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Swanson: Rams champion resilience for first victory

INGLEWOOD – You know the old adage, “life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you react”? A prominent pastor is credited with having drawn that up, but it could’ve been any number of football coaches too, including Rams coach Sean McVay.

His team happened into some season-opening turbulence Sept. 8, when they began their title defense by stubbing their toe against the Buffalo Bills, who came west and crashed the party, beating L.A. by 21 points.

Back at SoFi Stadium on Sunday, the Rams happened into more adversity when the Atlanta Falcons undid most of the Rams’ 25-point lead with a second-half charge that pulled them within six points with 5:06 to play.

And wouldn’t you know it, the reigning Super Bowl champions reacted like champs.

They dug in and rectified their mistakes from Week 1. They better protected quarterback Matthew Stafford. They more effectively delegated the workload. And in the end, they got a victory-clinching interception from the man who’d been lambasted on social media for giving up a pair of TDs in the opening loss to Buffalo.

With 1:18 left, Jalen Ramsey pulled what the kids might call a “reverse Moss,” elevating like Randy Moss would when he used to out-sky defensive backs. This time, it was Ramsey climbing the invisible ladder to snatch the ball away from Atlanta receiver Bryan Edwards, taking away a touchdown and sealing the 31-27 victory.

But if that seems like an impressive response after getting beat in Week 1 by Stefon Diggs and Gabe Davis, I hope you heard Ramsey in the immediate aftermath of that loss, when he neither ducked reporters nor the criticism he knew was bubbling up online.

“There’s nothing that anybody can tell me that I haven’t already told myself, times 10, probably,” Ramsey said then. “I cuss myself out in my mind, worse than anybody that I could ever speak to. That’s just how I am and the standards I hold myself to. That’s how much I care because I want to make things right, do things right for my teammates and the organization.”

On Sunday, he punctuated his previous comments justly: “I’m him!” Ramsey yelled into a camera on the sideline. “I love when they count me out!”

Similarly, Stafford – whose two interceptions brought his season total to five picks to go with four touchdowns – promised his miscues will bother him more than they’ll bother you, if they’re bothering you.

The 14th-year NFL QB also swore he’d learn from them: “Each game is a new opportunity to go out there and play at a high level. There were two plays from this game I can clean up? Absolutely. Are there a lot of good plays to take from it? Yes … I’ll definitely look inward and try to figure out a way to make sure those things don’t happen.”

Whatever soul searching Stafford did after an uninspiring opener – he went 29 for 41, threw just one TD and was sacked seven times, the most for a QB in McVay’s tenure leading the Rams – properly set the table Sunday for the Rams’ first victory.

Before intermission, Stafford – who was sacked just once Sunday – completed 14 of his first 16 passes for two touchdowns.

The first of his TD passes went to Allen Robinson, the $46.5 million addition at receiver who’d been an afterthought in the opener, when he was targeted just twice. On Sunday, Stafford looked his way five times and Robinson snagged four catches for 53 yards.

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