Around the NFC West: Rams persevere

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams limped into their bye week with pride after taking sole possession of second place in the NFC West on the day they honored Isaac Bruce by retiring the former receiver's number. Thomas: "Coming off a wrenching 18-17 loss Tampa Bay a week earlier, the Rams were battered, bruised and vulnerable entering the Carolina game. Steven Jackson barely took a handoff all week because of surgery Monday that inserted two pins into his fractured finger. During pregame warmups — and on his only reception of the game — Jackson was reduced to catching passes one-handed. But Jackson scratched out 59 yards on 23 carries, giving the Rams just enough of a running game. Meanwhile, James Butler was all but ruled out by (coach Steve) Spagnuolo at the start of the week after suffering a knee injury in Tampa. Butler played and made plays. His fourth-quarter interception resulted in the second of two Josh Brown field goals." This game was as close as the Rams have come to a must-win situation this season given what happened in Tampa Bay and what awaits following the bye week.

Also from Thomas: Jackson paid respects to Eric Dickerson while supplanting the Hall of Famer on the Rams' career rushing list. Jackson: "I just wanted to pay respect to him," Jackson said. "I have been exchanging text messages for a while with Eric Dickerson, and in one last week, I told him it was an honor just to be in a position to break his record. And, two, that I will never think that I will replace him in this franchise, and that I will continue to run hard and continue to make him proud. ... I think this organization has had a great run at running back, and I will continue to run hard. Hopefully, the next guy who replaces me will have the same respect."

Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says Sam Bradford's accuracy helped an injury-depleted receiving corps produce for the Rams. Coats: "(Laurent) Robinson, Danny Amendola and Brandon Gibson were targeted 20 times by Bradford, and they combined for 17 catches and 128 yards. Amendola scored on a 2-yard toss from Bradford in the second quarter. Their contribution was vital because Jackson, who wore a brace to protect his finger, was somewhat of an unknown commodity. He ran for 59 yards after averaging 88.1 yards in the first seven games, including 100-plus outings in each of the last three."

Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch uses the term "character win" to describe the Rams' 20-10 victory over Carolina. Miklasz: "Sam Bradford was sharp, unflappable and completely in charge in what was easily his best performance of the season. These were not ideal circumstances. The Rams' group of receivers has been stripped down. Carolina made it difficult for Steven Jackson to run. Somehow Bradford and his guys would have to find a way to make plays. And he did. They did. It was a collective effort."

Nick Wagoner of stlouisrams.com says the Rams endured an emotional week, adding meaning to their victory. Wagoner: "After a difficult loss last weekend in Tampa, the Rams had an even more difficult week this week. To wit, they lost three players (including a practice squad receiver) to injury. And coach Steve Spagnuolo’s high school coach from Massachusetts passed away. With the emotion of Isaac Bruce’s jersey retirement added to the mix, it was certainly an emotional week for the Rams."

Also from Wagoner: Bruce's positive team-building message to the Rams seemed to resonate.

Steve Korte of the Belleville News-Democrat says Bradford got into a rhythm early, completing 18 of 22 passes in the first half.

Joseph Person of the Charlotte Observer says Bradford's turnover-free performance stood in contrast to the Panthers' quarterback play. Bradford completed 9 of 11 passes with two touchdowns on third down alone. Panthers defensive coordinator Ron Meeks: "I thought we'd get him a little flustered. We brought pressure to try to create some negative situations. But he's a good quarterback. He does a good job. He didn't let that fluster him very much."