With strong defense, takeaways, and timely scores the Rams came away with a 19-15 victory over the Raiders on Saturday.
As always with preseason, the final score rarely tells the whole story. With that in mind, here are five instant takeaways from Los Angeles' second preseason contest.
1) FIRST-HALF TAKEAWAYS LEAD TO POINTS
Linebacker Ramik Wilson put the Rams in scoring position with a defensive takeaway late in the first quarter.
On 2nd-and-10 from the Oakland 38, quarterback Connor Cook dropped the ball in the pocket while setting up to pass. The fumble went to the defense's right, where Wilson was there to scoop up the loose ball on a dead sprint. He raced up the field 16 yards to put Los Angeles in strong scoring position at the Oakland 15.
Running back John Kelly continued his strong preseason on the ensuing offensive possession, using a pair of runs to put L.A. on the Oakland five-yard line. While it took all four downs, Kelly made it into the end zone for a two-yard touchdown. Kelly fumbled as he crossed the goal line, but recovered the loose ball to secure the score.
L.A. got another takeaway late in the first half when quarterback E.J. Manuel fumbled while trying to scramble out of the backfield. After the signal-caller inadvertently kicked the ball forward, linebacker Bryce Hager recovered the fumble and gave L.A. strong field position in Oakland territory. Kicker Greg Zuerlein connected on a 28-yard field goal to end the first half, giving L.A. a 13-0 lead.
2) SUFFOCATING DEFENSE
The Rams defense had a strong first half in general, allowing just 58 total yards on 22 plays.
Between the takeaways, tackles for loss, and strong coverage in the secondary, Los Angeles allowed only one first down in the game's first 30 minutes. The Raiders were also 0-for-6 in third-down efficiency.
Cook played the first quarter and completed just four of his seven passes for 15 yards. Manuel took over for the second quarter and completed five of his six passes for 43 yards.
Running back Chris Warren III took five carries for just 19 yards in the first half — and nine of those yards came on one play.
3) MANNION CONNECTS
After a disappointing outing against the Ravens last week, quarterback Sean Mannion fared much better against Oakland. Playing only the first half, the Oregon State product finished 10-of-16 passing for 84 yards.
One highlight of the half was his 47-yard bomb down the right sideline to wide receiver KhaDarel Hodge. The wideout made an outstanding grab, leaping up to secure the ball and bring it down over a defender.
The catch put L.A. in scoring position, and Zuerlein capitalized on the opportunity with a 42-yard field goal to give the home team a 10-0 advantage.
4) DEFENSIVE LINEMEN MAKING PLAYS
Rookie defensive lineman John Franklin-Myers made his preseason debut on Saturday and had a clear impact during the first half.
He first induced a hold to put Oakland in a 1st-and-20 down and distance. Then on the next play, the fourth-round pick got into Cook's face to force a screen pass high and incomplete on the right side.
Late in the second quarter, Franklin-Myers started an Oakland drive by sacking Manuel for a seven-yard loss.
Fellow defensive lineman Ethan Westbrooks also played well — particularly late in the first half. Just after Franklin-Myers' sack, Westbrooks nearly had one of his own but Manuel was able to flip the ball to running back Jalen Richard for a short gain.
Manuel wasn't so lucky on the next play, when Westbrooks came in and strip-sacked Manuel for the Rams' second takeaway of the first half. Westbrooks now has 3.0 sacks in the preseason after recording a pair last week against Baltimore on quarterback Lamar Jackson.
5) ZUERLEIN, FICKEN SPLIT KICKING DUTIES
Zurelein has been solid in practice since returning from a season-ending back injury and connected on two of this three field-goal attempts during Saturday's game. His first attempt was from 48-yards out and though it had the distance, the kick ended up wide right.
Subsequently, Zuerlein would hit a pair of field goals from 42-yards out midway through the second quarter, and then 28-yards out as time expired in the first half.
Reserve kicker Greg Ficken handled the kicking and punting duties in the second half. Ficken connected on a 35-yard field goal early in the second half. And he extended Los Angeles' lead to 19-15 with a 32-yard kick midway through the final period.
Neither Zuerlein nor Ficken allowed much room for a return, always nailing the ball deep into the end zone to combine for five touchbacks.