The St. Louis Rams won their preseason finale Thursday night as they defeated the Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Ravens 24-21 and closed out their preseason with a 1-3 record. Austin Davis lead the Rams down the field and threw the game-winning touchdown pass to Chase Reynolds with just over two minutes to go and then the defense came up with the clinching interception.
The majority of the Rams key players as well as the Ravens key players did not start as to keep them healthy for week one. For the Rams, starting them was the plan, but Fisher and Snead talked it over and both decided that with the amount of injuries on other teams, it would be best not to start the key players. At least the Rams will be starting the season healthy. Some starters did play however,such as rookies Tavon Austin, Alec Ogletree, and others.
The first quarter was a turnover shoot out if there ever was such a thing as the Rams fumbled the ball three times losing two and then recovered a fumble of their own. Isaiah Pead started it off of course as he fumbled the opening kickoff, then Brian Quick fumbled on the next drive, and finally Tavon Austin finished it off by fumbling one of his own.
Kellen Clemons started the game at quarterback and finished with 13/18 for 188 yards, making the only real case either backup quarterback has made for the spot. Austin Davis finished with 6/13 for 50 yards and two touchdowns.
At running back Zac Stacy carried much of the load throughout the first half. In fact he scored a touchdown in a goal line situation which is nice to see, assuming he will see similar situations in the regular season. Stacy finished with 11 carries for 37 yards and a touchdown. Dont be surprised if you also see Benny Cunningham getting some carries in the regular season, especially week one when Pead is serving his suspension. Cunningham was a stud in Thursday’s game finishing with 8 carries for 76 yards and 7 yards receiving. Cunningham could also take over as kick returner as he has outperformed Pead in that area. Pead finished the game with 7 carries for 27 yards, 16 yards receiving and that fumble.
Brian Quick may have had a fumble, but he bounced right back having 5 receptions for 60 yards, he also forced a pass interference penalty which set up Zac Stacy’s touchdown. There is still a question mark on whether or not the Rams will keep six wide receivers, but if they do expect it to be Justin Veltung. Veltung has an advantage as he can do some things on special teams.
On defense DE Gerald Rivers, S Matt Daniels, and LB Ray-Ray Armstrong all came to play and showed why they all deserve a spot on the roster. Snead also spent some time up in the booth with Marshall and Torry and may have given and hint that McLeod will be the starter at safety. “You saw a Rodney McLeod who is gonna start at safety for us, come in and play nickel with this group,” Snead said. Was it just me, or did he name McLeod the starter?
There were a lot of positive things to be taken away from this preseason victory. The young players played well, it was against the Ravens back-ups, but still the future for this team is very bright. The Rams however still have some things to work on they had 17 penalties for 123 yards. Thats not going to win you many football games. The players committing the penalties arent the guys who will be playing week one, but still it was a problem for the starters as well.
For a preseason game that featured back up and depth players, it was an exciting nail biter. There were five lead changes and the Ravens challenged to take the lead for the final time in the final 30 seconds until Drew Thomas came up with the clinching interception. The game may have had a lot of drama, but the drama has just begun for the Rams. In the next couple of days the Rams will have to cut down to the final 53 man roster and making those cuts are never easy, but are necessary.
The preseason has been an up and down one for the Rams, but they did manage to squeak out a win. We saw what the Rams offense is capable of, young rising players, and what the Rams need to improve on. The Rams will now be preparing to play the game that we have been waiting for for so long, week one of the regular season against the Arizona Cardinals in the Edward Jones Dome. If the Rams carry over anything from the preseason, hopefully it will be this win and the Rams can start the 2013 season on a high note by beating a divisional opponent and starting 1-0.