ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. –
– If we have learned nothing else about this year’s version of the Rams 13 games into this season, the one thing we should know by now is not to get up and leave the room or go to the restroom in the fourth quarter. DE Robert Quinn said it best when he said after the game that as long as there is time on the clock, the Rams believe they can win.
– Never was that more evident than Sunday at Ralph Wilson Stadium as the Rams came up with a stirring late comeback to win one in the final moments.
– Before we get further into that, let’s just pause a moment and reflect on how far this team has come. When was the last time the Rams were on the right side of a last minute comeback win? How about the last time they did it two weeks in a row? Something is happening here: bounces are going the Rams way, they’re finding ways to win at the last minute and they’re winning consistently.
– At 6-6-1, the Rams are back to .500 and firmly in the mix for a NFC Wild Card spot. In the next three weeks, they’ll have a chance to take on three teams right in the mix with them. They don’t mathematically control their destiny but they absolutely have a chance to make some waves and be heard from.
– Three games is officially a winning streak. It’s the first for the Rams since the final trio of games in 2006.
– On the injury front, Coach Jeff Fisher said S Craig Dahl has a concussion. LT Rodger Saffold had some back spasms and was in and out of the game late but he’s expected to be OK according to Fisher.
– Now, back to the game, it’s yet another week where it’s hard to figure out where to begin. Last week it was the defense so let’s go with the offense.
– It was an incredibly tough and ugly first half for that group, of that there is no doubt. Without the services of WR Danny Amendola again, it’s been difficult to find a rhythm offensively. But the group does deserve plenty of credit for coming through when it was needed most.
– Let’s start with a tip of the cap to WRs Austin Pettis and Brandon Gibson and TE Lance Kendricks. All made huge, difficult catches on the team’s final drive. Pettis’ reaching behind him to convert on fourth down quite literally saved the game. Just an unbelievably clutch play.
– As for Gibson, what a response in the second half. He hasn’t been too active in the pass game in the past few weeks but without Amendola and the offense sputtering, it was Gibson who answered the bell. He posted 100 yards on six catches and caught the game-winning touchdown. Big time.
– As the quarterback, Bradford takes a lot of heat for when the offense struggles and willingly acknowledged his struggles in the first half Sunday but there’s no denying how good he’s been late in games this year. He made the plays when it counts. I’ll go and check his fourth quarter numbers for a story this week but he’s been quite good in that regard this year.
– Nice job by the O-line and RB Steven Jackson staying with the run and getting the job done blocking on the final drive as well.
– On to the defense, the defense that continues to find ways to keep the Rams in games, particularly these slugfests they continue to find themselves in.
– Really, since the season opener in Detroit, the defense has been looking for another opportunity to finish a game it had a chance to win late. They got one Sunday and they made the most of it, coming up with a huge sack by DE Robert Quinn and then the interception by LB Jo-Lonn Dunbar to seal it.
– For the second week in a row, just a phenomenal job by the run defense. The two-headed monster of C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson didn’t do much of anything as the Bills finished with 61 yards on the ground.
– What’s the key to the success of the run defense? Physical domination up front. The two tackles for the Rams – Michael Brockers and Kendall Langford – and the two for the Bills – Kyle Williams and Marcel Dareus – might be the two combos playing the best in the league right now.
– Speaking of Brockers, it’s a scary thought to realize how good this kid could be. He’s put together two big performances in a row and continues to improve. He’s got monster written all over him.
– The one thing the Rams continue to do defensively that makes a huge difference is hold opponents to field goals instead of touchdowns. It paid off in a big way again on Sunday.
– Still got to come up with the fumble from QB Ryan Fitzpatrick, though.
– And the unit that will probably go overlooked this week might have done the most important job of all: the special teams.
– Entering the game, Buffalo was first in the league in punt return and second in kick return. Neither unit did any serious damage as P Johnny Hekker hit some good ones and the coverage units did their job getting returners on the ground. It won’t be talked about much but that was a huge key to this victory.
