Arizona State. Was drafted by the Washington Redskins in 1986 and was part of the team that won Super Bowl XXII.



Photo Credit: Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[PHOTOS: Relive Super Bowl LI]]>Sun, 05 Feb 2017 23:34:03 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-633935718.jpgWe look back at Super Bowl LI through photos as the Patriots complete the greatest comeback in Super Bowl history.

Photo Credit: Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Rams Stellar Defense in Hands of Wade Phillips]]>Thu, 19 Jan 2017 12:20:56 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/215*120/Wade+Phillips.png

Wade Phillips is the Los Angeles Rams' new defensive coordinator, the team confirmed Thursday.

A week after 30-year-old head coach Sean McVay said the 69-year-old Phillips would be joining him on the West Coast, their partnership finally was made official by the Rams, who are rebuilding after finishing 4-12 in their 13th consecutive non-winning season.

Phillips begins his 40th NFL season as a coach with the Rams, the 10th franchise to employ him. He was a head coach at Dallas, Buffalo and Denver, and he served as an interim head coach for New Orleans, Atlanta and the Houston Texans.

The son of famed coach Bum Phillips has been one of the NFL's top defensive minds for decades. He spent the past two years with the Broncos, coordinating the dominant defense that won the Super Bowl last season.

"Wade has seen it all in our league, and I believe that his wealth of knowledge and experience will be a tremendous asset to our entire coaching staff and players," McVay said in a statement. "Our defense has been one of our core strengths, and I expect it to continue to grow and thrive under Wade's leadership."

Phillips, who will turn 70 before the upcoming season begins, might seem to be an unlikely partner for McVay, who will be the youngest head coach in modern NFL history even after he turns 31 next week.

But they have a strong family connection: Phillips' son, Wes, was McVay's tight ends coach for the past three seasons in Washington.

Phillips and his wife also have personal reasons to be excited about a move to Southern California: His daughter, Tracy, works in Los Angeles as a dancer and choreographer.

Gregg Williams was Jeff Fisher's defensive coordinator last season with the Rams, who haven't made the playoffs since the 2004 season in St. Louis. Williams left for the Cleveland Browns shortly after the regular season ended with the Rams losing the final seven games in their homecoming season.

Phillips traditionally runs a 3-4 defense, but Rams defensive linemen Aaron Donald, Robert Quinn and Michael Brockers all excelled in Williams' 4-3 scheme. McVay said last week that he expects Phillips to have no problem coming up with ways to maximize the success of Los Angeles' talented defensive line.

McVay's coaching staff is quietly taking shape one week after the Rams hired the former Washington offensive coordinator. The Rams are retaining special teams coordinator John Fassel, who served as their interim coach for the final three games after Fisher was fired last month.

The Rams are soon expected to announce the hiring of veteran offensive coordinator Greg Olson as their quarterbacks coach. Olson worked on Jon Gruden's staff at Tampa Bay with McVay, who says he will call the Rams' plays next season.

Veteran NFL assistant Joe Barry is in line to become the Rams' assistant head coach and linebackers coach, and Bill Johnson is expected to be their defensive line coach. The team hasn't announced their hiring yet, either.



Photo Credit: Scott Halleran/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[5 Things You Should Know About LA Rams Coach Sean McVay]]>Sat, 14 Jan 2017 23:33:07 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/194*120/McVay+Rams+5+things.png

Wolfgang Puck, Bill Walsh and Fergie. Three famed figures that could not be more different from each other, and yet, they all have one thing in common: Los Angeles Rams new head coach Sean McVay.

L.A.'s first team to relocate back to the City of Angels sent shockwaves through the NFL on Thursday when they announced their new head coach would be a 30-year-old millennial with no experience.

McVay made history when he was announced to the media for a nearly hour-long press conference on Friday. Despite his youthful inexperience, the former Washington Redskins Offensive Coordinator showed poise, passion, and intensity along with maturity beyond his years.

If you're like most of us in Southern California, you've never heard of McVay before Friday. Don't feel bad, neither did Wolfgang Puck, which leads us to a story that starts at Spago in Beverly Hills as we tell you five things you should know about the Rams new head coach.

1. He Gets Starstruck Just Like Us

Rams Owner Stan Kroenke took McVay and several team officials out to dinner at Spago in Beverly Hills on Tuesday night. The informal interview was the second for McVay and the Rams' front office, but first at a hot spot such as Spago.

During the dinner meeting, celebrity chef Wolfgang Puck, (who owns the restaurant), continually approached the table to talk to Kroenke.

"Wolfgang kept asking, 'Mr. Kroenke, have we found a coach?' McVay told a select group of reporters after the press conference. "I wanted to say to him, 'Hey man, I'm right here!"

Turns out, Mr. Puck was not the only celebrity to approach the table that night, McVay, who was visiting Los Angeles for the first time in his life this week, said he nearly lost his cool when celebrity couple Josh Duhamel and Fergie approached the table.

"Only in L.A.," McVay said about meeting the Transformers actor and the Black Eyed Peas singer. "I'm sitting there and Josh Duhamel and Fergie walk up and wish Mr. Kroenke good luck."

"Did they recognize you?" I asked him.

"Absolutely not," McVay said smiling. "They were probably thinking, 'Who is this guy?'"

He's the new head coach of the Rams, that's who he is.

2. Youngest Head Coach in NFL History

As mentioned, McVay became the youngest coach in NFL history when the Rams made the announcement on Thursday. At 30-years-old, McVay surpasses the previous record held by former Raiders head coach Lane Kiffin who was 31 when he was hired by Al Davis in 2007.  

McVay's age was on display during the press conference when his parents and younger brother took their seats in the second row. His mother and father looked younger than the previous Rams coach, Jeff Fisher, and looked just as shocked as we did when they found out McVay was getting the job.

"It's an incredible moment," said his father Tim. "It came fast."

"Your son is going to do a great job," added Rams vice president Kevin Demoff.

While there are a few players on the Rams roster that are older than their head coach, most notably defensive end William Hayes, L.A. has the youngest roster in the NFL and the youngest starting quarterback in 22-year-old Jared Goff.

"I'm very excited," said Goff who spent a few hours with McVay this week before the decision was announced. "I said to myself, 'If they pick him, I'm going to be really excited.' And they did. I liked it."

3. He's a Jon Gruden and Mike Shanahan Protégé

McVay was groomed by the Grudens to become an NFL head coach. His grandfather, John, was close friends with Jim Gruden Sr. as the two coached and worked together at the collegiate level. So it should come as no surprise that Jon Gruden hired McVay fresh out of college at the age of 24 to be a coaches assistant in Tampa Bay.

"The Gruden Family and the McVay gamily go way back," McVay said during the press conference. "Jim Gruden St. actually recruited my dad (Tim) to the University of Indiana, so our family connections go way back. That opportunity to be a coaching assistant was one that I was fortunate enough to take advantage of. Coach Gruden gave me an opportunity to get on the staff and get right into this thing."

After Gruden left Tampa Bay in 2008, McVay moved on to Jon's brother, Jay Gruden. The younger Gruden was coaching the Florida Tuskers in the United Football League, and he hired McVay as the wide receivers coach.

After that, McVay got a job with Mike Shanahan as the tight ends coach with the Washington Redskins. Under the tutelage of Shanahan and his son, Kyle, McVay fine-tuned his offensive skills, eventually getting promoted to offensive coordinator when he was reunited with Jay Gruden in 2013.

"Sean has been a part of Mike and Kyle's system," said Rams' general manager Les Snead. "In Washington, what he did was a blend of Jon and Jay Gruden with Mike and Kyle. So it's an interesting evolution there."

4. He Comes From a Football Family

McVay's leatherhead legacy started with his grandfather John McVay who was the head coach of the New York Giants from 1976-1978.

After that, he spent 21 years with the San Francisco 49ers where he was the architect of the Niners dynasty in the 80s and 90s. Part of McVay's first executive move after being named the Niner's vice president was to hire Bill Walsh who led San Francisco to three Super Bowl Championships before they won two more under his successor, George Seifert.

The youngest McVay was born in 1986 and grew up around the 49ers organization.

"I can remember being around those guys," he told Sports Illustrated about San Francisco legends Joe Montana, Jerry Rice and Steve Young. "I was around Jeff Garcia and Terrell Owens. They were always so great to me. At the time I was so young, you don't realize what a unique and neat experience it was."

