Year after year under Head Coach Jeff Fisher, the Rams were given the “on the bubble” preseason rank and year after year, idiots like me thought, “This is it, baby. This is the year the Rams make the playoffs.”
The Week 1 game against the Seattle Seahawks in 2015 was a game that completely put me over the edge on this new Rams team, one that made a blockbuster trade in the spring that brought in QB Nick Foles for shipped-off QB Sam Bradford.
It made my impenetrable belief that these St. Louis Rams were for real this time. Perhaps even stronger.
It also strengthened my delusion in this God-forsaken team.
So, let’s look back at one of the best games of 2015.
The best play of the game
Seattle was fresh off a Super Bowl loss to the New England Patriots, a defeat that came by way of a late-game interception thrown by QB Russell Wilson at the two-yard line. The entire off-season, the country roasted Seahawks Head Coach Pete Carroll for not giving HB Marshawn Lynch the rock.
So, learning from his mistakes, Carroll called for a running play to Lynch when the Seahawks faced a pivotal fourth-down in overtime.
And guess what happened?
Aaron Donald, baby.
Prior to the tackle, the defense wasn’t much help throughout the course of the game. Sure, they sacked Wilson six times, but the pass-defense allowed Wilson to complete 32 of his 41 pass attempts. The run defense allowed 124 yards. The Seahawks were nearly 50% on third-down and were 1-for-1 on fourth-down prior to the final play.
In fact, the defense is what allowed Seattle to come back in the game after St. Louis took a two-possession lead.
Later in the fourth quarter, S T.J. McDonald allowed TE Jimmy Graham to make a seven-yard touchdown catch to cut St. Louis’ lead to five points. A two-point conversion rush from Lynch made it a three-point game.
The height of Nick Foles
Foles played better than I expected him to heading into this game. He was without a running game. His offensive line was bad, at best. The offense was “meh.” There wasn’t a whole lot going for him.
But he managed to make gold out of a turd. Foles threw for 297 yards and a touchdown while completing 18 of his 27 passes. including this gem to TE Jared Cook following the Seattle go-ahead field goal in the third quarter. It was such a good throw that Cook didn’t shove Foles back on the sideline afterward:
Foles’ finished that drive with a beautiful one-yard scramble to give St. Louis the lead:
Foles would come back late in the fourth quarter with the most pivotal throw of the game — a 37-yard touchdown pass to TE Lance Kendricks. Foles took advantage of S Dion Bailey’s fall and hit a wide-open Kendricks for the game-tying score.
Bailey was filling in for S Kam Chancellor, who was holding out for a new contract.
Austin was like a shooting star for the Rams — he didn’t come around often, but when he did, he was great.
For two seasons, everyone talked about “if only the Rams had someone who could properly use Tavon,” and this game seemed to be proof that Offensive Coordinator Frank Cignetti, Jr., was the guy who had figured it out.
Hindsight is 20/20, kids.
Austin’s first touchdown was a 16-yard run from the backfield — THE BACKFIELD — to tie the game, 7-7. That was the only time Austin’s use as a running back was an asset. His other three carries combined for a single yard.
The Rams’ offense was without RB Tre Mason who usurped RB Zac Stacy as the starting back and first-round pick Todd Gurley who was still recuperating from an ACL tear forcing the offense to rely on Austin, RB Benny Cunningham and RB Isaiah Pead.
Cunningham (16 rushes, 45 yards) and Austin were minimal rushers, and were used more effectively in the passing game.
Pead rushed twice for three yards and coughed up the football at the worst possible time. After Seattle cut the Rams’ fourth-quarter lead to three points, Pead fumbled the ball just outside the red-zone to give Seattle a chance to tie, which they did with about five minutes left in the game:
But Austin came through for the Rams again with a 75-yard punt return touchdown to give them a 10-point lead near the end of the third quarter:
What made this game great was not only how the Rams played but how they responded to terrible circumstances. The first offensive drive saw the Rams go three-and-out before punting inside their own five-yard line. But the team dug deep, made plays when they needed to and won their first game in the most thrilling fashion.
On a side note, please admire the fresh look of LB and special teams ace Daren Bates. Damn it if he isn’t the dopest looking guy on the team. Look at those glasses. Damn it, that’s fresh. I would have soiled myself if he wore a top hat.