December 2, 2012; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Rams defensive tackle Kendall Langford (98) and outside linebacker Jo-Lonn Dunbar (58) tackle San Francisco 49ers fullback Bruce Miller (49) during the second half at the Edward Jones Dome. St. Louis defeated San Francisco 16-13 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
Throughout the season the Rams have been preaching the motto “one game at a time.”
And they should.
In last week’s victory over the reigning NFC West champs, St. Louis accomplished what most teams couldn’t dream of doing. Not only did the Rams defeat one of the best teams in the NFL, but their defense bottled up Frank Gore and the 49ers second-ranked rushing offense. Gore was held to 58 yards rushing on 25 carries, resulting in a 2.5 yard average. Colin Kaepernick did gain 84 yards on nine carries, but a chunk of his yardage came late in the fourth quarter on a 50-yard scamper down the sideline.
If the Rams wish to stay afloat in the playoff standings, the Rams tenacious defense must continue to make reservations in their opponents backfield. St. Louis defense is off to a great start with their effort against the bruising 49ers rushing attack, but this week they face a two-headed monster in Buffalo.
Fresh off a 232 yard outing against the hapless Jaguars, the Rams have their hands full containing the speedster C.J. Spiller and the versatile Fred Jackson.
Spiller and Jackson has led Buffalo the NFL’s fourth-ranked rushing offense. Spiller currently ranks 10th with 907 yards with only 137 attempts resulting in a staggering 6.6 yards per carry. In seasons’ past, Jackson has been the feature back, but concussions and knee injuries has limited him to 423 yards on 106 carries.
With enough to worry about this coming Sunday in the frigid temperatures at Ralph Wilson Stadium, the Rams’ defense must remain stout as they face more formidable rushing attacks down the stretch.
Next week the Rams face arguably the best back in the NFL in Adrian Peterson and the Vikings third-ranked rushing offense. Peterson leads the NFL in rushing with 1,446 yards; remarkable for a guy who had reconstructive knee surgery a little under a year ago. Then St. Louis travels to Tampa Bay to take on heralded rookie Doug Martin and the Buccaneers 11th ranked rushing attack. The muscle hamster is tied for third with 1,106 yards. In the season finale, the Rams look to remain undefeated in the NFC West as they face the NFL’s second leading rusher in Marshawn Lynch and the Seattle Seahawks and their seventh-ranked rushing attack. Gore was ninth with 972 yards.
Right now, none of these games matter. Buffalo is first on the agenda. Michael Brockers has to continue his massive push up the middle along with the inside rush from Kendall Langford. If the Rams defense can nullify Spiller and Jackson early, Chris Long and company can pin their ears back and rattle the one time Ram and turnover prone Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Taking away Buffalo’s one-two punch also lies in the hands of the offense. The Bills can continue to pound away at the clock if the score is tight. In the last three games, Rams’ rookie cornerback Janoris Jenkins has scored 21 points to the offense’s 25 points.
The offense is moving the ball, but they must put points on the board. With Buffalo’s 30th ranked rushing defense, this may turn into a low scoring affair if the Rams unsheathed their own double-edged sword in Steven Jackson and Daryl Richardson; undoubtedly adding more pressure on the defense.
In the coming weeks, this defense has to step up to the challenge as they cling on to their hopes of reaching the playoffs.