5. He Comes From the 'Cradle of Coaches'

McVay played his college ball at the University of Miami (Ohio), the same as his grandfather. The RedHawks football program is known as the "Cradle of Coaches" as they are responsible for developing some of the greatest leaders to ever grace the sidelines.

In addition to his grandfather, Miami (Ohio) is responsible for Bo Schembechler, Woody Hayes, John Pont, Sean Payton, Jim Tressel, Ara Parseghian and John Harbaugh.

"As soon as I got into coaching out of college, I knew I wanted to be a head coach," McVay said of his career arc.

"When you listen to Sean quote Bill Walsh and John Wooden, you get the sense this someone who understands how to have success," added Demoff during the press conference.

The Rams are hoping that they have the right man for the job both now and in the future, and referenced other young coaching hires in the NFL who went on to win the Super Bowl. One of those was Walsh himself who famously said:

"Champions behave like champions before they are champions."

If that rings true, the Rams may be champions of the NFL one day under McVay. 



Photo Credit: Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Top Images From the 2017 NFL Playoffs]]>Mon, 30 Jan 2017 09:28:48 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/180*120/PatSteelers3.jpgCheck out some of the best images from the playoffs of the 2016-2017 NFL season.

Photo Credit: Matt Slocum/AP Photo]]>
<![CDATA[Rams End Season on 7 Game Losing Skid]]>Sun, 01 Jan 2017 20:06:55 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/206*120/Rams+Finale+against+Arizona.png

It was not a Happy New Year for the Los Angeles Rams.

Jared Goff ended his rookie campaign without a victory as the Los Angeles Rams welcomed in the New Year with a loss, 44-6, to the Arizona Cardinals on New Year's Day at the Coliseum. 

Goff threw for just 120 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions, but was sacked seven times as the Rams stagnant offense was unable to reach the end zone.

"They had nothing to lose so they brought a lot of pressure," Goff said of the seven sacks. "I appreciate the effort from our group up front. Unfortunately, it didn't work out."

The loss was the team's seventh consecutive of the season, all with Goff under center as the team has lost 11 of their final 12 games, finishing 4-12, their worst finish since the 2011 season, the year before they hired Jeff Fisher.

"We just lost our mojo," said linebacker Alec Ogletree of the team's 1-11 finish to the season. "I felt like we kept trying to play each week, but we didn't learn how to finish games."

Todd Gurley entered the game just 155 yards shy of 1,000 on the season, but had his worst performance on the ground in the finale, carrying the ball 14 times for just 40 yards.

"It didn't come," Gurley said of missing out on 1,000 yards this season. "Coming off a season like this, I don't ever want to feel this way again. I'm gonna work a little bit harder this offseason."

The Rams best offensive play of the game, and the season for that matter, came on a trick play at the end of the first quarter when rookie wide receiver Pharoh Cooper caught a screen pass and then threw to a wide-open Gurley at the ten-yard line.

However, the play personified the Rams season as the pass sailed in the air for too long, and was intercepted by Cardinals safety Harlan Miller at the last second.

Former USC Trojan, Carson Palmer, made his return to the Coliseum, and threw for 255 yards with three touchdowns and an interception.

"I never dreamt I would get an opportunity to play in this facility again and it was everything I could have asked for and more," Palmer said of his return. "It was a beautiful day. We had tons of fans here. Just a great day and a great way to finish off this season."

J.J. Nelson caught four passes for 75 yards to led the Cardinals and Pro-Bowler Larry Fitzgerald had 5 catches for 43 yards and a touchdown in the game. After his fourth quarter score, the remaining Cardinals fans at the Coliseum started chanting, "Larry, Larry, Larry!" for the veteran wideout.

"I heard it, it was nice to see that many Cardinal fans come out and support," said Fitzgerald. "It's always good when we can put a show on for them on the road."

All-Pro running back David Johnson was carted off the field with a horrific knee injury in the first quarter. Johnson's left leg was caught under a Rams' defensive end Eugene Sims and bent awkwardly on the play.

Johnson set an NFL record with 100 yards from scrimmage in each of his first 15 games last week, and was looking to extend that record to 16 games on Sunday. He was also seeking to become the first player since Marshall Faulk and Roger Craig to record 1,000 yards rushing and receiving in a single season. Johnson finished the year with 841 yards receiving, 159 short of the mark.

"Nothing seriuos it looks like right now," Arians said after the game. "We'll get an MRI tomorrow, but he's walking fine and he's in good spirits. Knock on wood there's no ligament damage.."

Rams punter Johnny Hekker extended his NFL-record for most punts inside the 20 with one more in the game. Hekker will finish the season with the record at 51 punts.

Plenty of questions surround the Rams as they head into the offseason. The most glaring will be if the team retains general manager Les Snead, and if not, who will replace him. After finding a new GM, who that person will hire as the next head coach and assistant coaches, thereafter.

"I'm going to go home tonight and spend some time with my wife and kids," said interim head coach John Fassel. "I am a Ram and I'm proud to be a Ram, but my fate is up to other people."

The team will be built on offense around Jared Goff and running back Todd Gurley. The offensive line and wide receiver positions are glaring weaknesses for the team.

"This isn't the end, it's the beginning," said Goff after the game. "Whenever we get that new playbook while start learning it. Our guys are hungrier than ever."

On defense, the front line consisting of former Defensive Rookie of the Year and three-time Pro Bowler Aaron Donald is a strength, as is Alec Ogletree at linebacker. The secondary, especially at the cornerback position could be a place the team could upgrade.

"Something has to change, a lot has to change," said safety T.J. McDonald. "In this business, you want to move on, flush it and get this organization to where it needs to be."



Photo Credit: Stephen Dunn/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Rams' Punter Johnny Hekker Sets NFL Record]]>Sat, 24 Dec 2016 18:48:16 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/206*120/Johnny+Hekker+NFL+record.png

LOS ANGELES – It's been a season of misery for the Los Angeles Rams this year, but on Saturday, they found a silver lining.

Punter Johnny Hekker put an exclamation point on the most successful special teams season in NFL history when he set the all-time record for most punts inside the 20-yard-line when he pinned the San Francisco 49ers on the 13-yard marker in the second quarter. 

The former Oregon State punter surpassed Dave Zastudil's record when he placed 46 punts inside the 20 with the Arizona Cardinals in 2012. Hekker's record was even more impressive as he broke the mark on just 85 tries compared to Zastudil who set the mark on 112 kicks. 

Hekker was named to the Pro Bowl earlier this week for the third time in his career.

Hekker spoke with NBC LA on Tuesday at the team's practice facility in Thousand Oaks to talk about his Pro Bowl selection and the record.

"The number really snuck up on us," Hekker said about his 47th punt. "We didn't even really think about it until probably the last weeks, when we were like, 'Hey, damn, we're at 40.' We're just trying to do what we can to help this team. If records come with that, that's a positive."

Hekker is also the league leading in punting average with over 46.2 net yards per punt, and has already kicked the ball further than 75 yards twice this season.

"I'm so grateful to be playing under Coach Fassel and with the rest of the special teams group that takes so much pride in what we do," continued Hekker. "I really owe it to the other guys that go out there and make me look good on a consistent basis." 

Interim head coach John Fassel has been the Rams special teams coach since Hekker joined the Rams in 2012 and credits a lot of his success to the high-energy coach that has developed arguably the best punter in the league.

He extended his record to 50 punts inside the 20 by the time the game was over as the Rams lost a heartbreaker, blowing a 14-point fourth quarter lead, 22-21, to the 49ers at the LA Coliseum.



Photo Credit: Michael Thomas/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Rams Pro Bowl Stars Want to Celebrate With Win]]>Thu, 22 Dec 2016 03:02:07 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/203*120/Aaron+Donald+Pro+Bowl.png

The Rams have had a tough season.

At 4-10, the move to LaLa Land in the offseason for the former St. Louis franchise has not yielded the Hollywood ending one would have hoped for. However, there is a silver lining in the script that is the L.A. Rams 2016 season.

Two stars have emerged from the fire, defensive tackle Aaron Donald and punter Johnny Hekker, both of whom were selected to the Pro Bowl on Tuesday. 

"It's been tough," Donald said of the Rams struggles this season. "It's definitely been tough this year. I had high expectations for this year, thinking we were going to do some big things, and a lot of things just didn't go the way we expected." 

Some of those surprises were the team switching quarterbacks halfway through the season, and to see their coach get fired just four weeks later. 

After the season ends, the leader of the Rams' defense will head to Orlando for his third straight Pro Bowl. He knows that shortly thereafter, the team will have a new head coach, and likely, a new general manager.

