– Whew. Another tightly contested road game for the Rams on Sunday against the Broncos. And this time, yes this time, the Rams finally got it done in the end with a 36-33 win.
– Plenty on the game to come in a moment but let’s hit injuries first, shall we?
– The only ailment of concern for the Rams is rookie TE Michael Hoomanawanui. He suffered another ankle injury and the concern is that it’s his second high ankle sprain of the season. Coach Steve Spagnuolo said the Rams initially feared that it was a broken fibula but they ruled that out.
– Here’s hoping the injury isn’t too bad. When healthy Hoomanawanui is a burgeoning star at the tight end position. His 36-yard touchdown catch from QB Sam Bradford in the first quarter was a thing of beauty. He just makes plays.
– RB Steven Jackson aggravated his broken hand but he said after the game it is actually no worse for the wear.
– MLB James Laurinaitis got poked in the eye and missed a few snaps but he of course returned.
– That’s all on the injury report.
– As for the game, it’s hard to decide where to start but I suppose let’s start with Bradford himself. What a performance from the rookie signal caller.
– Imagine what his day was like: the Broncos boast one of the best homefield advantages in football, the Rams are playing in the thin air, the headset in his helmet was on the fritz and he had to get signals manually periodically throughout the game and the Broncos are practically begging Bradford to beat them through the air.
– So what does Bradford do? He goes out and absolutely lights it up. He again didn’t throw an interception and he proved capable of pushing the pace down the field. He finished 22-of-37 for 308 yards with three touchdowns for a rating of 113.3. The kid is already a top level NFL quarterback and he’s just scratching the surface. Not that you Rams fans need telling but buckle up for a fun ride. The Sam Bradford era has limitless potential.
– Now, of course, Bradford couldn’t do his thing without the help of a young receiver group eager to prove itself. The Broncos might as well have built a brick wall at the line of scrimmage in an effort to stop Jackson. They dared Bradford and the wideouts to beat them through the air by playing man defense on the outside almost exclusively. So the receiving corps just continued to create separation and make plays.
– The offense sure is different with rookie WR Danario Alexander in the mix, isn’t it? What a threat. Great to see him back on the field and making plays.
– Tip of the hat to Laurent Robinson who seems rejuvenated since the bye week. He caught four balls for 58 yards.
– Nine receivers caught passes Sunday.
– The tight end group of the Rams might be one of the most underrated in the league. When Hoomanawanui went out with his injury, Billy Bajema stepped to the forefront.
– A nicer guy you won’t find than Bajema making his day of work even more enjoyable. After a disappointing drop on a wide open crossing pattern, the Rams went right back to Bajema who caught his first career touchdown pass and added his second one less than three minutes later.
– Great play calling by offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur. He stuck with Jackson and that allowed the Rams to take advantage.
– And of course I’d be remiss not to mention an absolutely terrific pass ptoection performance from the Rams offensive line. Bradford was “sacked” twice though they were both on plays where he ran for 0 yard gains.
– Illegal batting is new to me. But apparently if you bat the ball forward you will be flagged. When Chris Chamberlain got the laundry for knocking that onsides kick attempt out of bounds, that was the reason.
– Great job by Chamberlain in coming right back and catching the next attempt clean on a kick that Spagnuolo said felt like it hung in the air for “17 minutes.”
– It was an up and down day for the defense which started cold but came back and played well in the second and third quarters. That group got timely turnovers and timely pass rush to get the job done at the end.
– DE Chris Long will get a lot of credit for the final stop and rightfully so since he had a sack on first down and helped seal it on fourth down by hitting Kyle Orton as he released his last gasp effort.
– But the play that stuck out to me most was from Laurinaitis. On second and 16, Orton fired deep down the middle for TE Daniel Graham’s left shoulder. Just when it appeared Graham had the catch, Laurinaitis got his hand in the way and jarred the ball loose for an incompletion. Two plays later, the Rams had a victory.
– He’s not getting much credit but DL C.J. Ah You is really giving the Rams a boost in the pass rush as part of the rotation on the line.
– All of that said, the Rams must be better at finishing a game that is well in hand as this one was. It should never have been that close and Spagnuolo was quick to acknowledge that but still it can’t keep happening.
