The Rams HAVE turned a corner...
... Anyone who doesn't think so has their heads where the moon doesn't shine. Yes, they're a young team, who at time make pitiful penalty mistakes, but DAMN! The St. Louis Rams played hard nosed football today against their arch rival the San Francisco 49ers. In what looked to be a Rams-49ers version of "Ground Hog Day", the game almost wound up in a tie again. But there was no tie. Instead, there was a win by an up and coming team over one of the best there is in the NFL.
Most 49ers fans thought their team was flat in the first game of this twice a year match up. I knew that wasn't the case. These teams will ALWAYS play hard against one another. While the record of wins/losses over the past decade have favored the 49ers, the history of this match up has been crushingly even. This win should show younger fans of both teams that this rivalry is alive and flourishing.
Let's take a look at a list of players who made a difference in the biggest game of the year for the St. Louis Rams...
The Rams offensive line was flat out stellar today. Paul Boudreau may be the most sought after assistant coach this off season. He's been a miracle worker all year long, and in this game his ability to find the best in his linemen came through. Against the best defensive unit in the NFL, the Rams offensive line stood tall and knocked heads the entire game. Sam Bradford was only sacked twice, and on most passing plays in the second half had all day to throw the ball. Game balls for this entire unit and coach Boudreau.
Janoris Jenkins is going to be special. He's going to be one of those cardiac corner backs who'll have Rams fans on the edge of their seats every game. He scored his third touchdown in two weeks today, and I can't say enough about how he's growing into his role as an NFL defensive back.
I can honestly put forward that the Rams have a Top 5 corner back duo in Jenkins and Finnegan. In fact, Finnegan may be the best free agent signing for the Rams in the last decade. I'm in awe of these two...
Craig Dahl has suffered from fan abuse all season long. Hell, I probably lead the pack of said abusers, and after this game I'm beginning to wonder if I've been wrong. Jeff Fisher keeps Dahl on the field to tackle, not cover receivers, and today he earned his money hands down. In at least three instances Dahl prevented long gains by Frank Gore with sure tackling skills. While pass coverage would be a great plus, against a team like the 49ers a player like Dahl was key to the victory today.
The Rams defensive line flat out smashed one of the best offensive lines in the NFL in the mouth all game long. Brockers, Hayes, Langford, Cudjo, Sims, and Long contained Colin Kaepernick for the majority of the day. His lone long run was the result of a scramble and I'll give them a pass on the play. The rest of the game the Rams line flat out dominated the run-heavy 49ers. This game was won in the trenches by the Rams. Odd stat of the day: Robert Quinn didn't have a sack or tackle the entire game.
Sam Bradford played a solid game today. OK, so he didn't pass for 400 yards or hit Chris Givens on a bomb, but that wasn't going to happen against a team like the 49ers. He stood tough and tall in the pocket the entire day. He even channeled a bit of Kaepernick with two key runs for first downs. In fact, Sam had a higher YPC than Kaepernick today. (Sam - 10.3 YPC, Kaepernick - 9.3 YPC). This game and the last one against the 49ers showed me who Sam Bradford can be. It cast light on what he's capable of doing at this point in his career, let alone the almost boundless ceiling he has a player.