St. Louis Rams won their division opener against the Seattle Seahawks with brilliant special teams play and a dominant performance by the secondary. Although the game ended on a third interception by cornerback Bradley Fletcher, the player of the game was clearly Greg Zuerlein, who tacked on 12 points in a hard-fought win. Zuerlein started the 1st Quarter by breaking the St. Louis Rams record for longest field goal, by nailing through a 58 yarder with plenty of room to spare. As impressive as the kick was, it may go down as the all-time shortest held record, in terms of time, after LegaTron booted another from 60 yards in the third quarter.
The game was extremely ugly offensively on both sides of the ball. The Rams offense contributed a big, fat zero points for the entire game. Bradford ended the night hitting on 16 of 30 passes for 221 yards and an interception caused by miscommunication between Gibson and himself. He was able to move the ball effectively enough to get in field goal range, including some crucial first down passes later in the game, and hit 8 different receivers throughout the game. Jackson was also held to only moderate gains for most of the game, aside from a 23 yard break out run early in the first half, while Richardson saw only a series or two in the backfield.
However, Bradford performance was MVP-esque in comparison to Seattle’s Russell Wilson. Wilson ended the night with a respectable 17 of 25 passing, although that may be a tad mileading. Wilson had trouble seeing over the Rams big defensive tackles, forcing him to become uncomfortable in the pocket and hold the ball for too long. As a result, Wilson ended with only 160 yards passing, no touchdowns, and, a game deciding, three interceptions. The one, and only, bright spot was the monster running game by Marshawn Lynch and Robert Turbin, who combine for 6.2 yard per carry, running 26 times for 163 yards. The Rams had little answer for the running attack, but played it just well enough to squeak out the win.
After an impressive opening drive by Seattle, the momentum really turned in St. Louis favor after the fake field goal pass from Johnny Hekker to Danny Amendola. The Rams poured on 16 straight points before Steven Hauschka put one through the uprights for Seattle in the third quarter to stop the bleeding. It appeared as if they Seattle and St. Louis defenses had cancelled one another out, but at the end of the game it was the St. Louis Rams who won in the third and final phase of the game and got the mark in the W column.
The St. Louis Rams now move to a meaningful .500 for the first time in recent memory and, more importantly, move up to 1-0 in an extremely tough NFC West. In 2010, the head-to-head tie breaker between the Seahawks and Rams is what propelled the ‘Hawks into the playoffs, putting a damper on Sam Bradford’s stellar rookie campaign. Now, the Rams will move up with ranks of the NFC West, currently at third behind the San Francisco 49ers (3-1) and Arizona Cardinals (3-0).
Next week, the Rams take on the currently undefeated Arizona Cardinals on Thursday Night Football. The Cards and Rams will both be on short weeks after playing today, although Arizona will have to travel to the Edwards Jones Dome where St. Louis is now 2-0 in front of the home crowd.