As a whole, the St. Louis Rams defense didn't exactly have their best game of the season. They started a little slow, letting Denver get out to a 10 point lead, and finished in a similar manner, as Denver's passing game chewed up yards and put 20 4th-quarter points on the board.
Nevertheless, they held the line when they had to. In fact, I think you'd have a hard time finding a more impressive stand by the defense than on the Broncos' last possession of the game, a do-or-die situation with 1:06 left on the clock and Denver on their own 34-yard line. Remember, they only needed a field goal to tie the game, and in case you didn't think one minute was enough, recall that they scored a TD in just 1:01 on a 3 play drive spanning the third and fourth quarters.
And with the game on the line, it was Chris Long and James Laurinaitis that stepped up and made the plays to end Denver's comeback and preserve a Rams win.
First, it was Chris Long with a sack on first down, setting up second-and-16.
Then, it looked as though Kyle Orton had done it, connecting with TE Daniel Graham on a deep pass over the middle, one that would have given them a new set of downs and put them that much close to a field goal range. Instead, MLB James Laurinaitis broke up the pass.
Chris Long ended it on fourth down, fourth-and-16 no longer spelling certain doom for opponents, with a hit on Kyle Orton that ended the game.
For James Laurinaitis, a nail biting ending like that is just part of the game, even a desirable situation for a defender to face. From his appearance on KFNS today:
Oh man. I don't want to say we were nervous but it definitely made it interesting. We knew that at halftime, coming out we were just saying ‘hey this is going to be on the defense to win it.' Now did we think it was going to get within three points, them have pretty solid field position, and all that? No, but I think the way you have to approach those games is as a defensive player you love to be in those situations. We have been in those situations and we haven't come up on the plus side. This time we do, which was good for us. As a defensive player we were just saying before that drive ‘hey this is what we play football for. As long as we're in the NFL we want to be in these kinds of games.
"love to be in those situations" That's exactly the kind of player you want captaining the Rams defense. With that kind of mentality at the helm, you can only imagine what this unit will look like next year, not to mention the rest of the season.