Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) scrambles as Los Angeles Rams linebacker Samson Ebukam (50) defends during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 28, 2018, in Los Angeles.
LOS ANGELES — Aaron Rodgers never got the
chance to lead another game-winning drive, thanks to one last
outstanding special-teams play by the unbeaten Los Angeles Rams.
Greg Zuerlein hit a 34-yard field goal with 2:05 left before Ramik Wilson forced and recovered Ty Montgomery's fumble on the ensuing kickoff return, sending the Rams to a 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.
"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."
Rodgers threw for 286 yards, but he was left watching the final minutes in frustration while the Rams extended their best start to a season since 1969 by capitalizing on two crushing special-teams mistakes by Green Bay.
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 Todd 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.
"You trust your players on tough decisions, close decisions," Packers coach Mike 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 — probably enraging his fantasy owners, but allowing the Rams to run out the clock.
Green Bay Packers running back Jamaal Williams (30) celebrates his touchdown during the first half.
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 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 answered 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 Rams were back home for the first time in 31 days after three consecutive road victories got them off to their best start since 1985, while the Packers were greeted by a raucous bunch of California Cheeseheads in their first trip to Los Angeles since the NFL returned in 2016.
The Rams were not as sharp as the Packers early on. They punted on their first three possessions for the first time in McVay's head coaching career, and Green Bay sacked Goff three times early.
Los Angeles trailed 10-0 when it finally scored on a safety with 2:47 left in the first half. Goff then mounted a scoring drive ending in a 1-yard TD catch by Reynolds 21 seconds before halftime.
After Reynolds scored on a 19-yard grab late in the third, the Packers calmly responded with three big plays culminating in Aaron Jones' TD draw run up the middle with 13 seconds left.
Rams running back Todd Gurley makes a catch as Green Bay Packers
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.