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    Rams beat Jaguars for a perfect preseason ..

    Friday, September 2, 2011 12:15 am

    JACKSONVILLE, FLA. • If last week's offensive theme in Kansas City was establishing the running game, Thursday's must have been "hit the tight end and work on the screen game."

    Long after the starters were gone, the Rams held off a comeback attack by Blaine Gabbert and the Jaguars, completing a 4-0 preseason with a 24-17 victory. Next stop, the Edward Jones Dome and the regular-season opener Sept. 11 against Michael Vick and the "Dream Team," otherwise known as the Philadelphia Eagles.

    It was the first unbeaten preseason for the Rams since 1979, which led to defensive end Chris Long being asked if he was ready for the parade in St. Louis.

    "Yeah, yeah, I'm expecting a parade when we get home in St. Louis tonight at 2 o'clock in the morning," he joked in the Rams' locker room afterward. "The big thing is, we made it out of the preseason largely healthy and guys were able to put in great work. The record doesn't carry over, but the work we put in does."

    On Thursday, that work included three completions to rookie tight end Lance Kendricks by quarterback Sam Bradford when the starting offense was in the game. Two of the completions to Kendricks produced first downs, and between those tosses came a house call.

    With the Jacksonville defense biting hard on a play-fake to Steven Jackson, Kendricks found himself wide open well behind the Jaguars' secondary. The result was a 44-yard touchdown catch - Kendricks' third TD of the preseason - with 5 minutes, 12 seconds to play in the first quarter.

    "It was nice to go out there and catch a few passes, get some looks that we really haven't seen much," Kendricks said. "I think going out there tonight and kind of keeping that rhythm was good."

    Jacksonville, without a sack in its first three preseason games, seemed intent on putting as much pressure as possible on Bradford via the blitz or otherwise. The Rams responded with several effective screen passes.

    "One of the things that I was particularly happy to see tonight was our screen game," Bradford said. "It's something that we just really kind of struggled with early in the preseason. So to see some of those go was really nice."

    Jackson caught one for 27 yards from Bradford. Cadillac Williams caught two for 25 yards from Bradford, with both plays good for first downs. And after A.J. Feeley took over in mid-drive to start the second quarter, he completed a nine-yard screen pass to Jerious Norwood.

    Bradford left after completing seven of 11 passes for 133 yards, the TD pass to Kendricks, and a passer rating of 135.8. So with offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels seemingly using different parts of the playbook in each preseason game, the Rams' starting offense enters the regular season with some confidence.

    "Everything is coming together wonderfully," center Jason Brown said. "It's a culmination of these preseason games coming together. Even though we've had limited time with Josh McDaniels' offense, we've been taking it in stride."

    The Rams' defense had some rough spots, giving up a run of 14 yards to running back Maurice Jones-Drew, who was seeing his first action of the preseason. That was followed by a 27-yard run by Deji Karim. Meanwhile, cornerback Justin King struggled in coverage, getting flagged once for a long pass interference penalty and nearly getting called for two others.

    King also was the nearest man in coverage when Jacksonville tied the game 7-7 on a 17-yard TD pass from Jaguars quarterback Luke McCown to wide receiver Cecil Shorts. King raised his arms in dismay after Shorts' catch, a sign that maybe it was a busted coverage and there should have been help behind him.

    Once the starters departed, Bubble Bowl 2011 began. At wide receiver, rookie Greg Salas seemed to help himself with a couple of first-down catches to start the third quarter. Both grabs came on third down. Behind third-team quarterback Thaddeus Lewis, the Rams marched 80 yards on 14 plays on that drive, with second-year running back Keith Toston scoring on a one-yard TD run with 7:13 to play in the quarter.

    On the ensuing kickoff, Gabbert, the former University of Missouri and Parkway West standout, came in at quarterback for Jacksonville. He led the Jaguars on a field goal drive on his first possession, trimming the Rams' lead to 14-10.

    But Lewis, continuing his strong preseason play, led the Rams on yet another long touchdown drive at the start of the fourth quarter to give St. Louis a 21-10 lead. Lewis used his legs to kick-start the drive with an 11-yard scramble on third-and-10 from the Rams 22.

    "As long as you feel like you gave it your all when you had your opportunity, yeah, I can go to sleep tonight," Lewis said.

    Lewis has consistently been behind Feeley on the depth chart at quarterback, but Thursday's showing may have given Rams coaches second thoughts. If nothing else, his strong play may force the Rams to keep three quarterbacks this season. In 2010, Lewis spent most of his rookie season on the practice squad.

  2. #2
    bigtiger737 Guest

    Re: Rams beat Jaguars for a perfect preseason ..

    honestly... I would rather have Lewis as the number 2.. he has the poise.... we need to keep him!!!

  3. #3
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    Re: Rams beat Jaguars for a perfect preseason ..

    "...Perfect preseason".

    All jinx jokes aside, the last time we had an undefeated preseason was in 1967 -- that I know of anyway. That year we lost only ONE regular season game (tied two).

    Much is said of the meaningless value / importance of preseason, and much of that is true. But I just wanted to recall the nostalgic excitement of 1967 ... the Rams were a very strong team then: to me, as a teen in Mexico, preseason was a BIG deal. 45 years later, not so much. And much of that is true.

    All the best to the STL RAMS. RAMS IN 11!
    Last edited by RealRam; -09-02-2011 at 10:38 PM. Reason: Helmet

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    Re: Rams beat Jaguars for a perfect preseason ..

    [QUOTE=RealRam;392818]"...Perfect preseason".

    All jinx jokes aside, the last time we had an undefeated preseason was in 1967 -- that I know of anyway. That year we lost only ONE game (tied two).

    I read it was 1979. We went to SB XIV that year. Not sure what will transpire this year execpt we are not perenial doormats any longer.

  5. #5
    Ram Dragoon's Avatar
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    Re: Rams beat Jaguars for a perfect preseason ..

    With Pre-season it games 1 and 4 seem to be of less importance. Game one seems to be the game of folleys where teams are rusty and not in football condition. Game four usually has the starters playing the least amount of time and used as a final show case of those still on the bubble if they are to make the team. Now games 2 and 3, those are the ones to pay attention to. In general of those games the opening drives where sound and solid games.
    Barring the tough schedual, thye Rams ought to show solid performances. Come September 11th, the Dream team Eagles ought best keep in mind the Rams defense is doing something really well this year called PASS RUSH. IF the Rams smack Vick around a bit, it will not be the game they wish to open with since I really didn't see anything to wite home about with the Eagles running game.

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