ST. LOUIS - The St. Louis Rams had one of the best days in their history Sunday, blasting the Oakland Raiders 52-0 in front of 55,650 fans at Edwards Jones Dome. The shutout was the first of the season for St. Louis while the 52-point margin of victory was the Rams’ most lopsided win since moving to St. Louis for the 1995 season.
“Trust me, there’s a lot of things I can think of … I’m a perfectionist,” Rams’ LB James Laurinatis said when asked if the Rams defense played a perfect game. “I can think of a lot of things we can do better. I still think we can be better tackling in the open field. But goodness, I’m not going to nitpick right now. I’m going to enjoy it for a solid 24 hours and then it’s on to the next one. We’ve got to learn in this locker room how to stack wins.”
With the exception of a kneel down to end the opening half, the Rams scored on every offensive possession of the first half, scoring four touchdowns and kicking one field goal.
“Well we had a good week of practice,” Rams coach Jeff Fisher said. “What happened was we had the run after catches and individual efforts. Shaun (Hill) was putting the ball where he needed to put it. I think we only had two third down attempts in the first half. They were just making the big plays. Defense was getting the third down stops and getting the ball back. The long run obviously, the two big plays from Tre (Mason) and then just big runs after catches. (Stedman Bailey) Sted’s huge catch over the middle with the bootleg just kept things going.”
The Rams won the coin flip and chose to defer receiving the opening kick to the second half. After forcing the Raiders to go three-and-out, St. Louis needed just four plays to get into the end zone.
Tre Mason scored the first of three touchdowns when he caught a pass from Rams’ quarterback Shaun Hill and took it 35 yards down the sideline into the end zone to get the scoring started.
“It’s always important to get off to a good start,” Hill said. “That’s our focus every week. I know how hard it is for a West Coast team to come to the Midwest and play in the central time zone. If you can get on those teams early like that, it certainly helps.”
On the Rams’ next drive, Hill capped a 78 yard drive with a two yard run into the end zone. Hill celebrated his rushing TD by showing the ball to the Raiders’ defenders as he cross the goal line.
The Rams’ third drive of the game resulted in another touchdown. This time it was Tavon Austin scoring just his second touchdown of the season on an 18-yard run.
By the time the Rams had their 21-0 lead, the Raiders were still looking for their first first down of the game. Oakland finally got a first down on its fourth possession. While the Raiders were finally able to move the ball, the result was the same, another punt.
Mason got into the end zone for the second time on the Rams’ fourth possession, scoring on an 89 yard run.
“I told myself to achieve greatness and be the best,” Mason said. “I want to be the best player to ever touch the football. That’s a goal of mine.”
Rams’ cornerback E.J. Givens picked off Raiders’ quarterback Derek Carr on Oakland’s next drive. Four plays later the Rams had a 35-0 lead when Cory Harkey caught a four-yard pass from Hill.
Trumaine Johnson came up with the first of two interceptions on the Raiders’ next drive. While the Rams’ were unable to convert the turnover into another touchdown, St. Louis did manage a field goal. Greg Zuerlein nailed the 38-yarder with 5:27 left in the opening half.
“He’s got ball skills, you saw that against Denver,” Fisher said of Johnson. “We’ve seen that before. He’s got ball skills, and he studies and prepares hard.”
The Rams’ offense struggled in the third quarter, punting four times. However, the defense held strong, forcing two punts, recovering a fumble, and forcing a turnover on downs. At the same time, the defense recorded three sacks, two of them coming in a span of three plays.
Once the fourth quarter started, the Rams got back into the end zone. Mason scored his third touchdown on an eight-yard run.
The Raiders changed quarterbacks in the fourth quarter, bring in backup Matt Schaub in place of Carr and Oakland had its best drive of the season. It looked like the Raiders would end the shutout bid when Schaub got the Raiders to the Rams’ 25 yard line. However, facing a third–and-three, Robert Quinn sacked Schaub for an 11 yard loss while also forcing a fumble. Chris Long, freshly activated from the injured reserve, recovered the fumble.
The Rams were unable to do anything with the ball, punting it away following a three-and-out.
During Oakland’s ensuing drive, Schaub was victimized by Johnson. This time Johnson returned the ball 43-yards for a touchdown and a 52-0 Rams’ lead.
“We were in zone coverage both times,” Johnson said. “I was at the right place at the right time.”
“This is my first ‘pick-six’,” Johnson continued. “I scored and I forgot what it was like to be in the end zone. My celebration was trash, but I’m just glad I caught it and put some points up for our team.”
Hill was 13-of-22 for 183 yards and two touchdowns through the air. Stedman Bailey was Hill’s top target, catching five passes for 100 yards. On the ground, Mason led all rushers with 117 yards on 14 carries.
The Rams’ defense intercepted three passes and recovered two of the three fumbles they forced. Quinn forced two of the fumbles while William Hayes forced the other. Long and Rodney McLeod each picked up a loose ball for the Rams. St. Louis recorded six sacks, all in the second half. Quinn had three sacks while Hayes, Long, and Aaron Donald all got to the Oakland quarterback once.
With the win, the Rams improved to 5-7. With four games left, St. Louis still has an outside shot at finishing the season with a winning record.