Wrap-up: Eagles 31, Rams 13
September, 11, 2011
By Mike Sando | ESPN.com
Thoughts on the St. Louis Rams' 31-13 defeat to the Philadelphia Eagles in their Week 1 matchup Sunday at the Edward Jones Dome:
What it means: The Rams have played only one game and they're already limping along with serious injury-related question marks. Losing to the Eagles wasn't a big surprise. Losing multiple starters to injury, including quarterback Sam Bradford (finger) and running back Steven Jackson (quadriceps), put a cloud over the early portion of this promising Rams season. Happiness is only one victory away in the NFL, but this was a tough opener for the Rams. They're a lesser team heading into Week 2 and possibly much lesser depending on how these injury situations play out. The rest of the NFC West has to feel better about its chances in the division.
What I liked: The Rams started quickly and gave the home crowd plenty to cheer about, creating the type of environment the team has sought to re-establish at home. The Rams were ready to play. They held Michael Vick to 42.3 percent completions (11-of-26) in the first half. That was about as good as the Rams could have hoped for, and they were rolling when Jackson broke a 47-yard touchdown run on the team's first offensive snap. Safety Quintin Mikell, making his Rams debut after signing from Philadelphia in free agency, came out swinging. He made a physical tackle on the perimeter early, hit Vick later in the same series and collected a sack as well. The Rams also got decent production from their running game.
What I didn't like: Bradford took far too much punishment. He weathered the hits as well as could be expected, and the Rams will not always be facing such a formidable opponent. But no quarterback will last long if subjected to the pounding Bradford took in this game. One sack led to a fumble and a 56-yard return for an Eagles touchdown. That was critical because the game was close into the fourth quarter. On defense, the Rams could not stop the run, a major disappointment after they tailored their offseason acquisitions around becoming tougher in that area. The Eagles topped 200 yards rushing, breaking open the game with LeSean McCoy's 49-yard scoring run.
Injuries of note: Injuries piled up for the Rams. Bradford (finger), Jackson (quadriceps), right tackle Jason Smith (ankle), receiver Danny Amendola (dislocated left elbow) and cornerback Ron Bartell (stinger) left the game. The Rams were already thin at cornerback. Losing Bartell made them paper thin. Mikell suffered from cramping. Jackson lasted only two carries, making it impossible to shake off concerns about his durability. Losing Jackson so early was a colossal disappointment for the Rams even though the team was better positioned to play without him after signing Cadillac Williams and Jerious Norwood in free agency. Losing Bradford late was even worse. Amendola's injury was a tough one as well. He's not a big-play threat, but he's exactly the type of receiver coordinator Josh McDaniels wants for his offense. Bartell's injury midway through the fourth quarter might have been the back breaker.
What's next: The Rams visit the New York Giants on "Monday Night Football" (8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN).