St. Louis Rams: Bradford Shows Elite Ability on Game-Winning Drive

Ryan Bothmann@tripleCfanSenior Analyst IIDecember 9, 2012

ORCHARD PARK, NY - DECEMBER 09:  Sam Bradford #8 of the St. Louis Rams looks to throw in the last minute of teh game against the Buffalo Bills
at Ralph Wilson Stadium on December 9, 2012 in Orchard Park, New York.  (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
Rick Stewart/Getty Images

When the St. Louis Rams drafted quarterback Sam Bradford, the No. 1 pick, three years ago, they expected the rookie from Oklahoma to be the team's proverbial "franchise player."

Unfortunately, Bradford has not quite lived up to the billing so far. Bradford did lead the Rams to a 7-9 record in 2010 and won the Rookie of the Year Award that season, but through most of his early career in St. Louis, the Rams offense has been stagnant.

This season alone, Sam Bradford ranks 18th in yards passing and 21st in touchdowns. Blame play-calling, blame lack of talent, blame whatever you like. Simply put, the gaudy numbers that Rams fans expected from Sam Bradford have not been there.

There has not been a whole lot of criticism towards Bradford though. St. Louis fans and the media have been understanding of their young quarterback. He dealt with nagging injuries throughout most of his second season in the league, he does have minimal talent around him and he is already with his third offensive coordinator.

As this season has progressed though, and Bradford has continued to be just average, St. Louis fans have been beginning to wonder: Is Sam Bradford elite, or did we give all that money to someone who is simply average?

On Sunday afternoon, Bradford helped answer that question.

The Rams came into Sunday's game against Buffalo with their playoff hopes on life support, and the Bills were minutes away from pulling the plug and ending any dream that Rams fans had left.

Sam Bradford and the St. Louis offense took to the field with 4:55 to go in the game. As they broke the huddle and Bradford looked down to check the defense, there was 84 yards of open field ahead. It was a monumental task for an offense that had struggled for the vast majority of the game, but if they wanted to win, it was a task they would have to conquer.

Bradford led St. Louis down the field and converted on two third downs as well as a critical fourth down. He threw some bad passes on the drive, but when they needed him most, he did not disappoint.

The drive culminated with Bradford throwing a 13-yard strike to Brandon Gibson in the end zone. That touchdown put St. Louis ahead for good, and it kept their playoff hopes alive for at least one more Sunday.

This drive was most important though because of Bradford. He showed that he was not a "game manager," but rather the guy that a team turns to when they need big plays. He showed that while this team's strength is its defense in the big moments the offense can step up as well.

Sam Bradford showed Rams fans on Sunday afternoon that this organization did not make a mistake drafting him. He is the right guy to take this team back to postseason glory.

Sam Bradford showed us all on Sunday that he is on the verge of becoming an elite NFL quarterback.