“It was good,” Stafford told NBC after the game. “There were some great plays out there [and] obviously some of them we want back. But it was just great to be part of a win on opening night, great to be part of this team. I’m so happy to be part of this team. There are so many great players, so many great coaches. I’m lucky to be with them and just happy we got the win tonight.”
All three of Stafford’s touchdown throws went to wide receivers: 67 yards to Van Jefferson, 56 yards to Cooper Kupp and two yards to Robert Woods. Another would-be touchdown pass to Kupp was overturned by an instant replay review that showed Kupp was down by contact inside the 1-yard line. That set up a one-yard touchdown plunge by running back Darrell Henderson.
This was exactly why the Rams sent a pair of first-round draft picks and a third-round choice--along with quarterback Jared Goff—to the Detroit Lions for Stafford, a former Pro Bowl selection who has a 5,000-yard passing season on his NFL resume. They are two seasons removed from their Super Bowl defeat to the New England Patriots, and the Rams are intent upon returning to the championship-contending mix.
Stafford completed 20 of 26 passes for 321 yards in his Rams unveiling. He didn’t throw an interception and his passer rating of 156.1 was not far from a perfect 158.3. He made things work for Coach Sean McVay’s offense on a night when the running game was not prominent.
“He did a great job calling the game,” Stafford said. “I mean, shoot, we had some guys wide open for some huge plays. Our guys made great plays on the outside. We’re constantly talking to each other, trying to see where each other’s at. I’ve got great trust in him and I think he’s got a lot of trust in me to go out there and execute what comes to mind to him. And our guys up front did a heck of a job keeping me clean tonight, letting me operate and do my thing.”
Kupp had seven catches for 108 yards. Jefferson finished with 80 receiving yards, and tight end Tyler Higbee had 68 more.
“I think that’s when we’re at our best,” Stafford said. “When the other team doesn’t know where the ball is going to go and I do, I feel like we’re in a good place.”
McVay improved to 5-0 in season-opening games as head coach of the Rams. The night at SoFi Stadium began with famed ring announcer Michael Buffer making his signature, “Let’s get ready to ruuuummmble!!!” call to the crowd. The Bears hung tough for as long as they could. Their new quarterback, Andy Dalton, committed a pair of first-half turnovers, throwing an end-zone interception and losing a fumble.
“We don’t got no turnover chain,” Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey said in a postgame news conference. “I mean, we get paid to do this. We get checks. Our checks are going to clear. It’s cool. It’s a vibe. It’s fun, a lot of fun.”
Justin Fields, the Bears’ prized rookie quarterback, rotated into the lineup here and there and made an impact, completing both his passes and running for a three-yard touchdown in the third quarter.
“I think that for him, the times that he got in there, that he did well, it being his first game,” Bears Coach Matt Nagy said. “... We’ll continue to keep growing with that stuff and see what we want to do with that.”
The Bears were within 20-14 after Fields’s touchdown. But they couldn’t keep pace, and Nagy undoubtedly will face renewed questioning about when he might switch from Dalton to Fields as his starter.
“We’ve got to just keep having him grow and keep staying positive,” Nagy said in his news conference afterward. “But he’s certainly a weapon.”
The Bears’ quarterback plans remain a work in progress. The Rams have no such angst. Their move to upgrade at the position paid off handsomely on opening night.
“I feel great,” Stafford told NBC. “It’s a beautiful stadium…. The people of L.A. filled it and were loud for us, which was amazing. It’s just fun to be part of it. I’m as happy as I could be.”
Read below for game details.