The St. Louis Rams rebounded yet again from a disappointing preseason loss to defeat the visiting Baltimore Ravens 31-17 on Thursday night. The Rams finished the preseason at 2-2 following the win, with both victories coming at the Edward Jones Dome.
Granted, this success must be taken with a grain of salt as it was essentially St. Louis' starters against Baltimore's backups. However, the faithful fans of 'Rams Nation' surely won't dispute how their team finds success, getting their fill of skill players flying through the air as they entered the end zone.
The offense was efficient from the first team down to those fighting for a roster spot. On the Rams' second drive, quarterback Sam Bradford lofted a 46-yard pass up to receiver Steve Smith with 6:12 left in the first. Smith laid out for the catch near midfield after the Ravens' cornerback fell in coverage, but was caught himself by the safety as he attempted to get up and run. Bradford then hit rookie tight end Mike McNeill and journeyman fullback Ovie Mughelli for consecutive first downs.
Two plays later, Austin Pettis caught a deep cross from Bradford, cutting up the left sideline before somersaulting into the end zone at the 3:07 mark for the game's first touchdown. The play capped off a 9-play, 94-yard drive, and set the Rams' standard for celebratory touchdown entrances for the evening.
The Rams defense physically dominated Baltimore's front line late in the first quarter after struggling to get penetration or stop the run. Defensive end Robert Quinn forced and recovered a fumble after yet another strip-sack of backup Baltimore quarterback Tyrod Taylor. The sack was Quinn's third of the preseason.
On the ensuing drive, Bradford hit receiver Danny Amendola early on a 7-yard crossing route for a touchdown with 54 seconds left in the quarter. Amendola slanted across the defense from the slot, leaping into the end zone as well. The Rams' most-tenured receiver at 26 years old, Amendola flashed the quickness and sure hands quarterbacks desperately needed last season.
St. Louis was stopped short during its next possession on a 3rd-and-22 attempt just outside of the red zone, but a personal foul was called on Baltimore's Sergio Kindle, who was found guilty of roughing the passer far after the whistle had blown. As the drive continued, Bradford zipped a 9-yard pass down the seam to Michael Hoomanawanui with 6:59 remaining in the second period, Bradford's third touchdown and final of the evening. The former Heisman Trophy winner would finish the evening 11-of-16 for 175 yards.
Rams' safety Craig Dahl came up with an interception in the third quarter, but literally took two steps forward and one step back on the return before being stripped by Ravens' receiver Dorian Graham. After Baltimore recovered, quarterback Curtis Painter's very next pass attempt was tipped into the hands of rookie corner Janoris Jenkins, who also flipped into the end zone after returning the interception 76 yards at the 13:22 mark.
Baltimore surely had a stronger incentive to get on the scoreboard as St. Louis' second-teamers entered the game on defense. Painter drove the Ravens down the field with short, quick passes to put them on the scoreboard with a 7-yard pass to former Rams' tight end Billy Bajema with 6:20 left in the third.
The former Colts quarterback, who endured the worst season Indianapolis has seen in recent memory after future Hall-of-Fame Peyton Manning went down with an injury, looked sharp for the Ravens in relief of Taylor. Painter tossed another touchdown midway through the final period, an 11-yard strike to rookie Deonte Thompson, but the game was much in hand at that point.
The Rams begin the regular season on the road at Ford Field against the Detroit Lions on September 9th.
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