Monday, December 10, 2012

Gibson Sparks Offense

by Nick Wagoner

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. – As the Rams offense retired to the locker room at halftime following a sluggish first half in which yards were difficult to come by, they began an immediate search for some kind of spark.
They didn’t much care where it came from but with usual spark plug Danny Amendola inactive again with a foot injury and the Bills taking great pains to shut down the run game and Steven Jackson, there was no doubt it would have to be a more unusual suspect.
Enter receiver Brandon Gibson. After finishing the first half with one catch for 10 yards on just two targets, Gibson took the reins.
“It was a huge jump start,” quarterback Sam Bradford said. “I think he went over 100 today or right at 100 today. We came in at halftime and knew we needed to make some adjustments. I thought Gibby did a great job getting open, creating after the catch too. The one third down I don’t know what he ran for after he caught it but that was huge just getting us down there on their side of the field.”
Indeed, Gibson became Bradford’s favorite target and finished with 100 yards on six catches and one gigantic, game-winning touchdown catch. In the final 30 minutes, Gibson had five catches for 90 yards and his production gave him his first career 100-yard game.
With Amendola out, the receivers and Bradford have insisted that filling the void is a group effort but that group still needs someone to lead the charge. As Gibson continued to find ways to make plays at the most important of times, his teammates followed his lead.
Austin Pettis made big plays, Chris Givens made big plays,Lance Kendricks made big plays and on and on.
“He didn’t get as many looks in the first half and as receivers we just know in the back of our heads that we have got to go out and make plays to help this offense move along and put points on the board,” Pettis said. “So I think it’s a testament to Gibby’s mental toughness to go out in the second half and play like a No. 1 receiver and carry us throughout the second half in the pass game.”
Givens’ role has only increased in recent weeks as the majority of Amendola’s looks have gone Givens’ way. That hasn’t left many chances for Gibson but as the longest tenured of the Rams wideouts, Gibson hasn’t let any of those things bother him in his pursuit to contribute.
“It’s not something I can worry about,” Gibson said. “All I can do is go out there and make sure I get open and week to week I try not to worry about getting the ball. I just want to be in the right spot when the right time comes.”
There was no better time than the second half Sunday after the Rams offense mustered just 71 total yards in the first half. Trailing 6-0 coming out for the third quarter, the Rams immediately put together their best drive of the day.
And no play on that drive was bigger than Gibson’s 22-yard catch and run to the Bills’ 25 on third-and-7. That helped set up Jackson’s 1-yard touchdown run and got the offense into something of a rhythm.
Still, it was the big plays on the final drive that mattered most.
“We knew it was probably going to come down to the last drive,” Gibson said. “We kind of sputtered around the first half and coming up with points was big, we have to do a better job of that and winning on third down so those are our goals and we’ll just continue to get better at it.”
On the game-winning drive, Gibson narrowly missed a chance for a big play down the left sideline before bouncing back with a catch for 15 yards on third-and-10 to Buffalo’s 13.
Two plays later, Gibson squeezed the winning touchdown in the back of the end zone and helped set off a wild celebration.
“This is huge for Gibby,” Jackson said. “This season alone is huge for Gibby. When you have a guy that continues to grow each year…I think we have seen that and from when we traded for him and got him from Philadelphia, we have seen Gibby grow. This is a huge year for him and I am happy for him. He’s showing up at big times.”
RUN DOWN: The top priority for the Rams defense all week was slowing down the Bills’ fourth-ranked rushing attack led by the two-headed monster of C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson.
There was further motivational fuel thrown into the mix during the week when one of the backs appeared on a talk back and made mention of a targeted number for fantasy production against the Rams.
Defensive tackle Michael Brockers and Co. didn’t take too kindly to that.
“It was a motivation thing,” Brockers said. “On Friday, we watched first take or whatever it was and he said he wanted 15 fantasy points and that wasn’t for us. We wanted to meet the challenge of stopping the run and keeping him in the backfield. I think that’s where we were in motivation.”
Whatever the additional motivation, the Rams defense absolutely answered the bell in shutting down Buffalo’s vaunted rush attack. The Bills finished with 61 yards on 20 carries with nothing longer than a 14-yard burst from Jackson.
Jackson finished with 14 yards on nine carries and Spiller added 37 yards on seven totes.
Defensive tackle Kendall Langford said the defensive line put it on itself to slow down Spiller and Jackson.
“Just dominate up front,” Langford said. “Our front had to be better than their front. D line better than their O line and out tough them. I think we did a good job of that.”
INJURY REPORT: For the most part, the Rams made it through Sunday’s game relatively healthy but did have a couple of losses that will have to be monitored this week.
Safety Craig Dahl left the game with a concussion and did not return. Darian Stewart replaced Dahl and posted three tackles. Dahl will have to go through the normal battery of tests before he is cleared to return this week.
Left tackle Rodger Saffold was in and out of the game with back spasms.Wayne Hunter filled in for him but Saffold was able to make it through. His status will be clearer as the week goes on but coach Jeff Fisher offered a short take on the matter.
“He just had a hard day,” Fisher said, acknowledging that Saffold would be OK.
IN THE HUNT: With three games to go in the season, the Rams remain right in the hunt for a playoff spot but didn’t get much help from their NFC counterparts on Sunday.
Teams still in the mix with them such as Seattle, Washington, Dallas and Minnesota all won but the Rams do play the Vikings, Seahawks and Tampa Bay in the final three games.
While the Rams are pleased with their progress, they know they can only focus on continuing to take care of business to have a legitimate shot when the dust settles.
“It’s a big turnaround from last year from 2-14 to 6-6-1,” Brockers said. “We have beaten some really good teams this year. We are still in the hunt but it’s an every week thing for us to try to win every game. We have to win one game at a time and try to come out next week and feed off this game.”

