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‘They’re not all going to be pretty’: Matthew Stafford delivers first fourth-quarter game-winner for Rams

INDIANAPOLIS — “I need a beer!” Los Angeles Rams coach Sean McVay said as he exited a postgame news conference after squeaking out a 27-24 victory over the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday.

It wasn’t clear whether McVay’s desire for a cold one signaled a celebration or relief that a long day was over.

Perhaps both.

“There was a lot of adversity that we hit, and there’s no style points in this league,” McVay said moments earlier. “So finding a way to get a win I think says a lot about our team.”

The Rams improved to 2-0 despite playing an uneven game in all three phases.

“They’re not all going to be pretty,” said quarterback Matthew Stafford, who completed 19 of 30 passes for 278 yards and two touchdowns, with an interception.

Despite blowing an 11-point lead and allowing the Colts to go ahead 21-17 with 14:12 to play inside a hostile Lucas Oil Stadium, confidence remained “extremely high” that Stafford would lead the Rams to a win, according to All-Pro cornerback Jalen Ramsey.

“His track record of what he’s been able to do in the fourth quarter, we know that, like in the back of our mind,” said Ramsey, referring to Stafford’s 29 previous regular-season wins after trailing at any point in the fourth quarter during 12 seasons with the Detroit Lions. “The confidence is definitely there to where we know that they can help us put some points on the board and secure a win.”

With Sunday’s victory, Stafford now has 30 such regular-season wins, the most by any starting quarterback in the NFL since he entered the league in 2009.

“It gives me a lot of confidence,” McVay said about Stafford’s fourth-quarter history. “You want to keep the ball in your guys’ hands. He had a look in his eyes; I mean, there was no flinch. You talk about nobody flinching; I mean, he just stayed the course. He relishes those moments, and he was at his best when his best was required.”

The Rams played through consistent ups and downs that led to Stafford’s winning drive, which ended with a 38-yard Matt Gay field goal with 2:23 to play.

The defense produced two goal-line stands that resulted in an interception and a turnover on downs. Linebacker Kenny Young was ejected for coming into contact with an official during an on-field argument in the red zone, enabling a Colts scoring drive that cut the Rams’ lead to three in the third quarter. Later, Ramsey sealed the victory when he intercepted backup quarterback Jacob Eason with 2:13 to play (after starter Carson Wentz was sidelined late in fourth quarter because of an ankle injury).

Special teams accounted for a costly gaffe backed up deep in their own territory early in the fourth quarter, when a snap hit Rams upback Nick Scott on its way to punter Johnny Hekker, who temporarily recovered the fumble on the Rams’ 1-yard line, then lost it and watched the Colts scoop and score to take their first lead early in the fourth quarter.

The L.A. offense, coming off a dominant Week 1 performance, also was part of the roller coaster. McVay questioned his own playcalls, Stafford threw his first interception as a Ram, receivers dropped passes and three consecutive three-and-outs in the third and fourth quarters set the stage for the Colts’ rally.

“We were explosive today on offense; we just weren’t as efficient as I think we can be and want to be,” Stafford said. “It was an up and down: All phases had great plays and plays that I know they want back.”

Stafford’s connection with wideout Cooper Kupp remained strong for a second consecutive week, as they linked up on nine passes for 163 yards, including 43- and 44-yard receptions and touchdowns of 10 and 16 yards.

“A lot of it really was just the playcalls we were getting in with the things the defense was giving us,” said Kupp, who became the first Rams player with 100 receiving yards in each of the first two games of a season since Hall of Famer Isaac Bruce in 2004.

“It’s probably more of a testament to him than anything,” Stafford said about their well-established connection. “I think he’s one of those guys that’s about as overlooked as anybody in the league.”

The Rams now turn their attention to quarterback Tom Brady and the defending Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who they will meet next Sunday at SoFi Stadium.

The Week 3 matchup could provide a barometer of where the Rams measure in a season packed with Super Bowl expectations. A victory over the undefeated Bucs will likely require a more complete performance than what was produced Sunday.

However, even ugly wins will move the Rams forward.

“Our goal was to come in and secure a second win, and that’s a step in the right direction, no matter how it came,” Ramsey said. “It was a tough one where we had to fight through some adversity, but we did.”

Stafford agreed.

“Everybody’s out there trying to work the kinks out, get to playing as good as football as can be, as they can,” the signal-caller said. “And winning those along the way is a positive.”

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