– Let’s just get this out of the way right now – it’s only two games into the season – but Rams football is fun again. It’s just that simple.
– If you weren’t entertained by the Rams’ scintillating 31-28 win against Washington on Sunday at the Edward Jones Dome, then you probably need a reminder on how to have fun.
– Before we dive into all the things we saw today (hint: there’s a lot), let’s hit the top news first.
– RB Steven Jackson has a groin strain. That’s why he didn’t play the rest of the game after the ridiculous sequence in which he scored a touchdown from 1-yard out but nobody wanted to make a call and eventually he was penalized for spiking the ball. Jackson says the injury isn’t serious and he should bounce back quickly but he also said he feels much better about his absence considering the performance of RB Daryl Richardson.
– Jackson also commented on the penalty and that sequence saying he should have “rolled the dice,” his trademark celebration instead of spiking the ball.
– As for the game, the popular theme in the locker room was resilience. This team was down and out time and again, be it from WR Danny Amendola’s early fumble that turned into a Washington touchdown, the interception QB Sam Bradford threw in the end zone or the 21-6 deficit the team faced in the first half. Every time the Redskins has questions, the Rams had answers.
– Let’s start with Bradford. As they say, Bradford was flat out spinnin’ that thing today. He finished 26-of-35 for 310 yards with three touchdowns and one pick for a rating of 117.6. It was one of his best performances as a pro. He got the ball out quick, he was decisive and he was uncanny accurate.
– Of course, Bradford couldn’t have done what he did without the help of his offensive line. This is a group that was incredibly banged up coming in and lost LT Rodger Saffold early. Wayne Hunter plugged in and the group never missed a beat. Bradford was sacked just twice and only hit a handful of others. The Rams put up 452 yards of total offense. Tip of the cap to the front 5.
– Of course, the star of the day was Amendola. He coughed up a costly fumble early then set about making up for the error the final 59 minutes of the game. The result was 15 catches (tied for the Rams record for a game with Flipper Anderson and Isaac Bruce) for 160 yards and a touchdown. What a gutsy effort. No individual performance better symbolized the Rams’ resolve on Sunday.
– Rookie RB Richardson also played a huge role in filling in for Jackson. The speedy rook didn’t look like a rookie until his fumble in the final minutes. He finished with 15 carries for 83 yards, an average of 5.5 yards per attempt. If Jackson has to miss a game or so, it seems the run game is in good hands with the dynamic youngster.
– The Rams got the running game revved up as a whole, finishing with 27 carries for 151 yards as a team, an average of 5.6 yards per attempt.
– Another week, another nice touchdown grab by WR Brandon Gibson.
– In need of a spark following Bradford’s interception in the end zone, TE Matthew Mulligan made a veteran play. He spotted a weakness in Washington’s punt team, decided to bypass engaging his man and broke through for a blocked punt. He followed with a 1-yard touchdown catch, the first of his career. He’s far from flashy but that’s the kind of veteran play you have to have.
– Flipping to the other side, the defense as a group may not get the credit it deserves but Washington finished with 373 yards and RG3 was effective but not deadly.
– Griffin was impressive, throwing some great long balls, including his touchdown pass to WR Leonard Hankerson but he was unable to get the job done late. The Rams also missed some golden opportunities for interceptions to ice the game late.
– Speaking of interceptions, what a performance again from CB Cortland Finnegan. Through two games, he has been worth twice the lucrative contract he got in the offseason. He made a terrific one-handed grab for an interception and he was his usual self, agitating the Redskins throughout the day, culminating in the penalty that cost Washington a chance to tie the game or take the lead late. There may not be a player in the league that you love having on your team and hate having to play against more than Finnegan.
– Don’t hurt ’em, Janoris Jenkins.
– DEs Robert Quinn and Chris Long probably won’t get much pub for their work but they were disruptive off the edge. If there was any desire at all to regularly call holding penalties, the Redskins would have been marching 10 yards in the wrong direction most of the day.
– I’d be remiss not to mention a key special teams play late, similar to what happened last week in Detroit. P Johnny Hekker came up huge with another field position-changing punt at a huge moment. With 5:07 to go in the game, the Rams had fourth-and-11 at their 10. Hekker boomed a 66 yard punt angled toward the right sideline. Washington returner Brandon Banks lost 3 yards on the punt. A drive that ended at their 10 led to the Redskins starting from their 21. Great time for a career-long in his young career.
– It was an extremely chippy game, which is fine for a Jeff Fisher coached team but here’s the thing: this one almost got out of hand because the officials had no control over the game. There were 18 total penalties in the game, including SIX of the 15-yard variety. Even if you throw out the horse collar tackle as accidental, that’s a large number and it could have been more.
– Despite that, the Rams found ways to fight through the much and get a win. This team is really taking on the personality of Coach Jeff Fisher and though it’s impossible to predict a record, one thing is certan: it’s going to be an enjoyable ride. Buckle up, Rams fans.
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