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After gut-wrenching loss, UCLA looks to snap skid and end season on a positive note

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The late-summer warmth glimmered off the bogus turf, a complete season in entrance of him, along with a small group of reporters.

Kazmeir Allen stood on that sauna of a apply subject and set the agenda for UCLA’s season.

“Rose Bowl or bust,” the extensive receiver stated.

It wasn’t a participant going rogue on a roster conditioned by no means to look forward, to focus solely on that day, on what it will take to have a very good Saturday. That very same week, quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson acknowledged desirous about main the Bruins again to the Rose Bowl each day. Guard Jon Gaines II, normally as guarded together with his feedback as anybody in faculty soccer, alluded to even higher expectations.

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“Win each recreation,” Gaines stated.

The Bruins have come a great distance since these dreamy days.

A great distance down.

Two consecutive losses, together with a tearjerker of a setback towards USC, have left UCLA considering far much less attractive prospects. Having dropped to No. 18 within the Faculty Soccer Playoff rankings, the Bruins (8-3 general, 5-3 Pac-12) will enter their last regular-season recreation towards California (4-7, 2-6) on Friday afternoon at Memorial Stadium making an attempt to keep away from falling into rivalry for the Jimmy Kimmel Bowl.

The heavy white bandage on Thompson-Robinson’s throwing hand in apply this week supplied the right metaphor for a battered group searching for to ship itself a get-well card.

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“Tremendous tough, clearly,” Thompson-Robinson stated of transferring on from the 48-45 loss to USC wherein he absorbed a number of vicious hits and had 4 turnovers. “We’re simply making an attempt to enter Cal and have one final hurrah collectively.”

A minimum of the group standing between UCLA and full meltdown mode figures to get its full consideration. Name it the Grudge Bowl.

Cal is the explanation the College of California regents are contemplating blocking UCLA’s meant transfer to the Huge Ten Convention in 2024, these governing authorities apprehensive in regards to the Golden Bears being left behind in a diminished Pac-12 whereas the Bruins log hundreds of further journey miles as a part of an expanded coast-to-coast convention. A call is anticipated subsequent month.

The sister colleges have jockeyed for the designation of being the nation’s prime public college — the Bruins popping out on prime in the newest U.S. Information & World Report rankings — however the soccer parallels aren’t almost as good.

Whereas Cal is headed for a 3rd consecutive dropping season underneath coach Justin Wilcox, the Bruins’ sluggish, regular climb underneath Chip Kelly continues. If UCLA can beat the Golden Bears and win a mid-tier bowl recreation, it will notch 10 victories for the primary time since 2014 whereas tying the varsity’s single-season file.

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California linebacker Jackson Sirmon (8) celebrates with teammates after scoring a landing on a restoration of a Stanford fumble throughout the second half in Berkeley on Saturday.

(Godofredo A. Vásquez / Related Press)

First issues first, after all, for the coach who refuses to look forward.

“You’ll be able to’t get to 10 except you get to 9,” Kelly stated, “so we’ve acquired to get to 9 first and that’s this Friday.”

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Two extra wins additionally would nudge Kelly, who has gone 26-28 in 5 seasons with the Bruins, again to .500, an unimaginable place when he agreed to his preliminary five-year, $23.3-million contract in November 2017 whereas touting “relationships, friendships and championships.”

The development of an elite offense led by Thompson-Robinson and a succession of gifted working backs adopted, however the Bruins haven’t had almost as a lot success on the defensive aspect of the ball. After 4 disappointing seasons, Kelly changed defensive coordinator Jerry Azzinaro with Invoice McGovern.

UCLA’s protection confirmed early promise this season earlier than reverting to acquainted struggles as soon as the competitors stiffened. McGovern has missed the final 4 video games for unspecified causes and certain shall be out once more Friday with what Kelly intimated was a well being subject based mostly on latest feedback about McGovern “feeling higher.”

McGovern, who will flip 61 on New 12 months’s Eve and has one season left on his two-year, $1.8-million contract, was again at apply this week as a customer, eliciting smiles from gamers.

“It’s type of been a little bit awkward not having him out right here, simply even being on the sidelines, listening to his voice,” defensive again Alex Johnson stated, “so it was actually cool to see him out right here.”