Monday, December 3, 2012

49ers vs. Rams: Janoris Jenkins' Defensive Touchdown Saves St. Louis' Season

From the Bleacher Report

Heading into Week 12, the St. Louis Rams hadn't won a game since Week 5 of the season, and many thought their playoff hopes were dead in the water. Enter the outlook at the end of Week 13 and things have done a complete 180.
St. Louis is now 5-6-1 and in the thick of the NFC playoff hunt. After two wins in a row, the Rams are currently eying the division rival Seattle Seahawks for the No. 6 seed. They are still two games back because of Russell Wilson's late-game heroics at Soldier Field.
However, their four remaining contests are all winnable games from a record and talent standpoint. BuffaloTampa Bay and Seattle on the road with Minnesota at home—honestly, are any of those four teams any better than the Rams by a wide-margin?
Some would say Tampa Bay and Seattle, yet St. Louis is undefeated against the NFC West this season and Tampa Bay has had a hard time deciding whether or not they are pretenders or contenders. Moreover, it's also important the Rams don't lose focus and get ahead of themselves.
Jeff Fisher knows better than anyone that the league is truly a quarter-to-quarter league. Today's game against the 49ers is a perfect example of that analogy. Heading into halftime, Coach Fisher's club looked miserable, yet they never lost hope as they outscored San Francisco 16-6 in the second half.
The second half onslaught all started when the Rams failed to convert on offense deep into 49ers territory. On fourth-and-1 from the four-yard line, quarterback Sam Bradford tried to hit wide receiver Austin Pettis in the corner of the end zone, which would have cut the game to a one-score affair.
Unfortunately for the Rams, San Francisco cornerback Tarell Brown knocked the ball right out of Pettis' hands. A momentum swing appeared to turn in the 49ers favor, except a Colin Kaepernick intentional grounding penalty from the end zone handed St. Louis their first two points of the game, one drive later.
Not to mention the fact momentum was back in its favor. 
Fast forward to the fourth quarter when the Rams were down 10-2 with 3:04 left to play—it was third-and-3 from the 49ers own 17-yard line, and they were looking to run a pitch play to wide receiver Ted Ginn.
The play appeared as if it would have picked up the three yards needed to pick up the first down, yet a poor pitch from Kaepernick allowed Janoris Jenkins to fall on the ball and roll in the end zone from two yards out. The fourth-quarter touchdown marked his third defensive touchdown in the last two weeks.
Undoubtedly, it would be easy to say Greg Zuerlein's 54-yard field goal to win the game in overtime was the biggest play of the game, however he would have never even had the opportunity if it wasn't for Jenkins' scoop and score.
We all know Brian Schottenheimer's offense wasn't scoring a touchdown against Vic Fangio's defense without Danny Amendola.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Rookie Jenkins Sets Record

