There is a small part of me that will miss the increased social media presence Chris Long's time on the IR created. Not only is Long one of my favorite football players, but he is hands down my favorite follow on Twitter. If you don't follow Chris, you need to look him up at @JOEL9ONE. Chris spent his downtime crushing Twitter much the way he has spent his Rams tenure crushing quarterbacks. As entertaining as he is online, it is clear the place he is truly in his element is on a football field.
According to unofficial statistics, Chris Long played 38 defensive snaps in his first game back, which was roughly 50% of the total defensive snaps for the game. Despite a relatively limited role as he eases his way back into playing shape, he managed to post an impressive statline. Long was credited with 6 tackles, 2 tackles for loss, 1 fumble recovery, 2 QB pressures, and 1 QB sack. Not too bad of a day at the office for a guy playing in a limited role, even more impressive when you consider he hadn't been active in an NFL game for nearly 3 months.
The overall productivity of the defensive line also seemed to get a boost from Long's return. While the Raiders overall record has been less than stellar, rookie QB David Carr had only been sacked 12 times entering the game. While not all the sacks came against Carr, the Rams defense managed to pile up 6 sacks and seemingly constant pressure on the Raiders signal callers. Those 6 sacks (3 from Robert Quinn) included 2 strip sacks, one of which resulted in a recovery by Long himself. The Rams defensive line dominated the line of scrimmage, and the constant pressure helped create the three interceptions pulled in by the Rams defensive backs.
While it wouldn't be fair to point to Long's return as the catalyst for the teams first shutout since 2006, I would certainly make that joke in the locker room if I were him. The emergence of Aaron Donald coupled with the outside rush ability of Long and Quinn just may see the dominant "Sack City" we all hoped for over the remainder of the season. In honor of Long's return here is some classic rock gold for your listening pleasure.
Thanks for reading and as always, Go Rams!!!