– At the end of the day, though, the Rams had more points than the Broncos. That’s all that matters. At 5-6, the Rams moved into a first place tie with Seattle in the NFC West Division. And now, more than ever, all things remain possible for the Rams.
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– Denver got what it needed on the first play of the final quarter as Orton struck to Lloyd with a 41-yard touchdown pass to make it 33-20 Rams with 14:54 to play.
– The Rams started from their 25 and answered with another nice drive, mostly through the air as Bradford connected with Gibson for a gain of 14 combined with a late hit penalty for a gain of 29 to Denver’s 41.
– Two plays later, Bradford hit Alexander again, this time for 24 yards to Denver’s 10. But the Rams couldn’t punch it in and settled for a 26-yard field goal to make it 36-20 Rams with 10:43 to go.
– The Rams defense came up with a big three and out and the offense took over again at its 21.
– The offense couldn’t generate much though, going three and out on its own and giving it back to Denver at the 50.
– The Broncos moved quickly to get back in it, converting a third and 17 and Orton hit Eddie Royal for a 16-yard touchdown.
– But Denver couldn’t convert the 2-point conversion to keep the score at 36-26.
– The Rams take over at their 20. They went three and out again, keeping Denver alive.
– And the Broncos took advantage once again, going to work with a 38-yard completion to Eric Decker and a 17-yard strike to Eddie Royal to set up a 5-yard score from Orton to Lloyd. That made it 36-33 Rams with 2:35 to go.
– The Broncos went to the onside kick and Chris Chamberlain was called for “illegal batting” which cost them 10 yards and led to a re-kick.
– Chamberlain bounced back by catching the next try clean to give the Rams the ball at their 36.
– Jackson gained 4 yards on first down.
– Jackson gained 2 more on second down to set up a third-and-4.
– Jackson lost 2 yards on third down.
– Jones’s punt was deflected and the Broncos take over at their 34.
– Chris Long came up with a huge sack on first down for a loss of 6.
– Laurinaitis broke up the second down pass attempt down the middle.
– On third down, Orton threw incomplete.
– On fourth, Long pressured again and Orton’s pass fell short.
– The Rams hang on for their first road win, improve to 5-6 on the season and are sitting tied for first place in the NFC West once again.
– The Rams opened the second half with the ball at their 27 as Bradford hit Fells for a gain of 13.
– A 1-yard loss and a false start on Brit Miller pushed the Rams back as did a 6-yard loss on a screen to Jackson.
– The Rams had to punt and Denver took over at its 12 after a block in the back penalty.
– On first-and-10 from Denver’s 22, Moreno burst off the left edge but was stripped by Atogwe and the ball went straight into the hands of linebacker Na’il Diggs. He recovered at the 31.
– On first down for the Rams, Jackson burst 20 yards off the left side to Denver’s 11. Two more carries gave the Rams a first down at Denver’s 1. The Rams tried to get it to Jackson on first down but the pass fell incomplete.
– A tired Jackson went to the sideline and Kenneth Darby entered scoring untouched from a yard out to make it 33-13 Rams with 8:50 to go in the third quarter.
– The Broncos started their next drive at their 16 and surged into Rams territory on a 31-yard screen to Moreno.
– After getting to the Rams’ 36, the Broncos went backwards on two consecutive plays and punted it into the end zone. The Rams take over again at their 20.
– The Rams pieced together another nice drive with 17-yard strike to Amendola and a 23-yard hookup to Robinson.
– The drive died at Denver’s 27 and Brown missed a 45-yard field goal to keep it at 33-13 with 55 seconds left in the third quarter.
– At the end of the quarter, Denver has second-and-5 at the Rams’ 41 and the Rams leading 33-13.
– After taking over at their 20, the Broncos again moved swiftly, with most of the damage coming through the air. Orton hit Lloyd for a 16-yard gain and a 28-yard strike to Jabar Gaffney got them into Rams territory.
– Prater settled for a 40-yard field goal as the drive stalled at the Rams’ 22. That made it 13-7 Broncos with 12:27 to go in the half.
– No surprise here, the Rams started their third possession at their 20 after another touchback.
– On the first play, the Rams again went to the end around for Amendola who darted 30 yards with a nice block on the outside from Jason Brown.
– After two plays netted 7 yards, Bradford calmly hit Laurent Robinson for a gain of 11 and a first down at Denver’s 32.
