NFL

Struggling Los Angeles Rams claim QB Baker Mayfield off waivers

By Sports Desk December 06, 2022

Desperate to save what has been a disastrous title defense, the Los Angeles Rams have claimed quarterback Baker Mayfield off waivers.

The defending Super Bowl champions made the move on Tuesday, one day after Mayfield was released by the Carolina Panthers.

The former top pick joins a Los Angeles team that has lost six consecutive games and is tied with the Denver Broncos for the NFL's third-worst record at 3-9.

While it was being speculated he would be claimed by a contending team dealing with an injury at quarterback – the San Francisco 49ers or the Baltimore Ravens – he instead joins a Rams team out of the playoff picture.

The quarterback position has been a mess for Los Angeles with Matthew Stafford likely out for the rest of the season with a bruised spinal cord, while backups John Wolford and Bryce Perkins have struggled to generate much offense.

Wolford has one touchdown pass and a 64.6 QB rating in two games played, while Perkins has one touchdown and a 53.7 rating in four contests.

Mayfield, the No. 1 overall pick of the 2018 draft by the Cleveland Browns, has not been much better, throwing six touchdowns and six interceptions while registering a 74.4 passer rating in seven games played. Among quarterbacks with at least 75 attempts, Mayfield's 57.8 completion percentage beats out only the New York Jets' Zach Wilson (55.6 per cent).

Mayfield went just 1-6 for the Panthers, who acquired him from the Browns in July and would have been responsible to pay him $1.35million for the remainder of this season had the Rams not put in the claim.

Los Angeles host the Las Vegas Raiders on Thursday night, and it is not out of the question Mayfield plays.

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    Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce declared Arrowhead Stadium "Mahomes' house" after finally defeating Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals in Sunday's AFC Championship Game.

    There had been plenty of talk in the lead-up about the success Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow has enjoyed against the Chiefs, sporting a 3-0 record against Mahomes' crew heading into the contest. It had led to Bengals fans calling the Chiefs' home ground 'Burrowhead', which clearly irked Kansas City players.

    Despite playing with a high ankle sprain, Mahomes found a way to get one over the number one overall pick from the 2020 NFL Draft, completing 29 of his 43 passes for 326 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions.

    He also made the game-deciding play when he scrambled on his bad ankle with 15 seconds left in regulation, converting a third-and-four and making it to the sideline to stop the clock. After crossing the sideline, he was hit late by Joseph Ossai, resulting in a 15-yard penalty to put Chiefs kicker Harrison Butker into range for the game-winner.

    Burrow put together a respectable stat line, completing 26 of his 41 passes for 270 yards and a touchdown, but he threw two crucial interceptions.

    In the immediate aftermath during his on-field interview, Mahomes was interrupted by his future Hall of Fame tight end with a very clear message.

    "Burrowhead my a**," he said. "It's Mahomes' house!"

    Offensive lineman Orlando Brown Jr also chimed in about Mahomes: "World's greatest! Give him his respect! Stamp him!"

    Mahomes was far more under control during his interview, but also referenced his displeasure about the Burrowhead nickname.

    "First off I want to thank God, man," he said. "He healed my body this week and gave me the strength to be out here.

    "As for this team, man, we play together. I said it from the beginning, when we were in the locker room, I said 'we've got to be together' – and this team stepped up against a great football team.

    "We showed this place that it's Arrowhead, it's not 'Burrowhead' out here."

    When asked about the Chiefs' impending Super Bowl date against the Philadelphia Eagles, Mahomes gave plenty of respect to the NFC Champions.

    "They're a great football team, I've watched them all year long," he said. "Great quarterback, and a great entire team. It's going to be a great challenge for us, but I'm going to celebrate this one first.

    "I'm going to get back with my team – I don't think we have any cigars – but we'll be ready to go at the Super Bowl."

  • Hobbling Mahomes gains revenge against Bengals as Chiefs make Super Bowl LVII Hobbling Mahomes gains revenge against Bengals as Chiefs make Super Bowl LVII

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    Mahomes had sustained a high ankle sprain in the Divisional round victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars but was determined not to miss the opportunity to gain revenge following last year's loss against the Bengals at the same stage.

