ST. LOUIS (AP) — St. Louis Rams defensive coordinator Gregg Williams is proud of his scrappy unit.
The defense read Colin Kaepernick’s quarterback sneak and forced him to fumble at the goal line with 2 seconds left in the Ram’s 13-10 upset at San Francisco on Sunday.
The Rams pass rush dropped Kaepernick eight times, including six in the first half. That was the most in franchise history in the first half since the sack became an official statistic in 1982.
The defense was stellar just a week after getting blown out in a 34-7 loss at Kansas City. Before that, the Rams defense played a big role in a home victory over the defending Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks.
“It was a very complete game in how we were able to tackle, how we played on third down, how we played in the red zone and had a goal-line stand,” Williams said Friday after practice. “Every single week, we’ve played phases of the game where we’ve been dominant. A lot of my counterparts in the league they shake their head about how dominant we play week in and week out.”
Next up for St. Louis (3-5) is a road game Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals (7-1).
“I didn’t have to wait for them to wake up to know how good they are,” Cardinals coach Bruce Arians said about the Rams win over the 49ers. “Gregg does a great, great job. You can see his footprint all over that thing now. Jeff (Fisher) has always had that type of defense, having going against him all those years at Tennessee.”
For Williams, the defense starts with the front line. It’s led by end Robert Quinn and rookie tackle Aaron Donald, the No. 13 overall pick in the draft.
The Rams have 14 sacks in the last three weeks after just one in the first five games.
“When your defensive line controls the line of scrimmage the way we have, and we have controlled the line of scrimmage for the most part the whole season, they were able to finish some plays this past week,” Williams said. “It was fun to see their energy. It was fun to see how it impacted the guys playing behind him. The D-line set the tone for the game.”
The veteran coordinator has presided over five separate top five total defenses during his coaching career: Tennessee (No. 1 in total defense in 2000), Buffalo (No. 3 in 2001 and No. 2 in 2003), Washington (No. 3 in 2005), and New Orleans (No. 4 in 2010). As a defensive coordinator or head coach (15 seasons), Williams has coached seven top-10 overall defenses.
Rams coach Jeff Fisher liked what he saw from the defense.
“We got good pressure and we got good four-man pressure as well,” Fisher said. “A number of our sacks came from four-man rush. The defense played well. We tackled. We got the turnovers. We improved on third down. We needed to improve in that area. I think the third down stops were key in this game.”
Arians knows what to expect from the Rams defense on Sunday.
“They’re going to play fast,” he said. “They’re going to play physical and they’re going to have a great front four. So, you’ve got your hands full.”
NOTES: After missing two days, CB Janoris Jenkins (knee) was limited in practice Friday and is listed as questionable for Sunday. … More than 50 servicemen and servicewomen watched practice on Military Appreciation Day at Rams Park. Coaches and players signed autographs and posed for photo. Fisher remembered in 2011, when he took a year off from coaching, he climbed Mount Kilimanjaro with four Wounded Warriors.
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