– On third-and-9 at the 31, Bradford hit Alexander on a slant and a second effort gained 12 to Denver’s 19 for a first down.
– On third-and-6 at the 15, the Rams went back to the slant and Alexander caught it in stride to the Broncos’ 1. Alexander was ruled down there but the Rams challenged that he broke the plane of the end zone.
– The Rams lost the challenge and had a first down at Denver’s 1.
– Two attempts by Jackson failed and actually lost a yard to set up a third-and-goal at the 2.
– On third down, Bradford escaped pressure, rolled to his left and hit Bajema for a 2-yard touchdown to give the Rams a 14-13 lead with 5:45 to go in the half.
– Orton threw incomplete on first down from Denver’s 25 to open the next drive.
– Another incompletion and a 9-yard compltion to Moreno forced Denver’s first punt of the game.
– The Rams went big in the air on the possession as Bradford connected with Alexander for a gain of 40 down the left sideline to Denver’s 26.
– On the next play, offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur went to his bag of tricks and called the same play that resulted in a touchdown for the Rams last week as Bradford rolled right, threw back to the left and hit Bajema for a 26-yard touchdown and a 20-13 lead. Brown missed the extra point to leave it at that score.
– The defense came through again forcing another three and out with a sack from C.J. Ah You on third down.
– The Rams started from their 40 and Bradford connected with Robinson for a gain of 20 on the first play to Denver’s 40.
– A 16-yard strike to Amendola put it at the Broncos’ 24. A pass interference penalty on Denver gave the Rams a first down at the 16 and a 6-yard completion to Amendola. But that’s all the Rams could muster and Brown converted from 28 yards out to make it 23-13 Rams with 47 seconds to go in the half.
– Eddie Royal fumbled the kickoff return and the Rams recovered at Denver’s 23. Jerome Murphy forced and recovered it. The booth reviewed the play.
– The play held up and the Rams took over at the 23.
– A 4-yard run by Jackson was all they could muster and they settled for a 37-yard field goal from Brown to make it 26-13 with 8 seconds left in the half.
– At the half, the Rams lead 26-13. Bradford was 15-of-23 for 216 yards and three scores in the first half.
– The Broncos won the toss and elected to receive.
– Josh Brown booted kickoff out of the end zone. Broncos start from their 20.
– No surprise, Denver comes out throwing with QB Kyle Orton, who hits Spencer Larsen for 11 yards and Brandon Lloyd for 14 on the first two plays.
– Orton followed with a screen to RB Knowshon Moreno for a gain of 18 to the Rams’ 37.
– Moreno picked up 16 on the next play and Lance Ball ran for 17 more to the 4-yard line. Moreno punched it in on the next play for a strong, easy start to make it 7-0 Broncos.
– Denver made it look easy on that drive, covering 80 yards on seven plays.
– The Rams started their first possession from their 39 after a return of that many yards by Danny Amendola.
– Steven Jackson gained 4 yards on two carries and Amendola dropped a potential third down conversion, forcing the Rams to punt.
– Donnie Jones’ punt went into the end zone for a touchback, giving it back to Denver at its 20.
– Eddie Royal took a reverse for 20 yards on first down to the Rams’ 40.
– Two plays later, Orton his Dan Gronkowski for 13 more yards for a first down to the Rams 47.
– Moreno picked up 9 on the next play to the Rams’ 39.
– Three more yards for Moreno on the next play gave Denver another first down to the Rams’ 35.
– The Rams got a couple of incompletions and a 4-yard completion to Daniel Graham set up a 49-yard field goal by Matt Prater to make it 10-0 Broncos with 7:24 to go in the first quarter.
– Rams defense struggling, only slowing Orton with the blitz. Look for more of that as this game continues.
– Second drive started from the Rams’ 20 after a touchback.
– The Rams opened up going in the hurry up and Amendola gained 13 yards on an end around. After a 2-yard Jackson run, Bradford hit Fells for a gain of 10 and a first down to the 45.
– Jackson gained 3 yards on the next play to set up a third-and-7 at the 48.
– Bradford hit Gibson for a gain of 8 and a first down to the Broncos 44.
– Two plays gained 7 yards to make it third-and-3. A 2-yard completion to Amendola left the Rams a yard short but they went for it on fourth down and Jackson got the yard for a first down at the 34.
