Bobby Wagner and Russell Wilson reunited on Sunday, nearing the end of their first season apart after a decade together. The holiday reunion was only enjoyed by Wagner and his Los Angeles Rams.
Wagner intercepted a pass from his former Seahawks teammate, setting up the Rams’ second touchdown drive of the 31-point first half. Wagner also sacked Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning just before halftime, putting an end to a long-standing bet between these good friends.
“I told him that if we ever played against each other, I’d get him,” Wagner joked. “That was fun to do. It was also fun to pick him up on Christmas. “I appreciate the gifts.”
Wagner’s holiday cheer was only part of a thrashing delivered by the Super Bowl champions, who haven’t given up on their lost season yet.
Baker Mayfield threw two touchdown passes to Tyler Higbee, Cam Akers rushed for 118 yards and three touchdowns, and the Los Angeles Rams defeated the Denver Broncos 51-14 for their second victory since mid-October.
Mayfield completed 24 of 28 passes for 230 yards in his second win in three starts with the Rams (5-10), who played their best game of the season on Christmas.
“That’s what you strive for,” Rams head coach Sean McVay said. “Seeing it come to life on a night like this makes you really happy for them. They have earned it.”
Rookie Cobie Durant capped the celebrations by returning his second interception 85 yards for a touchdown, picking off Brett Rypien with 4:08 remaining to cap the Rams’ first 50-point performance under McVay since their famous 54-51 win over Kansas City in 2018.
Los Angeles avoided becoming the first defending champion to lose 11 games for at least another week. Despite bringing in the NFL’s 32nd-ranked offence, Los Angeles is now the second team this season to score 50 points, joining Dallas earlier this month.
“It’s really special to play a complete game like this,” Mayfield said. “Today, everything was there for us.”
Larrell Murchison made 2 1/2 of the Rams’ six sacks of Wilson, who passed for 214 yards with three interceptions in his Los Angeles debut (4-11). Wilson struggled in his return from a one-game concussion absence, throwing interceptions to end Denver’s first two drives.
“We haven’t really had an experience like that (where we were trying to catch up) so far here,” Wilson explained. “It just snowballed from there.” The bottom line is that I failed us. It’s not going to happen, and it’s been disappointing.”
The Rams racked up 261 of their 388 yards before halftime and eventually scored on their first eight drives against Denver’s above-average defence, matching their full-game season high in points with a 31-6 lead at the half.
Denver trailed 41-6 when Wilson connected with Greg Dulcich for the Broncos’ only touchdown with 8:30 remaining in the latest frustrating loss in a season full of them under rookie coach Nathaniel Hackett.
“I think they’re upset because of all the losses,” Hackett said. “We are all. Each and every one of us. This is unacceptable. That is not our intention. That was never our intention. We went in believing that we would be able to win this game, but in the end, we were not prepared.”
Akers continued his late-season surge by rushing for 100 yards for the Rams, while Higbee led the passing attack with 94 yards on nine catches for an offence that was missing its top three wideouts due to injury.
With his 19th career touchdown catch in the first quarter, Higbee became the Rams’ career franchise leader in scoring catches by a tight end. Following Wagner’s long return of his interception across the middle, Akers scored two snaps.
The Rams’ 17-point first quarter was their highest since Week 6 of McVay’s rookie season in 2017. For the first time in McVay’s tenure, they scored touchdowns on four consecutive drives.
At halftime, Los Angeles led 31-3, and Ramsey intercepted Wilson’s long heave to the end zone on Denver’s first drive of the second half. Murchison, who signed with Los Angeles 13 days ago after Tennessee released him, led the Rams’ pressure on Wilson.