– I want to take a moment to send a special shout out to huge Rams fan Seth Donnan, his mother, his sister and his sister’s boyfriend for making it to the game today. They came up from Long Island to see the game but the relationship is much deeper. I’ll have a full story on Seth and his friendship with DE Chris Long later this week but for now, just know that Seth is a very special kid and his presence breaking down the defensive line huddle and then in the locker room after the game were nothing short of inspiring.
– So here we are with three games to play and a whole world of opportunity ahead. I have no clue how it’s going to play out but I’ll venture a guess it’s going to be fun.
– Buckle up, Rams fans. Thanks for reading.
Posted in From the Sidelines | 3 Comments »
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. –
– Hekker mishandled the snap and picked the ball up but got 0 yards out of it as Buffalo takes over at its 49. Costly, costly mistake for the Rams.
– Darian Stewart in for Craig Dahl. Dahl being evaluated for a concussion.
– The Bills moved to the Rams’ 34 where they set up for a 52-yard field goal for Lindell but called timeout and opted to punt instead.
– Great play on the punt by WR Ruvell Martin to save it from going into end zone. Rams pinned at their 3.
– Jackson gained 1 on first down.
– Bradford finds Gibson for 24 yards on second down to the 28.
– A 9-yard completion to Pettis on third and 10 came up 1 yard short and the Rams had to punt it away.
– Buffalo starts from its 30.
– Much needed three and out for the Rams there.
– Rams start from their 26. Now is the time. Need a drive.
– Nothing doing for the Rams again. Three and out.
– Defense does its job again.
– Rams have to go 84 yards to win it with 4:55 to go. All three timeouts.
– Two Jackson runs went for 16 yards to the 32.
– Gibson missed a big play opportunity on a deep pass down the left sideline.
– Big catch by Kendricks on second down for 22 yards to Buffalo’s 46.
– Bradford finds Jackson for 9 to set up third and 1 at Buffalo’s 37.
– Third down pass nearly intercepted.
– It’s fourth and 1 at the 37.
– Unbelievable catch by Pettis for a gain of 9 and a first down.
– Bradford incomplete on first down.
– Incomplete again on second to make it third and 10.
– Huge catch by Gibson for 15 to move chains again to Buffalo’s 13.
– Incomplete on first down.
– Gibson makes a huge catch again for a 13-yard TD.
– Bradford finds Givens for a 2-point conversion. Rams lead 15-12 with 48 seconds to go.
– Bills start from their 22.
– Fitzpatrick to Chandler for 20 on first down to the 42. Big chunk there, can’t keep allowing those.
– Incomplete on first down.
– Bills have one timeout to go.
– A sack by Quinn and Mikell moved it back 9.
– Interception by LB Jo-Lonn Dunbar ends it.
– Rams with a huge 15-12 win. They stay alive. Plenty more to come.
– Rams start from their 30 to open the half.
– First down on an illegal hands to the face to the 39.
– Brian Quick converts a third down with a 6-yard grab to midfield.
– Another big third down conversion as Bradford hits Gibson for 22 and follows with 16 more to Buffalo’s 9.
– Bradford hits Givens for 8 on the next play to the 1.
– Jackson promptly scores from 1 yard out. Big drive for the Rams there. They take their first lead at 7-6 with 8:37 to go in the third.
– The Bills responded with their best drive of the day as Spiller ripped off runs of 13 twice and Fitzpatrick found TE Lee Smith for a 1-yard touchdown.
– Buffalo couldn’t convert the extra point though and it’s 12-7 with 3:26 to go in the third quarter.
– Rams start again from their 19, looking to build on previous drive.
– They picked up a couple first downs but stalled at midfield and will punt to open the fourth quarter.
– After three, the Bills lead 12-7.