– After a 2-yard loss by Jackson, Bradford dumped it to Hoomanawanui on a backside screen. He took care of the rest, breaking tackles and getting into the end zone for a 36-yard touchdown to cut the Broncos lead to 10-7 with 1:32 to go in the first quarter.
– The Broncos started again at their 20 and yet again moved quickly with an 8-yard run by Moreno and a 16-yard completion to Lloyd to give Denver a first down at its 47 at the end of the first quarter.
– Broncos lead 10-7.
– Greetings from Invesco Field at Mile High where the Rams and Broncos are preparing for a 3:15 CST kickoff.
– The Rams have a healthy bunch going into today’s game. Almost all players are available and so any inactive decisions will be considered “healthy” scratches. WR Danario Alexander is going to go as is S James Butler.
– The inactives include DE Eugene Sims, DT Jermelle Cudjo, CB Kevin Dockery, CB Quincy Butler, G John Greco, FB Mike Karney, S Michael Lewis and TE Derek Schouman.
– Butler is back in the mix this week, leaving Lewis inactive. With Cudjo down, Darell Scott is back in the lineup.
– Karney being inactive likely means more action for Michael Hoomanawanui.
– Denver’s inactives include QB Brady Quinn, CD Andre Goodman, RB Laurence Maroney, S Darcel McBath, OL Stanley Daniels, OL Eric Olsen, WR Demaryius Thomas and LB David Veikune.
– The Rams are wearing the all whites today.
– More to come after kickoff.
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– The Rams wrapped up their week of preparation for the Broncos on Friday afternoon with their first outdoor practice of the week. It was cold and windy out so the Rams got a chance to practice in an environment similar to what they’ll see in Denver this weekend.
– Nothing to update on injuries. The four players – WR Danario Alexander (knee), P Donnie Jones (calf), WR Laurent Robinson (toe) and T Rodger Saffold (shoulder) are all expected to be available and play this weekend.
– The lone exception could be Alexander but he made it through practice all week just fine. Coach Steve Spagnuolo said that decision will come down to a final determination on Alexander’s health combined with how he’ll fit in numbers wise. All signs point to his playing, though.
– Bradley Fletcher will again start at cornerback opposite Ron Bartell.
– But keep an eye on the weak side linebacker position. The Rams have been shuttling Larry Grant, Bryan Kehl and Chris Chamberlain in there in recent weeks with Chamberlain getting the start last week. Grant could be more active in that role this weekend, though.
“There’s guys there that have played which is kind of a good thing at this time of the year because if you have injuries or get banged up, you have guys that have had reps. But we’ll keep getting some of those guys in there.”
– Spagnuolo knows Broncos Coach Josh McDaniels from their epic Super Bowl battle as the coordinators on opposite sides of the ball in the Super Bowl a couple years ago when Spagnuolo was in New York and McDaniels was in New England. McDaniels acknowledged he watched some of that film this week and Spagnuolo said Friday he did the same.
“I grabbed some notes. I grabbed the game plan. I took a peek at some plays, I didn’t look at the whole thing. But I did pick some of that up.”
– That will do it for this week. The Rams hit the road tomorrow afternoon to head to Denver with a 3:05 CST start scheduled for Sunday.
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– The Rams just wrapped up their abbreviated Thursday practice which took on more of the look of a Friday practice in its brevity. But according to coach Steve Spagnuolo, they got the work they needed to get done accomplished.
– With meetings a little earlier, the Rams were able to get in, get their work done and then depart to celebrate Thanksgiving with their families. The coaching staff will stick around until around dinner time and then also be able to depart to be with their families.
– On the injury front, the Rams remain extremely healthy for this point in the season.
Of course, the Rams lost some key pieces for the season earlier in the year but Spagnuolo does acknowledge the relative health of his team at this point in the season.
“The one thing I think we do forget, we have lost some guys to injured reserve that could still really be helping us, so I don’t lose sight of that. But for the guys that are on the 53, yeah, we’re starting to get guys back. Knock on wood, because I want to make sure…we don’t want to lose anybody going forward, but you need to be healthy in November and December to really have any chance of winning.”
– There were no changes to the injury report for either the Rams or the Broncos on Thursday.
