The Sports Report: Rams defeat the Chicago Bears

The Sports Report: Rams defeat the Chicago Bears

Howdy, I’m your host, Houston Mitchell. Let’s get right to the news.

Gary Klein on the Rams: Sean McVay hired defensive coordinator Brandon Staley to bring to the Rams some of what he learned as the outside linebackers coach for the Chicago Bears.

Staley and his defense delivered Monday night.

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The Rams defeated the Bears 24-10 at SoFi Stadium with a strong defensive effort that helped them improve their record to 5-2.

Safety Taylor Rapp and cornerback Jalen Ramsey intercepted passes and outside linebackers Terrell Lewis and Justin Hollins were among other defensive players who made key plays as the Rams bounced back from a defeat by the San Francisco 49ers.

It marked the sixth time in seven games the Rams defense gave up three points or fewer in the second half.

The defense and punter Johnny Hekker set the table for an offense that struggled to find a consistent rhythm for the second game in a row.

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Jared Goff connected with receiver Josh Reynolds and tight end Gerald for touchdowns and running back Malcolm Brown ran for another on a night when several lesser-known contributors helped drop the Bears to 5-2.

End Leonard Floyd, who joined the Rams after four seasons with the Bears, had two sacks. Lewis, a third-round draft pick who was sidelined for the first four games, had a fourth-down stop. Hollins, picked up off waivers from the Denver Broncos on Staley’s recommendation, ended a Bears threat with a sack, and Aaron Donald and Greg Gaines combined on another.

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DODGERS

Bill Shaikin on the Dodgers: Baseball connects generations like no other sport. Consider Game 5 of the World Series, when inches separated Manuel Margot from history. The Tampa Bay Rays outfielder was that close to becoming the first player to pull off a straight steal of home in the World Series since Hall of Famer Jackie Robinson in 1955.

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The video of the Robinson steal is a window into history: The pictures are in black and white, the fans are wearing ties and dress hats, the World Series game is played in daylight.

Vin Scully was there, of course. He called the game and, 65 years later, his recollection of Yankees catcher Yogi Berra’s reaction is as vivid as the images in that video.

“Berra, to his dying day, said Jackie was out,” Scully said.

Those 1955 Brooklyn Dodgers won the first World Series title in franchise history. If the Dodgers win Tuesday or Wednesday, they will earn their seventh title — and their first without Scully as their voice.

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Scully, 92, is happily retired. He and his wife Sandi have watched this World Series on television.

“Every pitch,” he said.

He freely admits he thought the series would be done by now. He picked the Dodgers in five.

“I thought they were far superior, at least on paper,” he said. “I thought, ‘What’s taking them so long?’ ”

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That is precisely the thought so many fans have about the Dodgers winning eight straight division titles without a championship. But then, historian that he is, Scully remembers the first and last Los Angeles teams to win — in 1959, the year after the Dodgers finished seventh in the eight-team National league; and in 1988, when the Dodgers were supposed to get slaughtered by the New York Mets in the league championship series and by the Oakland Athletics in the World Series.

“The Dodgers have always been the Dodgers,” he said. “That’s really one of the charms: Just when you expect them to do something, they won’t do it; and when you expect that they can’t do it, that’s when they win. It’s all part of the Dodger mystique. There is no other way to explain why it has taken them so long.”

————

Helene Elliott: Dodgers can deliver World Series win, indelible memories for new generation of fans

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Dodgers rookie Tony Gonsolin to focus on ‘controlling the emotions’ in Game 6 start

Dustin May’s mechanics improve, so do his results, and he’s ready for the ball again

Dodgers fans thrilled at possible World Series title while lamenting 2020 oddities

Dodgers-Rays schedule

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All times Pacific

Dodgers are home team for Game 1, 2, 6 and 7

All games at Arlington, Texas

Game 1: Dodgers 8, Tampa Bay 3

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Game 2: Tampa Bay 6, Dodgers 4

Game 3: Dodgers 6, Tampa Bay 2

Game 4: Tampa Bay 8, Dodgers 7

Game 5: Dodgers 4, Tampa Bay 2

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Game 6: Today, Tampa Bay (Blake Snell**) vs. Dodgers (Tony Gonsolin), 5 p.m., Fox

Game 7*: Wednesday, Tampa Bay (Charlie Morton) vs. Dodgers (Walker Buehler), 5 p.m., Fox

*-if necessary
**-left-handed

SOCCER

Kevin Baxter on soccer: Lisa Baird’s first day as commissioner of the National Women’s Soccer League was March 10.

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Two days later, sports leagues around the world shut down because of COVID-19.

“That’s about as tough and rude of an awakening taking a new gig as I’ve ever heard of,” said Jake Silverstein who, as part owner of the NWSL’s Houston Dash, is one of the people who gave Baird the job.