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Janoris Jenkins has been known to make headlines for the wrong reasons. Not this time.

No NFL rookie since 1960 and no Rams rookie ever accomplished what the young St. Louis cornerback did Sunday.

Jenkins, who slipped to the second round of the draft -- the 39th pick overall -- because of off-the-field issues during his college career, returned two interceptions for touchdowns and St. Louis dominated the second half to hand the Arizona Cardinals their seventh loss in a row, 31-17.

Arizona rookie Ryan Lindley was intercepted four times in his first NFL start.
Jenkins' returns of 36 and 39 yards emphatically ended the Rams' streak of five straight games without an opponent turnover.

"A big relief," he said of ending the takeaway drought. "I felt the defense came out and we played together."

The talented defender had slipped to the second round for the Rams after he was booted from the Florida team following a pair of marijuana-related incidents and finished his career at North Alabama. Then there was his acknowledgment that he fathered four children with three women.

Just two weeks ago, he and fellow rookie Chris Givens were inactive for the game against San Francisco for violating team rules.

All that was mere history on this big day.

"What a great game by Janoris," Rams defensive end Chris Long said. "I'm really proud of him. I'm happy for him. When you get one turnover for a score, your chances of winning go up exponentially, so if you get two, I don't know what the statistic is, but when you do it two times with the same player, it's pretty awesome."

Sam Bradford had a pair of 37-yard touchdown passes -- to Lance Kendricks and Givens -- for the Rams (4-6-1), who snapped a five-game winless streak and beat Arizona (4-7) for the second time this season.

The Rams' Steven Jackson rushed for 139 yards in 24 carries.

St. Louis outscored Arizona 17-0 in the second half.

Lindley, a sixth-round draft pick out of San Diego State and the third quarterback to start for Arizona this season, completed 31 of 52 for 312 yards and no touchdowns. The interceptions, especially the two returned for scores, outweighed anything else Lindley did.

"I think you just have to understand he's a young player and he's got to understand he can't make a couple of those throws, especially the last one that was returned for a touchdown," Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt said. "That was a bad throw because he had Larry (Fitzgerald) down the sidelines. He's just got to step up and put it up."

Beanie Wells, back after missing seven games with a turf toe injury, had TD runs of 1 and 12 yards for the Cardinals.

Arizona led 17-14 at the half on Jay Feely's 32-yard field goal as the second quarter ended.
The third quarter, though, belonged to the Rams.

With St. Louis pinned at its 8-yard line, Jackson ran 46 yards, doubling his previous longest gain of the season. Two plays later, Givens beat rookie Justin Bethel down the left sideline for a 37-yard scoring reception to give the Rams their first lead, 21-17, with 9:58 left in the quarter.

The Rams threatened to extend the lead when Lindley threw right into the hands of linebacker Harvey Dahl, who returned it 38 yards to the Arizona 12. But after a holding penalty, Greg Zuerlein's 35-yard field goal try was wide left.

The Cardinals weren't so fortunate on Lindley's next bad pass. The rookie underthrew Fitzgerald by 10 yards. Jenkins caught it and in a play almost identical to his earlier TD, raced down the right sideline for the score that made it 28-17.

Dahl's interception also came when Lindley missed Fitzgerald.

"Those two where I was going to Larry, the two picks, were just real mental mistakes," Lindley said. "It was things that, it's unexplainable right now, but I made a bad play. Larry is doing the right thing. I'm just off a little bit on something, rushing something, not trusting what I'm seeing out there."