With an entirely different coaching staff and front office, the 2017 Rams will look drastically different, but without building around Donald, they could look the same on the field. 

"We need to finish these last two games strong and try to build on what we have," Donald said of the team's final two games of the season that starts Saturday at home against the San Francisco 49ers. "Next year it's going to be a totally different team." 

One player whose role is solidified is Hekker, a special teams standout who is one-punt inside the 20 away from setting the all-time NFL record this season.

"I'm so grateful to be playing under Coach Fassel and with the rest of the special teams group that takes so much pride in what we do," Hekker said. "I really owe it to the other guys that go out there and me look good on a consistent basis." 

Hekker leads the league in punt average at 46.2 yards per kick and has surpassed 70 net yards twice already this season. Despite his historic season, he's still had some time to stop and admire his fellow Pro Bowl teammate. 

"It's quite the sight to behold, just watching Aaron dismantle a double and triple team out there," Hekker said via conference call on Tuesday. "You can tell that the other teams' offensive coordinators have to game plan for Aaron Donald, and he's still a game wrecker."

Donald has seven sacks this season, four less than last season, and two less than he had in 2014 when he was named the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year. The reason for the drop off is the amount of attention that Donald receives on every snap, as coordinators often send two and three linemen at him at all times.

Pro Bowl voters saw past the statistics to see the game-changing player that Donald is, not to mention the fact that remarkably, he's been able to stay injury free this season. In doing so, Donald joins Torry Holt as the first Rams player to earn three consecutive Pro Bowl selections since 2000. 

"It's definitely a big accomplishment," he said on a conference call of his own. "Anytime you get rewarded for all the work you put into this game, you're going to be happy about it. So definitely a big deal." 

It's noteworthy, that no players on the Rams offense were selected to the Pro Bowl this season which should not come as a surprise considering that unit ranks last in the NFL. 

That could all change on Christmas Eve when the Rams look to put up some points on the hapless 49ers defense that is also last in the league, and allowing an NFL-worst 31 points per game. 

Running back Todd Gurley, who has had a disappointing sophomore campaign, has the opportunity to rush for over 100 yards for the first time this season as San Francisco allows 176.3 rushing yards per game, dead last in the league. 

"We've got to make out blocks. We can't jump offside, and we can't hold on the big runs," Rams' Offensive Coordinator Rob Boras said on what it will take for Gurley to break out in Week 15. "I thought Todd was running really strong in the first half [against Seattle]. We need to find that rhythm and more consistency. Hopefully we can keep handing him the ball where he can find one of those explosive runs."

For the Rams to win on Saturday, Gurley will need to have a big game, and that will likely mean that the team is in the contest for it's entirety, unlike their lopsided 28-0 loss in their opener. If they can do that, there's a strong chance that the team can celebrate Christmas on a high note this year, with two Pro Bowlers and a victory over their rivals.



Photo Credit: Christian Petersen/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Jeff Fisher Wants Revenge on Rams]]>Tue, 20 Dec 2016 21:47:28 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/207*120/Jeff+Fisher+Wants+to+play+Rams.png

"The best revenge is massive success." – Frank Sinatra

Jeff Fisher spoke candidly of his desire to get revenge on the Los Angeles Rams after they fired him last Monday, following a 42-14 loss to the Atlanta Falcons in Week 13. 

Fisher sat down with Charissa Thompson of Fox Sports in his first interview since the firing, and vented his frustration with the organization and how the season unfolded.

"Bottom line is I didn't win enough games," began Fisher when asked what happened. 

Fisher admitted that he was taken by surprise by the timing of his termination, but knew he was on the hot seat after the team had lost eight of their last nine games before the final decision to part ways was made.

"I knew things were getting tough, but I didn't anticipate this," he said. "I always thought that depending on what happened the last three weeks, there might be that potential, but on a short week it caught me off guard."

Fans in Los Angeles became increasingly frustrated with the team's performance and Fisher's public feud with Hall of Fame running back Eric Dickerson.

As the team continued to lose, news of Fisher signing a two-year contract extension leaked, as did reports that his relationship with General Manager had turned "toxic."

"Somehow it got out and that became an issue," he said of the extension. "None of it was handled appropriately. In my opion, the successful NFL teams stay quiet, they don't leak things and that was a frustration of mine." 

Fisher confirmed that the decision to draft Jared Goff with the No. 1 overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft was largely his, but said that it was a "unanimous decision."

Both in his interview with NFL Gameday and Sirius XM NFL Radio on Tuesday, Fisher bestowed praise on Goff.

"He's going to be the face of this franchise and he's going to be great," Fisher said. 

"He's still learning as you saw on Thursday night when he took that hit," he told Sirius XM NFL radio. "Don't take those hits. It hasn't translated into wins yet, but he's going to be special."

For Fisher, his pathway to "massive success" starts with an opportunity to coach another NFL team, something that he said he wants very much.

When asked where that next opportunity might be or when it will come, Fisher just had one requirement for the next head coaching job he gets. 

"I want a chance to play the Rams," he said with a huge grin on his face.

That's going to be fun to watch.

The Rams next take the field on Saturday, December 24, at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum against the San Francisco 49ers.



Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Image]]>
<![CDATA[Poopfest: Rams Fall to Seahawks in Seattle]]>Thu, 15 Dec 2016 21:53:12 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/208*120/Rams+Fall+to+Seattle.png

The lamp may be different, but the lights are the same.

The Los Angeles Rams offense struggled again as they fell to the Seattle Seahawks, 24-3, in their first game without head coach Jeff Fisher on NBC's Thursday Night Football. 

Russell Wilson threw three touchdown passes to three different receivers as the Seahawks clinched the NFC West Division with the victory.

Meanwhile, in a tale of two teams headed in opposite directions, the Rams continued their downward spiral as they dropped their fifth consecutive game and ninth in their last ten matchups. 

Both teams were playing on just three days rest in an NFC West matchup deemed the "Poopfest," by Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman throughout the week.

Despite most of the team not playing at 100 percent, the Rams started the game with an unexpected energy and excitement under new interim head coach John Fassel. 

Fassel proved to be every bit the risk taker he was as Special Teams coordinator for the Rams when he went for it on 4th and 1 from the Seattle 7-yardline on just L.A.'s second drive of the game.

Two drives later, with the Rams trailing 7-0, Fassel called for a fake punt on 4th and 9 from their own 30, but Johnny Hekker's pass fell short to a wide-open Michael Thomas that would have been enough for the first down.

With nothing to lose, the Rams played loose and free throughout the contest, but unfortunately a tiger doesn't change it's stripes, and the offensive inefficiency problems that plagued the team all season continued to rear its ugly head on Thursday night.

Entering the fourth quarter, the Rams had less than 100 yards on total offense, and just three points on the board.

Jared Goff finished 13 for 25 for 135 yards with no touchdowns and no interceptions. Todd Gurley had 38 yards on 14 carries and Kenny Britt led the Rams receiving corps with four catches for 50 yards.

The game may have been decided on a controversial call at the end of the third quarter. On first and goal, Russell Wilson threw a pass to Jimmy Graham in the corner of the end zone that appeared to have been intercepted by linebacker Bryce Hager.

The play was ruled incomplete on the field and Fassel challenged the call, but after review, the ruling was upheld. IT was a game-changing decision as Wilson threw a touchdown pass to Doug Baldwin two plays later to give the Seahawks a two-touchdown lead.

On Seattle's next drive, Wilson connected with wide receiver Tyler Lockett on a 57-yard touchdown bomb that gave the Seahawks a 24-3 lead. Locket finished the game with seven receptions for 130 yards and a touchdown.

Goff left the game early in the fourth quarter and was taken to the locker room for concussion testing after he took a shot from Sherman inside the five-yardline. In total, four different players had to leave the game for concussion testing.

The Rams three points scored was the second lowest total of the season since their were shutout 28-0 by the 49ers on Monday Night Football in the opening game of the season.

Players of the Game:

Russell Wilson: 221 yards, three touchdowns.
Tyler Locket: 6 catches for 122 yards and a touchdown.
Seattle Defense: 3 points allowed.

Three Takeaways:

1. Poopfest: The Thursday night matchup between the two NFC West Division opponents was officially titled the "Poopfest," by Seahawks cornerback Richard Sherman who blasted the NFL for scheduling games on Thursday night during the week.