However, taken another way, the timing couldn’t have been better: Baird addressed the challenge head on, and under her leadership the NWSL not only became the first professional sports league in the U.S. to return to play during the pandemic, but it staged two separate — and successful — tournaments.

It also saw its TV ratings jump 493%, drawing an average of nearly 463,000 viewers for six broadcasts on CBS and adding corporate sponsors in Google, P&G and Verizon. Additionally, Baird hammered out a deal with the players’ association that would pay everyone a full salary whether they played through the pandemic or not and moved forward with plans to add teams in Louisville, Sacramento and Los Angeles.

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“Our agenda expanded more than it changed because there was an existential moment,” Silverstein said. “Rather than demurring away, Lisa correctly recognized sometimes the best defense is a good offense. She recognized that the right thing to do here was to try to make the NWSL more robust, more visible, more relevant.”

So while Major League Baseball and MLS limped through COVID-interrupted seasons with postponed and canceled games and TV ratings dipped everywhere except for the PGA and the WNBA Finals, the NWSL grew stronger.

TODAY’S LOCAL MAJOR SPORTS SCHEDULE

All times Pacific.

Tampa Bay vs. Dodgers, 5 p.m., Fox

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THIS DATE IN SPORTS

1967 — New Mexico tight end Emilio Vallez catches 17 passes for 257 yards to tie an NCAA record in a 75-12 rout of UTEP.

1973 — Four players rush for more than 100 yards as Alabama sets three NCAA records during a 77-6 romp of Virginia Tech. Alabama sets records with 823 yards total offense, 743 yards rushing and four 100-yard rushers. Jim Taylor gains 142 yards, Wilbur Jackson 138, Calvin Culliver 127 and Richard Todd 102.

1984 — Washington State’s Rueben Mayes sets an NCAA record with 357 yards rushing, 197 in the first half, and scores three touchdowns in a 50-41 victory over Oregon.

1984 — Iowa’s Chuck Long completes 22 straight passes to set an NCAA record in a 24-20 victory over Indiana.

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1984 — Sergio Lopez-Chavero of Wichita State ties an NCAA record with three field goals over 50 yards in a 23-6 victory over Drake. Lopez-Chavero kicks two from 54 yards and the other from 51 yards.

1990 — Florida State’s Bobby Bowden becomes the 11th major college coach to win 200 games with a 42-3 victory over LSU.

1996 — After two humbling losses at home, the New York Yankees win their first World Series title since 1978 with a 3-2 victory over the defending champion Atlanta Braves in Game 6.

2002 — Emmitt Smith breaks the NFL career rushing yardage record held by the late Walter Payton on an 11-yard run in the fourth quarter. Smith has 109 yards and a touchdown in Dallas’ 17-14 loss to Seattle and ends the game with 16,743 career yards — 17 more than Payton gained.

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2004 — The Boston Red Sox are World Series champions at long, long last. Johnny Damon homers on the fourth pitch of the game, Derek Lowe makes it stand up and the Red Sox win Game 4 3-0, sweeping the St. Louis Cardinals for their first crown since 1918.

2005 — Curtis Joseph makes 13 saves to earn his 400th NHL victory and Mike Comrie scores twice as Phoenix edges Calgary 3-2.

2007 — Curlin posts an emphatic victory against his toughest rivals in the $5 million Breeders’ Cup Classic at Monmouth Park. Ridden by Robby Albarado, Curlin defeats Derby runner-up Hard Spun by 4 1/2 lengths.

2007 — Weber State beats Portland State 73-68 to set an NCAA all-division football record for points in a game. Back in 1916, Georgia Tech beat Cumberland 222-0, but that was before the NCAA kept track of records.

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2011 — Andrew Ladd scores the game-winner with 1:06 remaining on a one-timer from close range to lift the Winnipeg Jets to a wild 9-8 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers. Fifteen players score in the wide-open game in which both clubs set NHL season highs for goals scored and goals allowed, and the Jets tie a franchise record for goals in a game.

2012 — Matt Scott of Arizona gains 469 total yards and accounts for four TDs in the Wildcats’ 39-36 win over Southern California. Marqise Lee of USC, catches 16 passes for a Pac-12-record 345 yards and two TDs.

2013 — Matthew Stafford’s 1-yard lunge over a pile of linemen with 12 seconds left and Calvin Johnson’s 329 yards receiving lift the Detroit Lions to a 31-30 comeback win over the Dallas Cowboys. Stafford throws a 22-yard pass to Johnson, who had the second-most yards receiving in NFL history, to set up his winning score.

2013 — Serena Williams ends her best season in style, rallying past Li Na 2-6, 6-3, 6-0 for her second straight WTA Championship and 11th title of the year.

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And finally

Highlights of the Rams-Bears game. Watch them here.

Until next time…

That concludes today’s newsletter. If you have any feedback, ideas for improvement or things you’d like to see, email me at houston.mitchell@latimes.com, and follow me on Twitter at @latimeshouston. To get this newsletter in your inbox, click here.

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