I'll be honest- I felt like the stage was set early on. The Rams offense made it look like it was going to be a long year. Jared Cook was stripped at the goal line, resulting in zero points and a turnover. The Cardinals scored. Then the team sputtered it's way through the first half while chocking up penalty after penalty.
But then, things stared to turn around.
Bradford was stellar in his debut against the Cardinals. Sure, there are still plenty of things to work on (that late fumble was nerve-wracking). The offensive line had Bradford running around all night, but to his credit, he wasn't sacked once. Of course, besides his fluke tipped pass interception, Bradford's stat line was near perfect: 71% completion percentage, nearly 300 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Any time your QB rating is triple digits or above, you've had a good game.
What a turnaround. At first, it looked like every Tennessee Titans fan was right about Jared Cook...until they weren't.
Cook blew up. If you want to talk about breakout games, this was it. He's easily Bradford's favorite weapon and he's a definite mismatch whenever he takes the field. If he wouldn't have had his head in his ass the on that first catch, he could have had three touchdowns. Big, big game.
On the other side of the ball, the Rams had a so-so day. Palmer tore it up in the first half, with Larry Fitzgerald and co. annihilating the Rams soft zone coverage. But then things started to stiffen up and as a result, Robert Quinn had a field day against the Cardinals. Sacks? 3. Forced Fumbles? 2. Quarterbacks in pain? 1.
There simply was nothing they could do to stop Quinn, and the Rams suddenly have one of the best defensive lines in football. They were also stout against the run, something you haven't been able to say in years.
Now, for the not so good. I can understand unsportsmanlike calls against the Rams. They are the youngest team in the NFL; growing pains are going to be commonplace. The league has cracked down on those calls, especially for defensive players, and savvy veterans are on the lookout to draw that type of penalty.
Except Cortland Finnegan isn't a rookie. Far from it, in fact. He was burned multiple times by multiple receivers, and the Cardinals game plan to pick on him worked for almost the entire game. The simple fact is the Rams pay him too much money for him to play like that. You've got to step up your game, Finn.
Legatron! After last year, I was a little uneasy about him every time he took the field. He had a decent preseason, but you've always got that idea in the back of your head that the kicker will miss. He didn't. He drilled every shot, including the game winner.
No complaints here.
- TJ McDonald and Rodney McLeod made a good- but far from perfect- safety tandem. TJ can hit!
- Chris Givens was completely neutralized by Patrick Peterson.
- Brian Schottenheimer had a so-so day calling plays. The Rams simply didn't have time for any gadget plays against the swarming Cardinals defense. Jeff Fisher made a questionable challenge call as well.
- I still don't get the soft coverage. It just doesn't work, so why stick with it?
- Trumaine Johnson had a nice interception. Hopefully he's out of the doghouse?