HOUSTON (AP) — Aaron Donald and the Los Angeles Rams hurried, harassed and all-around befuddled Houston Texans rookie Davis Mills.
By the time Mills and the Texans got anything going, the Rams were up by 38 points and quarterback Matthew Stafford had been pulled for a backup.
Houston went on to score three touchdowns in the fourth quarter of Sunday’s 38-22 loss after the outcome of the game had long been decided.
“Defense as a whole was really smothering,” Rams coach Sean McVay said. “I know we see those points on the board at the end, but when you look at the guys that are our starters and our first group, they did a great job applying pressure.”
The Rams (7-1) had a season-high five sacks, including two for Leonard Floyd and 1½ for Donald. They hit Mills nine other times to keep him from getting anything going for the Texans (1-7) as they dropped their seventh straight game.
“I thought we did a great job in pressure situations where you’re in known pass downs, being able to attack their protections and get matchups that we wanted,” McVay said. “I think that was reflected in a lot of the sack production we had.”
Stafford threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to Cooper Kupp with about 9½ minutes left in the third, lifting Los Angeles to a 31-0 lead.
Mills was sacked by Donald on first down on Houston’s next possession and Mills fumbled on third down. He recovered the ball and got a pass off to David Johnson, but it was for a loss thanks to a tackle by rookie Ernest Jones.
The Rams added another touchdown when Stafford pitched the ball to Robert Woods in the backfield and he dashed 16 yards to make it 38-0 late in the third.
Jones shined in his first career start after Monday’s trade of second-leading tackler Kenny Young. The linebacker, who entered the game having played just 45 snaps all season, got his first interception, led the team with nine tackles and had a half-sack and a tackle for a loss.
“I was really pleased with Ernest,” McVay said. “He flew around. … Once he settled in, you could see this guy’s a football player.”
The Rams were up by 10 in the second quarter when he stepped in front of a pass intended for Danny Amendola to grab the interception. They cashed in on the mistake when Stafford connected with Woods on a 2-yard TD pass that made it 17-0 with about six minutes left in the first half.
His teammates were impressed with his effort, too.
“Ernest Jones balled out,” nose tackle Greg Gaines said. “He was doing awesome. That interception was super cool. He was making good tackles, fitting up in the holes. He did a good job.”
Jones received a game ball for his work against the Texans.
“I have been wanting to get a bigger role for this team and help us out,” he said. “There are vet guys in that locker room that are depending on me to come in, and if not elevate our play, keep it the same and not bring us down.”
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