After failing to reach the 100-yard mark for five straight games, St. Louis Rams running back Zac Stacy turned in his second highest rushing total of the season on Sunday. Stacy’s return to dominance was more than welcome for a Rams team that was on a two game slide. Piling up 106 yards in the first half alone set a new Rams rookie record while jumping on top of the New Orleans Saints to a 24-3 lead at the half.
His early performance was boosted by a few big runs including a 29-yard rush and a 40-yard TD run. It was his lone touchdown of the day, but it helped the Rams secure 24 points before halftime. The 29-yarder was a thing of pure beauty after he set up blocks nicely, leaped over Joe Barksdale who had muscled his man to the ground, and made two Saints defenders miss as he was flying over Barksdale. To top off the run he drew a personal foul for unnecessary roughness after he went out of bounds. Stacy’s 40-yard rush featured a broken tackle followed by him turning on the jets to score.
Stacy carried the ball 28 times for the Rams, and that was after he went down early with a hip injury. It looks like he recovered with something to prove to the Saints. The message was delivered through his punishment of the defense as he averaged 4.8 yards per carry. Stacy might be recovering from his rugged day, but the Saints are having to deal with bruised bodies and egos after he rumbled his way through each one of them.
Benny Cunningham only accounted for two rushes and ended with zero yards on those two attempts. St. Louis has to expect more out of their backup in order to feel comfortable spelling Stacy. Stacy can handle the majority of the load, but there has to be a plan B in order to keep him fresh all game. Cunningham was probably hoping for more opportunities in order to gain a rhythm. As a backup in the NFL, if you can’t provide on your few chances then you will get looked over — especially when the first choice is doing damage on each carry.
Thanks to Stacy’s 133-yard performance he is now just 146 yards away from eclipsing the 1,000-yard mark in his rookie season. If he can average 73 yards over the next two games he will lock up the Rams’ 9th consecutive season with a 1,000-yard rusher and their only running back other than Steven Jackson to provide that level of production since 2005. It is more than realistic to expect Stacy to continue that trend in St. Louis this year and for many seasons to come.