With Lindley throwing short passes over the middle, the Cardinals went 91 yards in 15 plays on their first possession, using up 8:55 of the first quarter, to go up 7-0.

But on the first play of the second quarter, Jenkins stepped in front of intended receiver LaRod Stephens-Howling, intercepted the pass and ran untouched 36 yards to the end zone to tie it at 7-7.
Danny Amendola, who played despite a foot injury that prevented him from practicing all week, made a diving grab of Bradford's 38-yard pass to the Arizona 19 on St. Louis' next possession and two runs by Jackson put the ball on the Arizona 7. But Patrick Peterson picked off Bradford's pass over the middle in the end zone to end the threat.

Lindley's 25-yard pass to Rob Housler and Andre Roberts' 13-yard run set up Wells' 12-yard scoring run that put Arizona back on top 14-7.

The Rams tied it 14-all when Bradford threw over the middle to Kendricks, who rumbled into the end zone on a 37-yard scoring play with 1:53 left in the half.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Holder takes blame for delay of game penalty

by Jim Thomas

SAN FRANCISCO • Holder Johnny Hekker said he didn’t signal for the ball from long-snapper Jake McQuaide quickly enough in overtime, causing a delay of game that wiped out what would’ve been a game-winning 53-yard field goal by Greg Zuerlein.
“I let the delay happen,” said Hekker, who also is the Rams’ punter. “Greg said he gave me the hand sign with 4 seconds (on the play clock). We’ve never had a snap, a nod to ‘hand flash,’ take more than 4 seconds.
"I’m still kind of puzzled as to how that happened."
The 'hand flash' is Hekker's signal for McQuaide to snap the ball.
The Rams had timeouts available to stop the play clock before it ran out, but coach Jeff Fisher did nothing as the clock ticked down.
Earlier in the game, Hekker kept the Rams’ offense on the field with two successful passes on fake punts, completing a 21-yarder to Rodney McLeod late in the first half, and tossing a 19-yard pass to Lance Kendricks. The pass to Kendricks kept alive a drive that set up the Rams’ final touchdown in regulation.
But Hekker also shanked a punt that traveled 13 yards in the second quarter.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

