Monday, January 27, 2014
Pair of Rams fare well in Pro Bowl
By Nick Wagoner
ST. LOUIS -- The St. Louis Rams were finally represented again in the Pro Bowl on Sunday night and punter Johnny Hekker and defensive end Robert Quinn mostly did what they did all year in their opportunities.
As part of Team Rice, named for captain Jerry Rice, Quinn and Hekker did their part in helping their team to a 22-21 victory against Team (Deion) Sanders.
Hekker and Quinn had vowed earlier in the week to play with their usual effort and hoped that their fellow players would as well. In a somewhat surprising turn of events, that's exactly what happened as this Pro Bowl appeared far more competitive than any in recent vintage.
Although some bad weather (yes, at the Pro Bowl) threw things off a bit for both sides, the game featured some big hits and came down to the final seconds before Baltimore kicker Justin Tucker's 67-yard field goal came up short to clinch the victory for Team Rice.
As for Quinn and Hekker, both showed at least glimpses of the qualities that landed them in Hawaii in the first place.
Quinn actually opened the game with an apparent sack and nearly forced a fumble of Indianapolis quarterback Andrew Luck on the first play from scrimmage. A late flag came in saying Quinn was offsides but in real time it appeared Quinn had just timed the snap perfectly. Later, Quinn would make up for it by chasing down Carolina quarterback Cam Newton and dropping him for a sack. Both Luck and Newton were on Quinn's regular season sack victim list.
All told, Quinn finished with a tackle, a sack, a tackle for loss, a pass defended and a quarterback hit. Team Rice finished with five total sacks.
Hekker, meanwhile, was up to his usual tricks of hitting high, well-angled punts that were difficult to return. He had four opportunities and finished with a gross average of 49 yards with two of those punts landing inside the 20. Likewise, Hekker's hang time and directional punts were effective in terms of limiting returns as Team Sanders managed 8 punt return yards to leave Hekker with a net average of 47 yards per punt.
It was a solid showing for the two Rams participants in a game that finally showed some signs of life under its new format.