Sunday, September 16, 2012
Wrap-up: Rams 31, Redskins 28
By Mike Sando
Thoughts after the St. Louis Rams' 31-28 victory over the Washington Redskins at the Edward Jones Dome:
What it means: The Rams improved to 1-1 while serving notice, again, that they'll be more competitive and resilient under first-year head coach Jeff Fisher. Not only that, they'll win on occasion. Quarterback Sam Bradford matched and probably outplayed Robert Griffin III, his heralded rookie counterpart, while the Rams' franchise running back, Steven Jackson, mysteriously watched most of the game from the sideline. This is Fisher's team, but the offense belonged to Bradford on this day. Perhaps that will continue.
What I liked: The Rams kept coming back. They turned a disastrous start and a 21-6 deficit into a 23-21 lead. They turned a 28-23 deficit into a 31-23 lead. They shrugged off two crushing plays (a Redskins fumble return and Bradford's interception in the end zone). They shrugged off additional issues to the offensive line, even after their backup left tackle, Wayne Hunter, left with an injury.
Bradford tossed more than two scoring passes in a game for the second time in his career. Danny Amendola caught 12 passes in the first half. Rookie Daryl Richardson added a welcome speed dynamic at running back with a 53-yard burst around the right side (although he lost a fumble late). The offense functioned at a much higher level than anticipated given issues on the offensive line and the Redskins' strength in the front seven.
Bradford completed 26 of 35 passes for 310 yards with three touchdowns, one interception and a 117.6 passer rating. He pumped his fist and hugged teammate Chris Long on the field after kneeling to run out the clock on the Rams' first victory under Fisher. This team has suffered for so long. Players knew they were making strides under Fisher, and now they have some proof.
What I didn't like: Officials lost control of the game early and appeared to botch a ruling when they determined Jackson had fumbled short of the goal line. Replays showed Jackson's elbow was down before the ball came out. Jackson apparently thought he scored. He spiked the football. Officials flagged him for unsportsmanlike conduct. The penalty moved back the Rams, who settled for a field goal. Jackson watched the rest of the game from the sideline even though he was apparently healthy. Was Fisher making a statement that no player is above the team? He'll have to explain, but it had to be tough for Rams fans to see Jackson rendered irrelevant on such a joyous day for the team.
Amendola lost a fumble on the Rams' first offensive play, leading to Josh Wilson's 30-yard touchdown return for the Redskins only seconds into the game. That's no way to begin any game, let alone the first home game of the Fisher era.
What's next: The Rams visit Chicago in Week 3.