Saturday October 16th, 2021 11:33PM

Stafford leads LA Rams past Bears 34-14 in dynamic debut

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

INGLEWOOD, Calif. (AP) — Matthew Stafford's second pass for the Los Angeles Rams traveled 53 majestic yards through the air and dropped right into the hands of Van Jefferson, who fell down untouched, stood up and scored.

The Rams have bet their future on Stafford being the key to turning a good team into a great one.

With a dynamic debut against Chicago, Stafford immediately showed the potential the Rams might have unlocked.

Stafford passed for 321 yards and three touchdowns in one of the most prolific quarterback debuts with a new team in NFL history, leading the Rams past Andy Dalton and the Bears for a 34-14 victory on Sunday night.

Stafford found Jefferson for a 67-yard touchdown on his second pass for the Rams, who swung a blockbuster offseason trade to acquire the 13-year veteran from Detroit. Stafford then hit a wide-open Cooper Kupp for a 56-yard TD to open the third quarter, and he found Robert Woods for a clinching score with 3:17 to play.

The first regular season crowd at SoFi Stadium roared throughout the night for Stafford, who immediately looked comfortable in his new home.

“I’ve done everything I can to work as hard as I can and get myself in this team, and they've wrapped their arms around me,” Stafford said. “It felt good to go out there and play with them tonight. Such incredible players on this team. I’m lucky to be a part of it. I want to do everything I can to try and lead this team where it wants to go.”

With Stafford in place of Jared Goff, the Rams again resembled the offensive powerhouse of their first two seasons under coach Sean McVay, who improved to 5-0 in season openers. The Rams scored on six of Stafford's first seven full drives while racking up 375 yards of offense.

According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Stafford became the first player with two touchdown passes of more than 50 yards in his debut for a new team since Lee Grosscup did it for the AFL’s New York Titans in 1962. Stafford's 156.1 passer rating is the highest in NFL history for a quarterback who had at least 20 pass attempts in a debut with a new team, according to NFL Research.

“His command, his swag, everything was great,” said All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey, who had nine tackles. "That’s like a debut that probably should go down in history, just the way he played, his swag. I’m not all into the stats all the time, but his stats was probably crazy, too. I mean, that was just a debut that was nice.”

Dalton passed for 206 yards in his Bears debut, and rookie quarterback Justin Fields rushed for a 3-yard score while getting a handful of snaps in his NFL debut. Chicago moved the ball steadily all night, but David Long Jr. intercepted a tipped pass in the end zone on the Bears' opening drive, leaving them playing from behind all night.

“I was going to (Darnell) Mooney, and unfortunately it got tipped,” Dalton said. “It stopped a real good drive for us. Set the tone with how we wanted to play, but didn’t finish.”

David Montgomery rushed for 108 yards and a touchdown for the Bears, who dropped to 1-3 in season openers under coach Matt Nagy.

“We gave up explosive plays and did not execute in the red zone," Nagy said. “Big-picture, we were able to move the ball. ... Once we got behind and got one-dimensional, that was more difficult.”

But Stafford was the center of attention at SoFi, and he opened his Rams career with that long, beautiful throw to Jefferson on his third offensive snap. Los Angeles traded Goff and two first-round picks to acquire a 33-year-old quarterback with undeniable skills, but no career playoff victories.

As good as Stafford was, McVay sees bigger possibilities once the Rams really air it out.

“We only threw it 26 times, but he certainly made the most of those plays, and I thought he did a great job,” McVay said.

Montgomery finally scored Chicago's first points 34 seconds before halftime, but Kupp — who finished with seven catches for 108 yards — put the Rams up 20-7 early in the third when Chicago's secondary left him completely unguarded 10 yards behind its safeties.

Chicago kept it close with a 16-play, 81-yard drive capped by Fields' TD run, but Darrell Henderson punched in another TD for the Rams late in the third.


Dalton has begun his Bears career in a competition with Fields, the touted Ohio State rookie who looked impressive in the preseason. Nagy used both quarterbacks against the Rams, intermittently substituting Fields from the opening drive onward. Fields completed both of his passes for 10 yards.


