So much was on the line for the St. Louis Rams in Denver when the Broncos took over at their 34-yard line with 1:06 remaining and the Rams leading by a field goal.
Another fourth-quarter collapse on the road would have stood as a discouraging setback for the Rams. It would have severely complicated their efforts to compete for the NFC West title just one season after finishing 1-15.
The Rams needed their defense to make a play. Chris Long, the second overall choice in the 2008 NFL draft, made two of them. Long's first-down sack and quarterback hit on fourth-and-16 allowed the Rams to escape with their first road victory of the season.
"He was particularly good at the end of the game," Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo told reporters Monday. "Really, and this is a compliment to Chris and the whole [defense], they just made a decision in that last series, 'Hey, they were going to find a way to get to this guy.'"
Long has emerged as more of a force for the Rams since moving to the left side of the defensive line this season. He has six sacks in the Rams' past six games and a career-high 6.5 for the season. He's an every-down player and, increasingly, one the team can count on in clutch situations.