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Rams finally put it together, stifle Russell Wilson, Broncos

Los Angeles Rams celebrates after a touchdown by tight end Tyler Higbee during the first half of an NFL football game between the Los Angeles Rams and the Denver Broncos on Sunday, Dec. 25, 2022, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio J. Sanchez)

Los Angeles Rams tight end Tyler Higbee runs past Denver Broncos cornerback Damarri Mathis during the first half of an NFL football game between the Los Angeles Rams and the Denver Broncos on Sunday, Dec. 25, 2022, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio J. Sanchez)

Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay gestures during the first half of an NFL football game between the Los Angeles Rams and the Denver Broncos on Sunday, Dec. 25, 2022, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio J. Sanchez)

Los Angeles Rams linebacker Bobby Wagner celebrates after an interception during the first half of an NFL football game between the Los Angeles Rams and the Denver Broncos on Sunday, Dec. 25, 2022, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio J. Sanchez)

Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson passes during the first half of an NFL football game between the Los Angeles Rams and the Denver Broncos on Sunday, Dec. 25, 2022, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio J. Sanchez)

Los Angeles Rams tight end Tyler Higbee runs past Denver Broncos cornerback Damarri Mathis during the first half of an NFL football game between the Los Angeles Rams and the Denver Broncos on Sunday, Dec. 25, 2022, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio J. Sanchez)

Los Angeles Rams running back Cam Akers scores past Denver Broncos cornerback K’Waun Williams during the first half of an NFL football game between the Los Angeles Rams and the Denver Broncos on Sunday, Dec. 25, 2022, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio J. Sanchez)

Los Angeles Rams running back Cam Akers scores past Denver Broncos cornerback K’Waun Williams during the first half of an NFL football game between the Los Angeles Rams and the Denver Broncos on Sunday, Dec. 25, 2022, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio J. Sanchez)

Los Angeles Rams quarterback Baker Mayfield passes during the first half of an NFL football game between the Los Angeles Rams and the Denver Broncos on Sunday, Dec. 25, 2022, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio J. Sanchez)

Los Angeles Rams quarterback Baker Mayfield bobbles the snap during the first half of an NFL football game between the Los Angeles Rams and the Denver Broncos on Sunday, Dec. 25, 2022, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio J. Sanchez)

Los Angeles Rams quarterback Baker Mayfield goes on the field before an NFL football game between the Los Angeles Rams and the Denver Broncos on Sunday, Dec. 25, 2022, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio J. Sanchez)

Los Angeles Rams quarterback Baker Mayfield warms up before an NFL football game between the Los Angeles Rams and the Denver Broncos on Sunday, Dec. 25, 2022, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio J. Sanchez)

From left, replay assistant Gerald Frye, back judge Greg Yette (38), field judge Anthony Jeffries (36), umpire Barry Anderson (20), down judge Frank LeBlanc (44), field judge Greg Gautreaux (80), line judge Maia Chaka (100) and replay official Denise Crudup, pose before NFL football game between the Los Angeles Rams and the Denver Broncos on Sunday, Dec. 25, 2022, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio J. Sanchez)

Los Angeles Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey cleats are decorated for Christmas before an NFL football game between the Los Angeles Rams and the Denver Broncos on Sunday, Dec. 25, 2022, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio J. Sanchez)

Los Angeles Rams quarterback Baker Mayfield warms up before an NFL football game between the Los Angeles Rams and the Denver Broncos on Sunday, Dec. 25, 2022, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio J. Sanchez)

Los Angeles Rams quarterback Baker Mayfield gets ready to go on the field before an NFL football game between the Los Angeles Rams and the Denver Broncos on Sunday, Dec. 25, 2022, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio J. Sanchez)

Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay watches during warm ups before an NFL football game between the Los Angeles Rams and the Denver Broncos on Sunday, Dec. 25, 2022, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio J. Sanchez)

Los Angeles Rams quarterback Baker Mayfield runs on the field before an NFL football game between the Los Angeles Rams and the Denver Broncos on Sunday, Dec. 25, 2022, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio J. Sanchez)

Los Angeles Rams quarterback Baker Mayfield watches during warm ups before an NFL football game between the Los Angeles Rams and the Denver Broncos on Sunday, Dec. 25, 2022, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio J. Sanchez)

Los Angeles Rams defensive tackle Michael Hoecht celebrates after sacking Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson during the second half of an NFL football game between the Los Angeles Rams and the Denver Broncos on Sunday, Dec. 25, 2022, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio J. Sanchez)

Los Angeles Rams quarterback Baker Mayfield watches during warm ups before an NFL football game between the Los Angeles Rams and the Denver Broncos on Sunday, Dec. 25, 2022, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio J. Sanchez)

Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson warms up before an NFL football game between the Los Angeles Rams and the Denver Broncos on Sunday, Dec. 25, 2022, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio J. Sanchez)

Los Angeles Rams running back Cam Akers runs during the first half of an NFL football game between the Los Angeles Rams and the Denver Broncos on Sunday, Dec. 25, 2022, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio J. Sanchez)

Los Angeles Rams linebacker Bobby Wagner warms up before an NFL football game between the Los Angeles Rams and the Denver Broncos on Sunday, Dec. 25, 2022, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio J. Sanchez)