– For the Rams, P Donnie Jones (calf) and WR Danario Alexander (knee) were again listed as limited participants. T Rodger Saffold (shoulder) and WR Laurent Robinson (toe) were full participants. All are expected to play Sunday in Denver.
– For Denver: CB Andre Goodman (hip), S Darcel McBath (quad) and WR Demaryius Thomas (ankle) did not participate. LB DJ Williams (concussion) was limited and LB Robert Ayers (foot) was a full participant.
– That’s all for a brief blog entry today. Happy Thanksgiving from all of us to all of you.
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– The Rams wrapped up a spirited Wednesday practice with their full complement of players available on a dreary day that brought them into the indoor facility at the Russell Training Center.
– Only LT Rodger Saffold (shoulder) and P Donnie Jones (calf) were limited in the practice. Everyone else was good to go.
– All signs point to Saffold being ready for Sunday in Denver. Coach Steve Spagnuolo says Saffold got some reps in today and he should be just fine.
– As always, Jones will not do much during the week and be ready to go on Sunday.
– WR Danario Alexander appears to be ready to go. He was “flying around” on the practice field according to QB Sam Bradford. Signs point to him being active against the Broncos.
– The Rams are not concerned with the thin air in Denver. They are taking steps to ensure they are ready for it. RB Steven Jackson even has an “air tent” in his basement that helps him get accustomed to breathing the thin air. More on that in today’s notebook…
– All for now. Tomorrow will be a quick hit so I want to take a chance to wish everyone a happy and healthy Thanksgiving.
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– Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo just wrapped up his regular Monday, day after the game news conference. As always, Spagnuolo expressed disappointment at the loss to the Falcons but he also is clearly already getting his team ready to move onward and upward for this week’s game against Denver.
– On the injury front, tackle Rodger Saffold had an MRI on his left shoulder which revealed nothing. Saffold will be day to day but the negative MRI is a good sign that he’ll be ready to go this week.
– S James Butler did not play Sunday but Spagnuolo expects him to be ready to go this week after another week of healing for his ankle.
– DT Fred Robbins entered Sunday’s game with some pain in his upper back. But he made it through OK and had no setbacks.
– As for the game, it was a pretty clear consensus that the Rams simply lost to a very good football team. Make no mistake, Atlanta is a legitimate Super Bowl contender. The comparisons between how the Falcons were built and how the Rams are building are quite clear. They both have no-nonsense football men leading the way both on the sideline and in the front office. They both have extremely talented young quarterbacks with offensive lines in front of them that were put into place before they arrived on the scene. They both have excellent young middle linebackers leading the defense.
– Clearly, there are some pieces Atlanta has that the Rams don’t yet but remember the Falcons started their rebuilding process earlier than the Rams.
– Spagnuolo was not pleased with the offense’s penchant for penalties and missing on some third down opportunity. Defensively, he wants to see more on third down and in the red zone.
“Defensively, we did not play well enough to win the football game,” Spagnuolo said.
– Also, special teams were very solid in terms of the punting game but Spagnuolo expressed disappointment with the kickoff return and kickoff coverage. On Eric Weems’ 55-yard kickoff return, Spagnuolo said there was a missed “fit” on the coverage unit. He’d also like to see more on the return units as field position became a major factor.
– All that said, Spagnuolo went home after a home game and did not watch a single down of football. Considering the Sunday night game was Philadelphia vs. the Giants, that tells you how disappointed he was in the outcome. The reason? He truly believes the Rams are capable of winning games against good teams like the Falcons. And, really, they aren’t that far off.
– In looking back at the shovel pass, Spagnuolo said Atlanta got too much pressure up the middle, mainly from DT Jonathan Babineaux. On a shovel pass, it’s fine for pressure to come from the edge. In fact, you want it because it opens up the middle. But when it gets blown up inside, it creates clutter and makes it near impossible to break through.
– Spagnuolo said the Rams simply didn’t want to take a risk on playing WR Danario Alexander after his latest knee surgery. He’s hopeful Alexander will be ready to go this week in Denver.
– The Rams actually hit some impressive statistical benchmarks yesterday. To wit:
– Rams RB Steven Jackson gained 61 yards from scrimmage Sunday to give him 10,048 career scrimmage yards. He’s the fourth player in team history to reach 10,000 yards from scrimmage, joining Isaac Bruce (14,259), Torry Holt (12,717) and Marshall Faulk (11,030).