'Terrible' Rams are royally beaten

LONDON • As Rams cornerback Cortland Finnegan so aptly put it: "Sometimes you're the bug, and sometimes you're the windshield."
It wasn't difficult to tell which was which Sunday night in Wembley Stadium.
The Rams got some sightseeing in during their weeklong stay in the England. Among other things, they saw the Tower of London, and the crown jewels, and Trafalgar Square. What they didn't see was that red, white, and blue truck — complete with windshield — otherwise known as the New England Patriots.
After a promising start, the Rams were outscored, outplayed and humiliated by the Patriots in a 45-7 loss before a sellout crowd of 84,004
It was a long way to go to play so poorly. The Rams, now losers of three in a row, fell to 3-5 and have an extra week to stew about it as they enter their bye before returning to action Nov. 11 at San Francisco.
"There's just days where you're going" to stink, defensive end Chris Long said. "And ... we were terrible. We were also playing a Hall of Famer. So it was a bad day to come out and be below average."
The Patriots, who pulled the future Hall of Famer — quarterback Tom Brady — with 8 minutes, 20 seconds to go in the fourth quarter, improved to 5-3. Adding insult to injury, they topped 350 yards of offense for the 17th consecutive game, breaking a record they had shared with the Greatest Show on Turf - more precisely, the 2001 Rams team they defeated in Super Bowl XXXVI.
"They got off to a good start" with the early touchdown, Brady said. "We countered and never looked back."
Things started promisingly enough for the Rams, who came out in the no-huddle after taking the opening kickoff. Just five plays into the game, quarterback Sam Bradford found wide receiver Chris Givens deep for a 50-yard touchdown pass. It marked the fifth consecutive game Givens had caught a pass of 50 yards or more, setting an NFL rookie record.
"First time we touch the ball, we go down and score -- exactly what we planned to do," Bradford said. "And then it just all felt apart from there."
The lead lasted as long as fish and chips do at lunchtime around here. Before you could say "Spygate," it was 28-7 Patriots at halftime.
"I don't know what happened," linebacker James Laurinaitis said. "A lot of things steamrolled against us. We had plays where we just dropped coverages, missed communications. At the end of the day, we're a better defense than this - than what showed."
En route to a 473-yard day on offense, Brady, tight end Rob Gronkowski and the Patriots' underrated running game couldn't be stopped, or even slowed. The Patriots scored TDs on their first five possessions, including all four series in the first half.
The Rams forgot to pack their pass rush for this trip, going sackless for the first time all season. When they rushed four, Brady had plenty of time. When they blitzed, Brady carved them up like a Thanksgiving turkey, frequently throwing to the area vacated by the blitzer.
Former Ram Brandon Lloyd caught only two passes Sunday, but both went for touchdowns as he gave rookie cornerback Janoris Jenkins fits.
Two more Brady TD tosses went to Gronkowski, who gave Rams safeties and anyone else in his path fits with eight catches for 146 yards. Gronkowski looked like a rugby player out there, bouncing off would-be tacklers for extra yardage with his 6-6, 265-pound frame.
"He's a good player," safety Quintin Mikell said. "I think him and Tom have a rapport together, and he creates certain matchup problems with his size and all that stuff. At the end of the day, if we're all doing what we're supposed to do, we can minimize that."
About the only thing that got minimized Sunday was the effectiveness of the Rams' offense. The Rams got some cheap rushing yards near the end of the game, after the Patriots had sent out their JV defense, but Thunder (Steven Jackson) & Lightning (Daryl Richardson) never really got going.
And after the big strike to Givens early, the Rams never did much to exploit one of the league's worst pass defenses.
"You look at their defense and I think they were 30th defending the pass, so we came into this game really expecting to move the ball," Bradford said. "We got beat in every phase of the game. Got dominated. I don't think there is any other way to put it."
After the Rams' opening score, they didn't make it into New England territory again until their fourth possession late in the first half, and that ended in a mini-disaster. On the first play following the 2-minute warning, Greg Zuerlein lined up for a 53-yard field goal but never got "The Leg" on the ball. Holder Johnny Hekker bobbled the snap and was forced to scramble for his life.
Hekker was tackled for a 9-yard loss with New England taking over at its 45, giving Brady a short a field for the Patriots' fourth TD drive of the day just before the half. It wasn't until the end of the third quarter, by which time the Rams were down by 31 points, that New England was forced to punt.
Just before the start of the second half, coach Jeff Fisher gathered the entire Rams team around him on the field and gave an animated speech trying to stir up the squad. So much for the impassioned plea: The Patriots needed only six plays to reach the end zone again after taking the second half kickoff.
At 35-7 and only 2½ minutes into the second half, it was only a matter of how big the shellacking would be. It turned out to be the Rams' worst defeat since a 47-7 setback late in 2009, Steve Spagnuolo's inaugural season in St. Louis, to Fisher's Tennessee Titans.
"What is required to beat a Patriot team that's playing that well on both sides of the ball is a near-perfect game, and obviously, we were unable to do that," Fisher said. "Tom got a hot hand, and had a good sense, and those guys made a lot of plays for him.
"So this will be a real test for our young football team going into the bye week coming off a disappointing loss like this. We'll find out a lot about ourselves."

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Fisher Dissects the Miami Loss

