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Around the NFC West: Rams win on attitude

10/31/2011

Here's the thing about the St. Louis Rams' stunning 31-21 victory against the New Orleans Saints in Week 8: The Rams did not play that well overall, particularly on offense.

This was as much a victory of attitude as it was one for execution. The Rams, after opening the season 0-6, weren't going to accept losing any longer.

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says running back Steven Jackson took the lead on this front, addressing the team with words that came to him when he awoke at 3 a.m. on game-day morning. Jackson: "Pretty much what I said was if you've ever been in a fight and you've ever been hit with a punch, you only have two decisions. Either run from the person, the opponent. Or you just dig deep inside and find the will to keep swinging and keep fighting. ... So I challenged them. Not as football players. I challenged them as men." Noted: Jackson is finally healthy enough to lead with his legs as well. He ran with good speed and power against the Saints.

Also from Thomas: This was a different Rams team. Thomas: "Go figure. A Saints offense that scored 34 points and gained 339 yards in the first half last week against Indianapolis, managed just 94 yards and didn't dent the scoreboard in the first half Sunday against the Rams."

Jeff Gordon of stltoday.com says the Rams had reached their breaking point. Saints coach Sean Payton: "They pretty much handled us all day. It has been a while since that has happened. They did a great job. We struggled blocking, we struggled running the ball, we struggled protecting. We didn’t have a lot going for us."

Also from Gordon: a Rams report card featuring all 'A' and 'B' grades. Safety Darian Stewart and the secondary got high marks, as did the linebackers. Gordon: "The man in the middle, James Laurinaitis, played like an All-Pro. The press box statistics credited him with 10 tackles. He also broke up two passes, earned a sack and put two more hits on Saints quarterback Drew Brees. Chris Chamberlain helped set the defensive tone with two early tackles for a loss and Bryan Kehl also earned one while starting in place of Brady Poppinga." Noted: Chamberlain made a couple big hits. Kehl stood out to me in a positive way to a degree I had not noticed this season.

Kathleen Nelson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams had a feeling first-round pick Robert Quinn would block a punt Sunday. Nelson: "Rams special teams coach Tom McMahon approached Quinn 'two or three days ago,' Quinn said, and told Quinn that he had a dream that he would block a punt. 'He said he had the same thing last year with Danny Amendola returning a touchdown,' Quinn said. 'I said to myself, 'Let me see if this is really true.' "

Nick Wagoner of stlouisrams.com hands out accolades, including this one for rookie receiver Greg Salas: "Salas is quickly becoming a key cog in this offense. Terrific to see how far he’s come in a few weeks under the tutelage of Nolan Cromwell. He had five catches for 47 yards and added a run for eight more." Noted: Salas was among those playing with attitude in this game. This was by far the most confidence he has shown outwardly to this point in his NFL career. A little success has gone a long way with him.