Even as recently as yesterday, you would have been hard pressed to find anyone who gave the St. Louis Rams a chance against the New Orleans Saints this week, myself included. All season, the Rams have been flat and uninspired, forcing fans to slog with them through six consecutive losses, losses in which they never had a chance. And then they beat the Saints, a team coming off a 62-7 win the week before. How did they do it? If you're looking for an easy answer it's Steven Jackson.
Jackson ran like a man possessed, like a man sick of playing for losing teams, which he has through most of his career in St. Louis. Following the Dallas loss, Jackson came as close the tactful leader could to calling out his teammates for their lousy play. It must have worked. Not perfect, the Rams offense still found a way to make it happen, particularly in the running game. Jackson could be seen giving Rodger Saffold the business after the Rams' tackle jumped offsides on a key fourth quarter drive. Following that, Jackson was rallying his teammates on the sideline, oozing the kind of passion missing from this team all season long.
On the other side of the ball, the Rams defense played their best game of the last two seasons. Undeterred by injuries, the front four applied constant pressure, reminiscent of what Steve Spagnuolo did to Tom Brady in the Super Bowl that put him on the short list for head coaching jobs five years ago. The whole unit stepped up, but nobody had a better day than Chris Long with three sacks...except for maybe rookie Robert Quinn. All week, the cesspool of local sports talk radio started openly to wonder whether or not the first-round pick was a bust. Quinn was disruptive all day, but nothing stood out more than his sack and blocked punt that proved to be key plays for the Rams today.
James Laurinaitis and the linebackers had their best game of the season, despite this being a matchup that should have been their toughest of the year.
But we can talk schemes and plays later. This moment is for celebrating. The Rams needed a win in the worst possible way, like they have since the second week of the season. They dug deep and found a way to do it. Give them credit; they deserve it.