Cooper Kupp continued his return from injury with a pair of touchdowns to help the LA Rams stifle Cleveland and Baker Mayfield on Sunday night.
Kupp caught two touchdown passes from Jared Goff while the Rams defense impressed to halt Mayfield four times from the four-yard line in the final minute and closed out a third win for Sean McVay’s NFC champions of last year.
On the Browns’ final drive, Mayfield, who was under pressure most of the night, tried to force a pass to receiver Damion Ratley on fourth down but safety John Johnson III picked him off to seal the win.
A short-handed Browns were missing their entire starting secondary and had a solitary Demetrius Harris touchdown and a couple of field goals for their efforts in a first Sunday Night Football in Cleveland since 2008.
But superstar receiver Odell Beckham Jr could not get going and instead it was left to Kupp to provide the game-defining scores as he proved he is all but over the serious knee injury that kept him out for most of last season, including the Rams’ Super Bowl defeat to New England.Mahomes dazzles as Chiefs win again49ers ride luck to sink Steelers
Kupp underwent surgery on his left knee and missed the final six games last season but his return gives Goff an additional target and McVay more firepower to work with, and the wideout finished with a career-high 11 receptions for 102 yards.
Greg Zuerlein kicked two field goals for the Rams.
Despite failing to get much going on offense, the Browns showed they can hang with one of the NFL’s elite teams but their misfiring attacking options will give first-year coach Freddie Kitchens plenty to think about and once again Cleveland had too many penalties.
Mayfield threw one TD pass but completed just 50 per cent of his passes, going 18 of 36 for 195 yards, and was sacked three times – twice in a three-play span in the fourth quarter by Rams defensive star Aaron Donald (his first this season) and Clay Matthews III, who had two sacks.
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A toothless first half saw the Rams trailing 6-3 but they wasted no time in the third quarter, taking the second-half kickoff and driving 75 yards in 10 plays to take a 10-6 lead on Goff’s 11-yard pass to Kupp.
The Browns responded with their own 11-play scoring drive that Mayfield capped with a two-yard TD pass to tight end Harris – the first touchdown pass allowed by the Rams this season.
Goff’s second TD pass to Kupp gave the Rams a 17-13 lead with almost 13 minutes remaining as Goff hit Kupp streaking across the end zone virtually uncovered.
The Browns marched to the Rams 40 and stalled. But instead of punting on fourth-and-nine, Kitchens went for it and Nick Chubb was stopped for two yards.
Cleveland caught a break when safety Juston Burris intercepted Goff with 2:46 left and when Mayfield completed a 27-yard pass on third-and-15 to drive up to the Rams’ four, overtime looked possible. But he threw four straight incompletions as the comeback came up short.
The Rams not only stay unbeaten and perfect on the season but under McVay, they are 100 per cent against AFC teams in the regular season and they are well placed to again challenge for the biggest prize after a win that showcased their battling credentials.
Cleveland Browns – After a second home defeat of the season, the Browns take their search for consistency on the road where they will look to add to their solitary win which came at the Jets. In Week Four they face a fierce looking divisional game at Baltimore (2-1) before heading to Levi’s Stadium to face the perfect San Francisco 49ers (3-0) fresh from their early bye week.