Shaun Hill wasn't spectacular on the day, but he didn't need to be. Every other facet of the team succeeded leaving him a doable job in just not losing the game singlehandedly. The two throws to Kenny Britt in the first quarter, the first a 33-yard stretch toss thrown behind Britt and the second the 63-yard touchdown, helped him rise above a mediocre showing. Aside from those two, Hill went 18/27 for 124 yards.
Finally, a working rushing attack! The Rams leaned on Tre Mason to help prop up the passing game, and it led to sufficient results. Mason topped 100 yards, though it took a heavy workload to get there. The real impact though was in moving the chains, extending drives and wearing down the Broncos' defense in the field position & field goal battle. Even without the Britt touchdown, the Rams would've won this game on the back of Mason, the offensive line, the defensive effort and Greg Zuerlein. Credit to Mason for plugging away all game...and credit to the coaching staff for letting him.
Hill wore down late, but the receivers gave him workable windows. Obviously, the early Britt plays stand out, but there was a sprinkling of plays here and there to keep the defense honest.
This wasn't their flashiest game, but it was one of their best thus far. The Rams pushed the running game over the top, and the tight ends were part of the reason why it worked,
Forget the three sacks. The line won the point of attack often enough to take over the game in the second half. They weren't dominant, but they got close.
You could say the same thing about the defensive line; they weren't dominant, but they too were close. Robert Quinn made it tough for Ryan Clady to anchor Peyton's blind side. The Broncos schemed for as much, but the rest of the line kept Manning from being able to wait for much to develop downfield. He put up 389 yards through the air, but it took him 54 passes to get there. Much of the reason why goes to the line for forcing him to play the underneath game that didn't end up getting them much.
Best game of the year for James Laurinaitis and Alec Ogletree, hands down. With the Broncos avoiding the run and Manning passing almost exclusively to the short middle of the field, it was on Laurinaitis and Tree to snuff out easy pickups of chunks of yardage. They did just that time and time again.
They were physical, they were smart and, outside of the miscommunication on the touchdown (which would be just great if we stopped doing that...), they were technically sound. With all the passes, you'd think there would've been more penalties just on volume alone. That there weren't speaks well to this group maturing and learning to play together.
Would've been an A+ had the Rams gotten more out of the return game, but everything else was perfect. Greg Zuerlein was money in the field goal game. Johnny Hekker continues to look the part of an annual Pro Bowl selection. And coverage was great, especially two standout plays by Maurice Alexander. This was a complete game, and special teams played a significant part.
Everything came together on the field, but the plan for the Broncos was a perfect fit. The offense was tailored to not ask Shaun Hill to do too much while the defense was set up perfectly to stymie one of the NFL's best passing offenses. It's rare to see any team scheme so well for an opponent for 60 minutes. It's even rarer to see the Rams do it.
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