Rams vs. Redskins: 7 Things We Learned from St. Louis' 31-28 Win
The Rams rightfully received little credit for their effort because they ultimately came up short, but this week, they certainly deserve some attention for their victory over the Washington Redskins.
The Rams beat the Redskins in a 31-28 nail-biter, making it their first home-opener victory since 2006.
Washington was considered a hot team entering this game, and the fact the Rams came out on top certainly sends a strong message to the rest of the NFL.
And with that, here's what we learned from the Rams' first victory of the season.
The NFL Referee Lockout Must End
Like most people, I'm critical of officiating crews during a game, but I seldom carry that animosity over into my writing and understand that blown calls are unfortunately a part of the game.
But, the performance by the officials in today's game was uniquely disgraceful.
It's not right to personally attack the referees, who are trying their best to fill the void. This is actually the NFL's fault for letting such unqualified and incapable refs officiate these games.
You can watch football all your life and struggle to find a game where the refs completely lose control of the game with numerous awful calls, as they did today.
Let's just hope that this was the game that finally gets the NFL to end the referee lockout because it doesn't matter who wins or loses if the game is going to be illegitimate.
Luckily, the Rams deserved to come out on top, and the refs weren't able to prevent that from happening.
Sam Bradford Has Elite Potential
We knew quarterback Sam Bradford had elite potential coming out of the 2010 draft as a No. 1 overall pick, but his 2011 struggles caused some doubt.
In Week 1, Bradford was very shaky in the first half, but he was on the money in the fourth quarter.
This week, Bradford played an elite game. It was possibly the best game of his young career after finishing 26-of-35 with 310 yards and three touchdowns.
But, more telling than the numbers was his presence on the field. He was commanding the huddle, making line calls and leading the offense in a Manning-like fashion.
Also, we saw some mobility and an increased level of pocket awareness.
If Bradford can continue playing like this, the Rams offense is in good shape.
No Man is Above Jeff Fisher's Law
In the first half, Steven Jackson carried the ball at the goal line and pounded his way into the end zone, but the officials missed the call and did not signal a touchdown.
It was one of many disgraceful moments by the refs in this game, but Jackson wrongfully reacted out of anger and spiked the ball, resulting in an unsportsmanlike penalty.
As a result, coach Jeff Fisher benched Jackson for the remainder of the game.
Backup Daryl Richardson had a solid performance with 15 carries and 83 yards, but there were moments that made it easy to question Jackson being on the bench, such as Richardson's fumble in the final minutes, which nearly cost them the game.
It was hard to watch the team leader and best overall player riding the bench in a close game, but it surely sent a strong message to the team.
However, on a side note, people would be far less forgiving of this move had the Rams fell short and lost the game.
Either way, you have to feel sorry for the Chicago Bears defenders who will have to tackle Jackson next week because he will be absolutely pumped up.
Daryl Richardson Was a Great Find
While we're on the subject of running backs, let's go ahead and point out what a great acquisition Daryl Richardson was.
The rookie was drafted in the seventh round of last April's draft and was able to beat out rookie second-round pick Isaiah Pead for the backup job.
As mentioned, Richardson had 83 rushing yards, but he also added 19 receiving yards and a two-point conversion.
And what's even better is that he used this game to prove that he can effectively fill in for Steven Jackson if needed.
The fumble at the end of the game was costly, but Richardson still seems like a valuable addition up to this point.
Danny Amendola is Key for This Offense
Danny Amendola missed basically the entire 2011 season with a dislocated elbow, so his absence made it easy to forget how vital he truly is.
Amendola is Sam Bradford's favorite target, and that was made perfectly clear after Amendola racked up 15 catches for 160 yards and a touchdown.
After Amendola fumbled on the very first play from scrimmage, it initially looked like it could be a long day for the receiver, but he was able to bounce back and turn it into a career game. It was a remarkable display of resilience.
There's no question that Amendola will be a key weapon for the offense moving forward.
Rams Defense Can Challenge Any Team
The key word being "challenge," not "destroy."
In Week 1, the St. Louis Rams defense played a very potent Detroit Lions offense and gave them fits, despite ultimately losing the game.
This week, against RGIII and another capable offense, the Rams defense was once again able to cause problems and come up with big plays.
After watching the first two games, it's clear that the Rams have enough talent on defense to limit anyone they play.
The defense has made solid tackles, they've come up with big turnovers, and overall, they look pretty nasty.
They're giving up too many yards and points, but they're still keeping the team in games until the bitter end.
Brandon Gibson May Be Turning Into a Legitimate Deep Threat
After three seasons of mediocrity in St. Louis, no one really expected wide receiver Brandon Gibson to offer much this season.
He certainly wasn't a guarantee to make the team, but he worked hard throughout training camp and is now one of the top receivers on the roster.
So far in 2012, he has been a nice complement to the receiving corps.
In Week 1, he finished with 51 yards, including a 23-yard touchdown catch that gave the Rams the lead in the fourth quarter.
Against the Redskins, he had 53 yards and came up with a huge 34-yard touchdown reception to give the Rams their first lead of the game in the third quarter.
He's not coming up with numerous catches per game, but he is certainly making the most out of the passes that are thrown to him.
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