Late fumble keeps Rams unbeaten with 29-27 win over Packers
By GREG BEACHAM
LOS ANGELES (AP) Aaron Rodgers can't lead a game-winning drive if he never gets the ball.
That was the whole idea when Los Angeles' Ramik Wilson forced a fumble from Green Bay's Ty Montgomery on a late kickoff return. That was also Todd Gurley's thought moments later when he stopped running with a clear path to the end zone, keeping Rodgers stuck on the sideline in the unbeaten Rams' eighth victory.
"Man, forget fantasy," Gurley said with a grin. "Forget Vegas. We got the win, so that's all that matters."
Greg Zuerlein hit a 34-yard field goal with 2:05 left before Wilson forced and recovered Montgomery's fumble on the ensuing kickoff, and Gurley's prudent decision to go down wrapped up the Rams' 29-27 victory over the Green Bay Packers on Sunday.
Jared Goff passed for 295 yards and three touchdowns while the Rams (8-0) were sternly tested by the Packers (3-3-1).
Both teams rallied from 10-point deficits to take a lead in front of a rollicking, bipartisan Coliseum crowd, but the Rams extended their best start since 1969 by capitalizing on two crushing special-teams mistakes by Green Bay.
Rodgers threw for 286 yards, but he didn't get a snap in the final 5:20.
"That was a high-caliber, back-and-forth game," Rams coach Sean McVay said. "This team has demonstrated through eight games that while we have a long way to go, this team is capable of winning games in a bunch of different ways."
Marquez Valdes-Scantling caught a 40-yard touchdown pass from Rodgers with 8:50 left to put the Packers ahead 27-26, but Goff and Gurley drove the Rams into range for Zuerlein's second field goal of the fourth quarter after a 25-yard punt by JK Scott.
Montgomery then coughed up his return, and Wilson pounced on the ball.
"That play didn't lose the game, but it took away an opportunity to win," Rodgers said.
Montgomery declined to talk after the game, but Wilson called his fumble-forcing hit "one of the biggest collisions I've been in."
Packers coach Mike McCarthy said the return man was supposed to take a touchback.
"You trust your players on tough decisions, close decisions," McCarthy said. "I think Ty was just trying to make a play."
In the final minute, Gurley ran 17 yards for a key first down and stopped before reaching the end zone, allowing the Rams to run out the clock.
Josh Reynolds caught two touchdown passes for Los Angeles. Gurley had 114 yards rushing and 81 yards receiving, and he scored a touchdown in his franchise record-tying 11th consecutive game on a 30-yard pass in the third quarter .
"That was probably my favorite (win) of the year," said Goff, who went 19 for 35 without an interception.
The Rams faced their largest deficit of the remarkable season when they trailed 10-0 early in the second quarter, but they calmly turned it into a 23-13 lead late in the third.
Rodgers answered with two touchdown drives to grab a one-point lead for Green Bay in the fourth quarter, but Goff countered his fellow Cal product and childhood hero after Aaron Donald sacked Rodgers on third down to stop the Packers' next drive.
"The urgency has to pick up, but there's no momentum gained from a loss," Rodgers said. "We can play with anybody, but we already knew that before this game. It's not like this was some revelation."
Both teams had loud contingents of fans at the Coliseum, where Green Bay won the first Super Bowl in 1967. The Packers were greeted by a rowdy bunch of California Cheeseheads in Green Bay's first trip to Los Angeles since the NFL returned in 2016.
After Reynolds scored on a 19-yard grab late in the third, the Packers responded with Aaron Jones' 33-yard TD draw run up the middle with 13 seconds left.
GURLEY AND CRAZYLEGS
Gurley's scoring catch put Los Angeles ahead in the third quarter. The grab also extended Gurley's TD streak to tie the Rams record set by Elroy "Crazylegs" Hirsch in 1950-51. Gurley leads the NFL with 15 touchdowns, and he became the fourth player in league history to score at least 15 touchdowns in the first eight games of a season, joining Jim Brown (17 in 1958) and Priest Holmes (15 in 2002 and 2004).
Sam Shields made several big plays for LA against his former team. The veteran defensive back caught a pass from Johnny Hekker on a fake punt, and he later downed a punt at the Green Bay 1 to set up the Rams' defense for its safety. Shields played seven seasons with the Packers before his fourth concussion in 2016 nearly ended his career, but he returned to the NFL with the Rams this season.
Packers: WR Randall Cobb had four catches for 40 yards in his return from a three-game absence with a hamstring injury.
Rams: WR Cooper Kupp missed his second straight game with a knee injury, opening the chance for Reynolds to shine.
Packers: At New England on Nov. 4.
Rams: At New Orleans on Nov. 4.
More AP NFL: www.apnews.com/tag/NFL and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL
Updated October 28, 2018