Gibson Bounces Back
DETROIT – For three quarters of Sunday’s opener against the Lions, the most anyone had heard from receiver Brandon Gibson was a 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalty in the first quarter that effectively killed a potential touchdown drive.
The Rams settled for a field goal and Gibson went through the rest of the first three quarters with one catch for 7 yards.
At that point, nobody was more frustrated with Gibson than the wideout himself.
“It was frustrating on my part,” Gibson said. “I didn’t do a good job of putting the team first. But I thought I rebounded pretty decently and I’m glad I was able to go out there and help the team.”
Indeed, Gibson did more than just help the team in the final quarter. Coming alive with three more catches for 44 yards, Gibson made what seemed to be the biggest play of the game at the time it was made.
With 9:51 to play, quarterback Sam Bradford floated a ball deep down the left sideline from the 23-yard line. The pass went up for grabs.
“It was a double-move,” Bradford said. “We were pressed across the board, they were playing man, (he) did a great job getting off the line, then made a great catch that was contested. Wasn’t an easy catch. Really nice play on his part bringing it in.”
Gibson’s contested touchdown catch made the earlier penalty a distant memory and gave the Rams a 20-13 lead with less than 10 minutes to go.
For his part, Gibson gave the credit for the big touchdown catch to an accurate throw from Bradford.
“Yeah, basically Sam threw a good ball,” Gibson said. “That’s all there is to it. I went up and made the play. That’s what you do on a lot of jump balls; you go up and make the play. Unless you’re Calvin Johnson, then it’s almost automatic but I came down and fought for the ball and got some points for the team.”
Of course, Gibson wasn’t done with the touchdown catch. Later in the fourth, with the game tied at 20, Gibson made a pair of huge catches to keep a potential game-winning drive going.
On the first grab, Gibson caught a quick hitch, made Detroit safety John Wendling miss and picked up a first down on second-and-9.
Five plays later, Gibson again made a nice grab on an out and turned it into 11 yards and another first down to help set up a field goal that gave the Rams a 23-20 lead.
All told, Gibson finished with four catches for 51 yards and a touchdown.
Rams coach Jeff Fisher was pleased with the way Gibson bounced back from the earlier mental miscue.
“Yeah, you know, there was a lot of chatter going on,” Fisher said. “There’s going to be between teams like this in the opening and he clearly lost his poise. You know, we understood that he hears us. When he came back he kept playing. You learn from mistakes. I’m confident Brandon’s not going to put (us) in that situation again.”
SAFFOLD INJURED: Unfortunately for the Rams, Gibson’s big touchdown catch didn’t come without some collateral damage.
Lost in the celebration of that grab was an injury for left tackle Rodger Saffold, who was left back near the 30-yard line face down in pain. Saffold didn’t move much though he was able to roll over as trainers tended to him.
For any player, it’s a scary sight to see a teammate in need of a backboard and a cart to leave the field.
“Oh, you know it’s serious when they bring out the stretcher and bring out the cart,” Bradford said. “You just hope and pray that everything is okay and he checks out alright. Especially, I know yesterday there were a couple hits in college football, I think one kid broke his neck. It’s scary. You hate seeing things like that happen. Hopefully everything checks out okay and Roger will be back with us.”
Saffold was taken to a local hospital where he went through a battery of tests. He was kept overnight for further observation but Fisher indicated there were at least some good signs.
“What I can report to you is that he was conscious,” Fisher said. “He was alert and he had strength and movement in his arms and legs. So I think this is more of a precautionary deal.”
LINE DANCING: Saffold leaving the game brought recently-acquired Wayne Hunter into the game at left tackle. But Hunter wasn’t the only replacement that had to step in during the game.
To open the second half, the Rams came out with Robert Turner at center and rookie Rokevious Watkins at left guard. Center Scott Wells suffered a foot injury before the half, an injury the extent of which is unknown but was serious enough to keep him from returning.
Turner, who started the game at left guard, moved to center in place of Wells.
“That’s part of the game, unfortunately,” Turner said. “If you could have any team that makes it through the season without losing a guy then everybody is used to each other. But that’s part of the NFL game and that’s league wise. Everybody has to deal with it. It may be worse for some teams. Obviously, it’s tough but I think the guys that stepped in did a good job of knowing the calls and fighting hard and giving us a chance to win.”
Considering the shuffling along the line, the Rams’ group held up well. They gave up three sacks on the game and with Hunter and Watkins subbing in; the offense had its best quarter of the day in the final 15 minutes.
“I thought those guys did a nice job stepping in and playing when they had to,” Bradford said. “You hate to lose two starters but you look at what we did in the fourth quarter, it was probably one of our best quarters moving the football and that was with both of those guys in there.”
A DAY OF FIRSTS: Sunday’s game was not only the first game of the season but it offered a number of firsts for a variety of Rams.
Cornerback Janoris Jenkins and linebacker Jo-Lonn Dunbar made their first career interceptions. Kicker Greg Zuerlein booted his first field goal and extra point and punter Johnny Hekker booted his first punt.
Perhaps none of the many Rams rookies made a more exciting debut than Jenkins, who killed Detroit’s opening drive with an interception at the Rams’ 1.
“I was thinking in my head, I am 5’11, he’s 6’5, 6’4, the whole time I was just thinking back shoulder because I know I am the smaller defender,” Jenkins said. “It felt pretty nice but I’m mad I didn’t score. I could’ve made a play. I let my momentum get to me and I was excited for my first interception.”
Re: Gibson Bounces Back
Hah got to love Jenkins. Get his first int on a nice play but is pissed that he didn't take it 100 yards for a TD!!