INGLEWOOD — Cam Akers continued his hot streak by doing something no Rams running back had done in four years.
Akers had 19 carries for 123 yards during the Rams’ 31-10 loss to the Chargers at SoFi Stadium on New Year’s Day. It was Akers’ second consecutive game with at least 100 rushing yards, which no Rams running back had done since C.J. Anderson in 2018, according to the game’s TV broadcast.
Last week, Akers recorded 118 yards with three rushing touchdowns against the Denver Broncos. He’s averaged more than 5 yards per carry in his past three games, including the Week 15 game against the Green Bay Packers.
Akers couldn’t explain why he’s having a late-season surge after struggling to find a rhythm during the first few months of the season. He was also sent home for nearly a month because of differences with Rams coach Sean McVay, but Akers has redeemed himself with the coaching staff.
McVay and Rams quarterback Baker Mayfield had the words for why Akers is having a memorable final month to the season. Akers will look to make it three consecutive games with at least 100 rushing yards during the season finale against the Seattle Seahawks next week.
“I just think it’s the way he’s creating when there isn’t anything there,” McVay said. “The explosiveness. I think you’re seeing a complete back. He’s making plays in the pass game. They’ll be some things that we can continue to clean up because of the standards that we have for him … I think Cam deserves a ton of credit for the way he’s hitting his stride right now with the way he’s playing.”
“He runs the ball extremely hard,” Mayfield said. “When he sees the hole in the crease he wants to hit, he hits it hard. He put his shoulder down today and ran tough, like he has the past couple weeks. There were a few runs where he just made people flat out miss. He’s doing it all right now for us. He’s picking up blitzes. I appreciate the way Cam is playing.”
MAYFIELD’S CONNECTION WITH JEFFERSON
Mayfield and the Rams’ passing game struggled versus the Chargers’ defense, but Mayfield again displayed chemistry with wide receiver Van Jefferson, who recorded three catches for a team-high 77 yards.
The Rams’ best passing play occurred in the second quarter when Mayfield rolled to his right and found Jefferson for 39 yards.
“I wouldn’t say it’s just based on the connection right there,” Mayfield said about the long completion to Jefferson. “It was really, in that short time period, thinking about running the ball, but I just saw Van clear it. He did a good job … and being friendly for me. It is just one of those balls, put it up there for him, make a play. I’m glad he caught it because in hindsight we would have been pretty mad if I didn’t take off and run. Van is making a lot of good plays for us.”
Mayfield finished 11 of 19 for 132 yards, no touchdowns and only averaged 6.9 yards per completion against the Chargers.
“I think there were some easy completions that just to take in the quick game that I think we took advantage of last week compared to this week,” Mayfield said. “I will be thinking about it until we play again. I’ll go back and look at the tape like I said, but I think there were some easy plays there to just get the ball in our guys’ hands.”
RAMS ALLOW 100-YARD RUSHER
The Rams’ lack of depth on the interior of the defensive line caught up to them against the Chargers. Aaron Donald and A’Shawn Robinson were sidelined with injuries and Greg Gaines had a limited amount of snaps because he’s dealing with a shoulder injury.
Chargers running back Austin Ekeler had 10 carries for 122 yards, including a 72-yard rushing touchdown in the second quarter. It was the first time this season that the Rams defense allowed a player to rush for at least 100 yards in a game.
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“When those guys are missing, those are your three guys that really solidify the interior parts of the line,” McVay said. “And (Rams defensive tackle Marquise) Copeland, he was able to play today, but he wasn’t quite like himself just with some of the limitations on the ankle. You don’t make any excuses. We just have to coach better. We are capable of playing a little bit better and we’ll see if we can do that next week.”
Rams safety Nick Scott left the field holding his right shoulder during the second half, but managed to return to the game. McVay said Scott is OK and referred to his injury as “just a stinger.”
“You look at what a stud he is,” McVay said. “He finished out one of the last snaps, making a big-time tackle on the sideline. … That’s been the kind of warrior and competitor he is. I love Nick Scott.”