– QB Sam Bradford set an NFL rookie record by going 169 consecutive attempts without an interception. Tampa Bay’s Bruce Gradkowski held the previous mark with 146 attempts without an interception in 2006. Bradford’s streak is the third longest in team history, trailing only Mark Bulger (249, 2005-06) and Roman Gabriel (206, 1968-69). When Bradford’s streak ended in the fourth quarter, it was the first time he threw an interception since Week 5 at Detroit.
– Bradford finished the game 27-of-42 passing for 233 yards and two touchdowns. He now holds the franchise rookie record for completions (228) and attempts (376) and ranks third amongst Rams rookies with 2,158 yards. Tony Banks (368, 1996) previously held the rookie attempts record, and Dieter Brock (218, 1985) held the franchise record for completions by a rookie.
– St. Louis held the Falcons to field goals on two of Atlanta’s four trips inside the Rams’ 20 yard line. The Rams entered Sunday’s game tied for eighth in the NFL in red zone defense.
– The Rams’ offensive line held Atlanta without a sack Sunday. It was the first time St. Louis has allowed zero sacks since Nov. 1, 2009 at Detroit.
– The Rams are back to work on Wednesday after a day of corrections on Monday. It’s Thanksgiving week so the schedule will be altered slightly but the amount of work will ultimately be the same as they prepare for the Broncos.
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– The Rams came into Sunday’s game looking to bounce back from a tough loss to San Francisco last week. But the task was tall with a talented Atlanta team coming in and ultimately it was too much for them to overcome in a 34-17 loss at the Edward Jones Dome.
– The Falcons are the best team the Rams have played this season. They’re extremely balanced offensively and they play stout, solid defense that doesn’t allow much in the way of big plays. With the win, Atlanta moves to 8-2 on the season. The Rams fall to 4-6 with the loss but the rest of the NFC West teams also lost Sunday, which means the Rams didn’t lose any ground in the divisional race.
– On the injury front, the Rams had nothing too serious. Tackle Rodger Saffold tweaked his shoulder and will have an MRI but that was the only ailment of concern for coach Steve Spagnuolo after the game. S Oshiomogho Atogwe, CB Ron Bartell and CB Justin King missed time during the game with cramps but they all returned.
– As for the game, the final score is certainly misleading. With 3:31 to play, the Rams had the ball at Atlanta’s 2 trailing by nine. A touchdown there and they had all timeouts remaining with a chance to get the ball back. Atlanta finished the game with a late 39-yard touchdown run by Michael Turner for the final margin.
– For most of the game, Atlanta controlled the ball and the clock with its balanced offense. QB Matt Ryan is a heck of a player. Not many quarterbacks in the league are better against the blitz than he is. He dissected the Rams on the blitz and was able to keep his team on the field time and again.
– A few things that really hurt the Rams: time of possession and field position. The Falcons had the ball for 35:55 to the Rams’ 24:05. And the Falcons took full advantage of good field position, particularly in the first half. A big kick return was the impetus for that.
– The Rams went sackless against Ryan and the Falcons, a disappointing showing for a group that has been the best in the league at getting to the quarterback.
– QB Sam Bradford set a rookie record for consecutive attempts without an interception with 169. That streak ended on a bizarre, fluky interception at the goal line on a late shovel pass. That was the play that killed the Rams’ drive at the goal line and ended the Rams’ chances.
– TE Michael Hoomanawanui collided with G Adam Goldberg on the play, throwing off the timing as the ball ended up in the hands of Atlanta S William Moore.
– Hoomanawanui had a solid performance, catching four passes for 46 yards with a touchdown. His 18-yard grab down the sideline was a thing of beauty.
– Nice effort, Brandon Gibson. He had five catches for 42 yards and his touchdown grab on a fade to the left corner of the end zone was outstanding as well.
– Steven Jackson finished with 54 yards on just 11 carries but Atlanta made it obvious it wanted to take him away. And the Rams weren’t on the field enough to continue feeding him. Congrats to Jackson for reaching 10,000 career yards from scrimmage, though.
– In the locker room after, the Rams were quick to give credit where its due. Atlanta is an excellent team and probably the top contender in the NFC right now. That’s the type of team the Rams are striving to become.
