For the first time since 2006 the St. Louis Rams will start their season 1-0, by defeating the Arizona Cardinals for a third straight time 27-24. Like everything for the Rams nothing came easy of course, as they were down 24-13 with 13 minutes left of the 4th quarter until Sam Bradford hit Jared Cook for his 2nd touchdown and Bradford ran in the two-point conversion himself to pull within three. Robert Quinn then came up with a sack fumble that the Rams came up with and Greg Zuerlein tied the game. After exchanging drives, the Rams got the ball at the 20 yard line with 2:00 left and never looked back, Zuerlein knocked in the game-winning 48 yard field goal with :40 seconds left to put the Rams up 27-24. Robert Quinn then came up with the sack that basically put the game away and sealed the win which couldnt have been written any better, as the Rams honored Deacon Jones during the game.
With the preseason finally over, we got to see what the Rams offense looked like full force. The acquisition of Jared Cook really payed dividends as he had 7 receptions for 141 yards and 2 touchdowns. Sam Bradford looked as comfortable as he has ever been finishing 29/38 for 299 with two touchdowns and an interception. Tavon Austin had a respectable game as well having 7 receptions for 41 yards.
The offense may have moved the ball nicely, however, like last season it was the little mistakes that kept them out of the end zone and kept Arizona in the game. The Rams had to punt after their first drive after it stalled at mid field due to a holding and false start penalty and then Jared Cook fumbled the ball inside the five yard line as he was running to the end zone. After the end of the first quarter the game was scoreless, even though the Rams had clearly played well enough to be winning.
It was the Cardinals that put the first points on the board as Carson Palmer, who ended going 26/40 for 327 with 2 touchdowns and an interception, hooked up with Larry Fitzgerald who looked a lot like the Larry Fitzgerald of old. Fitzgerald finished with 8 catches for 80 yards and two touchdowns. The Rams then drove the ball all the way inside the red zone, but like the Rams of last year, they couldnt put the ball in the end zone and were forced to kick the field goal. Luckily for the offense, the defense bent, but didnt break and forced the Cardinals to settle for three. The offense thanked the defense by scoring a touchdown in the red zone this time to tie the game at 10 going into the half. The Cardinals would drive the ball with :26 seconds left to try a 50 yard field goal that kicker Jay Feeley would miss wide right.
The Rams had committed a lot of mistakes, but still found themselves tied at half time. Coming out of the half Trumaine Johnson intercepted Carson Palmer and returned it inside the five yard line. The offense then went 3 plays for -4 yards and were forced to kick the field goal to go up 13-10 and allow the Cardinals to hang in the game The teams then exchanged possessions and then the Rams faced a series of plays that would almost cost them the game. Tavon Austin made an error on a punt return that would put the Rams at the 10 yard line, on top of that the Rams had an unnecessary roughness penalty that would put them at the 5. On the next play Richardson took a handoff that was called back due to holding, and finally, on the last and final play of this terrible sequence, Bradford threw a screen pass that was tipped and caught by NT Dan Williams who returned it for a touchdown. The Rams had dug themselves a hole down now 17-13. The Cardinals scored on another pass from Palmer to Fitzgerald on the teams next drive to put them up 24-13.heading into the 4th quarter.
The Rams had played a lot like the Rams of last year with the bad penalties and bad turnovers, but also like the Rams of last year, they would not quit. Last season the Rams had four games when they found themselves down heading into the fourth quarter and managed to climb their way back. This game would be no different. Fans had begun to lose hope, but the team would not. The Rams would score the next 14 points to win the game. The defense hadnt been playing it’s best football, but they did when it counted. With a young team you are going to get young player mistakes, sadly some of the mistakes were coming from Cortland Finnegan a veteran guy. The Rams overcame a lot and proved that though they are young, they can pull out tight wins.
Daryl Richardson started his first game replacing Steven Jackson, and although he did not have a big game, he did enough to keep the defense honest and came up with some strong runs. Richardson finished with 20 carries for 63 yards and 5 receptions for 33 yards. The offensive line also kept Bradford upright as he wasnt sacked a single time.
The Rams defense played what many described as a lackluster performance, but came up big when it counted. They were giving the Cardinals wide receiver a lot of cushion, but still managed to force some incompletions. Cortland Finnegan and rookie Alec Ogletree both lead the team in tackles with 7 and James Laurinaitis was right behind them with 6. Robert Quinn had the only Rams sacks of the afternoon with 3 and he forced two fumbles, he could push for a pro bowl spot this season. Janoris Jenkins also forced a fumble.
This was a good comeback win for the Rams and it will have them starting on a good note, this game could have shaped the Rams season. The Rams will now celebrate this one for 24 hrs and then put it behind them and then they will have prepare to face old teammate Steven Jackson and the Atlanta Falcons who lost to the New Orleans Saints. It will be a tough task, but if you take anything away from this game, it’s don’t ever count the Rams out. The Rams are 1-0 for the first time since 2006 and are tied for first in the NFC West as the 49ers and Seahawks both came up with victories. Enjoy it now Rams fans, because the Rams have some tough challenges ahead of them.