CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 13: Head coach Steve Spagnuolo of the St. Louis Rams (L) and head coach Pat Shurmur of the Cleveland Browns talk before the game at Cleveland Browns Stadium on November 13, 2011 in Cleveland, Ohio. (Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images)
The St. Louis Rams picked up their second win of the season in spite of a handful of key injuries, struggling play from Sam Bradford and another uninspired offensive performance. Nevertheless, a win is a win, and the Rams will take it. The win also staves off the reaper for Steve Spagnuolo, the Rams' embattled head coach, for at least another week. It was the first win of the season for Bradford.
A few quick observations from the Rams' 13-12 win:
Defensive play slid a little in this game compared to their previous two outings. Injuries were a factor today. Losing safety Darian Stewart hurt, forcing Criag Dahl into the game. The Rams' backup safety hurt them in run support and gave up a 54-yard pass to Greg Little. Nevertheless, the defense managed to make key stops inside the red zone, with a little help from the Browns, and certainly did enough to give the Rams a chance to win the game. This group struggles with speed.
Sam Bradford continues to struggle. His timing and accuracy were way off in this game. He was pressured some later in the game with starting left tackle Rodger Saffold leaving the game with a head injury. Bradford continues to show some toughness, shaking off a big hit to get back in the game after one play. He also has a nice connection with Brandon Lloyd, but with his timing and accuracy so far off, it failed to produce much in the second half of the game. This is the most concerning issue the Rams have right now, and I'm even more convinced after this game that the team made a huge mistake in not brining in a quarterbacks coach.
Steven Jackson is the Rams' most valuable player. He ran with purpose today, and the coaching staff is clearly leaning on him right now. He topped the 100-yard mark for the third consecutive game.
Special teams play was huge today, as you might have guessed since a botched field goal essentially handed the Rams the game. Stripping Josh Cribbs on a fourth quarter punt return helped the Rams hang on to the lead. Credit newly added linebacker David Nixon for the forced fumble. That turnover resulted in the game-winning field goal.
Head coach Steve Spagnuolo probably staved off a pink slip with the win, despite the ugly way in which it happened. At the very least, he can point to solid play from his defense.
Ugly or not, the Rams did win on the road for the first time this season and the first time since week 13 last year.