by Jim Thomas

Even after watching game film Monday, the Rams' 17-14 defeat in Miami had to be one of those deals in which the head coach scratches his head and wonders out loud: How did we lose this one?
And that kind of loss is tough to take.
"Yeah, it is," Jeff Fisher said. "The numbers — the statistics — reflect a well-played game on both sides of the ball. But you have to be very careful to walk down the hall thinking that things are OK because the statistics were so skewed in our favor."
Boy, were they skewed. The Rams' 462 yards of offense marked their highest single-game output since a 37-31 overtime victory over Washington on Christmas Eve 2006. The Rams piled up 579 yards in that contest.
The Rams' 294 yards in the first half against the Dolphins was the ninth-highest first-half total in the franchise's 75-year history.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Rams allowed only 19 yards rushing to the Dolphins, the lowest total since the move to St. Louis in 1995. Additionally, the 192 total yards allowed tied for eighth-lowest in the franchise's 18 seasons here.
On Monday, Fisher had a distinct idea of how and where things went awry in south Florida.
"When you lose a close game — by a field goal — there's little things that contribute," Fisher said. "And there were some little things. But to me there was also a big thing that contributed to this loss — and that was the second quarter.
"In the second quarter, we had seven penalties, missed two field goals and turned the ball (over) inside our opponent's territory on the 25-yard line."
Plus there was a busted coverage by rookie cornerback Janoris Jenkins that resulted in Miami's first touchdown.
"At the end of the day we let things slip in the second quarter, and then we just couldn't make the plays in the second half to regain it," Fisher said. "When you're playing a close game, you don't guess on a route, and that's what happened with 'Jenks.' Sometimes he guesses right, but he thought he saw something, and the guy ran right by him."
The result was a 29-yard touchdown catch by Marlon Moore, giving Miami a 7-6 lead — a lead the Dolphins never relinquished.
"When you put together a great defensive effort you say: How could we have done better?" Fisher said. "Well, that's certainly how you do better. You don't give up a long ball like that. I'm not singling him out per se, but in close games you can't allow those things to happen."
Fisher provided another example on offense — wide receiver Brandon Gibson played one of his best games as a Ram.
"It's hard to find a better catch than that catch in that last drive, and a couple of the other catches that he made," Fisher said. "But he double-catches one and he should get his feet (in bounds), in (Miami) territory. So he's had a great game, but what if we would've made that catch? Would things be different down there?"
Gibson's bobble came inside the Miami 20 and would've given the Rams a first down on their first drive of the game. Instead, they settled for a Greg Zuerlein field goal.
"So there's your definition of how you lose close games," Fisher said. "You have a lot of little things add up."
Even with the Rams' dominance on offense and defense, the loss to Miami also illustrates the importance of special teams play.
That unit had been very consistent in the first five games but was a big liability against Miami. Besides the three missed field goals by Zuerlein, the Rams committed the day's only turnover — on a fumbled kickoff return by Brit Miller.
"You get up in the traffic, put both hands on it and go down," Fisher said. "You see it (happen) that way too often, guys that aren't used to handling balls need to get down."
Jenkins, taking over on punt returns for the injured Danny Amendola, fumbled his first return out of bounds, costing the Rams field position by pinning them back at their 8.
"We got outplayed on special teams," long snapper Jake McQuaide said. "I think that's gonna be pretty evident."
To start the second half, Marcus Thigpen got loose for a 44-yard kickoff return, giving Miami good field position on its second TD drive.
"We had a guy in the wrong position," Fisher said.
And there was one more glaring special teams problem late in the game. On a fourth-and-1 play from the Miami 40 with 3½ minutes to play, the Dolphins lined up in punt formation. But up-back Chris Clemons took the snap and ran 3 yards for a first down.
The Rams eventually got the ball back, but the successful fake allowed the Dolphins to chew up 1½ minutes of time and forced the Rams to burn their second timeout.
"That's on me," Fisher said. "I didn't think that they would do that, or I would've left the defense out there."
Instead of keeping the starting defense on the field, the Rams had their punt return unit on the field for what turned out to be the fake on a successful gamble by Dolphins head coach Joe Philbin.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Rams win 17-3 slugfest over Arizona

