Thomas: Reunited Line Clears The Road For Jackson
Reunited line clears the road for Jackson
11 hours ago • By Jim Thomas
For the Rams’ offense, the halftime discussion Sunday in the visitors’ locker room at University of Phoenix Stadium was as much about attitude as X’s and O’s.
“We knew we had to go and dominate as an offense, especially in the running game,” Steven Jackson said. “And we knew that our defense was going to continue to create turnovers, so we wanted to give them rest. We came out of the locker room saying we were going to be physical.”
Physical they were. Nothing signified this more than the work of the Rams’ “four-minute” offense in the fourth quarter after the Rams had built a 28-17 lead against Arizona.
In a “two-minute” drill, the idea is to pick up the tempo, get plays off in quick succession, and score as quickly as possible. The “four-minute” offense is just the opposite: milk the clock, pound away on the ground, move the chains.
The Rams’ “four-minute” chewed up 71 yards and 7 minutes before a Greg Zuerlein field goal. Nothing makes a coach trying to protect a lead happier.
“It’s kind of what we had talked about — not only at halftime, but also at the quarter change,” coach Jeff Fisher said. “That this is how we’re gonna have to win this game. The offensive line’s gonna have to take it over and they did with some help from ‘Jack.’
“That’s how you win games on the road. When you have a lead going into the fourth quarter you have to keep the ball and that’s what they did. They did a nice job with it.”
It was no coincidence that this kind of effort, and this kind of production, came on a day when the Rams had their starting offensive line intact for the first time since Scott Wells suffered a fractured foot on opening day. Wells returned to center against the Cardinals, allowing Robert Turner to shift back to left guard.
Wells is so quick off the ball getting to his blocks that Jackson said it took him a while to get in sync.
“Although we practiced all week together, everyone knows game speed’s a lot different,” Jackson said. “So that first half I just told him be patient with me, I’ll get the rhythm of the game, and that’s definitely what we did.”
The result was a season-high 173 rushing yards for the Rams; and for Jackson, the 10th best rushing day of his nine-year career with 139 yards on 24 carries.
“I think what we saw out of ‘Jack’ yesterday is what we’re gonna see the rest of the year,” Fisher said at his Monday media session. “It was a pretty impressive effort. It was fun to watch from the sideline.”
As for the reunited offensive line, Fisher thought it was probably the unit’s best work of the season.
“Now, we had some issues, which you’re going to against that good of a defense,” Fisher said. “But the results and the production from the run game reflects that they did a pretty good job up front.”
After reviewing game film, Fisher said Wells didn’t look rusty. Better yet, on Monday Wells didn’t have any issues with the foot.
“We should only get better up front now, with him working himself back in,” Fisher said.
For nine games, it was Turner at center making the line calls and helping to make sure everyone was on the same page. Now, with Wells and Turner both in the lineup, left tackle Rodger Saffold said it’s like getting extra help up front.
“The greatest thing about having a couple centers in the game is that they actually talk about things,” Saffold said. “And when you’ve got two centers seeing things from different angles, things get communicated a lot better. Things were happening last-minute and we were able to adjust last-minute and make plays. It’s definitely a great feeling.”
Saffold played in his third game Sunday since returning from a Week 2 knee injury that cost him six games, so he’s back in the groove. In the three games since his return, the Rams have allowed a modest total of only five sacks. He was as happy as anyone to see the offensive line intact against Arizona.
“To be able to keep Sam upright for the most part. To be able to establish a good running game, that was great,” Saffold said. “Once again, it just came down to execution. Also, ‘Jenks’ saving my (butt) from that holding call with an interception for a touchdown.”
Leading 21-17 midway through the third quarter, the Rams were on the verge of another touchdown when Jackson was stopped just short of the goal line after a 7-yard run. But Saffold was called for holding on the play, moving the ball back to the 18, and the drive yielded nothing after a missed 35-yard field goal by Zuerlein.
A few minutes later, cornerback Janoris Jenkins put up seven points with his second interception return for a TD. And at the very least, Saffold said the play in which he was called for holding should at least have resulted in offsetting penalties.
“You see my neck?” Saffold said. “If a scratch is from ear to ear, is that (illegal) hands to the face?”
Jackson also missed out on a chance for another score at the end of that 11-play drive in the “four-minute” offense. Facing a fourth-and-inches from the 2, Fisher opted for a field goal from Zuerlein to give the Rams a two-touchdown lead at 31-17.
“We knew at that point that we wanted to go up by two possessions,” Jackson said. “And kicking the field goal is the right decision there.”
So Jackson’s big day would’ve been even bigger with a couple of TDs added to his stat line. But he had no complaints.
“Coach is keeping a balance of run and pass, getting me the ball, and leaning on me,” Jackson said. “And it feels really good.”
Re: Thomas: Reunited Line Clears The Road For Jackson
I saw this while watching my DVR'd Redzone channel. The only reason I didn't raise heck about it is because we won anyway. Had we lost or tied, this would have been a key reason. Totally unbelievable that the official could see that minimal brief hold (a hold that was no where near as bad as what opposing teams get away with) and not see his helmet half pushed off by the guy he "held". Discraceful, actually. :(
Originally Posted by r8rh8rmike