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With Two Special Teams TDs, Rams Defeat Jaguars 27-17

Check out the photos during Week 6 of Rams vs Jaguars action.

Updated 10/15, 8 p.m. PT

JACKSONVILLE — Playing an unfamiliar opponent in a hostile environment, the Rams were able to score a pair of special teams touchdowns en route to defeating the Jaguars, 27-17.

Wide receiver Pharoh Cooper returned the game's opening kick 103 yards for a touchdown, and linebacker Cory Littleton blocked a punt deep in Jacksonville territory that running back Malcolm Brown brought into the end zone.

It's the first time in franchise history the Rams have blocked a punt and returned a kickoff for a touchdown in the same game. And it's just the 23rd time in league history a team has accomplished the feat — the first since Washington in 2015.

"It's huge. It ended up winning the game for us today," head coach Sean McVay said of the two special teams touchdowns. "I can't say enough about their effort, and that was the difference in winning this football game today."

The Rams needed those two special teams touchdowns on a day where their offense struggled. L.A. had only 12 first downs — nine after three quarters. The club finished 4-of-13 on third down, as quarterback Jared Goff ended the contest 11-of-21 passing for 124 yards with a touchdown.

The club did run the ball well, however, with Gurley amassing 116 yards on 23 carries with a long of 14. The Georgia product has now rushed for at least 110 yards in three of his last four games. And Brown successfully spelled Gurley on a few runs, too, rushing for 17 yards on three carries.

The ground attack was critical in the fourth quarter, as the Rams took 5:08 off the clock — and induced Jacksonville to use all of its timeouts — with a 12-play drive that ended in a Greg Zuerlein field goal for the game's final 10-point margin.

"We finally got a third-down conversion. We had so many in a row that we didn't get and we finally got one," Goff said, specifically noting wide receiver Cooper Kupp's 22-yard reception on 3rd-and-6 from the L.A. 46. "When you get third-down conversions, you move the ball, you move the chains, and Cooper [Kupp] picked up some good yards after the catch there. Jump plays tends to move the ball down the field. Ultimately that's what it was. We were running the ball well all day. It was just on third down we struggled a little bit."

Though Los Angeles' defense allowed a 75-yard touchdown by rookie running back Leonard Fournette, the unit allowed only three points after the first quarter. Jacksonville finished just 4-of-15 on third down, as quarterback Blake Bortles ended the day 23-of-35 passing for 241 yards with a touchdown and an interception. And after Fournette's first run, he amassed only 55 yards on 20 carries.

"I think that they continue to improve," McVay said of the defense. "I think when you look at well-coached teams led by Wade Phillips, those teams [that] get better as the season progresses are the ones that end up playing better. I think that's a representation of players that are receptive to the coaching, and our coaches continue to hammer down the fundamentals, the techniques."

After the Jaguars won the toss and deferred to the second half, Cooper fielded the kickoff, darted to his right, found a hole at the second level, then scampered down the right sideline to pay dirt. Cooper's touchdown return was the first in over a decade for the Rams, as cornerback Chris Johnson was the last to accomplish the feat in 2005.

"I felt like it was a good ball to return when I first caught it," Cooper said. "I found the wedge, ended up having a spin move — some guy had a spin move in there and it was a part of the return, just happened, part of my instincts and went with it. Hit the sidelines and took off, prayed that I didn't get caught."

Fournette's 75-yard run tied the game at seven with 14:35 left in the first quarter. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, it's the first time in the Super Bowl era that two touchdowns have been scored in the first 25 seconds of a game.

Zuerlein nailed a 56-yard field goal to put the Rams ahead 10-7. But the Jaguars responded with a quick four-play, 75-yard touchdown drive. Fournette had an 18-yard run during the possession, and Bortles hit running back Chris Ivory with a 22-yard screen for the go-ahead score.

Jacksonville's lead wouldn't last too long, as L.A. pulled ahead with its only offensive touchdown of the day. Goff began the possession with a 22-yard pass to wide receiver Robert Woods and an 11-yard completion to wideout Sammy Watkins. Rookie tight end Gerald Everett finished the drive with a four-yard touchdown off a Goff shovel pass — the first scoring strike of his career.

With the visitors ahead 17-14, the two teams traded punts for much of the second quarter. But with just over two minutes left in the half, Littleton broke through Jacksonville's punt protection to block Brad Nortman's kick. The ball squirted to the return team's right, where Brown picked it up and was escorted by a mob of Rams eight yards to the end zone.

"I saw the ball flying and my teammates helped me make the play and get into the end zone," Brown said. "I appreciate all their help and I definitely wouldn't have made it in there by myself."

The Jaguars had a chance to cut into the Rams' lead heading into the break, but Jason Myers' 54-yard field goal attempt was wide left.

Down 24-14 in the third quarter, Jacksonville got back on the board following a Los Angeles giveaway. Woods fumbled after making a 20-yard reception, setting up the Jaguars' offense at about midfield. Defensive tackle Aaron Donald recorded his second sack of the season on the drive — also forcing Bortles to fumble, though the Jags recovered. Myers' 41-yard field goal made the score 24-17, Los Angeles.

The Jaguars threatened to score again early in the fourth quarter, but cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman ended the opportunity with his second interception of the season. On 3rd-and-13 from the Los Angeles 31, Bortles' pass to Marcedes Lewis went off the tight end's hands and into the arms of Robey-Coleman, who returned the pick 31 yards to Jacksonville's 45.

Though the Rams could not get points off that particular turnover, they would extend their lead to 10 with Zuerlein's 29-yard field goal at later in the period.

Down 27-17 with no timeouts and 2:32 remaining, the Jaguars reached the Los Angeles 36 with 1:12 left and the Rams took a timeout. Needing two scores, Jacksonville sent Myers to attempt a 54-yard field goal, and the kick was no good — effectively ending the game.

With the win, the Rams are now 4-2 overall with a 3-0 record on the road. They'll stay in Jacksonville this week before flying to London to play the division-rival Cardinals.

"Credit to [the players] for doing a great job, not allowing traveling on a Friday to become a distraction," McVay said. "It's the second time we've done that, with the Dallas game earlier this season.

"Now it's going to be a great challenge for us to make sure that we enjoy this one, and then we come back tomorrow approaching this like a business trip, getting ready for a well-led Arizona Cardinals team with coach [Bruce] Arians at the helm."

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