St. Louis Rams: Defense Shows Ability To Set The Tone Early
The St. Louis Rams came into Sunday’s matchup against the New Orleans Saints as underdogs. With the Saints a win away from securing a playoff spot at 10-3 and the Rams at 5-8 before the game, it should have been an easy win to secure their spot in the postseason. Robert Quinn and company had different plans for the Drew Brees-led Saints.
It was easy to overlook the Rams in this matchup as they had been outscored 53-23 in their last two games. Quinn got things started of the right way when he made an inside move on Saints LT Charles Brown, hitting Brees and forcing the pass to fall short of All-Pro tight end Jimmy Graham and allowing T.J. McDonald to make his first career interception. That led to the Rams’ first score of the day, getting them out to an early 7-0 lead.
On the next drive, the Saints marched down the field into the red zone. Brees rolled out to his right looking for Graham again, forcing a pass into an area covered by three St. Louis defenders. Trumaine Johnson made a leaping grab on the goal line to end the offensive drive for the Saints and setting up another Rams score.
It was a poor decision and under-thrown pass by Brees, who has struggled against the Rams in his career. It was the sixth time in his career that he has thrown two picks in a game against St. Louis. The Rams would be up 14-0 before the end of the first quarter thanks to two turnovers.
Greg Zurlein attempted a surprise onside kick that was recovered by rookie Stedman Bailey following the extra point kick. When things go right, they all go right for the Rams — the team continued the trend on Sunday. It didn’t lead to a touchdown, but St. Louis closed the drive with a field goal to go up 17-0 in a bit of role reversal for these two teams.
At the 10:50 mark in the second quarter, Quinn brought down Brees with his sack/forced fumble combination to end another Saints drive. The defensive line attacked Brees, relentlessly racking up seven QB hits on the day. Veteran DE Chris Long failed to make his presence known, but the Rams finished with four sacks on Brees and two interceptions.
Quinn added to his All-Pro campaign with two sacks, two QB hits, five tackles, one tackle for a loss, one forced fumble and one fumble recovery. Rotational defensive linemen William Hayes and Michael Conrath had one sack each on the day, with Hayes gathering two QB hits and Conrath having one QB hit.
Brees ended the day with 393 yards on 56 attempts with one touchdown and two interceptions. His yardage might look impressive, but his three turnovers were a big reason for the loss and the Rams’ line was in his face all game long. The majority of his yards came in the second half when St. Louis already had a big lead and softened their zone defense to prevent big plays.
The only question left to answer at the end of the day for the St. Louis Rams is whether this is who they are or if it is just another one of those flash-in-the-pan games by a terribly inconsistent squad. The ability to disrupt a teams offense is there for the Rams, they just have to prove it on a weekly basis.
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