Sam Bradford’s numbers could have looked a lot worse: He completed 21 of 30 passes (70 percent) for 255 yards, a touchdown and an interception. Brian Schottenheimer often had him throwing short, high-success-rate passes. The touchdown pass was a nice floater—over the outstretched arms of a Panthers D-lineman—to a flaring Zac Stacy for a four-yard score.
Good things happened on play-action.
The Stacy score came after a play-action fake to Tavon Austin, and Bradford’s longest throw of the day followed a play-action fake to Stacy. In the middle of the third quarter, Bradford and Brian Quick hooked up on a bomb that traveled about 50 yards in the air. It went for 73 yards.
In relief of Bradford, Kellen Clemens went 2-of-4 passing for 19 yards with a lost fumble.
Bradford’s 8.5 yards-per-attempt average was a season high.
Zac Stacy continued his tough running against a stout Carolina Panthers front. The rookie rushed 17 times for just 53 yards but added 34 and a touchdown on four grabs. Daryl Richardson needed just one catch to match his rushing yardage total (nine yards) on three attempts, as the St. Louis Rams inexplicably continued to avoid getting him outside on a regular basis.
His longest carry went for 10 yards, which means his other two netted minus-one. He’s not getting enough opportunities to make plays; Richardson has received just six carries and two targets in the last two weeks.
Isaiah Pead didn’t get any, though.
Brian Quick got open for a huge gain in limited snaps, and Tavon Austin paced the team in catches. The St. Louis Rams wide receivers still did not dominate the game against the Carolina Panthers, however. Quick led the team with 97 receiving yards, but he was the only player to cover more than 40.
Austin had 39 on five catches, along with two fumbles (one lost).
In total, the four usual suspects (Quick, Austin, Chris Givens and Austin Pettis) totaled 10 catches for 177 yards on 17 targets.
Jared Cook is still looking for his first touchdown since Week 1. He’s also looking for his first 50-yard game since the same day.
This time, there was no Lance Kendricks or Cory Harkey TD to make the tight end position group’s numbers look better. The aggregate was simply eight receptions on 12 targets for 54 yards.
Cook’s longest catch went for 13 yards. Somebody has to make a play.
The St. Louis Rams continue to deal with injuries to their offensive line, as Jake Long had an injury scare against the Carolina Panthers. He returned to the game, but St. Louis still failed to regularly open up sufficient running lanes.
Sam Bradford was sacked twice while logging his 30 passing attempts. Kellen Clemens was brought down twice more, but he only threw the ball four times.
The line also negated a 63-yard Tavon Austin touchdown and incurred two personal foul penalties.
It wasn’t a good day for the St. Louis Rams D-line.
Chris Long was suspended after drawing two penalties, the latter of which was a disqualifying personal foul. Robert Quinn was the only lineman to record a QB hit—let alone a sack.
Eugene Sims led his position group with five tackles (two solo, one for loss). All three of Quinn’s tackles were in the Carolina backfield.
Michael Brockers was shut out of the box score after recording three sacks in his last two games, but the line was largely responsible for Carolina’s first-quarter safety.
Overall, the St. Louis Rams linebackers played pretty well. James Laurinaitis returned to his perch as St. Louis’ leading tackler, recording 11 takedowns (seven solo) and a sack. The Carolina Panthers had three different rushers reach double-digit carries, but none of them averaged three yards per attempt.
Carolina’s rushing was corralled: The Panthers rushed 38 times for 102 yards.
DeAngelo Williams and Greg Olsen caught all five of their targets for 66 yards but did not score.
Janoris Jenkins didn’t fare well against Cam Newton’s No. 1 target in Steve Smith, but the St. Louis Rams couldn’t stop the Carolina Panthers' passing attack, regardless of who the target was. Newton was 15-of-17, throwing the ball for 204 yards and a touchdown. His passer rating was 136.3, in large part because he averaged 12 yards per toss.
All five of his targets averaged 11.7 yards per catch or more. Each caught a ball for at least 18 yards.
The DBs also accrued two defensive holding penalties, could have added to the Rams’ unnecessary roughness woes and exhibited extremely poor tackling on Smith’s touchdown.
The bright side of this loss for the St. Louis Rams is that their special teams units went without penalty. Tavon Austin and Stedman Bailey returned three kickoffs for 73 yards, the least of which was 15 yards. Austin added 26 punt-return yards.
Greg Zuerlein was perfectly accurate again, and Johnny Hekker averaged 39.8 yards per boot with no touchbacks.
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