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A shortened week might assist the Bruins put the distress of back-to-back defeats behind them as a result of they don’t have any selection however to maneuver on shortly. Their itinerary referred to as for a Thanksgiving meal on the group resort within the Bay Space, everybody grateful that the season didn’t finish with a devastating defeat to the Trojans.

“We simply speak about, ‘End,’ ” linebacker Kain Medrano stated of the Bruins’ motivation. “That may be a massive motto for us, to simply end, whether or not it’s end the day, end the sport, end the week. So it’s simply end the season.”

It is going to be a difficult endeavor, given the season now not can take them the place they wished to go.

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‘Just like we drew it up’: Baker Mayfield a quick learner in thrilling Rams debut

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Sean McVay didn’t waste any time.

Verify that: The Rams coach allowed greater than 12 minutes to run out earlier than he couldn’t management himself any longer.

The analysis of recent quarterback Baker Mayfield wanted to start.

Overlook that Mayfield arrived solely 48 hours earlier.

Mayfield got here on instead of starter John Wolford for the second collection of Thursday evening’s sport towards the Las Vegas Raiders. And on his first snap, he accomplished a 21-yard move.

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But it surely was the end that followers will keep in mind.

Mayfield engineered two fourth-quarter scoring drives, capping his debut with a landing move to Van Jefferson with 10 seconds left for a 17-16 victory earlier than a Raiders-heavy crowd of 74,738 at SoFi Stadium, which for one evening anyway was Baker’s Discipline.

“I don’t know in the event you may write it any higher than that,” Mayfield mentioned.

The Rams couldn’t have felt higher. They ended a six-game shedding streak and improved their document to 4-9.

“You neglect what profitable’s like,” McVay mentioned, “and it positive is enjoyable.”

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The evening was all about Mayfield, and whether or not the No. 1 decide within the 2018 NFL draft generally is a viable choice as Matthew Stafford’s backup subsequent season — and maybe past.

The preliminary learn: Completely.

“No matter occurs from right here on out, I received nothing however respect for Baker Mayfield,” receiver Ben Skowronek mentioned. “To have a man are available like that, work his tail off for 48 hours, be taught the sport plan, be taught our names…. He’s the kind of competitor you wish to play with.”

Mayfield was large within the clutch and confirmed the kind of arm energy and launch that McVay adores. He accomplished 22 of 35 passes for 230 yards, together with the landing to Jefferson.

Not a nasty Rams debut for a much-maligned participant who was traded by the Cleveland Browns in July and waived this week by the Carolina Panthers.

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“Hats off to Baker,” heart Brian Allen mentioned. “We have been educating him cadences in the course of performs. Time to get on the market and see what occurs. And it occurred.”

Quipped McVay: “Identical to we drew it up.”

The Rams’ Van Jefferson (12) catches the sport profitable 23-yard landing move towards the Raiders.

(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Instances)

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McVay mentioned he was impressed by Mayfield’s management, resilience and composure.

“And what a fast examine,” McVay mentioned. “He simply received right here 5 minutes in the past.”

Mayfield, who has performed for quite a few coordinators, mentioned McVay and Rams assistants and gamers helped him with a “crash course” in greedy the offense.

“I used to not essentially complain about the truth that I had that many various offensive programs and having to be taught that, nevertheless it got here in useful when having to be taught a crash course and with the ability to relate sure issues,” he mentioned.

The Rams now have some further time to organize for his or her Dec. 19 sport at Inexperienced Bay, the primary of 4 remaining video games towards the Packers, Denver Broncos, Chargers and Seattle Seahawks.

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And 4 extra probabilities for Mayfield to make his case.

“It’s been a troublesome 12 months, to be trustworthy,” Mayfield mentioned. “A great way to kick-start this journey.”

McVay had mentioned on Wednesday that it could be “unprecedented” for a quarterback to play with so little preparation with a brand new crew.

Properly, these are unprecedented instances for McVay and the defending Tremendous Bowl-champion Rams, who’ve nose-dived with a Tremendous Bowl hangover.

Stafford, 34, is on injured reserve due to spinal wire contusion and is anticipated to be out for the remainder of the season.

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Rams quarterback Baker Mayfield is congratulated by Raiders linebacker Curtis Bolton.

Rams quarterback Baker Mayfield is congratulated by Raiders linebacker Curtis Bolton after main the Rams to a 17-16 comeback victory.

