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Rams-Texans final score: LA improves to 7-1 in dominating fashion

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The Rams were putting together their most complete game, prior to a fourth quarter crumble

Though the Los Angeles Rams were missing some of their key starters this week they came away with a 38-22 victory against the Houston Texans on Sunday. Darrell Henderson found holes all day long even with Andrew Whitworth watching from the sideline and rookie Ernest Jones got his first interception as the Rams improved to 7-1 on the season. Here’s how it happened.

First Quarter

Head coach Sean McVay’s emphasis on starting fast throughout the last two weeks must have finally hit home as LA’s offense started out blazing hot. Darrell Henderson’s first run of the game went for 15 yards and Stafford found Kupp twice for 23 yards to get to the red zone. On the three yard line Stafford completed a pass to a wide open Henderson for the first touchdown of the game.

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Houston’s first drive of the game was derailed quickly when a false start and a holding penalty put their offense in a deficit they could not overcome. After just a single first down the Texans were forced to punt the ball to the Rams.

Henderson continued to find success on the ground and on the second drive of the game was averaging 10.3 yards a carry on six attempts. LA was in a position to score after driving down to the red zone for the second time of the match but failed to convert on fourth-and-2 when a pass to Henderson was just out of his reach and fell incomplete. With the ball on their own five yard line the Texans could not get a first down and went three-and-out after the stop.

Score: Rams 7, Texans 0

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Second Quarter

Starting in good field position at their own 35 yard line LA once again had no problems driving down to the red zone but like the trip before could not punch the ball in for the touchdown. Stafford was looking for Kupp in the back of the end zone but his pass sailed high and the Rams settled for the field goal. Their defense would get the ball back to Stafford almost immediately when rookie linebacker Ernest Jones intercepted Davis Mills and returned the ball to Houston’s 12 yard line.

After three run plays in a row LA faced its second fourth down try in the half when they went for it on fourth-and-3. Stafford’s intended pass to Van Jefferson was nearly picked by Vernon Hargreaves but a questionable holding call was flagged to give the Rams a new set of downs. The very next play Stafford found Robert Woods for the second touchdown of the game.

After another three-and-out by Houston Stafford and company started their fifth drive of the first half on their own 21 yard line. On the third play of the series Stafford found Kupp for a 52 yard gain. The reception was a gentle reminder that the league has still not found a way to cover the fifth year receiver.

Four plays later Henderson walked into the end zone for his second touchdown of the game. Henderson finished the first half with 12 carries that went for 80 yards.

The Texans finally found some momentum when Tremon Smith took the kickoff 44 yards. Mills completed two throws that went for 15 yards each that set the his offense up for a 45 yard field goal. Ka’imi Fairbairn’s try was no good and the LA rams pitched a shutout in the first half.

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The highlight of the drive and possibly the game was called back due to a penalty when Jones got caught for illegal use of hands. Donte Deayon went up high and snagged what looked like a throw-a-way pass from Mills and then somehow managed to tap his toes in for the interception. With Desean Jackson soon to be out of the building Deayon may have just built himself a resume to apply for an offensive position.

Score: Rams 24, Texans 0

Third Quarter

The Texans got the kickoff to start the second half but after just 1:31 and four plays LA’s offense had the ball back in their grasps but they also did not get much done offensively after Woods could not handle a pass that would have lead to a huge gain. Johnny Hekker’s name was called for the first time of the game.

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It would not take long for LA to get another chance on offense and on the first play of the drive Stafford aired one out for Van Jefferson who came away with a catch and a 68 yard gain. After a Henderson rush went back to the line of scrimmage for no gain Stafford found Kupp in the end zone for an 11 yard touchdown reception, his 10th of the season.

Though LA’s offense was clicking on all cylinders their defense absolutely crushed the Texans offense. By the end of the third quarter the defensive line was credited with five sacks and continued to hold their opponent to a scoreless game and just 73 total yards. The Texans drive following the Kupp touchdown went for negative yardage as they continued their punting trend.

The Rams continued their trend of scoring. Rookie Ben Skowronek got some action and had two catches for 25 yards. Once in the red zone Woods took a pitch at the 16 yard line and ran in untouched for an easy six.

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Score: Rams 38, Texans 0

Fourth Quarter

Leading by 38 points Stafford was retired for the day and backup John Wolford took over as quarterback. His first opportunity on the field lead to the Rams second punt of the game.

With just 8:08 left in the game the Texans finally found their first score of the game. Chris Moore had an impressive sideline grab and Rex Burkhead found some success as Mills put his team in the red zone. On first-and-goal Burkhead ran hard up the middle and crossed the sticks to deny the shutout.

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With the reserves in for the Rams offense Hekker got his third opportunity to punt. Following the kick Brandin Cooks got his number called on a 45 yard long ball that he caught and took to the house.

On the kickoff the Texans attempted an on onside kick that bounced off of Woods hands and landed into the Moore’s arms. For the second week in a row the Rams allowed a successful onside kick in what could become an ugly special teams trend. After getting the ball back on the kick the Texans quickly turned the possession into another score and a two-point conversion.

The Texans second onside kick try was recovered sloppily by the Rams. With Wolford and the offensive backups in play the offense would go three-and-out and give the ball back to the Texans with 1:52 left in the game.

