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Five key plays: Rams 37, Jaguars 7

12.5 5 Key Plays

Senior writer John Oehser examines five key plays from the Jaguars' 37-7 loss to the Los Angeles Rams in a 2021 Week 13 game at SoFi Stadium in Inglewood, Calif., Sunday

1. The first play. The Rams took control of the momentum immediately, with wide receiver Brandon Powell returning the opening kickoff 65 yards to Jaguars 36. Credit the Jaguars' defense for holding Los Angeles to one first down on the drive, with Rams kicker Matt Gay converting a 40-yard field goal for a 3-0 lead with 12:20 remaining in the first quarter.

2. Oops. The Jaguars' trend of slow starts continued Sunday, as did their trend of self-inflicted mistakes. After Gay's early field goal, the Jaguars' offense immediately gave the Rams ideal field possession again when running back James Robinson fumbled after a one-yard run on 2nd-and-8 from the Jaguars 33. Rams defensive tackle Aaron Donald ripped the ball from Robinson on the play, and former Jaguars and current Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey returned the fumble eight yards to the Jaguars 27. That was one of two Jaguars lost fumbles Sunday, with running back Carlos Hyde losing one late in the third quarter. "Obviously the turnovers hurt us," Jaguars quarterback Trevor Lawrence said. "When you go minus two in the turnover margin it's already hard to win, but then when you're not moving the ball consistently, it's pretty much impossible. Obviously that, and then yeah, it's frustrating. But we're all in it together." Rams quarterback Matt Stafford threw 27 yards to wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr., with running back Sony Michel's five-yard run on the ensuing play giving the Rams a 10-0 lead with 10:25 remaining in the first quarter.

3. Fourth-and-Lawrence (to Jones). The Jaguars stalled the Rams' momentum early in the second quarter with one of their most impressive drives of the season – 13 plays, 73 yards with three critical conversions by Lawrence. Perhaps the drive's biggest play came on 4th-and-2 from the Rams 36, when Lawrence zipped a pass to wide receiver Marvin Jones Jr. for six yards to the Rams 30. Lawrence earlier on the drive converted 3rd-and-9 with a 28-yard pass to wide receiver Laquon Treadwell and later on the drive converted 3rd-and-8 from the Rams 28 with a nine-yard scramble. Four plays after Lawrence's scramble, Hyde's one-yard run made it 10-7, Rams, with 13:23 remaining in the second quarter. "He (Lawrence) scrambled, he made some nice plays, and we go down and score, and you're feeling pretty good about life, and then all of a sudden it goes in reverse again," Meyer said. The Rams scored on five of their next possessions after that – two field goals on the final three drives of the first half and touchdowns on the first three possessions of the second.

4. Oops … again. Yes, the final score was one-sided, but the Jaguars had a chance to take the lead late in the second quarter. On 3rd-and-4 from the Rams 40 with just over three minutes remaining in the half, Lawrence held the ball toward Hyde in a run-pass-option/read option look. The ball squirted free, and Lawrence recovered at the Rams 42 – just out of field-goal range. "I tried to pull it, get on the edge there [to run],'' Lawrence said. "I thought there was a good look out there. I had blockers. Just trying to make a play there on third down. I felt good about the decision. I just have to secure the ball. It kind of got caught on Carlos' hip. I just have to make sure if I'm pulling it I get it all the way out of there before I start running. I just have to be cleaner there. It's on me as a quarterback. It's not a chemistry thing. It's one of those plays that happens along with some other ones today." The Jaguars punted on the ensuing play and the Rams drove immediately for a 37-yard field goal by Gay that stretched their lead to 16-7 at halftime.

5. Big third-quarter play to Kupp. Rams wide receiver Cooper Kupp is one of the NFL's best at his position, and the Jaguars limited him to three receptions for 22 yards in the first half. That changed fast in the second half, with Stafford-to-Kupp keying what essentially became the Rams' game-clinching possession. First, Stafford found Kupp deep down the right sideline on a play-action pass on 2nd-and-three from the Rams 22 for 43 yards to the Jaguars 35. That was the Rams' longest play of the game. Stafford two plays later passed over the middle to Kupp, who beat safety Andrew Wingard with an inside move to the post. Kupp turned the play into an easy 29-yard, catch-and-run touchdown that gave the Rams a 23-7 lead with 11:43 remaining in the third quarter. "Cooper Kupp is an amazing player," Jaguars defensive lineman Dawuane Smoot said. "He's eventually going to get off. He gets paid just like we do. I mean, we contained him as long as we could, and I felt like our guys in the back end did a really good job."

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