2. Ankle Breaker: Seattle Seahwaks wide receiver, Doug Baldwin, broke the ankles of Rams' cornerback Troy Hill during a third quarter touchdown catch. Hill was promoted from the practice squad to the active roster on Wednesday.

3. Law and Order: Leave it to NBC to find a use for the theme song of one of their most successful TV shows, Law and Order, during a replay review in the third quarter.

Up Next:

Rams (4-10): Los Angeles will get eight days off to rest before they host the San Francisco 49ers at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum on Christmas Eve.

Seahawks (9-4-1): Seattle will also have eight days off before they host the Arizona Cardinals on Christmas Eve.

Please refresh this page for more stats, updates, and player reactions…



Photo Credit: Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Who is Rams New Coach John Fassel?]]>Tue, 13 Dec 2016 09:59:35 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/172*120/AP_16348067277672.jpg

Boy, that escalated quickly.

Los Angeles Rams' special teams coach John Fassel hadn't even gone to sleep after the team lost to the Atlanta Falcons, 42-14, on Sunday at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum, and was preparing for a Monday morning meeting, when he was called into Jeff Fisher's office.

"It happened so fast," Fassel recalled. "I found out just about an hour before my special teams meeting. I talked to Mr. Demoff, and Coach Fisher, and they let me know that this was going to happen."

The "This," he was referring to, was the decision that shook up, but did not necessarily surprise, the sports world on Monday afternoon as the Rams announced that they had fired Fisher as head coach of the team after five losing seasons, promoting Fassel as the interim head coach. 

"The first thing I did was talk to Coach Fisher and basically asked what he thought and asked for his blessing," a doe-eyed Fassel said when faced in front of hundreds of media members and cameras. "I said to him, 'Coach me up, Coach Fish! And he told me everything that I needed to know."

Fassel's run with the Rams over the final three games will be his first taste as an NFL head coach, but he comes from a long line of coaches, and has the pedigree to be successful in the role, both now and in the future.

As Fassel spends the next 48 hours learning "everything he needs to know" to do the job, NBC LA fills you in on everything you need to know about the Rams new interim head coach.

Fassel, 42, joined the Rams staff as the special teams coach at the same time Fisher took over in 2012. Over the past five seasons, his players have quickly become one of the best units in the NFL, and currently lead the league in punts and punt average this season.

Through the use of All-Pro punter Johnny Hekker, Fassel has become an aggressive special teams coordinator, creatively manufacturing fake punt, fake field goal, and nifty trick plays on kick off returns.

As we mentioned, Fassel has never had any previous head coaching experience, but is the son of former New York Giants head coach Jim Fassel, who led the G-Men from 1997 to 2003, including a Super Bowl appearance in 2000.

Father Fassel gave John his first coaching gig in the NFL when he was the offensive coordinator with the Baltimore Ravens in 2005, as he helped his son get hired as an assistant to the Special Teams coordinator with the Ravens.

Afterwards, Fassel spent three seasons as the special teams coordinator with the Oakland Raiders before joining Fisher and the Rams.

Admittedly, Fassel was surprised that he was chosen by the organization as the interim head coach, especially with other candidates out there like defensive coordinator Greg Williams, assistant head coach Dave McGinnis, and linebacker coach Mike Singletary all considered more qualified candidates.

"I was surprised," he said softly. "I'm grateful for it—although the situation isn't something that you want to be in, but they asked me to do it. Coach Fisher gave me his blessing, and I'll do it."

Fassel said he had no previous aspirations of being a head coach in the NFL, but believes he's ready for the opportunity to show the league what he can do.

He was obviously chosen by Rams owner Stan Kroenke and Chief Operating Officer Kevin Demoff for a reason, one that comes down to Fassel's attitude, energy, and relationship with the players.

"The players love him," Demoff told the media in a 45-minute press conference. "Our special teams is one of the best performing and his energy is great."

All-pro defensive lineman Aaron Donald was emotional after the announcement that Fisher was fired, but excited that Fassel had been promoted in his place.

"He's a player's coach. He's a great coach," Donald said from his locker. "He's going to push you and you're going to have fun doing it."

In any other circumstance, an interim head coach could have between a week to two weeks to get familiar with the job and prepare his team for battle. However, in the case of Fassel, he had 72 hours from being informed of his new title, to Thursday night when the Rams take the field against the Seattle Seahawks.

"I said to him, 'take these three games as, not only an audition for us, but for everybody else in the league and coach this team to the best of your ability,'" added Demoff. "And I think he'll take that challenge to heart and he'll get the best out of our players."

Fassel has received plenty of advice from friends and former coaches in the aftermath of the announcement, and although he hadn't spoken to him as of Monday evening, he plans to grab the ear of his father and his vital knowledge of the game over the next few days.

"I actually haven't talked to him," Fassel admitted. "I know it's horrible--I'll call you in a bit, Dad. I promise. It happened so fast, that I've neglected to call the people most important to me. But that will happen tonight."

Perhaps Fassel's biggest challenge other than to get the Rams out of their current four-game losing streak, is to change the energy and emotion around the facility, one that starting quarterback Jared Goff admitted on Monday was "awkward," and "weird," throughout the day.

"It was quiet today," acknowledged Fassel. "I don't think I can manufacture energy for the team. It's going to be something that will probably have to be built here over the next couple days. The best advice so far, from Coach 'Mac' [Dave McGinnis] was 'just be yourself,' if that helps create some energy, that's great—but I can't fake it."

Indeed, "be yourself," a memorable line from the Robin Williams voiced Genie character in the Disney animated film Aladdin, could turn out to be the best advice of all as things will become overwhelming for Fassel in the next 48 hours.

For fans that watched HBO's Hard Knocks this year, they might remember Fassel as the high-energy, enthusiastic, and encouraging leader of the special teams who was mic'd up at various times on the show.

The video above is a great example of just what kind of coach Fassel could be, as he tries to salvage the final three games of the season. In order to do that, he's going to try and inspire his team, build off Fisher's foundation, and hold everyone accountable for the season so far.

"This team doesn't need to be saved," Fassel said. "They need to rise up and take responsibility. If you love football and you love Coach Fisher, that has got to get us through the next three weeks."

Fassel knows he'll make mistakes and that he has to learn as he goes, but if the same guy that once saved a man's life who was caught in a portentous Pacific Ocean riptide off the coast of Manhattan Beach last year appears on the sidelines, then the Rams will be fine.

In the meantime, Fassel has already issued a new rallying cry for the team over the final three games.

"Go Kick Some A**!" he said on multiple occasions during his introductory press conference. "I don't know if I'm allowed to say that. I say it in the meetings, but I don't curse."

Go get em' Coach Fassel. 



Photo Credit: AP/Jayne Kamin-Oncea]]>
<![CDATA[Jared Goff Doesn't Impress Fran Tarkenton]]>Tue, 13 Dec 2016 03:34:20 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/204*120/Fran+Tarkenton.png

You've got a long way to go, kid.

At least that's what former Minnesota Vikings quarterback and Hall of Famer, Fran Tarekenton, thinks about No. 1 overall draft pick Jared Goff.

Tarkenton was at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum on Sunday afternoon and watched the Los Angeles Rams lose in a lopsided affair, 42-14, to the Atlanta Falcons.

After the game, Tarkenton tweeted that he watched Goff play, but said, "He isn't a very good at quarterback," and then expressed surprise that he was taken No. 1 overall in the 2016 NFL Draft.

Goff is 0-4 as the Rams starter and was just 24 of 41 for 235 yards and two interceptions against the Falcons. He did rush for a touchdown in the fourth quarter, but by that time, Atlanta already had their reserves on the field and the outcome was no longer in doubt.

Despite the harsh criticism, Tarkenton definitely is a great evaluator of the quarterback position.

The nine-time Pro Bowler was the NFL MVP in 1975 and at the time of his retirement in 1978, owned every major quarterback record.

Part of Goff's lackluster play over the past four weeks could be the anemic Rams offense which seems to lack creativity and excitement.

That could all change next season when the Rams will hire a new head coach that is expected to come from an offensive background. Current offensive coordinator, Rob Boras, an inexperienced OC is also expected to be gone at the end of the season, so it could be that Goff just needs a better leader to learn under.

In the meantime, it's still early in Goff's career but with fellow No. 1 overall picks, Cam Newton, Matthew Stafford, Andrew Luck, Carson Palmer, Eli Manning, and Jameis Winston all having success, he will need to produce sooner, rather than later. 



