Former UVA QB Bryce Perkins gets first NFL start against Chiefs, Mahomes in Arrowhead
The undermanned LA Rams kept it interesting with Kansas City for much of Sunday afternoon, but as expected, Patrick Mahomes and Co. were simply too much to overcome, beating LA, 26-10, at Arrowhead Stadium.
With Matthew Stafford injured, the Rams turned to former Virginia quarterback Bryce Perkins under center.
A daunting task, indeed, for Perkins, who was making his first career NFL start, in one of the most hostile venues in the NFL.
A fair assessment of Perkins: he was ineffective, but also mistake-free, for most of the afternoon, until two fourth quarter interceptions.
Perkins finished the game completing 13 of 23 passes for an even 100 yards. Perkins had an eventful fourth quarter, leading the Rams to their lone touchdown drive of the game, then throwing two interceptions
Perkins completed his first career touchdown pass on the first play of the fourth quarter, with the Rams down 20-3. Recognizing a KC blitz, Perkins found receiver Van Jefferson in the endzone for a 7-yard scoring strike. The score kept LA close, getting the margin to 20-10.
The touchdown pass was the icing on the cake, as Perkins orchestrated a solid 14-play, 75-yard drive, that also saw Perkins convert a crucial fourth-down pass to wide receiver Tutu Atwell.
At that point in the game, Perkins was the Rams’ leading rusher, with 40 yards on eight carries.
There was no “easing into it” luxury for Perkins Sunday afternoon against KC. Perkins had his NFL debut against one of the best teams in the NFL, in one of the league’s loudest environments, with a front-runner for league most valuable player as his counterpart.
Other than that, not much a challenge for a player the Rams signed as an undrafted free agent in 2020.
But Virginia fans know that Perkins is remarkably familiar with handling challenges. Compared to the broken neck he suffered early in his college career, facing Mahomes in Arrowhead was like a walk in the park.
Perkins, now 25, made the Rams roster for the second consecutive season with a solid preseason performance that was enough for LA to not risk losing him to the waiver wire.
While Sunday was Perkins’ first career start, he has seen action this year. Three weeks ago, Perkins came in for backup quarterback John Wolford and played five snaps in his NFL regular-season debut.
Last Sunday, Perkins relieved starting quarterback Stafford and directed two field-goal drives.
LA head coach Sean McVay said he thought Perkins had a lot of good plays and that he was able to move the chains with his legs.
“I thought Bryce had some bright spots, especially converting some fourth-down conversions,” McVay said.
Concerning Perkins’ two fourth quarter interceptions, McVay said they were tough when the Rams were trying to get back in the game.
“They were unfortunate, the first one (interception) was off the play-action. The Chiefs did a good job of sinking under the curl route by Van Jefferson. Give KC credit, “said McVay.
“The other turnover was off a tip ball, but overall, Bryce did enough good things in the first half with his legs to keep the chains moving,” added McVay.
Perkins said throughout the game the Rams fought hard, but a few things early in the game did not go their way.
“I think everybody rallied behind each other. We just did a good job of keeping going, talking on the sideline, just saying to keep going and keep fighting,” noted Perkins.
Perkins was asked how his teammates responded to his first NFL start.
“The guys played hard, the defense had some great plays. They believe in me, so now it’s time to go out there and do what I have to do, elevate my game and go out and overall play better,” added Perkins.
On playing in Arrowhead Stadium, Perkins said he said the crowd didn’t disappoint.
“A couple of plays were hard to hear, especially early, later in the game I got better,” Perkins said.
“A couple of the procedure plays were on me, just not hearing it, not getting the play up in time. It was a loud atmosphere, people said it was, and it didn’t disappoint,” Perkins said.
As he did at Virginia, Perkins was quick to compliment his teammates. He also credited his family and friends.
“Throughout the week, they have been communicating with me. I know as soon as I get out of here, they will be blowing my phone up. The love throughout the week was strong. I always lean on my family. I get my strength from them. Everything I am is an embodiment of my family,” said Perkins.
Time will tell if Perkins gets another start with the Rams, or even if he ever steps back on the field in another NFL regular-season contest.
Stafford is 34 and has made it clear he does not intend on being the next Tom Brady.
The Rams have kept Perkins on the roster for a reason. Today was that reason.