The St. Louis Rams aren’t accustomed to being under the bright lights of a nationally televised game like the one they hosted Thursday night.
But after their 17-3 victory over the previously undefeated Arizona Cardinals, the Rams found themselves in an even more unfamiliar position – owners of a winning record.
“We’re building something here and it feels good to be a part of,” RB Steven Jackson said. “We’ve got to continue though. It’s only five games into the season and we’re doing very good, but we’ve got to continue to do this. We’ve got to continue to grow and get better each day.”
The Rams showed a national audience what many in St. Louis, Washington and Seattle already knew – this Rams team isn’t to be taken lightly. In the process, the Rams moved to 3-2 on the season, the first time the team has been above .500 since the 2006 season.
The Rams did it the way they’ve been doing it all season, with a stifling defense and an offense that is able to do enough to win. While not perfect, the Rams embattled offensive line managed to keep QB Sam Bradford relatively clean while opening running lanes for backs Steven Jackson and Daryl Richardson. Jackson finished with 18 rushes for 76 yards, while Richardson had nine rushes for 35. The duo combined to grind clock and move the ball in the late stages of the game.
Bradford struggled for the majority of the game but hit WR Chris Givens for a 51-yard touchdown pass early in the fourth quarter, his second touchdown pass of the day, to put the Rams up two scores with 11:49 to play.
One of the reasons Bradford had trouble connecting with his receivers was the extended absence of WR Danny Amendola. Amendola left the game midway through the second quarter with a shoulder injury. Without his favorite target, Bradford completed only seven of his 21 pass attempts for 141 yards.
But in what’s becoming a recurring theme, the defense made sure the lead would stand up. The Rams sacked Arizona QB Kevin Kolb nine times and allowed only 45 rushing yards in their most impressive defensive performance to date. After holding the Seattle Seahawks to one offensive touchdown Sunday, the defense put on an encore by limiting the Cardinals to one field goal and just 282 total yards.
DE Robert Quinn was a big part of keeping Kolb under duress the entire night. Quinn got home for three sacks, his last forcing a fumble that the Rams recovered to ice the game. James Laurinaitis, Cortland Finnegan, Jo-Lonn Dunbar, Bradley Fletcher, Jermelle Cudjo and Chris Long also registered sacks on the night.
It was a night of firsts for many of the young Rams, but Long wasn’t willing to call it a ‘statement’ win. Instead, he said they need to approach it as just another day at the office.
“Our statement is just that we want to continue to progress as a team,” Long said. “We won two games here in a row. A lot of teams have done that before. So we’re going to act like we’ve been there – even though we might not have been there before.”
With their current formula, winning may not be uncharted territory for much longer.