Fans watch during warm ups before an NFL football game between the Los Angeles Rams and the Denver Broncos on Sunday, Dec. 25, 2022, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio J. Sanchez)

A fan watches during warm ups before an NFL football game between the Los Angeles Rams and the Denver Broncos on Sunday, Dec. 25, 2022, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio J. Sanchez)

Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson warms up before an NFL football game between the Los Angeles Rams and the Denver Broncos on Sunday, Dec. 25, 2022, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio J. Sanchez)

Fans watch during warm ups before an NFL football game between the Los Angeles Rams and the Denver Broncos on Sunday, Dec. 25, 2022, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio J. Sanchez)

Denver Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson passes during the first half of an NFL football game between the Los Angeles Rams and the Denver Broncos on Sunday, Dec. 25, 2022, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio J. Sanchez)

Los Angeles Rams tight end Tyler Higbee celebrates after scoring during the first half of an NFL football game between the Los Angeles Rams and the Denver Broncos on Sunday, Dec. 25, 2022, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio J. Sanchez)

Los Angeles Rams linebacker Bobby Wagner warms up before an NFL football game between the Los Angeles Rams and the Denver Broncos on Sunday, Dec. 25, 2022, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio J. Sanchez)

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INGLEWOOD — Running back Cam Akers was serious about treating the final three games of the season like this is the Rams’ championship.

It wasn’t the Super Bowl and it was way too late, but the Rams delivered their best performance of the season in a 51-14 blowout victory against the Denver Broncos on Christmas Day at SoFi Stadium.

The trio of quarterback Baker Mayfield, tight end Tyler Higbee and Akers helped the Rams build a comfortable lead in the first half — they were leading 31-3 less than two minutes before halftime.

Akers led the way with three rushing touchdowns and Higbee contributed two receiving touchdowns.

An opportunistic Rams defense assisted by giving Broncos quarterback Russell Wilson another rough outing this season. Wilson had three interceptions and was pulled midway through the fourth quarter. Rams rookie cornerback Cobie Durant recorded the team’s fourth interception, versus Broncos backup quarterback Brett Rypien, and returned it 85 yards for a touchdown and a 37-point advantage with 4:08 left.

It was the first time the Rams reached 50 points in a game since they defeated the Kansas City Chiefs at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in 2018.

After the Rams were eliminated from playoff contention with last week’s loss against the Green Bay Packers, Akers said he wanted to play spoiler and challenged his teammates to end the season as if they’re playing for a championship. In the final two games of the 2022 season, the Rams can play spoiler against the Chargers and Seattle Seahawks, two teams in the mix for the postseason.

The now 4-11 Broncos aren’t in the playoff hunt, so the Rams likely prioritized “playing like it’s the championship” after their impressive win Sunday. It was a much-needed victory for the Rams (5-10), who have had a disappointing season after hoisting the Super Bowl trophy in February.

Akers was in need of championship-like performances because his future with the Rams is murky after the team sent him home for a month in an attempt to trade him before the trading deadline in November. Akers and Rams coach Sean McVay mended fences and decided to end the season together. With Akers’ late-season surge, he’ll likely gain attention from other teams in the offseason if the Rams are still interested in trading him.

Akers’ second rushing touchdown versus the Broncos gave the Rams a 31-3 advantage with 1:06 left in the first half. His third put the Rams ahead 41-6 in the fourth quarter.

The Rams hadn’t cracked 24 points since Week 6 against the Carolina Panthers, and their previous season-high points total was 31, which came in Week 2’s victory against the Atlanta Falcons. The Rams entered Sunday averaging 16.4 points per game, and only the Broncos were worse with 15.6 points per game.

Rams middle linebacker Bobby Wagner sacked and intercepted Wilson for the first time in his career. The two were teammates for 10 seasons with the Seahawks and won a Super Bowl together in the 2014 season. Wilson had three interceptions, including one in the end zone to Rams cornerback Jalen Ramsey in the second half.

Mayfield had a hot start after completing his first 11 passes for 112 yards and one touchdown. His first incompletion came in the second quarter, but he quickly made up for it by throwing a 7-yard touchdown pass to Higbee to give the Rams a 24-3 advantage with 9:42 left before halftime.

That was Mayfield and Higbee’s third touchdown connection in a span of four quarters, including the first quarter versus the Broncos and the third quarter of last week’s loss against the Packers. Higbee didn’t have a touchdown in the first 13 games of the season.

The Rams jumped to a 17-0 lead and recorded two interceptions against Wilson in the first quarter. Durant jumped in front of Broncos receiver Courtland Sutton for the first takeaway, and Wagner had the second after a diving play to take the pass from his former long-time Seattle teammate

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Akers cashed in the second interception with a 2-yard touchdown run to extend the lead to 17-0 with 4:45 in the opening quarter.

Three plays after Durant’s leaping takeaway, Mayfield connected with Higbee for a 9-yard touchdown pass and a 10-0 advantage with 6:19 in the first quarter.

Tight end Brycen Hopkins had a 22-yard catch prior to Higbee’s touchdown. Hopkins was on the field early and often after McVay said earlier in the week that he deserved to get more playing time. Hopkins entered Sunday with only three receptions for 31 yards this season.

Many inexperienced Rams players received playing time against the Broncos, including defensive lineman Earnest Brown, Jonah Williams and Larrell Murchison, who recorded his first two career sacks in the first half.

More to come.

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