Photo Credit: Joe Robbins/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dickerson Says He'll Return to Rams Sideline]]>Tue, 13 Dec 2016 03:28:13 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/179*120/Dickerson1.JPG

One of the benefits of Monday's announcement that Jeff Fisher had been fired as head coach of the Los Angeles Rams is that Hall of Fame running back Eric Dickerson can now return to the sidelines.

Dickerson put a self-imposed ban on his attendance at Rams games this season after Fisher had called and told him he was no longer welcome on the sidelines as long as he was head coach. 

After the feud between the two went public, Dickerson vowed to never return to the L.A. Memorial Coliseum until Fisher was no longer on the field. That all changed on Monday.

"Of course I will go to the games now," Dickerson said on Fox Sports Radio's The Herd. "I have said this before, it's all about winning. The Los Angeles Rams fans deserve more, better than that. I just want us to win."

Dickerson said that he did not necessarily want Fisher to get fired, but his Twitter timeline suggested otherwise. Despite his words to the contrary, the Rams legend was not surprised by the news on Monday.

"I am not shocked," he told the show's host, Colin Cowherd about the firing. "I think it's something that had to happen. You have the players giving up on you; you have to make a change."

Dickerson was referring to the postgame comments by Rams' star running back Todd Gurley who said the team's offense played "like a middle school team," and believed that some of the players gave up.

The Rams lost their eighth game in nine contests, with Sunday's lopsided defeat the worst of the season so far. The Falcons led 42-0 entering the fourth quarter, and the game finished in a 42-14 blowout. 

"I am not hating on Jeff. I am not mad at him," Dickerson said. "But I can't be sorry for a guy who's made $35 million coaching. He'll be okay. It is what it is. They cut players, they went in another direction; we are just going another direction here also." 

Dickerson also weighed in on who he thought would make a good head coach for the Rams, naming Michigan's Jim Harbaugh and ESPN analyst Jon Gruden as potential successors to Fisher.

"They have to have someone who is a real football guy, who is going to make a difference, a splash," he said. "Not a yes man; they need someone who knows football and wants to win. That's what it's all about in L.A. You can't put a mediocre product on the field out here, as you saw yesterday."

Dickerson's next chance to be on the sideline will be on Christmas Eve, Saturday, December 24th, when new interim head coach John Fassel looks to beat the lowly San Francisco 49ers. 



Photo Credit: Michael Duarte/ NBC LA]]>
<![CDATA[Rams' Players React to Fisher's Firing]]>Tue, 13 Dec 2016 03:13:22 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/204*120/Players+React+to+Fisher+Firing.png

They said he was a "players coach," but even the players couldn't save Coach Jeff Fisher.

Fisher was fired on Monday morning by the Los Angeles Rams, less than 24 hours after his players defended him in an embarrassing 42-14 loss to the Atlanta Falcons at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum. 

Rams veteran offensive lineman Rodger Saffold talked about Fisher after the game on Sunday, and as a player who was with the Rams pre-Fisher, he said that the players have to take responsibility. 

"I've seen the 2-14 team, I've seen the 7-8-1 team that had a chance to go the playoffs—I've seen it all," Saffold said at his locker. "Eventually, something's going to have to change. I'll tell you right now, the coaches are coaching their ass off. And if we can't execute, then they get blamed. I'm sick of hearing that. It's up to us."

Unfortunately, it wasn't up to them. It was up to Rams' Owner Stan Kroenke and Vice-President and Chief Operating Officer Kevin Demoff, and after seeing a half-empty stadium with their team down 42-0 to start the fourth quarter, they decided enough was enough.

"He's a players coach, he gave us every opportunity and we didn't get it done," said safety T.J. McDonald on Monday after hearing the news. "We carry a big responsibility for what happened."

The former USC All-American was especially emotional at his locker as he discussed his fellow Trojan alum and now former head coach.

"Coach Fish gave me my chance and drafted me," added McDonald. "I love Coach Fish. I think I speak for everyone in the locker room when I say I have nothing but love for him."

Others in the Rams locker room at the team's practice facility ushered the same sentiments about Fisher, including the 2014 NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year, Aaron Donald. 

"We feel like we let him down," said Donald at his locker. "When things aren't going right you look at the leader, but we're out there playing the game. We're making the mistakes and we need to fix it. No matter who's coaching, we have to be the best football players we can." 

When asked if he thought it was Fisher's fault that the team had fallen to 4-9 this season and struggled in their last few games—all lopsided losses—Donald was defiant in his answer.

"No!" he exclaimed. "Coaches coach and players play. That's on us, we have to be more consistent."

On the practice field, the players were eerily quiet as the voice of their leader was glaringly absent in the afternoon.

"Today was hard," said starting quarterback Jared Goff. "It wasn't easy. It was weird. Coach Fisher always treated us the right way, and we let him down."

"Get away from my locker," running back Todd Gurley told reporters who gathered around him. "I'm not talking today and you can tweet that."

Fisher addressed his players shortly after he was informed of the owner's decision that the team would move on without him, and according to those in the room, it was a very emotional meeting.

"He stood up in front of the room like a man, told us he cared about us, said it was tough we couldn't get it done, but wants us to finish the season strong," McDonald said of the moment.

"He talked to us from the heart," added Donald. "He stood strong and talked to us like a man. Anytime you lose a leader like that, you're going to be down about it, but we got to keep on playing for him." 

It was a whirlwind 24 hours for the players and will be a roller coaster of emotions in the next 48 as they have to gather their thoughts and get on a plane to Seattle to face the NFC West-leading Seahawks in a primetime matchup on NBC's Thursday Night Football.

The last word of the afternoon came from Goff who was asked if there was a lesson he learned from all of this. The 22-year-old play caller paused, and then gave a poignant retort. 

"The number one lesson I learned, is that in this league things can go away quickly," he said. "One day you're here and one day you're not. Unfortunately, we learned that the hard way and some guys got a chance to see that." 



Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Why the Rams Fired Fisher and Who Will Be The Next Coach]]>Tue, 13 Dec 2016 03:06:02 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/196*120/Fisher+Fired.png

We all knew it was coming.

As the vice president of football operations and Chief Operating Officer of the Los Angeles Rams, Kevin Demoff stepped to the podium for the second time in as many weeks to address the media, he started his discourse with a few simple words:

"This is a difficult day." 

But was it?

After a nearly 45-minute press conference at the Rams practice facility in Thousand Oaks, everyone in the room knew that the writing was on the wall, well before the final decision came down.

It's always difficult when you have to fire someone, as it not only affects the individual themselves, but their co-workers, family, and friends. Nonetheless, the decision for Jeff fisher was a long time coming.

The beginning of the end for Fisher likely began when he, with the help of general manager Les Snead, traded six draft picks on the eve of the NFL draft in order to select Cal quarterback Jared Goff with the No. 1 overall draft pick.

Three months later, it was journeyman Case Keenum who was announced as the team's starting quarterback and as the team struggled from their initial 3-1 start to the season, the calls for Goff got louder and louder, voices that Fisher defiantly ignored until week nine of the season.

Then, it was the highly publicized feud with Rams legend and Hall of Fame running back Eric Dickerson who was critical of the team on the L.A. airwaves. After asking for sideline passes for his friends, Fisher called Dickerson and told him not only would he be denied the passes, but that he was not welcome on the sideline as long as he was the head coach of the team.

Dickerson drew a line in the sand after that phone call and vowed to never attend another Rams game as long as Fisher was the head coach. He retweeted fans praises, as well as their shouts for the Rams to fire Fisher immediately.

Finally, as the Rams season began to fall faster than a ship filling with water in the open sea, a report came out claiming that Fisher and Snead's relationship had become "toxic," and that the organization had become a "Junior High-like atmosphere."

The team's downright pathetic and embarrassing, 42-14, loss to the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum sealed the deal, and sent the Rams to a 4-9 record on the season. Just to add insult to injury, the loss tied Fisher with Dan Reeves for the most losses in NFL history with 165.

"Making a decision such as this, especially during the season, is one of the most difficult in sports. I have great respect for Jeff as a coach, person, father, and friend," Rams Owner Stan Kroenke said in a statement on Monday. 

"He has worked tirelessly despite some challenging circumstances. He played an integral role in helping this team make history in returning the NFL to Los Angeles, and we always will be grateful for his commitment and dedication to our organization. 

"However, this is the right time to make a change as our performance has not lived up to my or our fans' expectations. We all are focused on improving as an organization and building a team that makes Los Angeles proud. Our mission is to celebrate a Super Bowl title with our fans in L.A. Today is the first step to bring us closer to that goal."

