Sam Bradford was very good Sunday in Detroit when the Lions failed to pressure him.
The St. Louis Rams' third-year quarterback completed 17 of 23 passes (73.9 percent) for 198 yards in these ideal situations.
Bradford took three sacks and failed to complete either of his pass attempts when the Lions did get pressure, however.
A little better production in these situations might have been enough for St. Louis to avoid suffering a 27-23 defeat.
There were certainly other factors behind the Rams' defeat. The defense had problems stopping the Lions in the final minutes. A clock operator's error late in the game went beyond the Rams' control. Bad luck with injuries on the offensive line also contributed. There was also the small detail of Detroit having a talented roster featuring arguably the NFL's best wide receiver.
Quarterbacks are central to their teams' success, however, and the Rams will need Bradford to make the most of difficult situations. That seems particularly true with center Scott Wells and left tackle Rodger Saffold sidelined by injuries.
I'll be watching to see how Bradford handles those situations over the course of the season. He finished 2011 with the NFL's second-lowest Total QBR (0.6) when pressured. Only the New York Jets' Mark Sanchez had a lower score (0.4). Michael Vick (35.8), Aaron Rodgers (29.4) and Drew Brees (24.0) led the league. The bottom four: Sanchez, Bradford, Kevin Kolb (1.1) and Tarvaris Jackson (1.3).
The charts, courtesy of ESPN Stats & Information, compare Bradford's Week 1 numbers (small sample size, I know) against those for every other quarterback.
The first chart shows how they fared when facing no pressure. The second shows how they fared under pressure. The charts include some plays with penalties and quarterback scrambles, explaining why totaling sacks and pass attempts will not equal plays.
The "success" row shows success rates per play. Successful plays are defined by ESPN's analytics department as those improving a team's expected points.
Bernie Miklasz and I discussed Bradford, the Rams and every NFC West team during our weekly Tuesday conversation on 101ESPN St. Louis. They've posted the audio for those interested in listening in.