Another STL Stunner: Rams Bully The Saints
Another STL stunner: Rams bully the Saints
BY JIM THOMAS
Sunday, October 30, 2011
Maybe it was the good karma caused by the introduction of the 2011 World Series champion Cardinals early in the first quarter. And the sight of Chris Carpenter wearing a Steven Jackson jersey. Or Tony La Russa wearing a Rams throwback jersey. Or the glimmer of the World Series championship trophy.
But it was a different Rams team on the field Sunday at the Edward Jones Dome against New Orleans. One that could block. One that could tackle. One that could stop the run. And yes, even one that could score.
The old saying goes . . . on any given Sunday. And this was that Sunday for the beleaguered and previously winless Rams. A New Orleans team that scored 62 points seven days earlier was held to only three touchdowns Sunday -- one of them with only 6 seconds left to play and the outcome decided.
And just when it seemed prudent to pour dirt on these Rams, and coach Steve Spagnuolo, and general manager Billy Devaney, the Rams are winless no more.
Their 31-21 victory over the Rams was almost as unexpected -- well, almost -- as the Cardinals' mad dash in September and October to the World Series title.
Go figure. A Saints offense that scored 34 points and gained 339 yards in the first half last week against Indianapolis, managed just 94 yards and didn't dent the scoreboard in the first half Sunday against the Rams.
Who knows who showed up posing as the Rams' defense in the first half -- maybe it was a Halloween prank. But it looked nothing like the unit that stumbled through the first six games of the 2011 season.
Quarterback A.J. Feeley, starting once again in place of the injured Sam Bradford, was inaccurate and under duress for most of the first half against the blitzing Saints defense. Josh Brown's 38-yard field goal snapped a scoreless tie with 8 minutes 32 seconds to play in the opening half.
Prior to that kick, the Rams had led for only 6 minutes 28 seconds in the entire season.
Then some surprising things started to happen in the Dome. Defensive end Robert Quinn, previously very quiet in his rookie season, raced around Saints blocker Jonathon Amaya to block Thomas Morstead's punt. The ball rolled out of bounds at the New Orleans 15 with 1:36 to play in the first half.
Feeley threw to Greg Salas for 13 yards, but Salas fumbled with Steven Jackson recovering at the New Orleans 3. On the next play, Jackson bulled his way in off right guard for a score and a 10-0 lead with 1:10 to play in the half. It was the Rams' largest lead of the season.
All season, they had led previously only 7-0 against Philadelphia in the opener and 3-0 against the New York Giants in Week 2.
The Saints, are almost always aggressive on both sides of the ball, so quarterback Drew Brees went right after the St. Louis defense after Jackson's TD. Brees threw deep down the right sideline on first down for Devery Henderson. But Josh Gordy, making his first NFL start at corner in place of the injured Justin King, was in perfect position and recorded his first career interception.
St. Louis took over on the New Orleans 38 with 58 seconds to play in the first half. Feeley completed a 14-yard pass on third-and-10 to Brandon Gibson, who was back in the lineup in place of the injured Danario Alexander. Four plays later, the Rams were back in the end zone, taking a stunning 17-0 lead with 17 seconds left in the opening half on an 8-yard pass to Brandon Lloyd.
It was a quick throw by Feeley, with Lloyd cutting inside of cornerback Patrick Robinson. The ball got there before safety Malcolm Jenkins could arrive with help.
The Rams kept rolling at the start of the second half. After forcing a New Orleans punt, the Rams drove 73 yards in 11 plays for another TD and a 24-0 lead. Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels reached deep into his playbook, with Gibson gaining 11 yards on an end-around. Two plays later, Feeley handed off to Jackson who tossed to Salas on an end-around for an eight-yard gain and a first down on third-and-3 from the Rams' 49.
The big play on the drive came on fourth-and-2 from the New Orleans 35. There was no finesse here. With their jumbo package in, featuring a fullback and two tight ends, Jackson powered his way off left tackle and didn't stop until pulled down by Jenkins at the 3. On second-and-goal from the 3, Jackson scored off right tackle with Adam Goldberg -- starting in place of the injured Jason Smith -- sealing off the right edge.
But you knew the Saints wouldn't go quietly into the afternoon. Pinned back at their 10 following a Morstead punt, Feeley was sacked by Jenkins attempting to pass on third-and-6. He fumbled near the goal line, with Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma recovering in the end zone for a touchdown with 1:21 left in the third quarter.
New Orleans didn't stop there. The Rams went 3-and-out on their next offensive possession, with a wide-open Lloyd dropping what could've been a 76-yard TD pass on third-and-6. The Saints methodically marched 68 yards for their first offensive touchdown of the day, with running back Pierre Thomas scoring untouched on a 3-yard run up the middle. Suddenly, St. Louis led only 24-14 with 10 minutes left in the game.
But safety Darian Stewart sealed the deal, stepping in front of intended receiver Jimmy Graham for an interception, which he returned 27 yards for a victory-sealing touchdown with 2:51 to play. The Saints scored a late touchdown _ on an 8-yard pass from Brees to Lance Moore with 6 seconds to play.
Cards in the house
Before taking part in their victory parade, most members of the World Series champion St. Louis Cardinals took in a little football at the Edward Jones Dome.
The Cardinals players were on the field during pregame before the Rams-New Orleans contest, and pitcher Chris Carpenter, wearing a Steven Jackson Rams jersey, came out for the pregame coin toss with Rams captains Jackson, James Hall, and Josh Brown.
The Cardinals were introduced in the first quarter, and the World Series trophy was displayed. Manager Tony LaRussa wore a Super Bowl XXXIV throwback jersey as he waved to the crowd.
Wide receiver Danario Alexander was among the pregame inactives for the St. Louis Rams -- and no, it wasn't because of knee problems.
The University of Missouri product suffered a hamstring injury at the end of last week's game with Dallas and didn't practice all week. Wide receiver Brandon Gibson was activated in place of Alexander.
Other Rams inactives: QB Sam Bradford (ankle), CB Justin King (groin), LB Brady Poppinga (calf), RT Jason Smith (neck/concussion), DT Darell Scott (concussion), and RB Jerious Norwood (coaches' decision).
Among the inactives for New Orleans: rookie running back Mark Ingram (heel).
Re: Another STL Stunner: Rams Bully The Saints
damn, i'm on cloud 9 right now, excuse me while i kiss the sky.
Re: Another STL Stunner: Rams Bully The Saints
I feel like a child after he just opened his Christmas present im so giddy and filled with joy lol.This is what a good win feels like.....i like it lets do it again haha.