Sunday, October 17, 2010

Rams vs Chargers Post-Game Package

The Rams were coming off of a devastating loss the Detroit Lions, a blow out that resulted in the final score of 44-6. That game made everyone uncertain how the Rams would come out against a solid San Diego Chargers team. The Chargers have the top rated offense in the NFL (yards per game), as well as the top passing offense. Would the Rams play them competitively? Or would they bend over again? And also, would rookie receiver Denario Alexander help fill Mark Clayton's shoes?

The Rams came out in the first half and gave some quick answers to those questions. Their first offensive drive resulted in a field-goal, making the score 3-0. Then, on their third drive of the game, Alexander caught his third reception of the game, a 38-yard bomb by Sam Bradford for a touchdown; this made the score 10-0. On the fifth drive of the game, a 21-yard catch by receiver Mardy Gilyard, and a personal foul penalty, set up a 7-yard touchdown run by Steven Jackson, making the score 17-0.

The St. Louis defense had an equally solid half. They forced a three-and-out the first two drives, and shut down San Diego's offense until a field goal at the end of the half (which made the score 17-3 going into the half). The Rams were able to apply solid pressure during the first half; Chris Long recorded two sacks, Larry Grant had a sack, OJ Atogwe got one, as well as James Hall. Atogwe also had a interception in the end-zone.

Things did not go as smoothly in the second half, as the Chargers started off with all of the momentum. Their second drive of the half was their first trip to the red-zone. Poor pass coverage, and big plays, ultimately resulted in running-back Mike Tolbert pounding in a goal-line touchdown, making the score 17-10.

After two failed offensive drives by the Rams, following Tolbert's touchdown, the Chargers offense put together another solid drive, once again marching down field against the Rams' defense with ease. It looked as though they Chargers would walk away with more points from the drive, as they got ready to attempt a field-goal; however, kicker Nate Kaeding slipped, and the field-goal attempt failed. 

The missed field-goal turned out to be huge. Instead of adding three more points, the Chargers gave the Rams solid field position. After a 15-yard catch by tight-end Billy Bajema, the Rams were in field-goal range. Bradford initially ran for a first-down, giving the Rams a shot at a touchdown rather than a field-goal, but the run was called back due to a holding penalty on center Jason Brown. Either way, Josh Brown nailed a 47-yard field-goal, making the score 20-10.

San Diego got the ball back with about 3:50 on the clock, in the 4th quarter. It was a very successful drive by the Chargers. They breezed by the Rams' pass coverage, and there receivers were able to out-of-bounds to stop the clock. The drive resulted in a touchdown pass to receiver Buster Davis, making the score 20-17. The Chargers touchdown drive took only 40 seconds.

The Chargers decided to kick it deep, as oppose to an onside-kick. It looked as though the Rams offense would go three-and-out, as they called a run play on 3rd-and-7, but Jackson was able to fight, and get the first down. The Chargers ran out of timeouts, and Jackson broke free for an 11-yard first down run. This allowed the Rams to take their "victory" formation, and take a knee. The Rams beat the Chargers, with the final score of 20-17.

The Rams were looking for one of their receiver to step up and fill Mark Claytons shoes; Denario Alexander was able to do just that. The rookie receiver out of Mizzou, who led the NCAA in receptions (113) and receiving yards (1781), exceeded expectations in his NFL debut. The highlight of his game was a 38-yard touchdown catch. Alexander finished the game with 4 receptions for 72 yards and a touchdown. 

Steven Jackson played a major role in the game. His hard-nosed touchdown run on the goal-line was a big score for the Rams (and ultimately the difference in the game). Jackson also sealed the deal with his two first-down runs on the Rams final drive of the game, which allowed them to run out the clock. Jackson had 29 carries for 109 yards and a touchdown, and he busted his ass for each and every yard. There should be no doubt that this is Steven Jackson's team.

You also have to give credit to the rookie quarterback Sam Bradford. Bradford continue to greatly exceed expectations, and he had a solid outing. Bradford did not put up monster numbers on the afternoon, but he was able to cut back on mistakes, move the ball, and avoid turnovers. 

Also, the Rams front four on defense played their hearts out. The defensive-ends, Chris Long and James Hall, each recorded two sacks on the afternoon. Defensive-tackle Fred Robbins also got a sack, and the Rams had seven sacks on the game. 

The Rams defense got too relaxed int he second half. The Chargers two touchdown drives looked way too easy, and the coverage was horrible. If the defense is going to take the "bend but don't break" approach when facing a hurry-up offense, then they need to at least tackle the receiver in bounds. The Rams are very lucky that their offense got two first-downs on the final drive; because if the Chargers got the ball back, the Rams would've been toast. 

Also under the "bad" category, I have to give some recognition to the San Diego Chargers. You can tell the effort is their, as they have the top offense in the NFL (as far as yardage goes); but regardless, the preseason AFC West favorites are off to a 2-4 start on the season, and the 2010 season is beginning to look bleak for San Diego. 

Bradley Fletcher showed everyone, all day, how to NOT cover NFL receivers. Each time the Chargers ran their hurry-up offense, quarterback Phillip Rivers looked towards Fletcher's direction every time, and for good reason. Fletcher's poor coverage set up Tolbert's touchdown run, as well as Davis' touchdown reception. I have been an advocate for the Rams drafting a wide-receiver with their 2011 first round pick, but with the solid outing by Alexander, the Rams might have a seriously consider drafting a defensive-back. 

Also, Jason Brown needs to work on snapping the ball. Twice today, while the Rams were in shotgun formation, Brown made a wild snap. Heads-up reactions on Bradford's part saved the poor snaps, but still, those snaps could of had very bad results.   

Sam Bradford  18/31  198 yards  1 TD  0 INT
Steven Jackson  29 carries  109 yards  1 TD
Sam Bradford  6 carries  8 yards
Denario Alexander  4 reception  72 Yards  1 TD
Billy Bajema  3 receptions  34 yards
Brandon Gibson 3 receptions  33 yards 
Mardy Gilyard  1 reception  21 yards
Danny Amendola  3 receptions  19 yards
Daniel Fells  1 reception  8 yards
Mike Hoomanawanui  1 reception  5 yards
Mike Karney  1 reception  4 yards
Steven Jackson  1 reception  2 yards
Chris Long 2 sacks, James Hall 2 sacks, OJ Atogwe 1 sack 1 INT, Larry Grant 2 sacks, Fred Robbins 1 sack, Fred Robbins 1 sack, Bradley Fletcher 7 tackles

Phillip Rivers  22/37  249 yards  1 TD  1 INT
Ryan Mathews  12 carries  64 yards
Darren Sproles  1 carry  9 yards
J. Hester  1 carry  3 yards
Mike Tolbert  3 carries  3 yards  1 TD
Patrick Crayton  6 receptions  117 yards 
Darren Sproles  5 receptions  48 yards
Buster Davis  3 receptions  39 yards  1 TD
Malcolm Floyd  2 receptions  15 yards
Antonio Gates  2 receptions  12 yards
Ryan Mathews 3 receptions  12 yards
J. Hester  1 reception  6 yards
E.Weddle 12 tackles, A.Garay 1 sack, K.Burnett 1 sack, L.Castillo .5 sack, J.Cesaire .5 sack

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