In their first meaningful game since the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LIII, the Los Angeles Rams defeated the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium, 30-27.
The Rams got the excitement started when Cory Littleton forced a fumble on DJ Moore on the opening drive of the season. However, they couldn’t break open the scoring after being forced to punt on their opening drive. Todd Gurley, whose knee arthritis was a huge offseason story, didn’t get a single carry on the opening drive.
After the Panthers missed a 53-yard field goal attempt, the Rams began driving, ending the first quarter with a 22-yard completion from Jared Goff to Robert Woods. The quarter ended in a 0-0 tie as Christian McCaffrey led the way with 61 total yards through one.
The Rams broke open the scoring with 13:43 to go in the second quarter by means of a 49-yard field goal by the always reliable Greg Zuerlein. Then, less than a minute later, the Rams came up with another Panthers fumble — this time a bad backward pass by Cam Newton. Two back-to-back Malcolm Brown carries later and the Rams put up their first touchdown of the new season, going up 10-0.
With just over one minute left in the half, Zuerlein nailed another field goal from 56 yards out to extend the Rams lead to 13-0. The Panthers had a semi-successful two-minute drill, putting in a 46-yard field goal as time expired.
The Rams went into the half with a 13-3 lead as Brown — not Gurley — led the team with 29 yards and a touchdown. Through the air, it was Woods leading the way with four receptions for 40 yards.
After an uneven first half, the Rams started the second half by getting deep into the red zone, only for a holding penalty to hold them to another Zuerlein field goal to make it 16-3. However, the shaky Panthers offense managed to respond, led by McCaffrey to score their first touchdown of the season. The extra point made it 16-10 Rams.
The Rams proceeded to go on a monster 13-play, six-minute drive that resulted in a one-yard touchdown run by Brown, his second of the day. The Rams lead was extended to 23-10 with just over two minutes left in the third. Joey Slye then hit a 52-yard field goal to make it a ten-point game 23-13 at the end of the third.
Early in the fourth quarter, Johnny Hekker’s punt was blocked and the Panthers quickly capitalized on it to cut the deficit to just three with 13:10 remaining.
On the following drive with the Rams looking to regain some momentum, Goff was intercepted by James Bradberry one play after a 20-yard pass to Woods.
After Aaron Donald recorded his first tackle of the season on Newton, Gurley’s impressive runs led to a Tyler Higbee touchdown to re-establish their 10-point lead.
Following a fumble recovery on the opening drive, Littleton’s interception on Newton eventually sealed the team’s first win of the season. While McCaffrey made one final push, the Panthers only had one timeout at the two-minute mark and it led to their downfall.
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