– It doesn’t get any easier from here. The Rams now go on the road for three straight, starting next weekend in Denver. In order to stay in the race, they’ll need to find a way to get that elusive first road victory.
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– The Falcons continued to march and the Rams again held after just missing a chance for another interception as Jerome Murphy and Craig Dahl converged on the ball.
– Bryant hit from 21 yards out to make it 26-17 Atlanta with 7:57 to go.
– The Rams went no huddle and marched quickly into Atlanta territory before Bradford was finally intercepted on a shovel pass at the goal line to kill the drive and seal the win for Atlanta.
– The Falcons take over at their 13 with 3:24 to go and holding a 26-17 lead.
– The Rams got a three and out and got it back but couldn’t generate any offense and the Falcons take over again at the Rams’ 45.
– On third down, Turner finally broke loose for a 39-yard touchdown run to make it 34-17 Atlanta with 1:52 to go after the two-point conversion.
– That would do it as the Rams fall to 4-6 with a 34-17 loss.
– The Falcons started with the ball and went three and out to give it back to the Rams.
– Amendola had a big return to the Falcons’ 37 and the Rams immediately went to work.
– Jackson broke off a 16-yard gain off right tackle on first down.
– Amendola caught an 8-yard strike from Bradford to Atlanta’s 13.
– On second-and-2 from there, Bradford floated a perfect pass to the left corner of the end zone to Gibson for a touchdown to make it 17-16 Rams with 11:56 to go in the third quarter.
– Atlanta started its second second half possession from its 28.
– After a first down pick up, the Rams defense held again and the Rams got it back at their 6 after a big punt from Michael Koenen.
– The Rams went three and out and Atlanta got good field position again, this time from its 42.
– The Falcons again took advantage and moved swiftly into Rams territory as Turner picked up 12 on the first play and Gonzalez went for 16 on the second.
– A 12-yard completion to Justin Peele set up his 2-yard TD grab two plays later. With 2:01 to go in the third, Atlanta leads 23-17.
– Rams went three and out again, starting from their 20.
– Atlanta takes over at its 24.
– At the end of three, Atlanta leads 23-17.
– Bradford took a shot deep on the first play and just missed Robinson deep down the left sideline.
– Jackson gained 7 on second down but a third down incompletion set up a 53-yard field goal attempt for Brown. He converted and the Rams lead 10-3 with 14:14 to go in the half.
– The Falcons got a 55-yard kickoff return by Weems to the Rams’ 47.
– Atlanta took advantage of the field position and moved quickly to tie it up.
– A 15-yard late hit penalty on Atogwe pushed the Falcons to a first down at the Rams’ 14.
– Two plays later, Ryan hit Brian Finneran for 12 yards and a touchdown to tie it at 10 with 12:27 to go in the second quarter.
– The Rams started their next drive from their 10 after a penalty.
– An offensive pass interference call on Gibson nullified a first down catch and the Rams were unable to get untracked, punting it back to the Falcons, who took over at their 46 with more good field position.
– Atlanta again moved quickly, connecting on passes for gains of 16 and 16 to set up a 29-yard field goal by Bryant to make it 13-10 Atlanta with 7:01 to go in the quarter.
– The Rams started their next drive from their 20 but could get only a 9-yard completion to Bajema as Jackson was dropped for a 2-yard loss on third down.
– The Falcons started at their 32 and yet again moved quickly as the Rams struggled in coverage. Ryan hit White for 19 yards and Jenkins for gains of 8 each time.
– A 7-yard completion to Gonzalez gained 7 more for a first down at the Rams’ 12.
– Two runs set up a third-and-4 at the 6.
– Ryan threw incomplete and the Falcons settled for another Bryant field goal, this time from 24 yards out to make it 16-10 Atlanta with 32 seconds to go in the half.
– At the half, Atlanta leads 16-10.
– The Rams won the toss and elected to receive, starting from their 16.
– Bradford dumped it off to Steven Jackson for a gain of 9 yards on first down. He followed with a 2-yard rush for a first down. But that was all the Rams could muster and they punted three plays later.
– Atlanta got its first possession at its 33.
– The defense got a three and out with the help of a false start and an unnecessary roughness flag on Roddy White.
– The Rams began again with good field position at their 48.
– Bradford faked a bubble screen to Amendola and hit Laurent Robinson for a gain of 24 on the first play to Atlanta’s 28.