Demoff and Kroenke watched the game on Sunday together from a suite and discussed Fisher's fate into the wee hours of the evening. Kroenke decided to sleep on it, and in the morning made the call to bring the axe down on his head coach.

If Fisher's firing is the first step to a Super Bowl, then the Rams will have a lot of stairs to climb over the next few seasons. Demoff admitted that the team's dismal season was not entirely Fisher's responsibility, but an "organizational failure," an announcement that could lead to the team cleaning house this offseason. 

"Coach Fisher was the only decision made today, but collectively, we all need to make changes," Demoff said. "We need to take an entire look at this organization. It would be a mistake to assure you that Les [Snead] would be back." 

The timing of his termination came as a surprise to Fisher as the Rams have just three games left in the season, including a game against the Seattle Seahawks in less than 72 hours. 

"I don't think he was expecting it." Demoff said of Fisher's reaction to the news. "Jeff was obviously disappointed. He was looking forward to coming back and getting this team in a better place."

Fans in Los Angeles were also expecting to see Fisher back on the sidelines next season, although admittedly, they were looking forward to it far less than the 58-year-old coach was.

Fisher was 31-45-1 in five seasons as the Rams head coach. He never had a winning record, with his best finish coming in his inaugural year with the Rams in 2012 when the team ended the year at 7-8-1.

Fisher was in the fifth and final year of his contract, but signed a two-year extension earlier in the year, a decision that shocked many when it was announced last Sunday before the Rams, 26-10, loss to the New England Patriots. 

"You never want anyone going into a relocation situation as a lame duck," Demoff said of why Fisher was given an extension. "We did it before the move."

It's normal when you're asking people to uproot their lives and families and move across the country that those same people would expect a certain amount of job security. Therefore, offering an extension to Fisher seemed appropriate at the time, and did not necessarily mean that the team would not part ways with their coach if they felt it necessary. In the case of Fisher, it was.

Fisher was making $7 million this season and is expected to receive that amount for next season as part of his extension. After he received the news on Monday morning, he asked to be the first person to address the team. 

Fisher told the team that he was let go as head coach, and vowed that he was there for them if they needed him. He reiterated his love for the players, and his disappointment that they were not able to get the job done. His parting words were to finish the final three games strong and that he would be rooting for them.

The Rams named special teams coordinator, John Fassel, as the interim head coach, and with three NFC West division games remaining, the organization is hopeful that a change of leadership can spark the team down the stretch.

"When you look at our team, we lost eight of nine and the last couple of losses weren't close. Those were factors in the decision," Demoff said. "There's never a good time, but with division games left, we thought we had a chance to win those games. At the end of the day, this team is not where it needs to be."

Now the search begins for the next head coach of the Los Angeles Rams, a job that lit by the backdrop of Hollywood could prove to be pretty enticing for some of the top coaches in the country. 

"We need to find the best head coach for the Los Angeles Rams and to do that, we have to look down every avenue," Demoff said about the search for the team's next head coach. "The biggest thing is, does he have a plan to maximize the potential of the offense."

The next head hauncho of the Rams will have a Pro Bowl running back in Todd Gurley and a young franchise quarterback with a big arm in Goff. They will also have the allure of a brand new $2.6 billion dollar stadium in Inglewood to move into in 2019. 

"What's most important with our fans is wins and losses and we need to find a coach moving forward to get us more wins than losses," concluded Demoff. "This is going to be a really attractive opening."

At least that's what the Rams' job posting will read.



Photo Credit: Jeff Gross/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Rams Fire Head Coach Jeff Fisher After Blowout Loss]]>Mon, 12 Dec 2016 14:04:52 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/200*120/Fisher+justified.png

The Los Angeles Rams relieved Jeff Fisher Monday morning of his head coaching duties after the franchise's disappointing first season back in Southern California, the team announced Monday morning.

The team issued a statement and planned to provided more details Monday afternoon.

"Making a decision such as this, especially during the season, is one of the most difficult in sports," said Rams Owner-Chairman Stan Kroenke. "I have great respect for Jeff as a coach, person, father and friend."

Fisher, 58, tied the NFL record for career losses by a head coach Sunday when the Rams were humiliated by the Atlanta Falcons 42-14 at the LA Memorial Coliseum. The loss dropped the Rams to 4-9 on their way to a 10th consecutive losing season.

Fisher was named head coach in 2012. He has a record of 31-45-1 during that time and 165 losses over his career -- tied with Dan Reeves for most career losses by an NFL head coach. His last winning season was in 2008 when he guided the Titans to a 13-3 record.

Fisher went 147-126 as coach of the Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans and helped that franchise in its relocation. He led the Titans to the 1999 AFC championship.

Special teams coordinator John Fassel will serve as interim coach. Fassel, 42, joined the Rams after spending the past three years as special teams coordinator in Oakland. He's also worked for the Ravens.

Kroenke gave Fisher a contract extension before the season, though it was not made public until recently. Now, that extension appears to be more like a bonus to Fisher for his role in aiding the organization's move to California than being any part of a plan for the team's future.

Kroenke said in a statement that the team's performance in its first season back in Southern California after two decades in St. Louis has "not lived up to my or our fans' expectations."

"(Fisher) played an integral role in helping this team make history in returning the NFL to Los Angeles, and we always will be grateful for his commitment and dedication to our organization," Kroenke said.

Los Angeles travels to Seattle Thursday for a division showdown.



Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Rams Embarrassed by Falcons at Home]]>Sun, 11 Dec 2016 22:32:58 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/208*120/Rams+Hit+Rock+Bottom.png

When it rains it pours.

It rained for the last home game at the Coliseum, and it poured down boos in the team's latest debacle, as the Rams were embarrassed, 42-14, by the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday. 

The boo birds came out early as Mike Thomas muffed the opening kickoff in his own end zone and the Falcons recovered the ball on the three-yard line.

Matt Ryan wasted no time putting the Falcons on the board as he threw a touchdown to Justin Hardy on his first pass of the game to give Atlanta an early 7-0 lead.

"First play of the game, Justin Hardy makes a great catch and catches a touchdown pass in one-on-one coverage," Ryan said of the first score. "I'm proud of the way our guys competed."

On the ensuing Rams drive, Jared Goff drove L.A. down to the Falcons 16-yard-line, but his third-and-three pass bounced off the hands of receiver Kenny Britt and into the hands of safety Ricardo Allen for the drive-killing interception.

Ryan opened up the second half with a 64-yard deep touchdown strike to Taylor Gabriel. The 25-year-old speedster beat the Rams secondary and walked into the end zone as nobody was in the same area code as Gabriel on the play.

"We've been working on that play all week," Gabriel said. "Coming out of the half, we were thinking we were going to get the coverage and we did. Matt [Ryan] threw a great ball and all I had to do was catch it."

Ryan threw for 237 yards and three touchdowns as he sat the entirety of the fourth quarter, replaced by Matt Schaub with the outcome no longer in doubt.

"We made some plays, but really, we benifted from some turnovers and great field position," Ryan said after the game. "We were opportunistic and when we got our chances we capitalized."

Atlanta running back Tevin Coleman caught a touchdown and rushed for another as the Falcons scored 42 unanswered points to start the game, the largest lead an NFL team has had on the road since the Detroit Lions led 45-3 over the Broncos in Denver in 2011. 

The Falcons were without All-Pro receiver Julio Jones who was inactive for the game due to a turf toe injury. Backup receiver, Mohamed Sanu, was also out, leaving the Falcons with their third and fourth string wideouts. 

"Our guys did a great job. We have a lot of belief and confidence in everyone," added Ryan. "They played the wayl they're capable of playing."

The Rams have five turnovers in the game, including two interceptions and a fumble for Goff, two of which were returned for touchdowns, one being the first pick-six of the rookie's career. 

"That was a bad ball," Goff said of the throw. "The defender made a really good play on it and took it back."

Falcons' linebacker Deion Jones jumped a Goff pass in the second quarter and returned the interception 33 yards for the score. Later, in the third quarter, Vic Beasley got the always impressive, strip-sack fumble, recovery, and touchdown as Atlanta converted touchdowns on four of the Rams' five giveaways on the day. 

"We made mistakes that we shouldn't have made," said Rams cornerback Trumaine Johnson. "I really feel like we beat ourselves today."

The Rams definitely miss backup running back Benny Cunningham who missed the game with a neck injury. Cunningham would have been on special teams on the fumble on the opening kick and the running back during Malcolm Brown's second half fumble that led to the Falcons fifth touchdown.

