Preseason or not, the St. Louis Rams earned a meaningful win against the Kansas City Chiefs. That was win number three for the Rams for the preseason. Temper your excitement. The Rams are now 9-2 in preseason play under head coach Steve Spagnuolo; their regular season record is 8-24.
Leave the macro numbers aside for now. Let's focus instead on some smaller numbers from last night's game. The stats that stood out, after the jump.
2/2, 100 percent
Bradford took his team into the red zone twice last night (the other QBs did not), and scored a touchdown each time. St. Louis has scored 7 touchdowns on 8 red zone appearances through the preseason. That bodes well for a team that struggled mightily inside the twenty last year, next to last for the entire league.
Led by Steven Jackson, the Rams averaged 4.9 yards on 25 carries in the first half, against the Chiefs' starters. Jackson averaged 4.8 YPC himself. Last year, Jackson averaged 3.8 YPC and the team had a 3.7 YPC, tied for second worst in the league. The addition of Harvey Dahl at right guard looks to be paying dividends already. For all the talk about how much McDaniels' offenses pass the ball, don't be surprised to see the Rams grind it out on the ground when they can.
3/14, 21 percent
The Rams defense continued to limit third down conversions, a notable trait carried over from last year. Holding the Chiefs to a field goal after getting the ball on the 7-yard line was the highlight of the night.
Controlling the clock was something the Rams offense did a nice job of last year. With the ball in hand for almost two-thirds of the entire first half, the Rams picked up where they left off, except they had touchdowns to show for it, unlike last year.
Last week, the story of the game was the defense's inability to stop the run. This week, they held the Chiefs to 2.3 YPC on just 6 first half rushing attempts. Time of possession figured heavily into that, and the Chiefs were forced to pass more with fewer series and finding themselves down by 14 points after two Rams possessions in the first quarter. Spagnuolo's defense is built for a passing league. By limiting the threat on the ground and forcing opponents to throw the ball more, the unit can be brutally efficient.
Only undrafted rookie cornerback Dionte Dinkins came away from the game with what looks like a serious injury. Brandon Gibson left after a collision with Steven Jackson, but it sounds minor. Limiting injuries is the most important, unstated goal of the preseason.