– After a 3-yard run by Jackson, Bradford rolled right and threw back to the left to a wide open tight end Michael Hoomanawanui for 25 yards and a touchdown.
– The Rams lead 7-0 with 9:52 left in the first.
– Atlanta started its second possession at its 20 and moved quickly into St. Louis territory with the benefit of some big plays. Matt Ryan hit Eric Weems for a gain of 18 on third-and-3 and later hit White for a 26-yard pickup on third-and-14.
– The Rams defense was able to hold and force a 42-yard field goal from kicker Matt Bryant. That conversion made it 7-3 Rams with 3:13 to go in the first quarter.
– The Rams had some issues on the kickoff as Amendola dropped it and they started from their 7.
– Unfazed, Bradford and the Rams began marching as he connected with Gibson for a gain of 9 followed by a 10-yard strike to Amendola.
– On second-and-10, Bradford hit Hoomanawanui for a gain of 18 down the left sideline as the rookie rose up and made a beautiful grab over a defender.
– A 10-yard run by Jackson two plays later gave the Rams a first down at Atlanta’s 42 to end the first quarter.
– Greetings from the Edward Jones Dome where the Rams and Falcons are preparing for a 3:05 kickoff in a game with plenty of implications for both teams.
– At 4-5, the Rams are looking to bounce back from a disappointing loss last week in San Francisco. The Rams have proved resilient time and again this year but this figures to be their biggest challenge in that regard yet.
– That’s because Atlanta comes in here at 7-2 and playing better than perhaps any team in the NFL. The Falcons have been better at home than on the road (who hasn’t?) but still come in with a dynamic, balanced offense complimented by an opportunistic defense that has forced 19 turnovers this year.
– On the inactive front, the Rams will be without: CB Kevin Dockery, CB Quincy Butler, S James Butler, G John Greco, WR Danario Alexander, TE Derek Schouman, DE Eugene Sims and DT Darell Scott.
– All were healthy enough to go but the Rams wanted to be cautious with James Butler and Alexander to get them fully healed before having them up.
– For the Falcons, DE John Abraham is the big name on the inactive list. That should ease some of the pressure on rookie LT Rodger Saffold and allow Sam Bradford more time to throw.
– The Rams are wearing the blue on blue today.
– Stay tuned for updates throughout the game.
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– The Rams just finished their Friday practice and they’re ready to take on a tough opponent Sunday in the Falcons.
– On the injury front, it appears the Rams will be making inactive decisions on Sunday based on football rather than injuries.
– DT Fred Robbins was limited again because of an upper back injury and he will be questionable this week. Coach Steve Spagnuolo said they “expect” to have Robbins for the game Sunday, though.
– WR Danario Alexander (knee) did quite a bit of work in practice this week and it appears he’ll be able to play if the team chooses. Still, Spagnuolo says the Rams will take a long look at having him active before a choice is made.
“Questionable is the way he will be listed and that’s exactly what he is. We’ll be careful. If it works scheme wise and numbers wise with the 45, we’ll have him.”
– Tackle Rodger Saffold made it through the week OK and appears ready to play against Atlanta.
– Spagnuolo talked about WR Mardy Gilyard, who did some more work with the top unit this week and appears closer to contributing after the coaching staff saw a noticeable difference in him since the bye week.
“I think he has stepped it up. It’s all part of the learning process for a rookie, learning how to be a pro.”
– Spagnuolo would not reveal the decision on who will start at corner opposite Ron Bartell this week though it appears it won’t be Kevin Dockery again.
– And the final word on his team’s state of readiness for Sunday…
“I don’t see any change in them. They bounced right back on Wednesday. We’ve already moved on. We are onward and upward. We know we’ve got a pretty good team coming in here so we are just going to focus on that.”
– Remember, Sunday’s game WILL be televised locally on KTVI-Fox 2 with a 3:05 kickoff set at the Edward Jones Dome.
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– The Rams met the requirements to have a local blackout lifted, selling enough tickets for this week’s game against Atlanta to meet the league requirements for it to be televised.
– The Rams and Falcons game is set for a 3:05 p.m. kickoff Sunday at the Edward Jones Dome.
– It will be broadcast live on KTVI-Fox 2 in the St. Louis area and on the radio as always on 101.1 ESPN.
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