Matthew Stafford will not go into a Monday Night Football match against the San Francisco 49ers riding an apparent production wave.
The Rams quarterback didn’t throw a touchdown pass in last Sunday’s win over the Arizona Cardinals, the first time since the 2020 season — when Stafford played for the Detroit Lions — that the 14th-year pro was ruled out.
But Stafford and coach Sean McVay are hardly concerned.
For the first time in three games, Stafford was not intercepted. And at least one possible touchdown was botched by a receiver.
“My main goal is to get as many points as possible and win the game,” said Stafford on Thursday. “There were a few occasions where I could have been a little bit better, so I’ll try to make sure I do that and get us in the end zone more often.”
Stafford has passed four touchdowns with five interceptions.
He completes 72.6% of his passes, which ranks second in the NFL behind Seattle Seahawks quarterback Geno Smith (77.4%). Stafford, New England’s Mac Jones and New Orleans’ Jameis Winston are tied for most interceptions.
Now Stafford is preparing to face a 49ers team that ranks second in the NFL in total defense, first in pass defense, third in scoring defense and fourth in rushing defense .
The 49ers include Nick Bosa, linebacker Dre Greenlaw and safety Jimmie Ward, among others.
“Really well-rounded defense,” Stafford said of an eight-sack, three-interception unit, “super physical.”
The 34-year-old Stafford was sacked seven times in a season-opening loss to the Buffalo Bills. But with Stafford operating behind an offensive line reconfigured due to injuries, the Atlanta Falcons and Cardinals only released him once.
Stafford continues to treat a tendonitis in his right elbow. He said it was feeling “pretty good” as the Rams (2-1) prepare for the 49ers, who fell to 2-1 after an 11-10 loss to the Denver Broncos.
“It keeps getting better,” he said.
In Sunday’s 20-12 win in Arizona, Stafford completed 18 of 25 passes for 249 yards. The Rams lost an almost certain touchdown when receiver Allen Robinson let a short pass sail between his hands.
Unlike Buffalo’s Josh Allen and Kansas City’s Patrick Mahomes, Stafford isn’t considered a quarterback who typically lengthens plays after contact. But against the Cardinals, he made the game of the game in the third quarter when he turned away a sack by spinning and then throwing a side arm pass at receiver Cooper Kupp. The game ignited a dormant offense and resulted in a touchdown.
“There were a couple of plays that not a lot of people in the world can make,” McVay said of Stafford this week, adding: “What we’ve noticed particularly in the last few weeks is that the stats don’t even begin to lead to those tell whole story.
“It’s about winning the football game. In many cases I thought he was leading us offensively with a chance to score 35 points, but we didn’t, we scored 20.”
In three games against the 49ers last season, Stafford has passed six touchdowns with five interceptions. And the Rams got a break in the NFC Championship game when 49ers safety Jaquiski Tartt dropped a near-certain interception that would have allowed the 49ers to grab a win.
Last November, in a 31-10 loss Monday night at Levi’s Stadium, Stafford completed 26 of 41 passes for 243 yards and a touchdown, with two interceptions including a pick six from Ward.
By the season finale at SoFi Stadium, Stafford was 21st of 32 for 238 yards and three touchdowns, with two interceptions, including one in overtime that sealed a 27-24 loss.
Three weeks later, in the NFC Championship game at SoFi Stadium, Stafford completed 31 of 45 passes for 337 yards and two touchdowns with one interception.
After Tartt dropped a long pass destined for receiver Van Jefferson in the fourth quarter, the Rams equalized with a field goal. Stafford then built on a successful field goal drive for a 20-17 win that ended a six-game losing streak against the 49ers and sent the Rams to the Super Bowl.
Monday night’s game will be the fourth between the teams in less than a year.
“They know us,” said Stafford, “we know them.”
Rookie cornerback Derion Kendrick (concussion) was limited, but McVay said he expected Kendrick to be available against the 49ers Monday. Cornerbacks David Long (groin) and Cobie Durant (hamstring) and safety man Jordan Fuller (hamstring) did not practice.
https://www.latimes.com/sports/rams/story/2022-09-29/rams-matthew-stafford-more-interceptions-td-passes Why Rams’ Matthew Stafford has more interceptions than TD passes