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Ebukam Shows Out with Historic Defensive Performance vs. Chiefs

Outside linebacker Samson Ebukam has been around for a little bit.

Well, not that long, really. But the Rams drafted him in the fourth round of last year's NFL Draft. He played in all 16 regular-season games in 2017, mainly on special teams. But he did start a game at outside linebacker for Connor Barwin when the veteran was injured late in the season. And he started the Week 17 matchup against the 49ers when L.A. rested its starters.

This year, Ebukam has started each of Los Angeles' 11 games. In the first 10, he made some key plays — picking up 2.0 sacks and three forced fumbles along with five tackles for loss.

Perhaps his most notable play came against San Francisco in Week 7, when he ended the 49ers opening drive with a strip-sack on quarterback C.J. Beathard that outside linebacker Trevon Young recovered for an extra possession.

Or maybe it was his forced fumble against the Saints that defensive tackle Aaron Donald recovered. Although, on that one the Rams offense didn't end up scoring any points.

Either way, no game in Ebukam's young career was as memorable as his performance in the 54-51 victory over the Chiefs on Monday night.

In fact, his performance was downright historic.

Ebukam's final stat line: Three tackles — one for loss — 1.0 sacks, two quarterback hits, one interception, one pass defensed, one fumble recovery.

And, oh yeah, two defensive touchdowns.

"God blessed me tonight," Ebukam said postgame.

No kidding.

"He had two touchdowns tonight — I ain't got one yet. He got two in one game, man," Donald said with a laugh after the game. "But that's what it's all about when you're having playmakers and you have a team like this, at any time they can make the big plays and that's what we've got to continue to do."

OK, yes, the Rams want to continue making plays. But on this night — a night where Donald recorded two strip sacks, by the way — Ebukam was the defensive MVP.

Per ESPN Stats & Info, Ebukam became the first player with a sack, an interception, and multi touchdowns in a single game since the sack became an official stat in 1982.

Given how many games have been played since then, to do something that's never been done before — that tells you just how good Ebukam was on this night.

It started late in the second quarter, when Ebukam raced over to the defense's left to pick up the ball after Donald's first strip sack. The Eastern Washington product scooped up the pigskin at the 11-yard line and ran it in to give L.A. a 23-17 lead.

And yes, the Chiefs came back, and the Rams went back-and-forth with the visitors throughout the contest. But late in the third quarter, Ebukam made his presence felt with one of the more impressive pick sixes you'll ever see.

The Los Angeles Rams host the Kansas City Chiefs for Monday Night Football at the L.A. Memorial Coliseum.

On the first play from scrimmage of Kansas City's drive, Ebukam got his hand up to tip a pass at the line of scrimmage, and ended up catching it. With no one really in front of him, Ebukam darted toward the Coliseum's West end zone.

"I'm going to score, I'm going to score," Ebukam said of his thoughts during the play. "But I really thought that I wasn't, because I'd seen Tyreek Hill right behind me, coming up really fast, so I was like, 'OK, so I can track him into the end zone,' but I was close enough — I was like, 'I have to score.'"

Score Ebukam did, dragging Hill and quarterback Patrick Mahomes into the box to give Los Angeles a 40-30 lead.

The young outside linebacker picked up his sack in the fourth quarter, enveloping Mahomes in the pocket as he came around the corner on the offense's right. And, by the way, he hit Mahomes on the quarterback's fourth-quarter interception to cornerback Marcus Peters.

So does it mean a lot to Ebukam to have a game like this?

"Definitely, because I put a lot of work in — but it's not just me out on the field," Ebukam said. "Everybody contributed to everything that happened today, so I got to thank everybody for that — it's a team win."

So that tells us that Ebukam is just as humble as the rest of his teammate, which is good. But could Ebukam's teammates and coaches tell something like this was coming?

"I think he just does all the little things the right way," head coach Sean McVay said, bringing up Ebukam's rush on the Seahawks' final play in Week 10 and crediting assistant head coach/linebackers coach Joe Barry plus assistant linebackers coach Chris Shula for their work with the young OLB. "He's getting better and better, and you know he takes coaching the right way, and he's talented."

"He's a heck of a pass rusher, a heck of a football player," Donald said. "He's always flying around, so we know the potential that he has. This isn't even his best game yet, we know he's going to play better than this."

Better than this? That might be a tall order.

But for at least one night, Ebukam was able to provide a significant, historic boost that was exactly what Los Angeles needed to win.