INGLEWOOD, Calif. – After hauling in the game-winning, 23-yard touchdown catch near the corner of the endzone, a fired-up Van Jefferson began to celebrate.
First, the Rams wide receiver leaped into the air for a chest bump with fellow receiver Tutu Atwell. Then, he turned toward the crowd and yelled, "Let's go!"
Considering the trying circumstances of Jefferson's 2022 season, no one could blame him.
"It meant a lot," Jefferson said. "Not being able to play for the first couple of games of the season, to come back, and what I've been through, the hard rehab I've had. Credit to (Vice President, Sports Medicine and Performance) Reggie (Scott) and his training staff, (associate athletic trainer) Mark (Dydasco) and his staff, but it was awesome to get back."
The start to this season was far from what Jefferson wanted, having to undergo a second offseason knee surgery – which took place in early August during training camp – that sidelined him for the Rams' first six games. His first two games back were more about building his workload back up to its regular amount.
But on Thursday night, he found the endzone for the third time this season. It was only his second catch all night, but both were impactful because they led to the Rams' first and last points of the game – Jefferson's 21-yard catch late in the first quarter helped set up kicker Matt Gay's 55-yard field goal on quarterback Baker Mayfield's first offensive series.
The second reception was especially meaningful, though.
"That was the first game-winner I caught (at any level of competition)," Jefferson said.
It was also a full-circle moment of sorts between him and Mayfield.
"I'm not very happy with Van until now," Mayfield said with a smile. "I was trying to get him to come to Oklahoma. He wouldn't text or call back. He owes me one and he got me right there."
The more of those plays the Rams can get from Jefferson the rest of the season as they navigate having Cooper Kupp and Allen Robinson II on Injured Reserve, the better – for both Jefferson and the team.
"It was a great feeling, but like I said, it was other great players during the drive that made great plays," Jefferson said. "I was just a small piece of that drive."