A road win, and against a division rival no less! The Rams started out slow, but showed sparks on offense without Danny Amendola being a big part of the game plan. I have to tip my hat to the much maligned Arizona Cardinals offensive line. They gave rookie quarterback Ryan Lindley the time to throw, but the Rams' defense picked him off 4 TIMES, to break a 54 day turnover drought.
There were positives across the board for a Rams team playing a tough opponent in their home stadium. Sam Bradford only passed the ball 17 times, completing 9 for 209 yards, 2 touchdowns and one interception. He looked sharp, and showed some toughness when he was hurt by staying out only a single play before returning to the field.
Let's take a look at how the Rams played:
The Rams defensive line didn't get nine quarterback sacks like they did when these two teams last met, but it was easy to tell they were in "stop the run" mode. Both Quinn and Long played closer in by the defensive tackles to remove the huge holes in the DE/DT gap other teams have been running through most of the year. With a rookie quarterback, they really didn't start going after him until the second half. While they only tallied two sacks on the day, Lindley felt pressure the entire second half.
The Rams secondary broke the turnover drought in a big way. Led by Janoris Jenkins - who had two interception he returned for touchdowns - they virtually blanketed Arizona's Larry Fitzgerald. While they allowed Lindley to pass for 312 yards (31 completions on 52 attempts), the greater majority of the passes were "dink and dunk". Craig Dahl actually intercepted a pass too. Huzzah! The unit definitely found their lost mojo today.
Jeff Fisher and his staff lined out a perfect game plan. They hit Arizona hard on the ground, and selected their passing opportunities with care. Brian Schottenheimer finally found the rushing game he promised before the season started, and half time adjustments were evident and well executed. Stellar across the board for a coaching staff that had been out coached several times this year. Take a bow Mr. Fisher. The team today is the one that showed fans both improvement and future possibilities.
The Rams special teams... Nope, I'm sorry, but even in this win they showed serious problems. Greg Zuerlein can forget about being called "Legatron" ever again after he missed a chip shot field goal. Johnny Hekker punted well, but only averaged 43.2 yards per kick. Arizona's Patrick Peterson almost broke two punt returns too. This unit needs serious work.
Steven Jackson, and his boy wonder Daryl Richardson were flat out stellar. Jackson rushed for 139 yards on 24 carries, while young Daryl added another 32 yards, while having another 40+ yards called back due to penalties. This is a great running back duo. Arizona's defense was battered by Jackson's bruising running style. He broke two runs for long gains by shedding tackles by an otherwise talented defense. I guarantee San Francisco will be groaning with the thought of this one-two punch coming their way next week.