As St. Louis Rams fans are well aware, wins in the NFL are hard to come by.
So there will be seldom complaining in the Gateway City about the Rams’ ugly 15-12 win over the Buffalo Bills Sunday. It wasn’t pretty, but the win was the Rams’ third in a row and second straight on the road. The win also drew their record to 6-6-1, the first time the Rams have been .500 or better since the week five win over the Arizona Cardinals.
A win is a win, but it’s not one the Rams will necessarily put on the highlight reel. The Rams offense struggled for much of the day, managing just 285 total yards and failing to score in the first half. The Rams trailed 6-0 after two Rian Lindell field goals.
Quarterback Sam Bradford had a tough day as his receivers had trouble getting separation from the Bills cornerbacks. Bradford was just 19-for-39 on the afternoon for 209 yards, and he was intercepted late in the second quarter as the Rams were trying to score before halftime.
The offense redeemed itself with an 11-play, 6:23 drive coming out of the break, with a one-yard Steven Jackson run giving the Rams a fleeting 7-6 lead. But the Bills countered, putting together a nine-play touchdown drive of their own. A botched extra point made the score 12-7, but the missed point wouldn’t come back to hurt the Bills.
The teams traded possessions for much of the fourth quarter, but the Rams gained control at their own 16-yard line with 4:55 to play. What followed was a 14-play drive that saw the Rams convert two third downs and one fourth down en route to the game-winning touchdown. Bradford found Brandon Gibson in the back of the end zone with 48 seconds remaining for the winning score. Bradford and wide receiver Chris Givens connected for the two-point conversion, giving the Rams a three-point lead.
The Bills got the ball back and attempted to drive into field goal position, but defensive end Robert Quinn sacked Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick on second down and defensive end William Hayes altered Fitzpatrick’s third-down pass, which fluttered into the arms of Rams linebacker Jo-Lonn Dunbar. Dunbar’s second interception of the season sealed the game for the visitors.
Although the Rams offense struggled as a whole, Gibson had a good day, catching six passes for 100 yards and the winning touchdown. Jackson had just 64 yards rushing but was able to punch the ball in for his third touchdown of the year.
On defense, first-round pick defensive tackle Michael Brockers had arguably his best game as a pro, registering 1.5 sacks and forcing a Fred Jackson fumble that halted a Bills scoring drive. Quinn’s crucial late-game sack gave him 9.5 on the season, and defensive tackle Kendall Langford assisted on his first two sacks this year.
Nobody will confuse the Rams for the New England Patriots, but whether 15-12 or 52-28, the score by which the Patriots beat the Bills earlier this season, it’s still just one win in the win column. And there’s little doubt Rams fans will take it just the same.