Monday, December 16, 2013
Upon Further Review: Rams Week 15
By Nick Wagoner
ST. LOUIS -- A review of four hot issues from the St. Louis Rams' 27-16 victory against the New Orleans Saints:
Quinn again: Rams defensive end Robert Quinn had already established himself as the team’s best defensive player in 2013, and with each passing week he’s making a better case that he’s the league’s best.
Quinn forced Saints coach Sean Payton to toss out the game plan early and continued to punish any blocker put in front of him throughout the Rams' victory. Quinn had five tackles, two sacks, a tackle for loss, two quarterback hits, two forced fumbles and a fumble recovery.
For the season, Quinn leads the NFC in sacks with 15 and the NFL in forced fumbles with eight. This is the definition of a breakout season for one of the game’s emerging stars.
Stacy steps up: It’s no secret that the Rams’ success in 2013 has been directly tied to their ability to run the ball successfully. Rookie Zac Stacy has been the key to that success, and after a couple of down weeks, he rebounded nicely against the Saints.
Stacy rushed for a combined 97 yards in losses to San Francisco and Arizona the past two weeks. He had 106 in the first half against the Saints and finished with 133 yards on 28 carries with a 40-yard touchdown run.
Since becoming the starter in Week 5, Stacy has averaged 88.6 yards in the team’s five wins.
On target: Toughness and leadership are qualities Rams quarterback Kellen Clemens has regularly displayed since becoming the starter in Week 7. Accuracy is not.
So when Clemens started Sunday’s game by completing 10 of his first 13 passes, it seemed like just a matter of time before the ball started hitting the turf consistently. It never happened.
Clemens completed 14 of 20 for the game, a 70 percent completion rate which is the highest of his career to date. The Rams grabbed an early lead behind Stacy’s running, leaving Clemens with little to do, but he made the most of his opportunities, posting a 95.7 QBR.
Turnover time: It’s been said and written time and again that no single statistic is more indicative of a team’s performance than the turnover differential. That certainly holds true for the Rams.
St. Louis created three takeaways (two interceptions, one fumble recovery) and coughed up none on offense to finish plus-three against the Saints. That they won given that turnover output should come as no surprise. The Rams are plus-three or better in five of their six wins this season and have not lost when they’ve been on the positive side of the takeaway battle.