    In that reverse, Mahomes followed an outstanding first half with an uncharacteristically shambolic second that cost the Chiefs.

    However, on Sunday, as the game wore on and the temperature dropped, Mahomes showed signs of his injury affecting him but refused to relent, finishing with 29-of-43 passing for 326 yards and two touchdowns, along with a vital late run.

    Mahomes was largely able to stay clean in the first half while Joe Burrow took some punishment, but the Chiefs' sole TD pass found Travis Kelce on fourth-and-one.

    Memories of last year's loss might have come to mind as the Bengals came out stronger in the third quarter and Tee Higgins sensationally reeled in a pinpoint Burrow TD pass down the sideline.

    A hobbling Mahomes battled on and connected with Marquez Valdes-Scantling for a scrambling score, only for Burrow to find Ja'Marr Chase deep on fourth-and-six to set up Samaje Perine to run it in.

    With the scores tied, both QBs struggled to get the job done as overtime neared, but Chris Jones sacked Burrow to force a Bengals punt, with Skyy Moore's 27-yard return keeping the Chiefs alive.

    When Mahomes – understandably reluctant to run the ball until that stage – made up five yards and was shoved by Joseph Ossai after running out of bounds, a 15-yard penalty left Harrison Butker with the 45-yard game-winning field goal to set up a Super Bowl meeting with the Philadelphia Eagles.

    Kelce keeping fine company

    Restricted by his injury, Mahomes needed help from his receivers and got it. He completed passes to 10 team-mates, but Kelce was unsurprisingly his primary target, completing seven of nine attempts for a TD.

    That was Kelce's 15th receiving TD in the postseason, drawing him level with fellow tight end Rob Gronkowski and now trailing only wide receiver Jerry Rice (22) for all-time postseason scores.

    Burrow takes a beating

    This was the first time Burrow had lost to Mahomes, with the Chiefs clearly irked by talk of the Bengals QB's dominance in this matchup. The Chiefs got to Burrow time and again early on, with four sacks before halftime.

    Coming into the game, Burrow was 14-1 this season when sacked four times or fewer but 0-3 when sacked five times or more. That fifth and final sack from Jones proved so pivotal.

  • Shanahan: 49ers were confident against Eagles despite Purdy injury Shanahan: 49ers were confident against Eagles despite Purdy injury

    Kyle Shanahan was confident the San Francisco 49ers could compete with the Philadelphia Eagles in the AFC Championship game despite the loss of quarterback Brock Purdy.

    The rookie QB was forced off at the end of the 49ers first drive with an elbow injury after his throwing arm was hit by Eagles edge-rusher Haason Reddick, leading to the introduction of fourth-stringer Josh Johnson.

    More bad luck followed for the 49ers though, with Johnson ruled out due to the concussion protocol and Purdy reintroduced, albeit unable to throw deep passes, in an eventual 31-7 loss.

    However, Shanahan felt the team had hope of a comeback until the final Eagles touchdown that led to a three-score lead.

    "I don't think we're numb, the guys were up for the challenge. The defence was playing really well, we thought Josh was going to go in there, execute our plan and give us a chance," he told reporters.

    "We felt confident coming out in the third quarter, but in that opening drive we lost our last quarterback.

    "After that, we were inspired watching our defence, down two scores, we thought we could run the ball well enough and generate some stuff, hopefully get a turnover the other side, but we didn't move the chains enough and once they got that third score, it was really tough to catch up.

    "The guys are pretty down in there, we were really excited for today and for the opportunity to play that team. They played great, they did good things, but we wish we had a better opportunity than what we did today."

    A controversial incident in the first quarter was a fourth-down conversion for the Eagles in a 29-yard pass to Devonta Smith, which he appeared to drop on closer inspection of the replays.

    Questions have been asked as to why Shanahan did not challenge the on-field decision, though there was a simple explanation.

    "The replays we saw didn't definitively show that [the catch was dropped]," he explained.

    "I was going to throw one anyway, to take the chance, but they showed one on the scoreboard that didn't have all the angles that you guys saw and it looked like a catch. We didn't want to waste a timeout.

    "We definitely would have [challenged] if we hadn't had seen that. Then I heard they got a couple of angles and you ended up seeing later than it's not a catch."

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