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Matthew Stafford pick-six costs Rams again in Packers loss

If it happened once, consider it a mistake. An aberration.

When it happens twice in a row, maybe it’s a coincidence. Maybe bad luck.

Three consecutive games?

That is a trend.

And make no mistake: The Rams and quarterback Matthew Stafford have a downward trend.

On Sunday against the Green Bay Packers, for the third time in three games, Stafford committed two costly turnovers. For the third game in a row, a rival caught an interception for a touchdown.

And the Rams lost, 36-28, to a crowd of 77,948 at Lambeau Field, extending their losing streak to three games.

The Rams, a star-studded team that was once considered among the favorites to play in Super Bowl LVI at Sofi Stadium, instead fell to 7-4 and drifted further away from the possibility of reaching the Los Angeles. playoffs of the NFC.

At this point, with six games remaining, the playoffs They could also be in doubt unless the Rams get back to the performance they did earlier in the season.

“We have six left for sure,” said coach Sean McVay. “That is a lot and the story is not yet written.

“We have what to do it with.”

McVay might have been tempted to regret his words after watching his veteran quarterback perform.

Stafford fumbled in the first quarter, and the Packers turned the error into a touchdown for an advantage they never gave up. After Stafford led the Rams back to 13 points late in the third quarter, Packers cornerback Rasul Douglas picked up a pass and returned it for a touchdown.

Green Bay Packers receiver Davante Adams tries to get past Rams Jalen Ramsey (5) and Troy Reeder.

(Matt Ludtke / Associated Press)

Last year, those kinds of mistakes led a deranged McVay to call former quarterback Jared Goff. Those kinds of mistakes led to Goff being traded to the Detroit Lions in exchange for Stafford.

When asked when he would do the same with Stafford, McVay put up a fierce defense of his quarterback.

“I’m not interested in looking back at the past and some of the things that haven’t always turned out the way we wanted,” McVay said, adding, “I have great confidence in this guy – and I’m not going to sit here criticizing our players. … I have total confidence and I believe in Matthew Stafford, and I think the narrative that everyone wants to throw, six turnovers – they all have a totally different story and it’s not all their fault. “

Stafford denied a television report that said he was struggling with back, ankle and arm problems. Before the Rams lost to the Tennessee Titans, Stafford sat in practice with a stiff back. He sprained his left ankle in that game, but it didn’t seem to hurt him in losses to the San Francisco 49ers and Packers.

And his arm looked pretty strong Sunday on a pass from touchdown of 79 yards to Van Jefferson and a pass from touchdown de 54 yardas a Odell Beckham Jr.

Stafford completed 21 of 38 passes for 302 yards and three touchdowns.

“I feel good,” he said when asked about the report, acknowledging the time he was lost due to a stiff back. “The rest of my body, is it 100%? No. Neither is anyone in this league at this point in the season. “

However, it is clear that something is not right with the 13th professional. Four weeks ago, he was at the forefront of the MVP conversation after leading the Rams to a 7-1 start. They have now lost three in a row for the first time since 2019, the only time McVay’s team missed the playoffs.

Stafford, the No. 1 pick in the 2009 draft, was asked if he ever experienced getting interceptions returned for touchdowns three games in a row.

“I have had some difficult stages in my career, there is no doubt,” he said. “Playing this game long enough humiliates you. … Is it disappointing when you go out and play like this? Of course.

“There were some good things, but too many bad things for us to have a chance to beat a good team like Green Bay.”

Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers said last week he was playing with a broken toe. On Sunday he completed 28 of 45 passes for 307 yards and two touchdowns. He also ran for a touchdown and the Packers (9-3) remained in contention for the top spot in the NFC for the second consecutive season.

Last season, the Rams lost to the Packers at Lambeau Field in an NFC divisional round game. Aiming for a different result on Sunday, they were frustrated by Stafford’s turnovers and a fumble by JJ Koski.

But in addition to mistakes on offense and on special teams, a defensive front that features Aaron Donald, Von Miller and Leonard Floyd recorded just one error while facing a Packers line drained from injuries.

The Rams were never close to intercepting a pass.

When asked what the mood was like after a team with such high expectations suffered a third loss in a row, cornerback Jalen Ramsey said: “Not a good mood, I can tell.”

“We have teammates who are too good for us to lose games like this,” he said, adding: “We just have to do well.”

Maybe they’ll do it on Sunday against the struggling Jacksonville Jaguars at SoFi Stadium. Then there is a trip to play against the Arizona Cardinals, leaders of the NFC-West. The schedule also includes vacation weekend road trips to play the Minnesota Vikings and Baltimore Ravens, along with division games at home against the Seattle Seahawks and 49ers.

“They’re not stopping the season right now,” Stafford said. “There is a lot of ball left and an infinite number of things can happen.”

For Stafford and the Rams, those things better start getting good again.

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