For a while in the first half, St. Louis Rams' fans were "SOR"-in. "Same old Rams." The Rams were able to overcome first half miscues and some ill-advised penalties to score a big 27-24 opening day victory over the Arizona Cardinals.
The Rams first drive looked promising, but broke down with a holding call and a false start, which forced a Johnny Hekker punt. It appeared that the Rams had downed the punt inside the one, but Mike McNeill was ruled to have a foot on the goal line, giving the Cardinals the ball at their own 20.
The Rams were moving again on their next drive when Sam Bradford found his new tight end, Jared Cook over the middle. Cook appeared off to the races, but Cardinals' DB Tyrann Mathieu caught up to him from behind and punched the ball loose. Arizona recovered it in the end zone for a touchback and another Rams' were two for two in disappointing finishes to drives.
The Cardinals didn't miss on their big play opportunity. Carson Palmer expertly carried out a play action fake and Michael Floyd made an acrobatic grab inside the Rams 10 yard line. Two plays later, Palmer found Larry Fitzgerald on a fade route, putting Arizona up 7-0 early in the second quarter.
The Rams got back in scoring range when Mathieu got his feet tangled with Tavon Austin, resulting in a 38 yard pick up on the penalty. Again the offense bogged down, however, forcing a 36 yard Greg Zuerlein field goal that brought the Rams to with 7-3.
The Rams continued their soft coverage on the Cardinals' next drive, and Carson Palmer took full advantage. The Rams didn't give much on the ground, but big cushions provided by the Rams secondary gave Palmer easy looks as he drove the Cardinals back inside the red zone. Eugene Sims batted down a Palmer third down attempt and forced a Jay Feeley field goal that returned the Cardinals' advantage to seven points.
St. Louis responded with patience and success, however. The Rams put together a 13 play drive that nearly exhausted the rest of the first half, punctuated by Jared Cook atoning for his earlier fumble, stretching over the pylon to put the Rams in the end zone for the first time in 2013. Zuerlein's extra point drew the Rams even 10-10 at the half.
Halftime adjustments were made and the Rams came out for the second half pressing the Arizona receivers. They reaped immediate benefits when Palmer, under pressure, threw a pass before Larry Fitzgerald had broken out of his route. Trumaine Johnson was in the right place to pick it off and returned it inside the Cardinals' five yard line. Unfortunately, the Rams only got a field goal out of it though, making the score 13-10 Rams.
After the Rams defense forced a three and out, a good punt by Dave Zastudil and a late hit by William Hayes pinned the Rams beneath the shadow of their own goalpost. That would prove to be fatal when Arizona batted a screen pass and picked it off in the Rams end zone, putting the Cardinals back on top 17-13.
The Rams were stopped inches short of a first down and were forced to punt, giving the ball back to the Arizona offense. Despite pressure, Carson Palmer remained unflappable and moved the Cardinals into Rams territory, converting three third downs. Facing third and five from the Rams 24, Palmer lofted a perfect pass down the sideline to Larry Fitzgerald, beating Cortland Finnegan in single coverage. The Rams now trailed 24-13 and needed to get the offense cooking to avoid losing control of the game.
And it was Cook who brought some life to the Rams attack, taking a crossing route from Sam Bradford deep into Cardinals' territory as the third quarter expired. Brian Quick took a middle screen as the fourth quarter started and sprinted down to the goal line where he was marked just short. Jeff Fisher threw the challenge flag to no avail. One play later, Bradford executed his own perfect play fake and found Jared Cook in the back of the end zone. Down by five, Fisher opted to go for two and got it on a nifty quarterback draw by Sam Bradford. The Rams were back in the thick of it, down just 24-21.
The defense capitalized on the momentum. Robert Quinn recorded his third sack of the day and stripped Carson Palmer, giving the Rams the ball on the Cardinals 22. An end around to Austin netted nothing, and after an incompletion, the Cardinals sniffed out a screen to Austin Pettis. Still, Greg Zuerlein was able to connect and tie the game at 24.
Robert Quinn once again put pressure on Palmer, forcing him to throw early and missing Andre Roberts. The Cardinal punt was downed at the nine, and a Eugene Sims taunting penalty put the Rams under the shadow of their goal post once again. Sam Bradford nearly coughed it up when Bradford was stripped trying to scramble for a first down. Daryl Richardson recovered it, but the Rams had to punt.
Johnny Hekker got off a good punt, putting the Rams back at their own 30. The Rams forced a three and out, forcing the Cardinals to give them the ball back with under two minutes left.
Sam Bradford and the Rams offense made good on this opportunity. The key play of the drive was another crossing route to Jared Cook. After forcing the Cardinals to burn their timeouts, Greg Zuerlein connected on his fourth field goal of the day, putting the Rams on top 27-24.
That's the way it would end as the Rams kept the Cardinals in the field of play and Chris Long and William Hayes teamed up on the Rams fourth sack of Palmer on the day.
It's only one game, but the Rams are 1-0, and have a key first NFC West win. Now they'll have to take the new Turf Show on the road.
Your man cave is your home field advantage for every game. When the game is on the line, you should be able to look around and be reminded of the great moments you've watched unfold in that very room! MJR Sports Integrity offers a wide range or team and player-specific memorabilia that can do just that and take your game day room to the next level. Find your inspiration at MJR Sports Integrity and will your team to victory!
- A Healthy Lance Kendricks Could Mean Big Things for St. Louis Rams Offense
- Six St. Louis Rams Stand Out in Victory Over Baltimore Ravens
- Newest St. Louis Rams Make Biggest Plays Against Denver Broncos
- St. Louis Rams Front Four Must Get Pressure on Carson Palmer
- Rams 101 Season Preview: Do the St. Louis Rams Have Enough to Compete in the NFC West?
Short URL: http://sport-ne.ws/10f1