Nothing like a bit of preseason football to remind you that you hate preseason football.
Sigh.....well, let's recap.
The Browns started fast out of the gate, but the Rams were able to hold them to a field goal after a goal line stand. 3-0 Browns.
The Rams offense got the ball, and starting driving down the field, but then Isaiah Pead fumbled the ball at the Brown's 28 yard line. The Rams running back battle is very tight, and every play matters. Pead would really like this play back, but he did bounce back nicely later in the game, and even did very well in pass protection.
Also on that drive, Roger Saffold was injured. He went down with an injury to his shoulder, but the X-Rays came back negative. He may miss some time, but it appears that the Rams were very fortunate that this wasn't a more serious injury.
Cleveland then got the ball back, and they went on yet another drive using short passing. They carved up the Rams first team defense for 74 yards on 10 plays and finished it with a touchdown to Dion Lewis. 10-0 Browns.
Alec Ogletree had a pretty poor drive. He was caught watching the TE instead of covering him, and Jeff Cameron was able to run the sideline for 30 yards. It's only the preseason, and Alec Ogletree will be able to use this as a learning moment. They aren't scared of him in the NFL and he will have to be ready for it.
After the Browns finished off their drive for a touchdown, the Rams got the ball back and went three and out. Johnny Hekker came on the field to punt, and hit a booming punt. In fact he kicked it so far that he outkicked his coverage and the Browns returned it 90 yards for a touchdown. 17-0 Browns.
The refs missed an easy holding call on Eugene Sims on the play. I guess the referees need the preseason too.
The Rams offense answered back. Sam Bradford unleashed a perfect deep ball to Chris Givens for 59 yards.
Daryl Richardson followed this play up with two solid runs to set up Sam Bradford's 3 yard touchdown to Chris Givens. It was a great play design. The first WR forced the zone defense of the Browns left, and this opened up a passing lane for Bradford. Easy TD. 17-7 Browns
The 2nd team players for both teams took over from here. The Browns had another long drive (12 plays) and were able to drive into Rams territory again. They ended up settling for a FG. 20-7 Browns.
Austin Davis took over for the Rams and QB. The Rams went three and out as Austin Davis threw high to Nick Johnson on 3rd down.
The Rams were able to force a three and out thanks to Eugene Sims getting the first sack of the game for St. Louis.
The defense left the offense 1:52 to score before the half. And score they did. Stedman Bailey showed off his soft hands on two straight plays, gaining 23 yards. Austin Davis was then able to connect with Brian Quick for 16 yards to set up the Rams for a 55 yard FG try. A chip shot for Greg Zuerlein, 20-10 Browns at the half.
The Rams started with the ball and were able to drive to mid-field. Brian Quick made an excellent play for a 16 yard gain, catching the ball between two defenders, but the play was called back for holding. The Rams stalled and punted.
The Rams defense followed up with a quick three and out to get the ball back. The Rams were able to drive into FG range thanks to a pass interference call on the Browns, and a few good runs by rookie Zac Stacy. The way Stacy keeps moving his feet reminds me of Jamal Lewis. He's tough to bring down and he keeps moving forward.
Another 55 yard FG from Zuerlein 20-13 Browns.
The Browns yet again had a 10+ play drive to get into FG range, where Brandon Bogotay missed wide left from 54 yards. The Browns used a pretty vanilla game plan, as most team do during the first preseason game, but the Rams defense wasn't able to limit the gains as their tackling was very poor. With the new practice rules limiting contact in training camp, I expect his to be a theme throughout the NFL. If you can't really practice tackling anymore, tackling will naturally get worse.
The Rams were able to drive to Cleveland's 25, in large part because of a nice catch by Raymond Radway for 20 yards. Radway finished the night with 3 catches for 78 yards and a touchdown and turned some heads.
The Rams went for it on forth down but the Rams 2nd string offensive line continue their struggles and Austin Davis had to scramble, but was tackled short of the first down.
Brian Hoyer continued to play well and lead the Browns into Rams territory. It was another long drive. The Rams defense was unable to find ways to get the Browns off the field in this game, and struggled on third down. Granted their scheme was rather basic, and didn't include many blitzes, but the Rams will have to find a way to improve here.
The Browns punted and the Rams took over. Kellen Clemens checked in at QB with seven minutes left after a rather bad performance from Austin Davis. St. Louis picked up a couple of first downs, but Kellen Clemens was intercepted to end the drive on a tipped pass at the line.
This lead to a Browns touchdown on a play with a blown coverage by the Rams defense. I blame Craig Dahl on principle. 27-13 Browns.
With 3:00 left the Rams got the ball back down by 14. Kellen Clemens scrambled to his right, and was able to find Raymond Radway on a broken play. Radway turned it up the sidelines and didn't stop running until he was in the endzone. 53 yard Rams TD.
The Rams went for two, because Jeff Fisher did not want the game to go to overtime. The short pass to Radway was batted down. 27-19 Rams.
Cleveland ran the clock down to one minute, and the Rams were given the chance to run a game winning drive with their third string players. Kellen Clemens really impressed on this drive. He was making good decisions, and was showing the arm to get it downfield.
Phil Lutzenkirchen made a beautiful catch to keep the drive alive for the Rams. I really like what he brings as a blocker. He will have a hard time finding a spot on the roster, but plays like these really help.
He delivered a perfect pass down the left sideline to Raymond Radway, that would have left the Rams within the five yard line, but it was dropped. It was a terrible drop, and Radway would love to have it back, but he still had a solid game.
The Rams were able to attempt a hail mary, but it was intercepted in the endzone. Game over. Browns win 27-19.
Sam Bradford looked great. The offensive line protected him, and he made accurate throws. His 59 yard pass to Givens was the highlight of the night.
Well hello Brian Quick. Nice to see you. Quick played big. He played physical and he made plays. If he can keep this up, he could have a big role with the Rams this season.
Tavon Austin didn't see the ball much to the disappointment of Rams fans. There was one pass attempted his way, but coverage was tight and the throw was long. He was in the game for a punt return, but the Browns kicked it short. Looks like we will have to wait until next Saturday everyone.
Austin Davis has some nice touch, but his accuracy is questionable and his arm strength is lacking. I don't feel comfortable with him playing in the regular season at all. Kellen Clemens was much more impressive. Davis is supposed to be the 2nd string QB, but tonight he played poorly.
Keep on keeping on Chris Givens. He looks poised for a possible breakout year.
All in all, there were some things that went badly, and things that went well, but it's the first game of the preseason. The team will look at the film and fix what wrong. The team was running very basic scheme on both offense and defense. The game was simply the first chance to see our players in action against another team.
We will have more for you tomorrow here on TST, but for now, just be happy that Rams football is back!