Jeff Fisher’s St. Louis Rams avoided a four-game slide by defeating the Jacksonville Jaguars at home, 34-20. The magic number of 30 points—including seven from the defense—that I prescribed for St. Louis was met with five minutes, 45 seconds remaining in the game.
The Rams had 24 in the first half.
Like Week 1’s victory over the Arizona Cardinals, St. Louis still has plenty of things to work on. The Rams still draw far too many penalties, especially on special teams. The Week 5 win over Jacksonville was a balanced effort nevertheless.
Sam Bradford still has yet to put a masterpiece together. As the St. Louis Rams put 24 on the scoreboard before halftime, Bradford completed 12 of 20 passes for 128 yards and two touchdowns in the first half. He still left plays on the field, though.
Bradford finished with 222 yards, three touchdowns and no interceptions on 19-of-34 passing, good for a 105.3 passer rating.
Zac Stacy (eight carries for 38 yards) and Daryl Richardson (five for 29) revived the St. Louis Rams rushing attack in the first half. The opponent should certainly be considered, but it’s a good sign that the young guys were able to average 5.2 yards per carry early on.
Stacy finished with 78 rushing yards on 14 carries. Richardson’s 13-yard first-half run was the longest of the day for St. Louis. He had 13 carries for 48 yards on the day. Benny Cunningham added 13 more yards on four totes.
None of the running backs caught a pass, but a 4.5 yards-per-carry average is a lot better than the Rams are used to from the position group thus far.
The Jacksonville Jaguars aren’t exactly equipped to deal with the depth of the St. Louis Rams wide receivers. Guys were able to get open early and often, and four wideouts were able to record a catch in the first half.
Stedman Bailey was the only one who didn’t, and he still contributed by pinning the Jags to their own 1-yard line on a punt.
Unfortunately, none of the wideouts actually eclipsed the 50-yard mark. Austin Pettis scored a pair of touchdowns but finished with 49 yards on four catches. Brian Quick added 45 on two grabs. The position group contributed 142 receiving yards on 11 receptions.
Despite the arrival of one big free-agent fish, Jared Cook, Lance Kendricks continues to show up in the box score for the St. Louis Rams: He caught 4 of 6 targets for 37 yards and a touchdown.
Cook caught all three of his looks for 26 yards. Cory Harkey had a drop, but he also contributed a 17-yard catch in the fourth quarter.
In total, that’s eight grabs for 80 yards and a score.
Sam Bradford had time to throw all afternoon. He still held the ball too long and was sacked twice, but the offensive line played well enough for those two sacks to be the only credited hits that he took.
For the first time, the St. Louis Rams averaged four yards per carry—and that included three victory-formation kneels by Bradford. They covered 11.7 yards per catch, also a season high.
As soon as the Jacksonville Jaguars’ second-overall pick, Luke Joeckel, left the game on a cart, the St. Louis Rams D-line decided it was time to eat. It bludgeoned Blaine Gabbert—eventually knocking him out of the game—on top of batting down two passes and recording two sacks and two more QB hits by Robert Quinn.
Jacksonville ended up completing 50 percent (16-of-32) of its passes as a result. If not for Justin Blackmon’s 67-yard sprint—which wasn’t the D-line’s fault—it would have averaged 6.5 yards per pass attempt.
The St. Louis Rams are now 1-0 with Jo-Lonn Dunbar in uniform. They welcomed him back by holding the Jacksonville Jaguars to less than four yards per carry. Most of Jacksonville’s rushing yards (49-of-96, or 51 percent) came in the fourth quarter when the Rams were already leading by two touchdowns.
That is a concern. The Jaguars gained 55 rushing yards on a single fourth-quarter no-huddle drive (they lost six on another drive). St. Louis couldn’t really afford to play the pass exclusively in that situation. There was plenty of time for two scores to take place, but the offense bailed the defense out by answering Jacksonville’s touchdown drive with another seven points of its own.
James Laurinaitis tallied eight total tackles, a pass deflection and a pick. Alec Ogletree added five takedowns of his own.
The St. Louis Rams defensive backs spotted the Jacksonville Jaguars seven points on an elementary catch-and-run touchdown by Justin Blackmon early in the first quarter. Matt Giordano took them back with his 82-yard pick-six, and Darian Stewart recovered a fumble that the Rams promptly turned into a 17-10 lead in the second quarter.
Blackmon and Cecil Shorts each caught five passes and scored a touchdown while combining for 210 receiving yards. Tight end Clay Harbor was the only other receiver to do any real damage, catching three passes for 39 yards.
Giordano and Darian Stewart tied for second on the team with six total tackles apiece.
Three special teams penalties in the first eight minutes. Four in the first half. A blocked punt began the second half.
Stedman Bailey was a bright spot on special teams, but the unit was detrimental overall.