I'm not sure how to feel right now. The St. Louis Rams beat the Washington Redskins and scored thirty points in the process. It was the first time they won since week 8 last season and the first time they scored 30 points since a 2008 win over the Dallas Cowboys.
What does it all mean?
Rather than delve into the Xs and Os here, I want to come back to something 3k and I talked at length about on Turf Show Radio this week: installing a winning mentality.
That "learning how to win" trope gets old, but after watching last season and the first two games of this one, there wasn't much else you could say. Glimmers of possibility popped up here and there, some solid work on the 2-minute offense, inspired defense, etc. Ultimately, the Rams threw water on it themselves with the usual things that beat the Rams, bad penalties, inability to finish drives, dropped passes, blown gaps and all that jazz.
Not today. Continuing a trend, Sam Bradford and Steven Jackson highlighted a solid start that gave the Rams a rare 14-0 lead as the time expired in the first quarter. Donovan McNabb and Washington then took advantage of the usual errors to score 16 unanswered points. As the clock ticked off the second quarter, everything seemed painfully familiar.
I'd like to know what head coach Steve Spagnuolo or any of the veteran players said in the locker room during half time. So far this season, fans and pundits hammered the Rams for failing to make adjustments at the half, as if there were some magical tweak of the playbook, a mystical hidden gap discovered that could turn the tide of the general poor execution that was really plaguing this team.
3k and I put much of that on the coaches. It wasn't some simple adjustment, it was just expecting players to play smart and play hard. The later was never a problem, but you wondered about the former. W
Whatever was said and whoever said it, did a damn fine job. The second half started with a quick Washington field goal that made it 16-14. Then the Rams got the ball. Bradford, working without Steven Jackson (God, the sports cliche almost writes iteself: hero out, greenhorns win the game), led the offense down the field for a touch down. The turning point came on third-and-10, after incomplete passes to Gibson and Gilyard, Bradford connects with Daniel Fells for 12 yards and a first down. They converted another third-and-long and scored on the very next play.
The Rams owned the game from that point on, getting a much needed win and finally passing a major roadblock in their progress.
Sam Bradford gets the game ball here. Rookie QBs aren't supposed to do that without a marquee running back. He did. Spagnuolo and the much-malaigned Pat Shurmur turned it over to the skinny kid from Oklahoma who called the plays based on what he saw on the field. Time and again, he put the ball precisely into the hands of his receivers just behind the mass of Washington players crowded at the line, executing Jim Haslett's aggressive defense. That's why you pick a player like Bradford first overall.
The whole team deserves credit. Playing shorthanded and against the odds, the Rams finished the game looking like a different team than the group that lost to Oakland last week. I highly recommend you go back and watch some video, pay particular attention to the body language of the players, the steeled glaze over their eyes and the primal expressions that go with the thoughtless, perfect execution of their roles.
The St. Louis Rams might not be ticketed for a championship in 2010, but they turned a corner with today's win. No more can you wonder if this team, this 6 wins in 3 years bunch, knows how to win a game. Spagnuolo and Bradford led this bunch to victory today. Things won't and can't be the same ever again.
Welcome to the new, new era of St. Louis Rams football.