(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Instances)

Wolford was questionable for Thursday’s sport due to a neck harm.

So, the Rams claimed Mayfield, who had not performed since Nov. 20. However McVay was clearly intent on discovering out if he may repair him.

When gamers got here out for early warmups about 90 minutes earlier than kickoff, Wolford was not on the sphere. Mayfield, in shorts, a blue Rams sweatshirt and black headband, took all of the snaps as third-string Bryce Perkins seemed on.

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Mayfield briefly met on the sphere with tv announcers Al Michaels and Kirk Herbstreit in one thing akin to a last-minute manufacturing assembly to make up for the one he may need completed the day earlier than.

However when the Rams got here out in uniform for normal warmups, Wolford took snaps with the starters.

The Raiders scored on the primary possession for a 7-0 lead, and when the Rams received the ball and went three and out, Wolford’s evening was over.

Mayfield, sporting No. 17, got here on the following collection and fired a 21-yard completion to Jefferson on his first play. The drive ended with a 55-yard subject objective by Matt Homosexual.

Mayfield had the Rams on the transfer within the subsequent collection, finishing 22-yard passes to Tutu Atwell and Skowronek earlier than working again Cam Akers killed the drive by shedding a fumble.

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Josh Jacobs rushed for a landing and Daniel Carlson’s two subject objectives gave the Raiders a 13-3 halftime lead.

A lot of the second half didn’t go nicely for Mayfield and the Rams. He was sacked a number of instances and penalties stifled a drive that compelled Homosexual to aim a 61-yard field-goal that went large left.

Late within the third quarter, nevertheless, Mayfield directed a 17-play, 75-yard scoring drive that ended with Akers’ brief landing run that pulled the Rams to inside 16-10 with simply greater than three minutes left.

The Rams received the ball again at their two-yard line with 1:45 left, and Mayfield’s 32-yard move to Skowronek keyed a drive that ended with Mayfield’s 23-yard scoring move to Jefferson.

“Simply exhibits the kind of man that he’s,” Jefferson mentioned of Mayfield, including, “He’s a troublesome man. I’m glad he’s right here.”

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The Rams protection saved giving Mayfield probabilities by limiting the Raiders to subject objectives or creating turnovers. Linebacker Ernest Jones intercepted a move in the long run zone close to the tip of the second quarter. And Taylor Rapp clinched the victory with an interception.

Linebacker Bobby Wagner had a game-high 14 tackles — and marveled at Mayfield.

“The protection gave [the offense] us an opportunity to come back on the sphere and make these performs,” Wagner mentioned. “He got here on and did a tremendous job.

“It was nice to observe.”

McVay thought in order nicely.

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“To say that I anticipated this,” he mentioned, “I imply it actually exceeded our expectations.”

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Baker Mayfield’s game-winning drive shocks Raiders in miracle comeback win

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The chances had been in opposition to Baker Mayfield from the beginning of this recreation between the Los Angeles Rams and Las Vegas Raiders. 

He was scooped off waivers by the Rams after being launched by the Carolina Panthers earlier this week. Mayfield received the playbook on Tuesday night time whereas flying to Los Angeles to fulfill together with his new coaches and teammates, giving him between 36-48 hours to be taught the performs if he was going to step underneath middle. 

However Mayfield, the previous first total number of the 2018 NFL Draft, didn’t simply grind out his first recreation within the hardest of circumstances. He led a miracle comeback to defeat the Raiders, 17-16, at SoFi Stadium in his first begin as a Ram. 

Van Jefferson #12 of the Los Angeles Rams catches the sport profitable landing in opposition to Sam Webb #27 of the Las Vegas Raiders throughout the fourth quarter at SoFi Stadium on December 08, 2022 in Inglewood, California.
(Ronald Martinez/Getty Pictures)

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The Rams’ beginning quarterback wasn’t introduced till Los Angeles ran out on the sector for the primary time, and it was John Wolford underneath middle. He was coping with a neck harm heading into the sport and the Rams weren’t certain if he’d be able to go. 

Seems, he won’t have been as a result of Mayfield jogged onto the sector proper after the Rams went three-and-out. 

Mayfield’s first cross off play-action was full for 21 yards to Van Jefferson, however he wanted a bit extra time to settle into the sport. Bear in mind, he had round 36-48 hours to be taught his new playbook, to not point out chemistry with receivers, checks pre-snap and way more. 

