Rob Issa, FISM News
Baker Mayfield produced an ending worthy of Hollywood just two days after arriving in Los Angeles.
Mayfield led the Los Angeles Rams back from a 13-point deficit in the final 3:19, tossing a 23-yard touchdown pass to Van Jefferson with 10 seconds left for a 17-16 victory over the Las Vegas Raiders on Thursday night.
“I’m extremely thankful, praise the Lord. I mean, it’s been a tough year, to be honest with you, and this has been a good way to kickstart this journey here. It’s wild,” Mayfield said after the game.
Baker came to play 🔥#LVvsLAR on Prime Video
Also available on NFL+ https://t.co/m65o43ZLpv pic.twitter.com/QhtVkSBG9e
— NFL (@NFL) December 9, 2022
Mayfield was released by the Carolina Panthers on Monday and was claimed off waivers by the Rams on Tuesday. He said he booked a flight to Los Angeles before knowing for certain he was heading to the Rams and spent two nights learning the playbook.
“It’s been a wild 48 hours,” Mayfield said. “I didn’t think it was going to play out like this. I’m sure happy we covered the two-minute operation.”
Mayfield didn’t even start for the Rams. He replaced John Wolford after the first series and slowly got the offense going.
The Raiders had won three straight games and were expected to roll past the Rams, who have already lost nine games. The Denver Broncos are the only other NFL team that lost 10 games the season after winning the Super Bowl.
Mayfield made sure the Rams didn’t join them this week.
“You can’t say enough about Baker Mayfield and the leadership, the resilience, the competitiveness, and what a quick study,” Rams coach Sean McVay said. “He just got here five minutes ago and figured it out a way to be able to do some special things tonight. There were a lot of plays that we had going in a positive direction that ended up getting called back. So just a total team win.”
Mayfield finished 22 of 35 passing for 230 yards with one TD. He was 15 of 20 in the fourth quarter. The Rams got the ball at their own 2-yard line with no timeouts left and 1:45 left in the game. Mayfield moved them down the field, connecting on a 32-yard pass to Ben Skowronek, who finished with seven catches for 89 yards.
“It’s been a wild year, being in limbo,” Mayfield said. “I learned don’t let the on-the-field play affect who you are day in and day out. Be the same guy for your teammates.”
Mayfield, the No. 1 overall pick by the Browns in 2018, was traded to Carolina after Cleveland acquired Deshaun Watson in March. He struggled with the Panthers and couldn’t establish himself as the starting quarterback. The team let him go this week and the Rams were willing to give him a chance after losing Matthew Stafford to injury.
“I just can’t say enough about how impressed I am with just the command, the comfort, even just the operation,” McVay said.
I can’t take credit, that was him making plays. The guys made plays, too. I thought just some of the opportunity throws, they were playing a lot of man coverage in those situations and guys were able to win. The catch down our sideline where Ben Skowronek goes up over somebody, even to be able to give Van Jefferson the attempt when we were still backed up to draw the (pass interference). Then when you got to get the ball into the end zone with 15 seconds left and no timeouts, for Van Jefferson to be able to win, unbelievable job right there. … Really the credit goes to the players. They made it all happen. They brought those things to life. That’s how it always is. It’s a whirlwind and I’m really happy for those guys.
The 27-year-old Mayfield has gone through plenty of ups and downs in his career and endured a lot of criticism. On his Twitter bio, he writes: “Let go and let God.”