Total Team Effort Yields Rams' Second Straight Win
Total Team Effort Yields Rams' Second Straight Win
By Nick Wagoner/Senior Writer
Posted 23 minutes ago
It’s called a winning streak and don’t look now but the St. Louis Rams are officially in the midst of one.
With an emphatic 20-3 win on Sunday at the Edward Jones Dome, the Rams claimed a victory for the second week in a row. And they did it in total team fashion much like they did last week against Washington.
“I think it’s a huge win for us, especially coming off last week, a win versus Washington,” quarterback Sam Bradford said. “I think everyone kind of wanted to see if we could validate that and see if we could put two together or if that was just a fluke that we happened to catch them on an off-night. So to come out here and play the way we did and get a win against a divisional opponent and move to 2-2, I think it’s huge.”
Just how huge it is in the grand scheme of a long NFL season remains to be seen but sitting at the quarter pole of this year, the Rams are in territory unfamiliar to them in quite some time.
With the win, the Rams improved to 2-2 on the season. Combining that with a loss that drops Seattle to the same mark and Arizona’s loss to San Diego, the Rams now sit in a three-way tie for first place in the NFC West Division.
In the process, the Rams broke a 10-game losing streak to the Seahawks and sent a message to the rest of the division that they have every intent to be a contender well into the final weeks.
“To have two wins in a row feels really good,” running back Steven Jackson said. “I think you can see the confidence around here is starting to grow. We are starting to believe in what is going on. The philosophy that coach has been talking about over the last two years, guys are really buying in. I am glad to see a lot of guys start to grow in their own individual careers.”
Nobody has been around to see more of that growth than Jackson, which made his presence and role in Sunday’s game even more fitting.
Plagued all week by a strained groin that many figured would keep him out of action, Jackson battled all week and persevered enough to step on the field with his teammates to take on the Seahawks.
It was an emotional lift that carried plenty of weight for a team that looks to Jackson to provide leadership in tangible and intangible forms.
“I think he understood how important this game was for this football team,” Bradford said. “I never doubted that he would be out there today. I think that’s a huge credit to him and the type of player and the type of competitor he is, because I know he was battling out there. He wasn’t a hundred percent, but to come out and play the way he did, it really helped this football team.”
Jackson finished with 124 yards of total offense and moved past Marshall Faulk for second place on the team’s all time rushing list despite the injury.
While Jackson wasn’t going at his top gear, the Rams still found plenty of ways to generate offense, not the least of which came from Bradford himself.
In a game the Rams would never trail, Bradford and the Rams posted the winning points on a 90-yard, 10-play drive culminated when Bradford fired a rope to receiver Brandon Gibson for a 15-yard touchdown and a 7-0 lead.
Little did anyone know that would be all the points the Rams would need to win but in getting an early lead for the second week in a row, it created the confidence needed across the board to finish the job again.
With a seven point lead in its pocket, the ever-improving and evolving Rams defense decided to take control of the game.
Seattle responded with a field goal after the defense again kept an opponent out of the end zone after it ventured into the red zone. That kick made it 7-3 and Seattle appeared to garner some momentum after Bradford was intercepted in the end zone following Bradley Fletcher’s interception and return to Seattle’s 3.
As the Seahawks lined up for a field goal on fourth-and-10 from the Rams’ 33, the Rams prepared for a fake and were rewarded as cornerback Kevin Dockery snuffed it out and halted the drive with no points.
Bradford coolly bounced back from the interception and led the Rams on a two-minute drive that would provide a field goal and a 10-3 halftime edge.
From there, the defense stole the show, allowing just 83 yards in the second half, coming up with five three and outs and keeping the Seahawks off the scoreboard for the entire 30 minutes.
“We are just trying to do our job,” middle linebacker James Laurinaitis said. “I know it sounds cliché and simple but just execute what we have called. This team studies hard and prepares hard and we are coached extremely well so when we go out there we have confidence that we are prepared. When you have confidence you are prepared and see things and react and just kind of play the next play and try to execute, you have a good feeling that everyone else around you is prepared and where they are supposed to be.”
With the defense shutting Seattle down completely, the Rams continued to build on the lead by taking advantage of some openings in the short passing game.
In a four-play span early in the third quarter, Bradford dropped a screen pass to Jackson for a 49-yard gain and then another to Kenneth Darby for a 21-yard touchdown to give the Rams a 17-3 lead.
Bradford had perhaps his most productive game of the season, going 23-of-41 for 289 yards with two touchdowns and the interception for a rating of 84.3.
Kicker Josh Brown hit from 31 yards out to make it 20-3 Rams with about three minutes to go in the game and complete the scoring.
“I think Coach said it best, we expected to win this game, we prepared well, we worked hard this week and it paid off,” Brown said. “It absolutely paid off. We put them in some situation they couldn’t get out of and we just kept pushing and pushing and pushing. The offense kept moving and special teams did a great job controlling those return men and Donnie (Jones) did a great job punting. This was really one of those complete games where we all played well.”
For the second week in a row, the Rams walked off the field not only knowing they played well but also with the reward that comes with it.
In the process, they proved that they are no longer satisfied with simply winning a game. They want more. Much more.
“I thought the team came out and performed, like we’d talked about all week,” Spagnuolo said. “I was little bit concerned there during the week that the hunger was gone. That achieving one win would be all that they wanted to get because I knew down deep that wasn’t the case, but I was concerned about it. And being a divisional game, you need a little bit of intensity coming out of there, especially being at home. You have to win your division games at home. And I thought they came out with the right mindset. They came right out and played pretty good football, so I was happy about that.”