by Jim Thomas

The Rams certainly won’t get any style points. Perhaps much of the national television audience called it a night early or flipped over to a reality show. But in this long-forsaken football outpost, there was nothing but joy Thursday night in downtown St. Louis.
Football has returned to St. Louis after a long absence. Winning football, that is. For the first time since Nov. 4, 2006 when Scott Linehan’s inaugural squad had a 4-3 record, the Rams are above .500 after beating previously unbeaten Arizona 17-3 Thursday at the Edward Jones Dome.
It was the Rams’ first home victory over the Cardinals (4-1) since 2004. At 3-2, the Rams are just a game out of the division lead in the NFL’s new black-and-blue division, the NFC West. These two teams pounded at each other all night long before a spirited, towel-waving crowd.
The Rams made pulp out of Cardinals quarterback Kevin Kolb, but the blitzing Big Red didn’t exactly treat Sam Bradford with kid gloves. There were so many injured players helped off the arena floor it looked like an episode of Spartacus.
"It was a great effort," coach Jeff Fisher said. "The team had a sense for what we had to do going into this game because of the respect factor for their defense. Their defense is really, really talented. So we knew it was going to be a hard day offensively, so the defense had to step up and they did."
They stepped up to the tune of nine sacks and great red zone play.
"This defense is the heart and soul of this team right now," said rookie wide receiver Chris Givens, who gave the Rams some much-needed breathing room with a 51-yard touchdown reception from Bradford early in the fourth quarter. "We feed off their energy. You guys see how they go out there every snap, and play with passion and intensity."
Arizona got inside the Rams’ 20 on three occasions and got only a field goal to show for it.
On two other red zone forays, the Big Red were stopped on downs late in the fourth quarter, once on a sure tackle of Arizona wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald by rookie cornerback Janoris Jenkins on the 3 after a short completion with 5 minutes, 25 seconds to play.
And once on a sack by Cortland Finnegan on a corner blitz on fourth-and-1 from the St. Louis 13 with 2:09 to play.
But the Rams had to make one more defensive stand after getting the ball back from Arizona with 1:41 left. This time, defensive end Robert Quinn ended any suspense. His third sack of the game resulted in a fumble by Kolb with defensive lineman William Hayes falling on the football. After that, it was time for the victory formation kneel-downs after the Rams’ third home victory in as many tries.
"It’s nice to end the game on our first caused fumble and recovered fumble of the year," Fisher said. "God, I hope they keep coming."
The Rams’ defense entered the game second in the league with eight interceptions but did not even force a fumble — much less recover one — in their first four games.
Facing the league’s third-stingiest defense in terms of points allowed, the Rams knew they would have their work cut out for them scoring points. The Rams didn’t score an offensive touchdown four days before against a Seattle team ranked second in total defense. But it took them less than 2∏ minutes to do so against an Arizona defense that had yielded only four TDs this season entering Thursday’s contest.
The big play on the drive was a 44-yard pass from quarterback Bradford to Danny Amendola. Amendola did a great job of tracking the ball in the air while being interfered with by Cardinals cornerback Patrick Peterson on the play.
St. Louis declined the pass interference penalty, taking the play and a first down at the Arizona 11. On third-and-6 from the 7, Bradford fired a strike to tight end Lance Kendricks in the end zone. Greg Zuerlein’s extra point gave St. Louis a 7-0 with 12:39 left in the first quarter after what was Kendricks’ first NFL touchdown. Keep in mind, Arizona entered the game second in the league in red zone defense, allowing only three TDs in the red zone in its first four games.
After an Arizona field goal, the Rams and Cardinals played the field position game. But a 14-yard punt return by Amendola to the 50 followed by two runs for 15 yards by Steven Jackson advanced the ball to the Arizona 35. And that’s all the room the Rams needed for a 53-yard field goal by "The Leg." Zuerlein’s 13th consecutive field goal gave the Rams a 10-3 lead with 10:45 to go in the first half.
Midway through the second quarter, the Rams suffered a couple of costly injuries. On a play in which he almost made a spectacular 22-yard catch on a fade pattern from Bradford, Amendola suffered a shoulder injury landing on the turf. The play originally was ruled a catch, but Arizona was successful on an instant replay challenge on third-and-5 at the St. Louis 9. Amendola did not return.
After a 19-yard return by Peterson following a Johnny Hekker punt, Arizona took over at midfield. And on the first play of that Big Red drive, Rams strong safety Quintin Mikell suffered a head injury making a tackle. Mikell had been playing some of his best football since joining the Rams in 2011. He was replaced by Darian Stewart and did not return.