CLEVELAND – Safety John Johnson III's interception in the endzone staved off a late rally and secured a 20-13 Rams win over the Cleveland Browns on Sunday Night Football at First Energy Stadium.
WR Cooper Kupp found the endzone twice, LB Clay Matthews pitched in three sacks and DT Aaron Donald added his first of the season to help Los Angeles move to 15-3 in true road regular season games under head coach Sean McVay.
A Juston Burris interception set up the Browns at their own 43 yard line with 2:54 left and a chance to tie the game. Cleveland marched all the way down to the Los Angeles 4-yard line with 33 seconds left when Johnson stepped in front of Browns QB Baker Mayfield's pass short right intended for WR Damion Ratley to clinch the victory for L.A.'
Two Rams starters – RG Austin Blythe and TE Tyler Higbee – were inactive, with Jamil Demby and Gerald Everett starting in their places respectively. Demby's start marked the first of his career, while Blythe's absence marked the first time since McVay became head coach in 2017 that the Rams had an offensive lineman miss a start due to injury.
After a slow start, the Rams got on the board with an 11-play, 51-yard drive capped off by a 53-yard field goal by kicker Greg Zuerlein for an early 3-0 lead with 4:06 left in the first quarter.
The Browns responded with a drive that lasted nearly seven and a half minutes and ended with a 23-yard field goal by kicker Austin Seibert to tie it 3-3 with 11:41 left in the first quarter. It was an early win for the Rams defense by stopping the Browns at the L.A. 5-yard line.
The Rams challenged for possible pass interference against Browns defense with 9:34 left in the first quarter on an incomplete pass from Goff to Cooks. The play stood upon further review by the officials. Hekker's 38-yard punt pinned Cleveland on its own 6, and the Browns went 3-and-out unable to escape from deep into their own territory.
A 48-yard missed field goal attempt by Zuerlein set up the Browns at midfield late in the second quarter, but they were unable to capitalize because of a false start penalty against them and a timely pass breakup by Rams CB Nickell Robey-Coleman while defending WR Jarvis Landry.
Browns DE Myles Garrett beat Demby to strip the ball loose from Goff with 18 seconds left in the second quarter. The ensuing fumble was picked up on the run by Browns LB Joe Schobert, who returned it to the L.A. 17-yard line. While Cleveland couldn't find the endzone, the takeaway was enough to set up a 35-yard field goal by Seibert as time expired for a 6-3 halftime lead.
Los Angeles opened the second half with a statement drive, finished off by an 11-yard touchdown pass from Goff to WR Cooper Kupp. It was Kupp's first touchdown since coming back from injury. Runs of seven and eight yards early in the series by RB Todd Gurley helped open up the passing game and lead to the eventual score.
Chubb ensured the Browns would respond, accounting for 65 of the Browns' 75 yards on the next drive which ended with a 2-yard touchdown pass from Mayfield to TE Demetrius Harris for a 13-10 Cleveland lead late in the third quarter.
Looking to regain the lead, Goff was intercepted by Browns DB T.J. Carrie at the Cleveland 49-yard line. Officials reviewed the play and upheld the original call, but the Browns were unable to take advantage and forced to punt following a 3-and-out.
The Rams regained the lead 17-13 on a 6-yard touchdown pass from Goff to Kupp. Misdirection from a 17-yard carry by WR Robert Woods on a double reverse, coupled with a 21-yard reception by Kupp earlier in the drive, were the big plays that set up Kupp's second score of the night.
The Los Angeles Rams face the Cleveland Browns for SNF at FirstEnergy Stadium!
Facing a fourth and nine from the Rams 40-yard line, the Browns turned the ball over on downs after Chubb was stopped by Weddle on a 2-yard carry. Aided by a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty against Cleveland safety Jermaine Whitehead, L.A. capitalized on the field position with a 37-yard field goal by Zuerlein to extend its lead to 20-13 with 6:37 left.
A 13-yard penalty on the ensuing kickoff return by the Browns took them to the 20, but an illegal block in the back call forced them to start that drive from their own 10. Donald got his first sack of the season on the series' first snap, a 7-yard loss that which the Browns couldn't recover from as they were eventually forced to punt.
Cleveland would not go away quietly, though. Looking deep left for Woods on the ensuing drive, Goff was intercepted by Burris. Like Goff's first interception, this also set up Cleveland near midfield. However, similar to previous takeaways, the Browns were unable to capitalize, as Johnson picked off Mayfield to seal the Rams win.