The preseason is now three-quarters of the way over, and the St. Louis Rams are still winless. But that's okay. Denver's Saturday win, 27-26, was decided in the second half, a battle of the backups. In the first half, it the starters limited Peyton Manning to a single touchdown and the defense and special teams helped put the Rams up 20-10 at the half.
Tavon Austin is fast
Yes, that's intentionally understated. My homage to the dry British humour that was on late night PBS in my youth. We still haven't seen much of Austin in the offense; I have to think that's an intentional decision by the Rams. I also still think that we're maybe setting expectations too high for the rookie, who obviously faces a learning curve against NFL linebackers and defensive backs, who are nothing like the ghost defenses of the Big 12.
But his impact on special teams could really be something else, especially for a team that had one of the worst average starting field positions in the league last year. Here he is pointing the way.
No answers for Manning
Sometimes you can defend all you want, but there's no stopping Peyton Manning. His touchdown in the first quarter was an exact replica of Joe Montana's famous play "The Catch," a split right option that even started with Manning calling an audible at the line, "Montana, Montana" he said.
Big things for Bradford-Cook combo?
I'll have to admit, his first quarter touchdown to Jared Cook surprised me. Not that I didn't think it could happen, but it happened so fast. That's good because Cook moves fast, jumps high and makes nice catches ... just like he did on this touchdown, the only time the starting offense crossed the goal line.
Alec's big breakout
Alec Ogletree had a rough start to the game. His first quarter was plagued by missed tackles and blown assignments. The Broncos had the Rams starting defense reeling with the no huddle, hurry up offense. That was the story in the second quarter too, but it was a different chapter entirely for Ogletree.
He finished the game with six tackles, two for a loss, an interception, two passes defensed and a fumble recovery for a touchdown.
More rookie moments
Safety T.J. McDonald had his ups and downs in the game too. But blocking a field goal on special teams is a great to way to get a big highlight on the plus side of the ledger.
And how about Ray Ray Armstrong? There's no way this kid isn't making the final 53-man roster.
And then there was this interception from undrafted rookie Darren Woodard.
The coach is pleased
Jeff Fisher had to be pleased, overall, with his team's progress. His sideline reactions were priceless.
Yes, yes, exxxxxcellent.
The Rams dropped to 0-3 in the preseason, but it's the preseason. Does Jeff Fisher look like he's upset? Nope. The Rams made progress, so take a note from future roster cut Kellen Clemens, do a little pirouette and be happy.
(h/t to the incomparable Daniel Doelling for the GIFs)