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  1. #1
    MauiRam's Avatar
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    Bernie: Bradford comes back all the way ..

    BY BERNIE MIKLASZ • Posted: Monday, September 27, 2010 12:15 am


    Sam Bradford walked out of the interview room, and a smiling old offensive lineman met the kid at the door to lead the way out. You could see how happy Kent Bradford was. You could see how wonderfully proud he was of his son, Sam.

    Kent Bradford played the O-line for Oklahoma back in the Barry Switzer era. He owns an insurance agency now, but around 11 months ago no policy could cover the damage that had been done to Sam's shoulder, or the heartache that the injury caused his family and friends.

    It may seem crazy now, but last October, after Bradford's shoulder came apart for the second time in six weeks, after he had been crunched like a box of breakfast cereal during a loss to Texas, no one knew if the QB would ever be the same.

    Bradford's college career was over. The 2008 Heisman Trophy was just another broken quarterback now. His NFL future seemed uncertain. It was preposterous to believe Bradford had any shot at being the No. 1 pick in the 2010 NFL draft. Teams just don't invest that kind of money, some $50 million guaranteed, in quarterbacks with a fragile throwing shoulder.

    But here he was, a triumphant Sam Bradford, a winner in the NFL for the first time, standing on the podium in an interview room at the Edward Jones Dome after the Rams' improbable 30-16 victory over the Washington Redskins. And the rookie quarterback couldn't stop smiling. The old OU lineman standing in the back of the room couldn't stop smiling, either.

    And we can understand why. Father and son had experienced the down time. Sam was a No. 1 prospect before the shoulder injuries, but had to start over. He had to have surgery. He had to rebuild the strength in the shoulder. Bradford also had to rebuild his draft status and give NFL teams the confidence to believe he was whole and worth the money and the risk.

    And Bradford did it, all right. How many hours in the weight room? How many hours of gritting his teeth and grunting to vent the pain of an excruciating rehab? The sweat was worth it. And how many guys are good enough to build the case to be the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft not once, but twice? But Sam Bradford did it. He made it back.

    And by early Sunday evening Bradford had his first NFL win, and his first NFL comeback victory. This was a special moment in his life.

    "It means a lot," Bradford said. "Because you're right. I've gone through a lot in the past year to get where I am."

    The Rams surprised the Redskins with a team effort. The Rams' defense put up stubborn resistance, holding Washington to one third-down conversion in 10 chances. An angry Rams offensive line was determined to control the pit. Backup running backs Kenneth Darby and Keith Toston did a commendable job in teaming up to replace an injured Steven Jackson. And the maligned Rams coaches were sharp; offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur put together some effective formations and personnel groupings.

    And Bradford was there to bring it all home. The Rams had an early 14-0 lead but sputtered horribly in a pointless red-zone mishap at the end of the first half. And when the Redskins pushed ahead of the home team 16-14 early in the third quarter, we weren't sure how the Rams would respond.

    Answer: an immediate 12-play, 74-yard drive for a Darby touchdown. And then three more scoring drives for field goals as the Rams finished on a 16-0 run. That first drive of the third quarter was a bold statement for a team that often goes into shock when adversity hits.

    "It has to just boost our confidence tremendously," Bradford said.

    Bradford completed 23 of 37 passes overall for 235 yards, with a touchdown and an interception. He connected on throws to nine different receivers. In the second half the Rams mixed the run and the pass and kept the ball for chunks of time. They were calm, determined and mostly efficient.

    And on the four possessions that ended in St. Louis points, Bradford completed nine of 15 passes for 138 yards. They aren't spectacular numbers - those will come later. But they were winning numbers. The kid was in charge. He directed the huddle, and the comeback, and began the process of reversing a team's losing mindset.

    "Sam was real emotional in the huddle," Darby said. "He was getting on the offensive line, getting on the receivers. He was acting like a quarterback who had been in this league for 10 years."

    Bradford comes from an iconic Oklahoma program where winning is a lifestyle, an identity. Bradford expects to win. He will never have a stomach that easily absorbs losing. Bradford will change the culture of Rams football, at least as much as he can until more substantial help arrives.

    "I just love when he comes over to the sideline," Rams head coach Steve Spagnuolo said. "You guys have no idea of the competitive look in that man's eyes."

    In the second half, Bradford was the best quarterback on the field. He didn't have Donovan McNabb's running backs or receivers or coach, Mike Shanahan. Sam didn't even have Steven Jackson. But he outplayed McNabb, the likely NFL Hall of Famer.

    Bradford completed 11 of 17 for 146 yards and no interceptions in the second half for a passer rating of 91.7. McNabb in the second half was 10 of 19 for 121 yards and an interception for a rating of 50.5.

    On the drive that led to their final field goal, the Rams faced a third and 20 from their 49-yard line. Everyone in the joint expected the Rams to play it safe and run. But in an obvious indication of how much the coaches trust Bradford, they ordered up a pass. And Bradford hooked up with Mark Clayton for 25 yards. Ballgame. The pressure didn't faze Bradford. It never does.

    "I don't think he's scared by it," Spagnuolo said. "I think he knows that it comes with the territory. He's a quarterback in the NFL and that's what a quarterback has to do."

    And as the young quarterback left the building and walked into the night with his father at his side, clearly uplifted by the first NFL comeback and win, you just knew that this was just a glimpse of the future. There will be many more Sundays like this.


  2. #2
    cfin5256's Avatar
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    Re: Bernie: Bradford comes back all the way ..

    Great read. Thanks for posting! Man, Sammy is fun to watch.

  3. #3
    laram0's Avatar
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    Re: Bernie: Bradford comes back all the way ..

    This is just the beginning of a long and exciting career for both Bradford and us the fans. We deserve it...afterall, we earned it the hardway!

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    Re: Bernie: Bradford comes back all the way ..

    Quote Originally Posted by MauiRam View Post

    "Sam was real emotional in the huddle," Darby said. "He was getting on the offensive line, getting on the receivers. He was acting like a quarterback who had been in this league for 10 years."
    Quote Originally Posted by MauiRam View Post
    "I just love when he comes over to the sideline," Rams head coach Steve Spagnuolo said. "You guys have no idea of the competitive look in that man's eyes."
    Love those two quotes.

    Like it or not, we weren't really getting that attitude from Bulger. It's definitely making a difference, and the more Bradford performs and showcases his leadership abilities, the more weight he'll have in the huddle and the locker room. He's already commanding respect, and it'll only get better as the season progresses.

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    MauiRam's Avatar
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    Re: Bernie: Bradford comes back all the way ..

    Quote Originally Posted by shower beers View Post
    Love those two quotes.

    Like it or not, we weren't really getting that attitude from Bulger. It's definitely making a difference, and the more Bradford performs and showcases his leadership abilities, the more weight he'll have in the huddle and the locker room. He's already commanding respect, and it'll only get better as the season progresses.
    Here's one more:
    "Sam was real emotional in the huddle," Darby said. "He was getting on the offensive line, getting on the receivers. He was acting like a quarterback who had been in this league for 10 years."
    He certainly played well enough to earn the respect of his teammates. Walking the walk gives him the right to sound off when it's needed.

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