NFL Nation: Rams-Redskins

Posted by's Mike Sando

SAN FRANCISCO -- A couple of NFC West-related thoughts while the 49ers and Seahawks warm up at Candlestick Park:
  • Calais Campbell steps up. The second-year defensive end is making the Cardinals look smart for letting Antonio Smith leave in free agency. He's been solid on defense and his blocked field goal set up Antrel Rolle's long touchdown return. The Cardinals' offense is still finding its way, but the defense is playing at a high level and Campbell is making an impact wherever the Cardinals use him.
  • Beanie dropping the ball. Beanie Wells' two fumbles have prevented the Cardinals from putting away the Jaguars. Wells looks very good as a runner. He's not going to look as good standing on the sideline. That's where he'll be in crucial situations if he doesn't do a better job holding onto the football.
  • Jackson breaks out. Steven Jackson's 58-yard run against the Redskins marks the first signs of life on offense for the Rams. Marc Bulger followed it with a 2-yard scoring pass to Laurent Robinson for a 7-6 Rams lead at Washington. Getting a road win -- or any kind of win -- early in the season would be huge for the Rams after what happened in Week 1. The Rams were competitive at Seattle and the score was close into the third quarter. Can they finish what they've started at Washington?
If the Rams and Cardinals win on the East Coast, does this make the NFC West a little more respectable? I think so.

Posted by's Mike Sando

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch describes the Rams' glee upon learning that Josh Brown's game-winning kick sailed through the uprights. Linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa said he didn't know whether to cry or laugh.

Also from Thomas: The Rams lost cornerback Ricky Manning to injury. The team is extremely thin at the position.

Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says there's a big difference between Scott Linehan's Rams and Jim Haslett's Rams. Confidence was the key to beating the Redskins, Dante Hall said.

Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the big pass play to Donnie Avery came on the same call St. Louis used for a 73-yard touchdown pass to Isaac Bruce in Super Bowl XXXIV.

Also from Coats: Brown wasn't so fortunate facing a nearly identical situation at FedEx Field three years ago. The ball bounced off the upright that season.

More from Coats: Haslett gets an "A" on the postgame report card.

Paul Tenorio of the Washington Post catches up with Rams offensive coordinator Al Saunders, whose offense helped beat the team that fired him. Saunders and Redskins owner Daniel Snyder chatted on the field before kickoff.

Posted by's Mike Sando

The Rams' upset victory over the Redskins at FedEx Field gave new coach Jim Haslett the victory he needed to rebuild the team's confidence and restore quarterback Marc Bulger.

The feeling before the game was that St. Louis needed to perform well enough, even in defeat, to suggest things might be different with Haslett taking over for the fired Scott Linehan.

This outcome was better than anything the Rams could have imagined. Bulger, benched by Linehan in a desperation move, bounced back from a hard hit and made a critical throw to rookie Donnie Avery to set up the winning field goal.

Josh Brown, the Rams' marquee addition in free agency, bailed out hot-headed guard Richie Incognito, whose 15-yard penalty turned a potential chip shot into a 49-yard try. Brown needed to make that kick for the Rams to salvage what's left of their season.

The Rams struggled on offense for much of the game. But they played well enough on defense to keep the game close and give them needed hope.

The Rams, widely regarded as the worst team in the league before this game, might not be the worst team in the division depending on what happens in other games today. That's a huge step forward for Haslett and the organization.