The St. Louis Rams laid an egg Sunday against the Dallas Cowboys. Neither the offense, defense nor special teams played well at all. After three straight games of not allowing a sack, the Cowboys took Sam Bradford down six times behind the line and added at least 10 additional QB hits on top of that. The defensive lowlights included getting torched by Cowboys RB Demarco Murray all afternoon and also allowing Tony Romo a QB rating of 137.4 and three TDs. The special teams may have been worst of all, as the Rams again racked up two backbreaking penalties on punt returns, including one that nullified a Tavon Austin 84-yard TD. A very ugly day overall. The Rams have four days to figure out their issues because a home against the 49ers looms on Thursday night.
MVP – Robert Quinn
I honestly labored for about 10 minutes thinking of who possibly deserves this award. I’m curious to see how Pro Football Focus grades Quinn (he’s received off the charts grades in his first two games), but my initial eye test suggests that Quinn again made his presence felt this game. He had a big forced fumble early on that could’ve helped give the Rams an early lead if the offense hadn’t been completely incompetent. Certainly not as good as his first two games, but Quinn at least showed up today, which is better than can be said for a lot of players.
LVP – The Entire Offensive Line
I don’t know what happened between last week and this week, but the Rams’ offensive line looked completely out of sorts on Sunday. Almost nothing went right, as the Rams couldn’t generate any running game at all (having Richardson leave early on didn’t help, but I don’t think it would’ve changed much), and worse, allowed Bradford to hit the ground more than a dozen times. Thank God Cowboys DE Anthony Spencer wasn’t able to give it a go, otherwise Bradford might still be on the turf.
X-Factor – Tavon Austin
I’d still like to see more intermediate and deep routes added to Tavon Austin’s route tree, but it’s pretty clear that he’s going to be a big part of this offense. Also, his 84-yard punt return TD was a breathtaking display of his speed and playmaking ability. Unfortunately, that same play was a breathtaking display of the Rams’ special teams being stupid enough to commit about nine different penalties on one play. Still, big things are coming for the rookie Austin.
Key Stat – 48
Bradford threw the ball 48 times on Sunday, which was exactly four times as many rushing attempts that the Rams had. Through three games, Bradford has averaged 47 throws per game. This stat in and of itself is not necessarily bad – e.g. Peyton Manning has thrown 42.5 times per game in his first two games. The problem is that Bradford is dropping back when the defense knows he’s going to throw because the Rams keep digging themselves into double-digit deficits every game so far. They were able to bail themselves out against the Cardinals, but against more competent teams – especially on the road – falling behind early is an almost certain recipe for defeat with this team.
Tweet of the Game
— Matt Sebek (@MattSebek) September 22, 2013
What This Loss Means
Today’s loss is certainly an ugly wake up call for the team, and the season can now go one of two ways: Jeff Fisher and co. can either use this as a rallying point to demand better play, and the team will respond and bounce back, or they’ll lose their confidence and spiral down the standings. The Rams have a short week, as they play at home Thursday night against the 49ers, so Fisher and the coaching staff need to get to work quickly on correcting mistakes.
49ers vs. Rams
Thursday, Sept. 26, 2013 | 7:25 p.m. CT
Edward Jones Dome