Bears: LT Jason Peters injured his quadriceps early in the third quarter of his Chicago debut. Rookie backup Larry Borom also came out later in the same drive with an ankle injury. ... Starting NT Eddie Goldman was inactive with knee and ankle injuries. Nickel back Duke Shelley also sat out.


Bears: Home opener against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday. Dalton beat his old team with Dallas last season.

Rams: Road opener against the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday.


More AP NFL: and

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Sports, AP Online Football, AP Sports - NFL
© Copyright 2021
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
North Korea says it tested new long-range cruise missiles
North Korea says it successfully test fired newly developed long-range cruise missiles
11:29PM ( 16 minutes ago )
Asian shares trend lower after Wall St ends with weekly loss
Shares are lower in most Asian markets after Wall Street benchmarks ended last week with a decline
11:28PM ( 17 minutes ago )
Stafford leads LA Rams past Bears 34-14 in dynamic debut
Matthew Stafford passed for 321 yards and three touchdowns in a dynamic debut for the Los Angeles Rams
11:23PM ( 22 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Winston, Saints, overcome displacement, pound Packers 38-3
Jamies Winston passed for five touchdowns, New Orleans intercepted reigning NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers twice, and the Saints kicked off the post-Drew Brees era with a strikingly dominant opening 38-3 victory over the Green Bay Packers
9:12PM ( 2 hours ago )
Tailgating, face-painted fans back in force at NFL stadiums
Tailgating, face-painted fans returned in full force at stadiums around the country as the NFL opened its doors to capacity for the first time since the coronavirus pandemic
9:01PM ( 2 hours ago )
'Relief': Djokovic's bid for year Slam ends against Medvedev
Novak Djokovic’s bid for the first calendar-year Grand Slam in men’s tennis since 1969 ended with a loss to Daniil Medvedev in the U.S. Open final
8:59PM ( 2 hours ago )
AP Sports
Pitts, offense held in check in disappointing Falcons debut
Atlanta first-year coach Arthur Smith and some Falcons newcomers did not enjoy the opening game they hoped for
6:51PM ( 4 hours ago )
The Latest: Green Bay's Rodgers struggling with 2 INTs
Reigning NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers is having a rough second half
6:31PM ( 5 hours ago )
New era in Philly: Hurts 3 TDs, Eagles rout Falcons 32-6
Heisman Trophy winner DeVonta Smith scored on his first NFL catch, hauling in one of three touchdown passes from Jalen Hurts on a stellar opening day for the Philadelphia Eagles
6:23PM ( 5 hours ago )
AP Online Football
The Latest: Steelers' new-look offense struggles in 1st half
The Pittsburgh Steelers retooled offense is off to a very pedestrian start in trailing the Bills 10-0 after one half
2:46PM ( 9 hours ago )
The Latest: QB Darnold throws first TD for Carolina
Sam Darnold has thrown his first touchdown pass for the Panthers, a 57-yard strike down the middle of the field to Robby Anderson
2:32PM ( 9 hours ago )
The Latest: QB Burrow back from injury, throws TD for Cincy
Cincinnati quarterback Joe Burrow hit rookie receiver Ja’Marr Chase with passes of 17 and 13 yards on a drive that pulled the Bengals even with the Minnesota Vikings at 7-all just before halftime
2:19PM ( 9 hours ago )
AP Sports - NFL
North Korea says it tested new long-range cruise missiles
North Korea says it successfully test fired newly developed long-range cruise missiles
11:29PM ( 16 minutes ago )
Asian shares trend lower after Wall St ends with weekly loss
Shares are lower in most Asian markets after Wall Street benchmarks ended last week with a decline
11:28PM ( 17 minutes ago )
Tropical Storm Nicholas threatens Gulf Coast with heavy rain
Tropical Storm Nicholas is expected to strengthen as it heads for the Gulf Coast
11:16PM ( 29 minutes ago )
Lil Nas X, Justin Bieber top star-packed MTV VMAs
Lil Nas X won video of the year at Sundays MTV VMAs on a night that Justin Bieber triumphantly returned to the stage as a performer and as winner of the artist of the year
11:12PM ( 33 minutes ago )
Bieber wins artist of the year at star-packed MTV VMAs
“Bieber fever” has made its presence felt at a star-studded 2021 MTV Video Music Awards
10:40PM ( 1 hour ago )