Rams v Raiders: What I Liked, What I Didn’t Like


Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The St Louis Rams bounced back from their devastating loss to San Diego with their most dominant win in a long time, a 52-0 annihilation of the hapless Oakland Raiders. The list of records that this scoreline represents has already been well established, but it clearly revealed the team’s potential, the weak opposition notwithstanding. Naturally, in such a lopsided victory there are many things to like, but an unpleasant incident has also led to a dislike, and I am not referring to Roger Saffold taking another knock…

What I Liked…

Tre Mason    Somehow, the rookie running back has gone from a pre-game inactive to the Rams’ leading Offensive Rookie of the Year. The last few weeks have seen Mason gradually adjusting to the NFL, but Sunday was a coming-out party for the youngster. Mason made a significant combination to the team’s offensive output, and quickly helped to put the game out of reach. He ran for 117 yards and had a further 47 through the air, with three total touchdowns. In addition, Mason displayed the speed and elusiveness that make him the running back of the future that Zac Stacey never was – although it continues to confuse me why Stacey is not being used more, particularly in short-yardage and goal-line situations. But this was Mason’s game, and we will gloss over his reduced average in the second half once the game was won. It looks like Steven Jackson’s heir has arrived.

The defense  As if the shutout was not enough, the Rams defense recovered two fumbles, intercepted three passes, notched up six sacks and scored one defensive touchdown. This was a suffocating performance by a defense that is delivering on its full potential, and all areas were safely covered. The defensive line was incredibly strong, with Chris Long having a busy comeback, helping to unleash Robert Quinn to create havoc in the backfield. The linebackers were also forceful, with Alec Ogletree showing greater comfort in Greg Williams’ scheme. And, finally, the secondary seems in very safe hands with a dynamic trio of cornerbacks and a pair of hard-hitting safeties. Oakland felt the full force of the Rams D, a defense that seemed determined to leave that goose egg on the scoreboard. Yes, it may have been against the Raiders, but this defense would scare anyone.

Shaun Hill     A week after his dreadful endzone interception, the quarterback responded with an efficient and well-managed game. Hill started throwing the ball early, confusing the Raiders (admittedly not a difficult thing to do) before Mason took over. Steadman Bailey quickly picked up 100 yards, and Hill threw two touchdowns, as well as running one in himself. The quick scores must have shocked Hill, but he remain unfazed as he put the game to rest, an issue the Rams have struggled with in the past. With the receivers putting up consistent numbers and Mason’s game-changing ability, not to mention the in-form defense, the Rams need little more than a solid game manager, and Hill is among the best at that. With a more dynamic leading under center – one who is not injured – the Rams could be contending.

What I Didn’t Like…

The ‘hands-up’ fallout        I am not going to get drawn into a discussion about the tragic events in Ferguson, nor about whether five Rams players – Bailey, Tavon Austin, Jared Cook, Chris Givens and Kenny Britt – were right or wrong to carry out their now infamous ‘hands up’ gesture, but it saddens me that the Rams’ incredible victory was overshadowed by the media and public reaction to the gesture. Sports have always been associated with political protest – see the famous 1968 Munich Olympics – and to expect otherwise is naïve. People need to remember that everyone has a right to disagree with protests without preventing these from taking place. The Rams do not normally feature in the British BBC’s website, but, on Monday, they made the most popular sports articles…and not because of the win. It is a shame, but also a fact about our current media climate, and, rightly or wrongly, Rams Nation would have preferred the focus to be on the victory.