In every storm, there is a silver lining, although sometimes it can be hard to find. This week was full of positives, although moral victories do not count towards your record at the end of the season. Still, most of Rams Nation could use a little pick-me-up following a game that should have left the St. Louis Rams with a 3-0 record in the division, one step closer to .500, and one step closer to a potential Wild Card push at the end of the season. Here are Ramblin’ Fan silver linings of the game.
1. First off, at least the St. Louis Rams did not “lose” the game. After completely dominating the Miami Dolphins in Week 6, but coming out with an L, the concept of the non-loss should be enough of a silver lining…
2. The St. Louis Rams offense looked amazing against, arguably, the best defense in the NFL. The team put up 458 total yards, converted on 7 out of 16 third downs (43.8%), and went 2 for 3 in the redzone (66.7%)! Moreover, the offense did not turnover the ball, converted on both 4th down attempts (even though they were both fake punts), and only allowed 2 sacks on Bradford. All of those without Chris Givens on the field, and with limited carries by Daryl Richardson.
3. Three players put up “top tier” statistics in the game: Sam Bradford, Steven Jackson, and Danny Amendola
4. Bradford went 26 for 39 passing (66.7%) for 275 yards, with 2 touchdowns and no interceptions. He only took 2 sacks on way to a 104.1 passer rating, his 3rd highest mark this season. Most importantly, he took complete control of the team in the clutch, marching down the field in the 4th quarter and throwing a touchdown with Patrick Willis bull-rushing up the middle, unblocked until Jackson stepped over. He put the team in position to win twice in overtime, with the 80 yarder to Amendola (called back) and getting to field goal range for Zuerlein’s 53 yard field goal (called back).
5. Danny Amendola is one of the best wide receivers in football… period. He will get snubbed from the Pro Bowl due to lack of production and lack of media attention, but only because of the injury and the fact that he plays on a small market team. Amendola caught 11 out of 12 targeted passes from Bradford, tallying 102 yards in the process. He would have added another 80 yards to that total had Brandon Gibson checked with the side judge to ensure that he was on the line of scrimmage in OT. Not counting the Arizona game when Danny left at halftime with a separated SC joint, he is averaging 8.4 catches for 90.6 yards per game this season. He has had 10+ catches and 100+ yards in 2 out of 5 complete games, and is catching 78.6% of his targeted passes.
6. The Jackson/Richardson combo is becoming more and more effective as the season progresses. The two combined for 159 yards on 37 carries, good for 4.3 yards per rush. Prior to the game, the 49ers had allowed only 2 rushing touchdowns this season. Jackson has now had a touchdown run in 2 out of his last 3 games. Also, he had the greatest “effort” first down that I have ever seen, and took Patrick Willis head on in a block that gave the Rams the lead in the fourth quarter.
7. The concerns about Michael Brockers as a “pure run-stuffer” can now be silenced. Our first round defensive tackle now has 2.5 sacks in the last 3 games, against two of the better offenses in the NFL. Quinn is also having a monster season, adding 1.5 sacks against the 49ers to put him at 8.5 on the season. Those numbers have Quinn tied for 6th place in the race for the sack title. Only one defensive lineman has more sacks this season, J.J. Watt, who is only “technically” a defensive end because of Houston’s 3-4 base defense. He was designated as a defensive tackle when they played out of a 4-3 base…
8. The St. Louis Rams not only won the total yards battle, but controlled the game through their managing of the clock on their long drives. The Rams won the battle of possession by a 40:45 to 34:15 margin.
9. The Rams scored on 4 out of 7 of their drives in regulation time. More impressively, they had two drive for 80+ yards that results in a touchdown. Had Chris Givens been in the game, who knows how productive the offense could have been through the air.
10. Although Brian Quick pulled another disappearing act late in the game, he did score the first regular season touchdown of his career, connecting the Bradford on a 36 yard catch and run. Quick was denied his first touchdown against the Dolphins, having the spot of the ball confirmed after being pulled down inches from the goal line.
11. Trumaine Johnson, Bradley Fletcher, and Cortland Finnegan played extremely well in coverage, until the Rams decided to play a soft, “prevent” zone in the 4th quarter. Aside from Crabtree, who put up 70 yards and a touchdown (mostly on Craig Dahl… surprise!), the Rams held the rest of the team in check for the entirety of the game. Danny Amendola alone had as many receptions as Colin Kaepernick had completions by the end of the game.
12. The San Francisco 49ers top ranking rushers, Frank Gore and Kendall Hunter, rushed 24 times for 112 yards. Holding their running game to under 150 yards on the ground is impressive, although they did allow Kaepernick to run for 66 yards and a touchdown.
13. Jo-Lonn Dunbar may hit harder than any outside linebacker in the NFL. Fans in St. Louis could hear the hit on Alex Smith all the way from Candlestick!
14. To get 5 sacks against the San Francisco 49ers is pretty solid. After laying an egg against the New England Patriots, it was nice to see our bookend players getting consistent pressure on Alex Smith and Colin Kaepernick.
15. Johnny Hekker is the first punter with two completions in a game since ’04 when Chris Mohr did it with the Atlanta Falcons. He left the game with a 118.8 passer rating, which was the best rating among all quarterbacks that did not leave the game with a concussion… zinger!