ST. LOUIS – The St. Louis Rams had to wait 10 days to get back on the field after losing to the 49ers on Thursday night in week four and after starting off slow Sunday afternoon, St. Louis came on strong in the second quarter as the Rams beat Jacksonville 34-20 in front of 54,266 fans at the Edwards Jones Dome for their second win of the season.
“It’s been a long 10 days,” St. Louis coach Jeff Fisher said. “But, it was a good win for us.”
The Jaguars got the scoring starter with a 67-yard touchdown pass from Jacksonville QB Blaine Gabbert to Justin Blackmon with 10:31 left in the first quarter. The score came four plays after an 88-yard punt return for a touchdown by the Jaguars was nullified because of a block in the back call against Jacksonville.
“They are a very, very fast tempo offense,” Fischer said. ”We told our team this, that the perception is Philadelphia has got the fast tempo, but they were faster than Philly was and we played Philly in the preseason. So we worked on that all week and (still) got caught off guard.”
St. Louis tied the game at 7-7 with 3:08 left in the first when Gabbert’s pass was intercepted by Matt Giordano. The Rams’ safety returned the ball 82 yards for a score.
“It definitely was a play I felt like we needed as a team. We just needed to get a spark going, and I’m thankful enough that I was the one to spark it off. Again, there’s ten other guys on that field so I can’t take any credit. They did their job blocking after I caught the ball. It was a great team execution play.”
Fisher said the pick-sx was a game changer.
“I mean, ‘Gio’s’ play was huge, but you’ve got to give Rob (DE Robert Quinn) some credit,” Fisher said.” That was a hurry. Rob was right on the quarterback’s shoulder and affected the throw, for us. Then our guys acted like they knew what to do with it. They got the blocks made and it was a great return. It kind of jumpstarted us after the slow start.”
On the Jaguars next drive, Jacksonville converted a 48-yard field goal to take a 10-7 lead with 0:13 left in the first quarter.
The Rams' offense seemed to come to life in the second half.
After starting at their own 20 yard line, the Rams got all the way down to Jacksonville’s 15. However, the Rams stalled and had to settle for a 32-yard field goal from Greg Zuerlein. Two plays into the Jaguars' next drive, they fumbled the ball and gave the Rams great field position. Darian Stewart’s fumble recovery and six-yard return was the Rams' second take-away of the first half.
It took Rams quarterback Sam Bradford just one play to find the end zone when he connected with Lance Kendricks on a 16-yard TD strike with 11:34 left in the half.
"At that point, across the 10-yard line you've just got to get it across,” Kendricks said.” Can't get tackled on the 1 (yard line)."
St. Louis forced the Jaguars to go three-and-out on their next two drives while having one of their own sandwiched in between. But, like at the beginning of the quarter, the Rams drove. St. Louis started at its own 10 and used 12 plays to cover 90 yards for another TD. This time it was Austin Pettis catching the pass from Bradford for a four-yard score.
When play resumed in the second half, the Rams had the ball but bad punt gave the Jaguars the ball on the Rams' 25 yard line. St. Louis’ defense came a huge though to stop Jacksonville inside the red zone.
Jacksonville had first and 10 from the 25. The Jaguars' first play was a 21-yard pass to get to the Rams' 4 yard line. On the next three plays, the Rams defense did not give up any yardage, forcing the Jaguars to kick a field goal. But, after the field goal was good, the Jaguars elected to take the points off the board and go for it on fourth down following a Rams penalty. That didn’t work out too well as James Laurinaitis came up with the Rams’ second interception of the day in the end zone.
Two drives later the Jaguars again got into the red zone with a first and ten from the Rams' 18 yard line. But, over the next three plays, the Jaguars moved the ball just two yards before settling for a field goal.
St. Louis answered with a field goal of its own in the fourth quarter. Like the opening drive of the second quarter, the Rams' offense stalled out in the red zone during the opening drive of the fourth quarter. The Rams still got points though as Zuerlein drilled his second field goal of the day, a 37-yarder to put St. Louis up 27-13 with 14:47 to play.
Jacksonville added one more touchdown in the fourth when backup QB Chad Henne connected with Cecil Shorts III only to see the Rams strike right back with a 31 yard TD pass from Bradford to Pettis. The score was Pettis’ second of the day and gave the Rams a 34-20 lead with 5:45 to go.
“It was a very good ball (thrown) by Sam (Bradford),” Pettis said. “If I don’t catch that, he is probably very mad at me. … Offensively, for us to answer back with some points like that, in a late game situation, because it could be a whole different game if we don’t put some points and they get the ball back, being down only a touchdown.”
On the final drive of the game, the Rams had to settle for a field goal with a minute and change left on the clock. However, Jacksonville committed a penalty that turned the fourth down into a first down and the Rams elected to accept the penalty. With the Jaguars out of timeouts, Bradford took three knees to end the game.
The Rams nearly played a 50/50 split offense against the Jaguars. St. Louis attempted 34 passes and ran the ball 36 times. Zac Stacy and Daryl Richardson spilt the majority of the ground games carries.
“All the backs prepare the same way,” Stacy said. “So you know the opportunity is coming and whenever your name is called, you just get the job done.”
Fisher was happy with the balanced offensive attack.
“The balance suggests that you are keeping the ball and creating third down situations,” Fisher said. “We still have a long way to go. We made some mistakes and had some opportunities.”
Entering play, Stacy had just one carry in the first four weeks of the season. But Sunday, he finished with a game-high 78 yards rushing on just 14 carries. Richardson had 13 carries for the Rams for 48 yards.
“All around, we are all capable of getting the job done,” Stacy said. “Like I always tell you guys, we all prepare the same way so when the opportunities come, you just have to go out and get the job done. We knew we wanted to establish the run coming into this game and it all started up front.”
Bradford was 19-of-33 for 222 yards and had three touchdown passes to two different receivers. Pettis led the Rams' receiving corps with 49 yards and two TDS on 4 catches while Kendricks also had four catches for 37 yards and a score. Tavon Austin had three catches for 32 yards.
St. Louis is now 2-4 on the season and will now begin a two week road trip in which the Rams play Houston and then Carolina. The Rams and the Texans will kick off at noon on Sunday, Oct. 13 at Reliant Stadium.