The Los Angeles Rams beat the Carolina Panthers in a tight victory thanks to a solid ground game and a big showing from their defensive backfield.
The Rams were challenged by some strong runs by Panthers running back Christian McCaffrey, but were able to contain Carolina quarterback Cam Newton for much of the first quarter. At 13:14 in the first quarter, Clay Matthews recorded his first sack of the season, pushing Newton back 6 yards. Cory Littleton forced a fumble from receiver D.J. Moore.
Rams quarterback Jared Goff made several pass completions to Cooper Kupp throughout the first quarter. Goff was sacked once by Panthers’ cornerback James Bradberry at 8:55 in the first quarter. Carolina attempted a 53-yard field goal, but kicker Joey Slye (filling in for injured Graham Gano) missed wide right.
The Rams put kicker Greg Zuerlein in field goal position after Goff completed several short passes to Robert Woods. Zuerlein completed a 49-yard field goal putting the Rams ahead 3-0 at 13:43 in the second quarter.
Shortly after the field goal, Rams linebacker Samson Ebukam tipped a lateral pass behind the line of scrimmage intended for Moore. The Rams recovered the ball at the Carolina 10-yard line. On the ensuing offensive drive, Malcolm Brown ran in a 5-yard touchdown. The Rams led 10-0 after the Zuerlein PAT.
Late in the second quarter, Rams linebacker Donte Fowler Jr. sacked Newton for a 7-yard loss. Shortly after, Rams safety Eric Weddle attempted a tackle on McCaffrey. McCaffrey hurdled over him but his knee hit the side of Weddle’s helmet in the process. Weddle suffered a head laceration and was placed into concussion protocol. On a post-game Twitter post, Weddle said he was “as good as gold.” Head coach Sean McVay said they will evaluate him Monday to see where he stands and see if he is clear to play in the upcoming New Orleans Saints game.
The Panthers and the Rams exchanged field goals going into the third quarter making it 13-3, Rams.
Goff opened the second half with a few short completions to receivers Woods and Brandin Cooks to set up another Zuerlein field goal kick for 27 yards. The Rams extended the lead, 16-3. On the next Carolina drive, Newton completed several short passes to Moore, Jarius Wright and Curtis Samuel for 14 yards each. McCaffrey rushed in on an 8-yard touchdown run with 8:28 left in the third quarter. The Rams and Brown countered with a 1-yard touchdown to take a 23-10 lead.
Carolina answered with an 8-play, 36-yard drive to set up a 52-yard field goal by Slye. After the Rams failed to get out of their own red zone, a blocked Johnny Hekker punt led to a McCaffrey 1-yard touchdown run. The Rams lead shrunk to 23-20.
Tyler Higbee caught a 5-yard touchdown with 6:37 left in the fourth quarter. The Rams extended their lead to 30-20. The Rams also stopped Carolina’s drive with an interception by Littleton. The Rams attempted a field goal, but Zuerlein missed from 41 yards.
In a final attempt to keep the game alive, the Panthers drove downfield with several big runs by McCaffrey and a short pass to Greg Olsen. Carolina made it to the 1-yard line, setting up fullback Alex Armah for a 1-yard rushing touchdown up the middle. The Rams lead narrowed to 30-27.
The Rams recovered the Panthers’ ensuing onside kick. Gurley sealed the game by earning a first down. The Rams won their first regular season game of 2019, 30-27.
They will play the New Orleans Saints at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on Sunday, September 15. Kickoff is at 1:25 p.m. PT on FOX.