Mayfield’s first drive would result in three factors for Los Angeles, however he wouldn’t get extra till late within the fourth quarter when a 17-play, 75-yard drive resulted in Cam Akers simply moving into the top zone on a run play one yard out. 

That made it 16-10 and Los Angeles would power a Raiders punt on the following drive to at the very least give themselves an opportunity. But it surely needed to be a 97-yard miracle. 

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BAKER MAYFIELD ENTERS GAME FOR RAMS JUST DAYS AFTER BEING PICKED UP OFF WAIVERS

Given the state of affairs Mayfield discovered himself in, it was a troublesome hill to climb. However what did Mayfield must lose at this level within the recreation? 

Due to an unsportsmanlike conduct name after getting sacked, Mayfield and the Rams had been out of their very own finish zone and started working. Ben Skowronek made a unbelievable, contested seize for 32 yards on the following play, getting LA into Raiders’ territory. Mayfield continued to run the no-huddle offense and spiked it with 16 seconds left on the clock on the Vegas 23-yard line. 

Then, he dialed it as much as the defacto high huge receiver, Jefferson, who fought via contact and beat his man down the left sideline, hauling within the game-winning landing. 

Baker Mayfield #17 of the Los Angeles Rams passes the ball against the Las Vegas Raiders during the first quarter at SoFi Stadium on December 08, 2022 in Inglewood, California.

Baker Mayfield #17 of the Los Angeles Rams passes the ball in opposition to the Las Vegas Raiders throughout the first quarter at SoFi Stadium on December 08, 2022 in Inglewood, California.
(Ronald Martinez/Getty Pictures)

Matt Homosexual nailed the additional level for the lead, and on the following possession, Derek Carr’s first cross was intercepted by security Taylor Rapp to ice the gorgeous comeback win, as LA snaps a six-game dropping streak to maneuver to 4-9 on the season.

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Regardless of the percentages set in opposition to him, Mayfield was 22 of 35 for 230 yards and one landing to gather simply his second win as a starter this season. He went 1-5 with the Panthers earlier than they launched him. 

BAKER MAYFIELD’S WIFE SOUNDS OFF ON THE ‘WEIRDEST’ YEAR FOLLOWING PANTHERS RELEASE

For the Raiders, it was one more head-scratching loss, particularly with how they set the tone on their first drive of the sport. Carr and the offense went 12 performs and 75 yards with Josh Jacobs busting it into the top zone to make it 7-0 early on. 

Davante Adams #17 of the Las Vegas Raiders makes a reception against Jalen Ramsey #5 of the Los Angeles Rams during the first quarter at SoFi Stadium on December 08, 2022 in Inglewood, California.

Davante Adams #17 of the Las Vegas Raiders makes a reception in opposition to Jalen Ramsey #5 of the Los Angeles Rams throughout the first quarter at SoFi Stadium on December 08, 2022 in Inglewood, California.
(Sean M. Haffey/Getty Pictures)

The Raiders’ protection was doing their job, too, recognizing Mayfield was studying the offense on the fly and feeding off that. Nonetheless, Carr couldn’t maintain drives for Las Vegas, particularly within the second half after they had been solely capable of safe one subject aim. He additionally threw an interception in the long run zone throughout the first half, which trying again now, was a game-changing play. 

Carr would end the sport 11 of 20 via the air with 137 yards and two interceptions, whereas Jacobs had 99 yards on 27 carries. 

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PANTHERS TO RELEASE BAKER MAYFIELD AFTER ACQUIRING HIM IN OFFSEASON: REPORT

Davante Adams had a sick one-handed seize off Jalen Ramsey on the third play of the sport for the Raiders, however he’d end with simply three receptions on seven targets for 71 yards. 

The Raiders got here into this recreation nonetheless within the AFC playoff hunt and a win to maneuver to 6-7 would’ve helped their probabilities to safe a wild card spot down the stretch. 

Los Angeles Rams quarterback Baker Mayfield throws a pass during the first half of an NFL football game against the Las Vegas Raiders, Thursday, Dec. 8, 2022, in Inglewood, Calif.