After improving to 7-1 on the season the Rams will travel back home to take on the Tennessee Titans on Sunday Night Football.

Final Score: Rams 38, Texans 22

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College basketball national player of the year watch: Edey, Wilson lead the way

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Zach Edey leads the way for national player of the year honors, while Jalen Wilson is making a case. Here’s a look at the candidates.



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How Eagles offensive line spurred Jalen Hurts’ development

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Jalen Hurts has blossomed into a complete quarterback this season in large part because of the brick wall in front of him.



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Flames looking to build on intense clash vs. Rangers with playoff spot on the line

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NEW YORK – The hockey world got a shot in the arm Monday, bursting out of the All-Star break with what many considered the best game of the season.

Comebacks, huge hits, fights, goals and overtime dramatics dotted the New York Rangers’ 5-4 overtime win over Calgary to the delight of an amped-up crowd at Madison Square Garden.

All of those entertaining ingredients were products of something the league so sorely lacks most of the regular season: intensity.

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It was only last month Flames coach Darryl Sutter said rather matter-of-factly that regular-season games rarely feature the intensity that shows up every spring, making the Stanley Cup playoffs so impossible to ignore.

Fact is, in an 82-game schedule, it’d be a dangerous game to play with the sort of passion and physicality Monday’s game exhibited.

“You’d be dead,” said Flames winger Milan Lucic with a laugh after a rare practice at MSG Tuesday morning, wide-eyed just talking about the evening.

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“You can see why they play once a week in football.

“You can’t do that 82 nights a year, but your mindset has to be that you want to do it, and have to do it, every night you go out there.

“There are games where you say, ‘This doesn’t mean anything,’ but then something happens and it turns into something bigger.

“There’s things that spark it.”

So, how did it escalate into a wildly entertaining game that had the players’ phones blowing up like a Jacob Trouba bodycheck?

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It started with the setting.

“All these Original Six places are such great places to play,” said Lucic.

“Even during the anthem, whenever there’s a little pause, they scream, ‘Let’s Go Rangers’ – it’s one of their trademarks.

“They still whistle, ‘Potvin Sucks.’

“It’s cool.

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“It’s what playing in the NHL is all about and what you think it’s going to be. When you’re a kid dreaming of playing on the big stage, that’s exactly what you’re thinking about.

“Having that atmosphere from them also helps create the emotion and energy on the ice as well.

“People out west don’t really understand the East Coast cheering hostility.

“It is a hostile environment – they don’t just let you walk in with another team’s jersey on and ask, ‘Oh, hey, how are you doing? Where are you from?’

“It’s not welcoming.”

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Setting off the crowd, and both teams, were the hits, sparking the emotion.

An early hit from Nazem Kadri on Trouba certainly set the tone, as the Rangers captain later responded with big blasts on Dillon Dube and Kadri.

Cue the fireworks, which had the Flames players buzzing afterward about the character in their room and respect for one another that served as a galvanizing evening for a team in search of something to rally around.

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“I loved it and told him I would have done the same thing for him,” said Kadri, when asked about Dube immediately dropping the gloves with towering Trouba for his first NHL fight.

“He’s not a guy who is expected to fight, so that’s always something I respect – he’s certainly earned my respect.

“I’ll have to buy him some dinner or something.”

As Dube walked around Tuesday pretending to have his chest all puffed out, Kadri laughed.

“I think he had a little scratch on his finger too, so ask him about that,” Kadri said.

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MacKenzie Weeger also stepped up to respond to a sizable Sammy Blais hit on Lucic, immediately laying a left-handed beatdown on Will Cuylle.

Chris Tanev kickstarted the fight card, earning kudos for fighting Trouba in his return to the lineup.

“Every team wants to win, but what are you willing to do to win?” said Lucic of the lads backing one another up.

“Yeah, the crowd was great, but if we’re just out there playing shinny, then it ends up being another Monday night.

“They do their part, and we do our part, and it ends up being a game talked about.

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“If you can recall five games in the last couple years, which ones do you remember?

“You remember this one, Nashville (an OT thriller with plenty of fights late last year), the 9-6 playoff game against Edmonton, the goalies fighting.

“You remember those because all the ingredients of intensity go into it.”

With 31 games to go, the Flames are in a scary spot with the West’s final wild-card berth.

Against the Rangers, they bounced back three times from one-goal deficits, got some timely saves from Jacob Markstrom late in the game and traded punches – literally and figuratively – with one of the east’s more talented teams.

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On their turf.

They dropped the overtime point, but added a bounce to their step moving forward.

Was it a coincidence their inspirational showing came the first game out of the final break?

“It was a coincidence, but I also think it’s a bit of a blessing because it gets you ready for what to expect night in and night out,” said Lucic.

“Every game is going to be like a playoff game for us.

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“When the intensity and all that type of stuff goes up, I think it shows the true character of your team and what you’re made of.

“For the teams that do get the opportunity for the playoffs, it’s those learning experiences throughout the season that you do fall back on.”

The question now for the Flames is, can they replicate that desperation, emotion and intensity in Motown Thursday night against the type of bottom-feeder Sutter’s bunch has struggled against this season?

Stay tuned.

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