"Benny [Cunningham] might be second or third in the league in kickoff returns," said Jeff Fisher on Cunningham's absence. "We miss Benny...but everybody's going through that."

Despite the lopsided score, Goff still threw for 235 yards and rushed for a touchdown. Todd Gurley rushed for 61 yards and scored L.A.'s first touchdown of the game on the opening play of the fourth quarter. 

"Obviously, we got our *** kicked, but I feel like I've grown a lot. Even in these tough games I can use every experience as something to build with," said Goff. "Hopefully, sometime in the future, and sooner, rather than later, we can look back at days like today and know that they made us better."

Goff is now 0-4 as a starter as him team falls to 4-9 overall on the season. There will be no rest for the weary as the Rams are scheduled to take the field again in four days as they travel to Seattle to take on the NFC West Division-leading Seahawks on NBC's Thursday Night Football.

"I feel responsible for this," said Fisher after the game. "I have great respect for each and every player in that locker room, and I've developed relationships with them. My job is to maximize their strengths, identify their weaknesses and help them to be as good of players as they possibly can. That's my job. I have to take it. The head coach takes it."

Players of the Game:

Matt Ryan: 237 yards, 3 TDs.
Falcons Defense: Five takeaways.
Tevin Coleman: Rushing and receiving touchdowns. 

Three Takeaways:

1. I'ts Your Duty Judy: Hall of Fame manager of the Los Angeles Dodgers, Tommy Lasorda, lit the Olympic torch at the LA Coliseum before kickoff. Lasorda donned a Rams hat as he brought the crowd to their feet.

Los Angeles legend Tommy Lasorda lighting the Coliseum torch #ATLvsLA #MobSquad

A video posted by Los Angeles Rams (@rams) on

2. Rock Bottom: The Rams become the first team since the Denver Broncos in 2011 to be down by 42 points at home.

3. Are they saying "Boo" or "Boo-urns?" Los Angeles Rams head coach Jeff Fisher was booed throughout the entirety of the game by the Coliseum crowd. The team has not won since the home opener of the Seahawks on Sept. 18 and with Sunday's loss, Fisher is now tied with Dan Reeves for the most losses by a head coach in NFL history.

Up Next:

Falcons (8-5): The second highest scoring offense in the NFL gets another minnow from the NFC West when they host the 1-11 San Francisco 49ers in Atlanta next Sunday.

Rams (4-9): Los Angeles travels to Seattle to face the NFC West-leading Seahwaks on Thursday at 5:25PM PST. 



Photo Credit: Harry How/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Tommy Lasorda Lights Torch at Rams Game]]>Sun, 11 Dec 2016 15:45:25 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/211*120/Lasorda+Lights+Torch.png

It's your duty, Judy.

Fans in Los Angeles are used to seeing former Dodgers' manager Tommy Lasorda behind home plate at Chavez Ravine, but Angelinos got a treat on Sunday at the LA Memorial Coliseum when the former manager surprised the crowd by lighting the ceremonial Olympic torch before the game.

The 89-year-old was on the sideline before the game and was seen speaking with Rams president and COO Kevin Demoff.

The two-time World Series manager was the skipper for the Dodgers from 1976 to 1996 and shared the city with the Rams for 18 of his 20-year tenure with the boys in blue.

Lasorda's catchphrase is "blue heaven on earth," but it was hardly angelic on the field as the Rams gave up 21 straight points to the Atlanta Falcons to start the game. In case you missed it, the video of Lasorda lighting the torch is below.

 

Los Angeles legend Tommy Lasorda lighting the Coliseum torch #ATLvsLA #MobSquad

A video posted by Los Angeles Rams (@rams) on



Photo Credit: Robin Marchant/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Fisher and Snead Respond to 'Toxic' Relationship Rumors]]>Fri, 09 Dec 2016 18:28:32 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/191*120/LA+Rams+Jeff+FIsher+and+Les+Snead.png

Sometimes the most toxic people in your life are disguised as your family.

That's logically the case with Los Angeles general manager Les Snead and head coach Jeff Fisher who have become family after an arranged marriage by Rams' owner Stan Kroenke brought them together in 2012.

Kroenke cleaned house of the then St. Louis Rams after the 2011 season, firing both head coach Steve Spagnuolo and general manager Billy Devaney on the same day.

Since then, Fisher and Snead have had their ups and downs over the last four seasons, but things exploded on Thursday when a MMQB story by Albert Breer on SI.comstated that things between Fisher and Snead were "toxic," and that the Rams practice facility in Thousand Oaks, CA was a "junior high" atmosphere.

Both Fisher and Snead disputed that report on Friday morning and vowed to find the "anonymous source," that was quoted in the Breer article. 

"I don't know where it's coming from, but I'll find out," said Fisher. "In our business, unnamed sources, they're not good. If we've got sources from within the organization that are speaking, then we'll address it. But there are no issues between Les and I."

Snead ushered the same sentiment when he met with reporters about an hour before Fisher did.

"The working relationship is good," Snead said.

Fisher and Snead each received two-year contract extensions before the season began, but an announcement didn't come until last Sunday morning before the Rams faced the New England Patriots in Foxborough.

Fisher was asked about Snead's extension after practice on Tuesday and he told reporters that he was "honestly, unaware," that his GM of the last four years had received an extension and added "we need to do a better job from a personnel standpoint," a comment that the media took as a jab at Snead.

However, Snead saw the comments and said that he did not take them personally.

"I didn't blow it out of proportion in any way," said Snead. "I realized we were in the same boat as far as getting extensions."

As for the comments about a "junior high" environment at the facility, Fisher said those came from the "writer or editor" of the story and did not believe that anyone in the organization feels that way.

"I don't know where that's coming from, but I don't pay as close attention to those things as you do because I'm more concerned about the Falcons," said Fisher. "But I'll just say this again, Les and I are fine. We work together. We talk every day. "

For now, Fisher and Snead are focused on football and snapping a three-game losing streak by beating the Atlanta Falcons at the Coliseum on Sunday, but the witch hunt for the unnamed source within the organization has officially begun amidst the dramatic Hollywood backdrop that has become the 2016 Rams season.



Photo Credit: Jason Merritt/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Chargers Move to LA Almost a Done Deal: Sources]]>Fri, 09 Dec 2016 12:18:09 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-503292588-1280-720.jpg

A plan to move the San Diego Chargers to Los Angeles is almost a done deal, multiple sources tell NBC4's Fred Roggin.

Chargers owner and chairman Dean Spanos said he would not make a final decision about moving the franchise to Los Angeles until after the season, but NBC4 has learned many of the building blocks are in place.

The Chargers would train in Orange County and there are no plans to rebrand, sources say.

The agreement with the Chargers to lease the as-yet-to-be-built Inglewood stadium has been executed and sources say, soon to be signed. The Rams signed an agreement with the NFL before moving to Los Angeles agreeing to lease space to another team.

The Chargers drive for a new stadium to replace their aging residence fell short in the Nov. 8 election, re-energizing talk of a move to Los Angeles. The ballot initiative's failure left everything in play, including a future move to join the Rams in their new Inglewood stadium, opening in 2019, and the possibility of a more aggressive timeline that would likely mean playing at the LA Memorial Coliseum with the Rams until a new stadium is built in Inglewood.

L.A. Coliseum Commission president Mark Ridley-Thomas confirmed earlier this week that the Chargers have spoken with the commission.

"In light of the vote of the people of San Diego, it's back on the table in earnest," Ridley-Thomas told USA Today. "So the appropriate amount of due diligence continues to be done, and we will see if in fact we can strike a deal."

Also this week, Spanos and San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer met to discuss the team's future in San Diego.

A move to the Coliseum would likely require a change to the stadium's lease terms, which currently allow for only one NFL team -- the Rams.

This all might sound somewhat familiar to football fans in Los Angeles, San Diego and Oakland. In January 2016, the Rams, Chargers and Raiders all appeared to be candidates for a move to LA.

NFL owners later approved the Rams' move at a meeting in Houston. A proposal to build a new stadium in Inglewood, opening in 2019, beat out a competing stadium plan in Carson, where the Chargers and Raiders planned to built a 72,000-seat stadium. The Chargers applied to relocate to LA, but that plan was rejected by league owners.

The Chargers, who have played in San Diego since 1961, were given the option of joining the Rams in the Inglewood stadium. They have until Jan. 15 to make a decision.