– Jackson gets the chains moving as he ripped off a 12-yard run to the 31 and followed with 7 more to the 38.
– Jackson lost 1 on the next play to make it third and 4.
– Bradford threw incomplete for Steve Smith on third down. Another drive, another punt.
– Bills take over at their 22.
– The Rams forced another three and out and the offense gets it at its 39.
– Three and out yet again for the Rams.
– Bills take over at their 13.
– Defense got another stop on a third down sack split by DT Kendall Langford and DE Chris Long.
– Rams get it again at their 13. Need to find some rhythm on offense.
– Finally, a pair of third down conversions as Jackson gained 2 on third and 1 and Bradford found Givens for 13 on third and 6 for first down at the Rams 41 at the 2-minute warning.
– Bradford finds Gibson for 10 and another first down.
– On third and 5, Bradford was intercepted by rookie CB Stephon Gilmore who returned it for a touchdown but a block in the back brought it back to the Rams 49.
– Fitzpatrick hit three completions, including an 11-yarder to Chandler for first down at the Rams’ 23 with 32 seconds to go in the half.
– Bills get a 40-yarder from Lindell to make it 6-0 Bills with 7 seconds to go in the half.
– At the half, the Rams trail 6-0 and have just 71 yards of offense.
– The Rams won the toss and elected to defer.
– Buffalo started from its 25.
– On second and 9, DT Michael Brockers dropped Ryan Fitzpatrick for a 1-yard sack.
– On third down, Fitzpatrick forced a throw into the flat that LB James Laurinaitis had a chance at but couldn’t make the play. Disappointing miss.
– Rams got great field position at their 42 but went three and out as a third-and-3 pass fell incomplete.
– They punt it back to the Bills, who take over at their 18.
– Defense gets another quick three and out and get more field position at their 37.
– Three and out for the Rams. Four of those to start the game and just 13 total yards.
– Bills get it again at their 27.
– Buffalo finally pieced together some offense as Fitzpatrick hit Donald Jones for 19 yards for the first first down and they picked up a key third-and-13 when C.J. Spiller grabbed a screen pass and picked up 15 yards.
– But the Rams defense kept Buffalo out of the end zone when the Bills settled for a 35-yard field goal from K Rian Lindell. With 2:14 to go in the first, Buffalo leads 3-0.
– Rams start from their 30.
– Three and out again as Bradford under constant pressure and Givens can’t hang on to third down pass that would have been a first down.
– Buffalo takes over at its 29.
– Rams without a first down in this quarter.
– Bills march quick on completions of 23 to TE Scott Chandler and 34 to Johnson.
– But on first and 10 at the Rams 14, RB Fred Jackson fumbled on a hit from Brockers. LB James Laurinaitis recovered and returned it to the 19.
– At the end of the first, the Rams trail 3-0.
– Greetings from Ralph Wilson Stadium where the Rams and Bills are preparing for today’s game.
– Make no mistake, it’s cold here and a little windy but so far, it is shaping up to be a pretty nice day for December in Buffalo.
– Ralph Wilson Stadium is designed in a way that blocks wind so the flags on the top of the stadium are whipping around but the ones on the goalposts aren’t moving much at all.
– The forecast also appears to be shaping up with no precipitation.
– Rams inactives for today: TE Mike McNeill, QB Austin Davis, WR Danny Amendola, RB Terrance Ganaway, OL Chris Williams, DT Matt Conrath and T Joe Barksdale.
– Amendola was limited this week but just isn’t quite there yet as he deals with a foot/heel injury.
– LB Mario Haggan, who was questionable with an elbow injury is back and active.
– For the Bills: QB Tarvaris Jackson, CB Aaron Williams, CB T.J. Heath, C Eric Wood, WR Marcus Easley, DE Mark Anderson and OL Chris Scott.
– Undrafted rookie David Snow will start in place of Wood at center.
– Rams are wearing all blues today. Buffalo in all whites.
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