Sunday, October 13, 2013
Rapid Reaction: St. Louis Rams
By Nick Wagoner
HOUSTON -- A few thoughts on the St. Louis Rams' 38-13 win against the Houston Texans.
What it means: A win last week against lowly Jacksonville had many, present company included, wondering whether the Rams were righting the ship or just taking advantage of a helpful schedule.
Beating Houston on the road in such convincing fashion would seem to indicate much more of the former than the latter.
The Rams put together their best and most complete performance of the season, dominating the Texans in all facets to come up with their first road victory of the season and even their record at 3-3. The 25-point margin of victory is the largest by a Rams team since a 48-17 Week 13 win against Minnesota in 2003.
Stock watch, up: The Rams’ offensive line. It could go to running back Zac Stacy, as well, but this was, by far, the line’s best performance of the season. They opened holes in the running game and kept quarterback Sam Bradford clean for the majority of the game, as they didn’t allow a sack. Lots of options for this spot but the front five (plus guard Shelley Smith) deserve their credit.
Stock watch, down: The Rams’ run defense. After some signs of life last week against Jacksonville, the Rams struggled as expected to slow down Arian Foster and Houston’s rushing attack. Foster finished with 141 yards on 20 carries, though the Rams did find a way to keep him out of the end zone.
Turnover turnaround: For the second week in a row, the Rams took care of the ball and came up with the takeaways needed to overcome a deficit in total yards. The Rams came up with two fumble recoveries and two interceptions, takeaways they turned into 17 points, and didn’t cough up a giveaway of their own.
Making things better, the Rams didn’t rely on the offense to convert those turnovers into points. They got a touchdown on defense (Alec Ogletree's interception return) and special teams (Daren Bates’ fumble return) for 14 instant points. Those big plays more than made up for the 412-216 difference in total yards.
What’s next: The Rams wrap up a stretch of consecutive road games with a trip to Carolina to take on the Panthers. A game that looked like the better matchup out of the two games now looks more daunting than the Houston game. That comes before a Monday night showdown against NFC West division rival Seattle the following week.