NFL team relocations require three-fourths approval of the member teams.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Jeff Fisher Signs 2 Year Contract Extension with Rams]]>Sun, 04 Dec 2016 12:06:41 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/222*120/Fisher+Extension.png

It looks like Eric Dickerson won't be on the sidelines any time soon.

The Los Angeles Rams signed head coach Jeff Fisher to a two-year contract extension through the year 2018 as first reported by NFL Network's  Ian Rapport on Sunday morning before the team took on the New England Patriots in Foxborough. 

As reported by Rapport, the agreement, which likely will have an opt-out clause by the team after the 2017 season, was initially agreed to in the preseason after Fisher guided the Rams through the very difficult relocation process from St. Louis to Los Angeles.

The deal was signed at some point during the season, which also helps explain why the Rams' front office has continued to praise Fisher and told everyone to judge him outside "the prism of just the record," even though the Rams are headed for another losing season. 

Fisher is in the sixth and final year of his original contract with the team and has never had a single winning season over that span. The last time Fisher had a winning season as a head coach was in 2008 with the Tennessee Titans.

Fisher has been on the hot seat in recent weeks for his decision not to start No. 1 overall draft pick Jared Goff until week 11 of the season, the team's performance on the field, and a very public spat with former Rams Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson. 

Dickerson recently told the public that Fisher denied a request for sideline passes for his friends, and asked him not to be on the sidelines for Rams home games after criticizing the team publicly. 

Dickerson called out the coach and vowed to never come to another home game as long as Fisher remained as the head coach. 

Fisher and general manger Les Snead reportedly received the same deal, and appears to be no more than a one-year consolation prize for managing the team through the moving process. 

The Rams could still fire both Fisher and Snead after the season, and only owe them one-year of salary, but it's likely they will allow the duo one more season to turn things around.

Neither Fisher nor Snead has spoken publicly about the extension, but with the release of the news on Sunday, expect the head coach to be asked about it during his postgame press conference in New England on Sunday.



Photo Credit: Jamie Squire/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Was Jeff Fisher Justified in Eric Dickerson Ban?]]>Wed, 30 Nov 2016 21:49:55 -0700https://media.nbclosangeles.com/images/200*120/Fisher+justified.png

They say there are three sides to every story:

Your side, my side, and the truth.

Such is the case in the ongoing spat between Los Angeles Rams head coach Jeff Fisher and Hall of Fame former running back Eric Dickerson.

Dickerson played five seasons with the Rams from 1983-1987 where he averaged over 111 yards per game and became a local legend in the Los Angeles community.

As we reported on Monday, Dickerson revealed that Fisher had called him and told him he was not welcome on the Rams' sidelines during games.

Dickerson told Fox Sports Radio, that the call came after the former Rams running back had requested sideline passes for some friends for the team's Nov. 20 home game against the Miami Dolphins.

Dickerson had been critical of the team in the preceding weeks on Fred Roggin's radio show and Fisher told him that his comments had made the players uncomfortable and that he was denying his request for sideline passes because of it, a fact that Fisher acknowledged in his post-practice press conference on Tuesday:

"He was voicing his opinion, which he has every right to do," Fisher began. "And then immediately after, wanted things from the organization—and it doesn't work that way. You can have it one way or the other, it's just simple."

Dickerson says the call went like this:

"I see a 314 number calling in. So I get on the phone and say hello. He says, 'Hey, Eric, this is Jeff Fisher.' I said, 'How you doing, Jeff?' He said, 'I just wanted to call you. I want to tell you a few things here. I don't have time for this, but I'm going to tell you. You're not going to be talking about the football team, talking about our team, talking about my coaches, expecting to get things from this football team. We're not going to give you anything. We're not going to support you in anything. As long as I'm here as coach, we feel uncomfortable with you coming on the sideline. The players are uncomfortable with that. So as long as I'm head coach here, I'm just going to let you know it's not going to happen."

The truth of the ever-evolving feud between former player and current coach lies in between both parties' respective stories of how the conversation unfolded.

Dickerson has been vocal in the media of the Rams, Fisher, the players, and the coaching staff this season. He has repeatedly criticized the play of the offensive line, the uninspired play calls from offensive coordinator Rob Boras, and Fisher's decision not to start No. 1 overall pick Jared Goff for the first nine games of the season.

So despite those very public claims, the question remains: should Dickerson receive "favors" from the Rams organization because of his Hall of Fame standing as a player, or is he not allowed to have his cake and eat it too?

There's no doubt that Dickerson is one of the most loved and revered figures in Los Angeles sports and he has every right to voice his opinion about the team and their performance on the field, but, as head coach of the team, Fisher too, has every right to respectfully decline his request for sideline passes for his friends after he was critical of him, his coaches, and his players.

Fisher's number one priority is to make sure his players and coaches are prepared to perform at their best on the field and that distractions don't hinder them from doing their job. It's hard to tell them to stop listening to the news or the radio when members of the media including former players are talking about them, but he can control whether one of those people are standing feet away from them come game day. 

In Fisher's defense, he never "banned" Dickerson from the sideline and has said publicly this week that he is "always welcome" on the team's sideline. The issue at hand is whether the team should accommodate Dickerson's request for sideline passes from his friends and where the line gets drawn for future favors down the road.

Fisher felt that after being so critical of his players and coaches, that it was better Dickerson and his friends were not on the sidelines and instead offered them a catered luxury suite.

"I opened everything to Eric," he said. "I wanted him to know that we would provide anything for him that he needed."

Fisher also made the argument that if Dickerson wanted to be critical of the organization publicly, that he should see what's going on behind-the-scenes at practice, team meetings, and walkthroughs. He mentioned that other famous Rams alumni like Jackie Slater and Jack Youngblood have attended practices and former Titans running back Eddie George who played for Fisher, has frequently attended meetings with the team whereas Dickerson has not.

"I'd welcome him in the building. I'd love to have him come in. I'd love to have him come to practice. I'd love to have him come in the meetings," Fisher said of Dickerson. "Eddie George has been in my meetings more than Eric Dickerson has. I'd love to have him here."

The probability of that ever happening appear to be slim as Dickerson has now publicly stated that he will never again attend a Rams game at the Coliseum as long as Jeff Fisher is head coach.

"I want to go to a football game as much as I want to tie a bloody steak around my neck and jump in the Pacific Ocean butt naked," Dickerson said on Fox Sports Radio.

It's a shame that the Rams' myopia didn't factor into their decision to decline Dickerson's sideline passes. It's also a shame that Dickerson revealed the contents of a private conversation between he and Fisher for public consumption, and it's a crying shame that it happened after the Rams lost back-to-back games and got embarrassed in New Orleans, 49-21, by the Saints.

On Wednesday, Fisher said that Rams' chief operating office Kevin Demoff has reached out to Dickerson and welcome him back into the Rams family, but Fisher has not spoken with him or heard his name since Tuesday. 

"No, it's the first time I've heard his name since yesterday, not a word," Fisher said when asked if there's been any new developments or contact with Dickerson. "It's all about the Patriots now."

At this point, it appears the relationship with Dickerson and the team is beyond repair as E.D. continues to rage war on social media between the fans and Fisher.

In the meantime, Fisher himself has bigger fish to fry (pun intended), as his team travels to Foxborough to face Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and the New England Patriots.

It appears that Fisher's future won't lie in the court of public opinion, or based on the hurt feelings of Dickerson, but rather, how the final few weeks unfold on the field.

At 4-7, the team's losing record will carry more weight on whether or not Fisher remains the coach of the Rams next season. The development of Jared Goff, how the defense performs, and how Fisher handles the pressure of the next month will all determine his future in Los Angeles. 

Despite the now public spat with Dickerson and the team's record, Fisher has done a credible job in transitioning the team through the relocation process. He led the organization as they moved halfway across the country, had OTAs in Oxnard, training camp in Irvine, practices in Thousand Oaks, and games across the globe including London this season.

Fisher has not had a winning record in his five seasons with the Rams, but he was also without a franchise quarterback, something the team believes they now have in Goff. 

Fisher has the faith of his team, but the organization's hand might be forced when it comes to the faith of the fans, especially in light of the Dickerson situation. 

Rams' owner Stan Kroenke will need to have the excitement of the city and fanbase at an all-time high when the team moves into their new stadium in Inglewood in 2019. It's possible that Fisher may get a longterm extension in the offseason with one-year out clauses for the team until that time comes, but for now, all eyes will be on Fisher as he leads the team to New England.



Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images]]>