Los Angeles Rams quarterback Baker Mayfield throws a cross throughout the first half of an NFL soccer recreation in opposition to the Las Vegas Raiders, Thursday, Dec. 8, 2022, in Inglewood, Calif.
(AP Picture/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

As an alternative, Mayfield reminded everybody why he was the primary total choose to play spoiler on Thursday night time.   

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Paul George and Clippers powerless against Jimmy Butler in loss to Heat

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On the NBA circuit, there are few cities through which the visiting locker room clears out faster than right here, the place late-night dinners and nightlife await alongside Biscayne Bay or the quick drive to South Seaside.

And that’s on a very good evening. There was actually no purpose for the Clippers to linger after Thursday evening’s 115-110 loss to the Miami Warmth, after an evening the place small breakdowns continued the large development hanging over this season: The Clippers nonetheless can’t achieve traction on their championship pursuit, a relentless run of accidents main a preseason title contender to usually slip backward as quickly because it finds progress.

After Kawhi Leonard’s game-winning shot Monday claimed the opener of this four-game journey and injected life into the squad within the long-awaited return of Leonard and fellow All-Star Paul George from damage, the Clippers have misplaced to Orlando and Miami, groups which have struggled to search out their identities.

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Amid lengthy stares within the locker room, the Clippers remained optimistic that they might play the lengthy recreation and change into the staff they need to be.

“I’ve obtained confidence, that we’ve accomplished it earlier than, very comparable locker room over my time right here final three years, so I obtained confidence we are able to do it, we’ve simply obtained to all get wholesome and get on the identical web page and enjoying on the identical time,” level guard Reggie Jackson stated. “It’s going to take some reps however hopefully we are able to all get wholesome right here quickly and begin truly logging minutes collectively to place it collectively.”

Mentioned George: “We’re not that far off.”

A ten-point first-quarter Clippers lead was undone by permitting 13 consecutive factors. After the Clippers lower their deficit to at least one halfway via the fourth quarter, Miami started a 12-5 run within the subsequent 4 minutes. Bam Adebayo scored 31 factors however Jimmy Butler scored Miami’s ultimate eight through the recreation’s ultimate three minutes, together with three contested jumpers to increase the Warmth’s result in six, eight and 5 at essential junctures.

“Too many breakdowns in opposition to a staff like this the place it was like one cross, bucket or we simply fell asleep, no assist facet [defense],” stated George, who scored 29 factors, with eight rebounds and 7 assists that led to 19 factors. “These factors we are able to’t give as much as a very good staff and I assumed that was the sport.”

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Not even a sometimes dependable indicator in Clippers victories may save them from losses on back-to-back nights. They entered Wednesday 10-2 when making extra three-pointers than their opponent. They made seven greater than Orlando, and 5 greater than Miami, even capturing 47% in opposition to the Warmth. On Wednesday, turnovers and what coach Tyronn Lue known as poor fourth-quarter protection overcame that benefit, and one evening later, Miami exploited the turnover hole once more, committing eight to the Clippers’ 16.

“I’ve to be higher, simply giving the ball away,” stated Jackson, who traveled, dedicated a carry and threw an simply intercepted cross in a five-minute stretch of the third quarter. He completed with 4 turnovers, the identical as George.

There have been Clippers reinforcements in Luke Kennard and John Wall, who performed after being held out the primary evening of the back-to-back for precautionary causes, and Marcus Morris Sr. returned to the beginning lineup after being in poor health in Orlando. However as some teammates got here again, others had been unavailable.

Leonard was held out of the second evening of the again to again and Terance Mann was in concussion protocol after slamming into Orlando’s Kevon Harris on the ultimate play of Wednesday’s time beyond regulation. Even those that did play had been saved on a tightly choreographed lineup rotation. Lue coaches off of intestine really feel for which lineup changes to make, however since Leonard and George returned Monday underneath strict minutes limits, he has coached whereas referencing a card that he stated reveals instances when gamers needs to be eliminated.

Considered one of few silver linings that Lue has taken from the Clippers’ up-and-down begin is that it’s no outlier in a Western Convention the place eight groups entered Thursday between .500 and .583. Nobody has run away from the pack.

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“That at all times makes you are feeling higher in regards to the season and the way it’s going,” Lue stated earlier than tipoff.

That leaves room for alternative. How lengthy it’ll take the Clippers to take benefit is one other query, nevertheless.

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