Sunday, November 10, 2013
Rapid Reaction: St. Louis Rams
By Nick Wagoner
INDIANAPOLIS -- A few thoughts on the St. Louis Rams' 38-8 win over the Indianapolis Colts:
What it means: The Rams have been waiting for a big breakout game from rookie receiver/returner Tavon Austin after making him the first skill-position player picked in the NFL draft in April. After a series of near misses, many of which were caused by penalties, Austin announced his presence in the league with a resounding proclamation. The Rams moved to 4-6 with the convincing victory, and although any hopes of a postseason run remain in the pipe-dream category, this game provided some tangible evidence of progress. As the youngest team in the league, that's the most important thing as the Rams build toward the 2014 season. The Rams' 30-point win was their second overwhelming win against an AFC South opponent on the road this season and their largest margin of victory since a 31-point win in Week 13 of 2003, when they beat Minnesota 48-17.
Stock watch -- rising: There were a few choices here, but Austin is the obvious winner. Austin has been frustrated by the penalties that have kept him from breaking out and has had his share of drops. All of that seemed to vanish in the period of time it took Austin to cover the distance of one of his lightning-strike touchdowns. Austin finished with 314 all-purpose yards. He is one of only three players in NFL history to have three touchdowns of 55 yards or more.
Stock watch -- falling: Running back Isaiah Pead. Maybe it's not possible for his stock to drop any further, but Pead remains buried on the depth chart and did nothing to help his cause against the Colts. While Pead didn't get any carries or touches with the offense, he managed to pull off the oh-so-rare taunting penalty on the game's opening kickoff. Mind you, the kickoff went for a touchback and there was no reason to taunt anyone on said play. As for the running back part of the job description, Zac Stacy remains the primary runner and Benny Cunningham, banged-up thumb and all, continues to get carries as his backup.
The mighty Quinn: Perhaps lost in Austin's breakthrough game was the performance of a player having a breakthrough season. Defensive end Robert Quinn set the tone for the game by sacking quarterback Andrew Luck on the game's opening drive and causing a fumble that Chris Long recovered and returned 45 yards for a touchdown. That gave the Rams a 7-0 lead they would never relinquish. Quinn added another sack and has 12 sacks and five forced fumbles on the season. He's clearly the Rams' best defensive player, and it might be time to start thinking about where he ranks in the league.
What's next: Most coaches will say there's never a bad time for a bye week, but one has to wonder whether the Rams wouldn't mind to try to ride the wave of this performance for another week or two. Regardless, the Rams are off next week before a home date with the Chicago Bears on Nov. 24.