– 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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