GLENDALE, Ariz. –
– There’s no such thing as style points in the NFL. Whether you score 50, pitch a shutout or win 3-2, it doesn’t matter and when you get to December, any win is critically important.
– But for this 2010 edition of the Rams, Sunday’s 19-6 win against Arizona comes with a certain amount of value unlike any victory the team has had in about a half-dozen seasons.
– That’s because the Rams are legitimate, bonafied contenders to win the NFC West Division. To take it a step further, this is a team that controls its destiny. Anything that happens henceforth will be the result of the Rams own doing. And that’s a pretty big accomplishment for a group nobody outside the walls of the Russell Training Center and the Edward Jones Dome expected to achieve.
– Let’s run through the injuries from Sunday’s game real quick. And first, I’d like to note the toughness the Rams showed in this win. A number of the following guys were dinged up and showed the resolve to get back on the field. You think this game didn’t matter to these guys? Witness the following:
– CB Ron Bartell re-injured his left shoulder. He attempted to return, played one snap and then came back out. He will be evaluated further this week and it remains to be seen how serious it is.
– RT Jason Smith injured his ankle, missed a couple of snaps and got right back in the game.
– LB Chris Chamberlain suffered a hand injury. He will have an X ray on it and coach Steve Spagnuolo said the team was “concerned” about it. Chamberlain also returned to the game and played through the injury.
– LB Na’il Diggs suffered a shoulder injury late in the game. Spagnuolo said he could be “out a while” but he’d be examined closer on return to St. Louis.
– TE Billy Bajema suffered a knee injury early in the game but also gutted it out to come back. He isn’t likely to need an MRI and should be OK moving forward.
– RB Kenneth Darby suffered bruised ribs. He’s expected to be fine as well but will be looked at again on Monday.
– As for the game, it certainly wasn’t pretty but the beautiful thing about it was this: Everyone knew the Rams needed this game and they simply went out and did what had to be done. It wasn’t their best performance, it was far from their worst but it was good enough to get to 6-6 and that’s all that matters.
– Let’s start with high praise for the defense, Spagnuolo and coordinator Ken Flajole. They were relentless with the blitz packages, knowing full well that the Cardinals quarterbacks hadn’t fared well in those situations this season. They finished with four sacks and hit all three of the Cardinals quarterbacks repeatedly.
– Hats off to Craig Dahl for his best performance as a Ram. According to the unofficial pressbox statistics, he finished with seven tackles, an interception, three tackles for loss, a sack and a pass defended.
– Fellow safety Oshiomogho Atogwe also seemed to be all over the field, finishing with six stops, a sack and two tackles for loss.
– Big Fred Robbins continues to wreak havoc in the middle with a pair of sacks as well.
– All in all, dialing up the blitz repeatedly was a simple enough game plan but it got the job done after the defense got off to a rough start early.
– Offensively, it was tough sledding for the Rams as the Cardinals played pretty darn good defense.
– OC Pat Shurmur stuck to the run again and was rewarded by a gritty effort from Steven Jackson. The Cardinals loaded up to stop him but he was able to pop a couple of big runs, including the 27-yard touchdown run that ultimately proved to be the score to put the game away.
– Jackson broke the 100-yard barrier again and is now within 15 yards of breaking 1,000 for the season yet again.
– QB Sam Bradford, by his own admission, didn’t have his best day but he managed the game, only turned it over once and made plays at critical junctures, particularly in the two minute drill at the end of the first half and on third down.
– What a great kick out block by Smith on Jackson’s touchdown run.
– And I’d be absolutely remiss if I failed to mention the excellent all around performance of the special teams. In just about every area, that group excelled.
– K Josh Brown bounced back from a tough week last week and in practice this week to be perfect on his four field goal attempts.
– P Donnie Jones was excellent in averaging 50 yards per punt with a net of 45.5.
– And returner Danny Amendola was outstanding on punt returns. He had three attempts with an average of 27.3 yards per attempt. He swung field position and gave the offense short fields each time. Huge performance that will go unnoticed in the box score.
– Great job by the Rams closing it out in the second half. For a team that has been critical of itself for its inability to finish, it outscored the Birds 10-0 in the final half and the Cardinals never really threatened.
– So here we are, the Rams go into the final quarter of the season tied with Seattle atop the division at 6-6. Both teams have key divisional games waiting but it’s certain to be a run ride that could come down to the very end.
– So for now, enjoy another Rams victory, Rams fans. It’s on to the Big Easy where things will be anything but next week.
– Back tomorrow to wrap this one up.
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