A free agent on Monday and backup quarterback at gametime, Baker Mayfield was the hero nevertheless on Thursday Night Football for the Los Angeles Rams this week. With two days to prepare, Mayfield went on to stun the Las Vegas Raiders in a 17-16 upset, leading a game-winning 98-yard drive in the final two minutes.


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“I don’t know if you could write it any better than that,” Mayfield said after the game.

Last week, Mayfield had been named the third-string quarterback for the Carolina Panthers, causing him to request his release. Once the Cleveland Browns’ franchise hopeful, he left the team in an unceremonious trade before the season and never adjusted well in Carolina. In desperate need of a quarterback after Matthew Stafford landed on the injured reserve list, Los Angeles announced Tuesday that the team had claimed Mayfield off waivers.

Because he was learning on extremely short notice, the Rams did not confirm that Mayfield would start Week 14 against the Raiders. Instead, John Wolford, who was also questionable with a neck injury before the game, appeared for the team’s first offensive possession but did not make any passing attempts. The team turned to Mayfield for the second possession.

Over the course of the game, Mayfield obviously struggled to adjust on the fly to the Rams’ offense and went on to complete 22 of 35 passes for 230 yards, a statistic aided heavily by his late-game heroics. Opposing quarterback Derek Carr and the Raiders’ offense scored 10 points in the first quarter but stalled for the rest of the game, and a field goal early in the fourth only put Las Vegas ahead 16-3.

With 12:20 remaining, Mayfield led the team on a grueling 17-play drive which culminated in a one-yard touchdown for running back Cam Akers. After the score, a well-rested Rams defense got a huge stop, forcing the Raiders to punt with just 1:45 remaining. Mayfield and the offense moved down the field from their own two-yard line, and with 10 seconds remaining, he found receiver Van Jefferson in the end zone for what would go on to be a game-winning 23-yard touchdown.

When Mayfield requested his release, there were a number of spots he could’ve landed as many teams continue to search for backup options at quarterback. But a starting job in Los Angeles on Thursday Night Football was probably the greatest challenge he could have faced. He exceeded every expectation one could have had for him, except maybe Sean McVay.

“Just like we drew it up,” McVay said after the game.

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