On paper, the St. Louis Rams look very different from last year. A new-look defense. An almost entirely new special teams unit. New, exciting young skill position players on offense.
But one needs look no further than the Rams sideline for possibly the biggest difference in this year’s team.
“I think it’s coach (Jeff) Fisher,” DE Chris Long said. “You have that confidence that all the decisions on gameday are going to be made correctly. He’s a great gameday decision-maker. And we all have the confidence that we can go out there and do the best we can and try to make plays, and we’re going to be in the best possible situation to make those plays.”
It wasn’t pretty, but the Rams made enough of those plays on Sunday to pull out a 19-13 win over the visiting Seattle Seahawks. Despite being outgained 319-286 in total yards and failing to score a touchdown on offense, the Rams forced three Russell Wilson interceptions and got four field goals from K Greg Zuerlein, including two from over 58 yards.
On a day when the offense was unable to punch the ball in, Zuerlein’s right leg was able to get the job done.
“There was one time, I think it was the first possession out of (the second) half, where I think he kicked his 60-yarder,” QB Sam Bradford said of Zuerlein. “I was coming off the field expecting us to punt it and I looked back out there and we were setting up for a field goal and I was like, ‘What?’ But sure enough, he’s been awesome. You can’t ask for much more in a kicker.”
The Rams also got some offense from P Johnny Hekker. After a drive stalled at the Seahawks two-yard line, the field goal unit came on for a short kick. But Hekker took the snap and instead slung a pass to a wide open Danny Amendola in the end zone for the Rams only touchdown of the day. The touchdown gave the Rams a 10-7 lead, a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
After the new special teams unit gave the Rams the lead, the new defense made it stand up. CB Trumaine Johnson and LB Rocky McIntosh intercepted Wilson over the course of the game, and CB Bradley Fletcher put the game away when he intercepted a Wilson pass with a minute to go.
With it, Fletcher sealed the team’s second win in four games, matching the team’s win total from a year ago. The Rams didn’t get their second win until week 10 last year. Winning games they might have lost a year ago is just one more difference the head coach is making in 2012.
“As far back as OTA’s (Fisher) made it known that we were going to be in close games and that this team was going to be tough enough to go down and win them late in the game,” Bradford said. “Whether it be defense getting the stop or the offense going down and putting up points, and I think everyone’s really bought into that. We’ve been in some close games and we pulled two out. I think there is a big difference, because in the past I’m not sure if we would’ve done that.”