DENVER (AP) — Undrafted rookie Jaleel McLaughlin scored his fourth touchdown of the preseason and tight end Albert Okwuegbunam caught seven passes for 109 yards and a TD, leading the Denver Broncos to a 41-0 blowout of the Los Angeles Rams in the teams’ preseason closer Saturday night.
Jarrett Stidham directed Denver to scores on its first five drives. Wearing white uniforms at home for the first time in 20 years, the Broncos built a 27-0 halftime lead after lighting up their mammoth new scoreboard, the gemstone of a $100 million offseason stadium upgrade.
The game marked the Broncos’ first taste of success under coach Sean Payton, who grumbled over last-minute one-point exhibition losses at Arizona and San Francisco.
The Rams (0-3) sat Matthew Stafford and several other starters the entire preseason.
The Broncos (1-2) sat Russell Wilson and most of their starters, too. Wilson’s one TD toss of the preseason went to Jerry Jeudy, who is expected to miss several weeks after pulling his right hamstring in the second of two joint practices with the Rams on Thursday.
McLaughlin, the NCAA’s all-time leading rusher who went undrafted out of Youngstown State, capped Denver’s opening drive with a 1-yard TD run.
That came one play after Rams defensive back Trey Tomlinson was disqualified for grabbing receiver Marvin Mims Jr.’s facemask and pulling him to the ground just inside the 1.
Brett Maher kicked field goals of 46 and 33 yards, Tony Jones Jr. scored from a yard out and Stidham threw an 8-yard touchdown pass to tight end Albert Okwuegbunam.
Okwuegbunam also had a terrific one-handed 20-yard catch on fourth-and-4 at the L.A. 27 in the fourth quarter, setting up Ben DiNucci’s 3-yard TD strike to Josh Hammond, also on fourth down.
Marvin Mims Jr.’s 50-yard catch set up one of the field goals and fellow rookie Drew Sanders’ interception set up Jones’ touchdown. Essang Bassey also had an interception of Stetson Bennett, who completed just 4 of 9 passes for 14 yards in the first half.
Stidham was 17 of 28 for 236 yards, one TD and no interceptions or sacks in his half of play.
McLaughlin had 10 carries for 48 yards, four catches for 13 yards and a 19-yard punt return in his most extensive action of the preseason.
After Tanner Brown missed a 39-yard field goal that would have ended the shutout, Ben DiNucci directed a 16-play, 71-yard drive that chewed up nearly nine minutes and was capped by Tyler Badie’s 1-yard run that made it 34-0.
Broncos T Demontrey Jacobs (ankle) was hurt in the third quarter when he got rolled up on during a running play. He limped off the field after staying down for a while. Also injured were Rams DB Rashad Torrence (knee), Broncos T Alex Palczewski (hand) and Broncos OLB Christopher Allen (groin).
Rams: Open the regular season at Seattle on Sept. 10.
Broncos: Host Las Vegas on Sept. 10.