By Cedric Williams
Fans of the St. Louis Rams probably had visions of rookie No. 1 draft pick Tavon Austin, a star wide receiver and kickoff/punt return specialist, winning different awards including Special Teams Player of the Week several times this year.
Well it took a while, but Austin finally came through with a big enough day to earn one of those trophies this past Sunday when he churned out 172 total return yards—98 of which came on one scintillating second quarter punt return—and helped spark St. Louis to a 38-8 win over the Indianapolis Colts.
“What can you say about number 11 (Austin wears jersey number 11),” Rams head coach Jeff Fisher said after Sunday’s victory in Indy.”(He) got the football in his hands and I found myself saying, ‘get away, get away, get away,’ on the punt that he fielded on the two-yard line, then I went from ‘get away, get away, get away,’ to ‘go, go, go.'”
Austin did go, and for what might have been the most exciting Rams touchdown of the season.
And that was just the appetizer, as the former West Virginia standout who scored five touchdowns on kick returns during his college career, broke loose for two more long scores—a 57-yard bomb down the left sideline and an 81-yard catch and run through the heart of the Colts defense—for a career-high 314 all-purpose yards and three touchdowns.
Austin also became the first player in NFL history with a 95-plus yard punt return touchdown and two 55-plus yard receiving touchdowns in the same game. No other player in league history had ever had a 95-plus yard punt return touchdown, and even on 55-plus yard receiving touchdown in the same game before.
“(That was) close to the top now because, just a variety of things, in the return game and then the catch and run for a touchdown,” Fisher said. “We still had some stuff in there too. Maybe we’ll carry it over for Chicago (in two weeks). He has the chance to change games, and we’re just going to keep working to get him the football.”
Fisher Gives Players Five Days Off
With the Rams on their bye week this week, the club announced the team will have practice on Wednesday and Thursday afternoon, but the players will be given the entire weekend off.
That means beginning Friday and lasting all the way through Tuesday, all 53 Rams players will be free to go as they please, with no team obligations to fill until Wednesday, November 20.
St. Louis’ next game is slated for next Sunday, November 24, when the Rams will host the Chicago Bears at the Edward Jones Dome.
Kickoff that day is scheduled for noon.
For more Rams news and updates, visit Rams Central.
Cedric Williams, a lifelong St. Louisan and proud UMSL alum, has been a freelance reporter/photographer covering St. Louis area sports for nearly two decades. Most recently, he has been working as a credentialed beat writer covering the Rams and small-school college sports for Examiner.com and other outlets from around the area. Please share any comments, questions, or feedback with Cedric at email@example.com. His work can be found on Examiner.com.