“We lost,” Donald said before an impending rematch.
That loss has fueled Donald and the Rams for the past 22 months and on Thursday night, Donald got the small amount of the payback he sought as the Rams shut down the Patriots 24-3 at SoFi Stadium.
The lopsided win avenges some of the embarrassment felt on that disappointing February day in 2019, when the Rams’ high-powered offense mustered only three points against Bill Belichick and Tom Brady in a 13-3 defeat.
Before Thursday’s game, quarterback Jared Goff said his memories against the Patriots amounted to “not very many good ones,” and Rams coach Sean McVay called Super Bowl LIII “a very humbling night.”
But McVay and Goff were able to get the offense moving Thursday.
Goff passed for 137 yards and one touchdown, with an interception, and also scored on a QB sneak for his first victory over the Patriots in three tries. And the Rams leaned heavily on the run, as rookie Cam Akers moved into the starting lineup and McVay ditched a running back committee to utilize Akers as a feature back. A second-round draft pick from Florida State, Akers rushed for a career-high 171 yards on 29 carries and caught two passes for 23 yards.
Donald led a ferocious effort, as the Rams’ defense wreaked havoc on Patriots quarterback Cam Newton, sacking him four times. Linebacker Kenny Young also intercepted a Newton screen pass and returned it 79 yards for a touchdown in the second quarter.
The Rams improve to 9-4 and remain in first place in the NFC West for at least another week as they prepare to close out the regular season against the winless New York Jets and with division matchups against the Seattle Seahawks (8-4) and Arizona Cardinals (6-6).