On Monday, the Carolina Panthers waived former No. 1 overall pick Baker Mayfield after less than a season in Charlotte. While his brief tour of duty with Carolina was over, Mayfield was quickly claimed off waivers by the Los Angeles Rams on Tuesday and, in a wild turn of events, he was in uniform for a game against the Las Vegas Raiders on Thursday evening.
In the opening moments of the matchup, it appeared as if Mayfield may not actually play, as John Wolford technically got the start for Los Angeles. Then, Mayfield trotted onto the field for the second series of the night and played the rest of the game. The Rams trailed for the vast majority of the evening but, with less than two minutes remaining, Mayfield executed a wildly unlikely, 98-yard touchdown drive to steal a victory from the jaws of defeat by a final score of 17-16.
The Rams scored only three points in the first three quarters, then Los Angeles put together a marathon, 17-play drive to climb back within striking distance. Still, Los Angeles had only 3:19 on the clock and, with Las Vegas getting the ball back, everything had to be perfect. On cue, the Raiders went three-and-out, but punted beautifully to the Rams’ two-yard line, putting Mayfield in a very, very difficult position with no timeouts and 98 yards to go.
Early in the drive, Mayfield actually uncorked an interception, but it was (rightfully) overturned on a pass interference penalty. During the same drive, the Raiders were also called for unsportsmanlike conduct, negating a sack and giving the Rams 15 yards that were desperately needed. Then, though, Mayfield really did spring into heroic action, first completing a deep ball to Ben Skowronek that made things quite interesting.
After two shorter completions and a spike to stop the clock, the Rams were at the 23-yard line with 16 seconds remaining. That isn’t an impossible position, but it certainly isn’t likely to score a touchdown with no timeouts. Mayfield had other ideas, tossing a touchdown pass to Van Jefferson in amazing fashion.
Matt Gay then connected on the extra point and, with the Raiders immediately throwing an interception in desperation mode, the come-from-behind result was sealed. Needless to say, Mayfield was fired up.
In all honesty, Mayfield’s performance was impressive, largely because he had less than two days to learn an entirely new system with the Rams. It seems likely that he was operating with less than the entire playbook given the quick turnaround, but the Rams were also facing persistent offensive line issues and the absence of Cooper Kupp on the outside. Mayfield didn’t exactly light up the stat sheet, averaging 6.6 yards per attempt, but the fourth quarter was genuinely notable.
It has to be said that this is a very ugly look for the Raiders, as Las Vegas was seemingly in total control. This also comes on the heels of the Raiders losing to Jeff Saturday and the Colts in his first game on the sideline, and Las Vegas had a fringe chance at the playoffs basically evaporate over the course of only a few minutes down the stretch.
Overall, it was a wild scene in Los Angeles, namely in that a very famous quarterback was suddenly playing for a third team in a standalone spot just hours after being claimed off waivers. The overall magnitude of the victory isn’t enormous for the Rams or anything, but it was still memorable and quite stunning to see.