Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
The Rams got thumped 34-6 in their home opener against the Minnesota Vikings. They start the season 0-1 amidst a sloppy game where St. Louis racked up 13 penalties for 121 yards. Let’s revisit our keys to victory going into the game to see where things went wrong.
1.) Contain RB Adrian Peterson
The Rams did a good job of limiting Peterson’s impact on the game. He finished with 75 yards on 21 carries and zero touchdowns. His production could have been even lower, but he escaped several times to gain positive yards when trapped behind the line of scrimmage. All in all, mission accomplished as far as Peterson was concerned.
2.) Fluster QB Matt Cassel
Gregg Williams’ scheme was definitely noticeable, as blitzers came from all different directions on Sunday. The Rams were able to generate pressure, but not consistently enough to prevent Cassel from finishing with a 113.8 passer rating. He connected on 17 of 25 passes for 170 yards and two touchdowns. While he didn’t throw for big yardage, he was very efficient from the pocket. Overall he was not flustered very much by the St. Louis defense.
3.) Win the special teams battle
This area of the game ended slightly in favor of the Vikings. K Blair Walsh was a perfect 2-for-2, nailing field goals of 52 and 46 yards. Zurlien missed his first attempt, which was a 50 yard attempt that sailed wide-left. He connected on his two other kicks of the night, however. The first was an impressive 56-yarder in the third quarter, and the other was a 46-yarder during garbage time in the fourth quarter. WR/PR Tavon Austin muffed two punts, but he did have a nice 19 yard return in the second quarter.
4.) Take care of the ball
The Vikings won the turnover battle to the tune of 2-0. The first was an interception on the sideline by CB Josh Robinson. QB Shaun Hill forced a throw and the turnover allowed the Vikings to score a touchdown before the half to stretch their lead to 13-0. The second interception came from the arm of QB Austin Davis in the fourth quarter. S Harrison Smith picked off the pass in the redzone and returned it 81 yards for a touchdown. The Rams defense did not force a turnover on the day, although CB E.J. Gaines almost had himself an interception early in the game.
5.) Blanket TE Kyle Rudolph
The Rams defense limited the 6’6″ pass catcher to just two catches for 16 yards, but he did catch a touchdown in the corner of the endzone before the half. The Vikings barely had time to get him the football because they were so busy finding ways to get WR Cordarelle Patterson touches.
Check back next week for our Keys to Victory when the Rams take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.