Slam. That was supposed to be the sound of St. Louis Rams QB Sam Bradford hitting the rookie wall. Instead, it's the sound of internet meme crashing.
Last week, after three poor outings, Trent Dilfer, ESPN analyst and living proof that blind squirrels do occasionally find nuts, was on local sports talk radio discussing Bradford's putrid December. He noted that opposing teams were locked on to Bradford, defending him rather than the offense. Rookie wall, meet Sam Bradford.
To get the offense moving again, the Rams needed to adjust, and they needed for their rookie QB to find his magic again. Bradford completed 75 percent of his passes, at one point completing nine in a row during a 14-for-15 stretch that ended with his TD pass to Laurent Robinson.
He again worked his magic in the no-huddle offense, improvising with what the 49ers defense gave him. His TD to Laurent Robinson was a study in improvisation, as his intended target, a TE on the left side, was covered, and he rolled out to find Robinson in the end zone.
The Rams opened with a heavy dose of Steven Jackson, but poor blocking and a stacked box limited the gains they could make on the ground. Bradford had to step up to make it happen, especially after a couple of lapses let the 49ers get a half time lead. That's exactly what he did. After three weeks of no touchdown passes and 5 interceptions, Bradford beat the 49ers convincingly, finishing with a 107.0 QB rating, surpassing Peyton Manning for the record number of completions by a rookie and likely cementing a win for the NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year award.
The truth is that Dilfer was probably a little right, at least in the sense that opponents were building their game plans around a stacked box and taking away Bradford's arm by applying pressure and locking up receivers in coverage. But Bradford and the Rams coaches found a way to work around that. That's a big deal.