Rams vs. Colts: Takeaways from St. Louis' 38-8 Win over Indianapolis
The Rams walked away with a lopsided 38-8 victory, embarrassing the Colts in front of their home crowd.
Tavon Austin was easily the major story of this game.
It was nine months ago that the rookie receiver shocked the league with a monster performance at Lucas Oil Stadium during the NFL combine, which secured his status as a top-10 draft pick, so it's only appropriate that his return to Indianapolis results in another career milestone.
The lightning-fast rookie produced 138 receiving yards on two catches and broke free for a third touchdown as a punt returner.
The St. Louis defense had a dominant game as well, recording three sacks, four picks and one fumble recovery for a touchdown.
The Rams defense held the Colts to minus-three rushing yards in the first half and only 20 rushing yards total. They did allow Luck to pass for 353 yards, but many of those yards came after the game was out of hand.
Every aspect of this game worked in St. Louis' favor, resulting in its best performance of the 2013 season.
The Rams will now enter the bye week as they prepare for a home game against the tough Chicago Bears.
In the meantime, here are my takeaways from St. Louis' thumping of the Colts.
Tavon Austin Has Arrived
The media has generally been labeling Austin as a rookie disappointment, but to anyone who has actually bothered watching the games, it's clear that he's just as advertised.
Austin was being held back by unfortunate mistakes by his teammates. We've seen a number of his punt return touchdowns wiped out by penalties, and we've seen Rams quarterbacks overthrow him on deep routes.
Simply put, he's been a victim of bad luck.
This game demonstrated what Austin is capable of as a player. With over 300 all-purpose yards and three scores, he overwhelmed an Indianapolis defense that had no answer for him.
Expect more jaw-dropping production from Austin in the near future. He's too talented to be contained forever.
Robert Quinn Still Chasing the Sack Title
Robert Quinn had a three-sack performance two weeks ago against Seattle and entered this game with 10 on the season.
Quinn recorded two sacks against the Colts, giving him 12 on the year. He's now on pace for 19 sacks this season and could easily surpass Kevin Carter's franchise record of 17 sacks.
Robert Mathis of the Colts recorded two sacks in the game as well and now leads the NFL with 13.5, but Quinn is still very much in the hunt.
The NFL will award this season's sack leader with the first annual Deacon Jones Award, and it would be a huge honor for a Rams player to receive this award considering it was named after the former Rams great who passed away this past offseason.
Isaiah Pead Is in Deep Trouble
On the opening kickoff, Isaiah Pead was in for the Rams as a gunner and picked up a taunting penalty. It was totally unacceptable, especially during the opening play of the game.
After that questionable play, Pead disappeared from the field for the remainder of the game.
It's not just this game. Pead has struggled to see the field all season long. The second-year running back hasn't had a carry since Week 2 and has only seven rushes on the season.
If the coaching staff refuses to give him playing time when the team has a 38-0 lead over the opponent, when will the former second-round pick ever get a chance to see the field?
At this point, it's clear that Pead is deep in the doghouse and may never come out.
With Zac Stacy excelling in the starting role, Pead's future with the team is clearly in jeopardy.
Defensive Scoring Remains Vital
The Rams have desperately missed Sam Bradford in recent weeks, and the injury forced the team to change its entire offensive philosophy.
Kellen Clemens doesn't have an elite arm like Bradford, so the offense is now centered around Zac Stacy and the run game. It's a solid strategy, but it limits the team's ability to rack up points.
As a result, defensive touchdowns and special teams scores are absolutely vital, and both units were able to contribute seven points each in this game.
Without those scores, the momentum of this game would not have favored the Rams in such a significant way.
Moving forward, it's absolutely vital that the Rams continue to score points in unconventional ways.
Trumaine Johnson Is Growing as a Player
Trumaine Johnson had a positive presence as a rookie in 2012, though the third-round pick only saw limited action.
Johnson replaced the struggling Cortland Finnegan as the starter opposite Janoris Jenkins, and the second-year corner has been getting better each week.
Johnson had four total tackles against the Colts and came up with his second pick of the season.
He had some hiccups in coverage but was pretty solid for the majority of the game.
Now that Jenkins is officially having a sophomore slump and Finnegan has regressed, Johnson's arrival could not have come at a better time.
Chris Long Is Coming Alive
Chris Long struggled early in the year after recording just a half-sack in the first four games.
Long now has five sacks in his past five games, including a three-sack performance against Seattle two weeks ago.
Long is an important player, and his veteran presence is extremely valuable for this young team. His arrival is major advantage for the Rams.
Long had one sack against the Colts and also took a fumble recovery in for a touchdown.
Kellen Clemens Will Finish 2013 as the Starter
In Clemens' first two starts against Seattle and Tennessee, he had his struggles but put the Rams in a position to win both games.
They fell short and lost both games, but his performance kept the Rams competitive and at least gave them a chance, which is all you can really ask of a backup quarterback.
This time, Clemens was able to help his team seal a lopsided road victory over the dangerous Colts.
This was easily the best start of Clemens' eight-year NFL career.
This is Clemens' first game with multiple touchdowns and zero interceptions. His 247 passing yards is his highest total since 2007 and the third-highest total of his career.
If you were hoping to see second-year player Austin Davis get a shot under center, don't hold your breath. Clemens has the job secured for the time being, and it appears he'll finish the year as the starter.
Zac Stacy Still Pounding Away
Stacy was hardly the center of the offense in this game, but the rookie running back had another solid performance and continues to cement his status as the starter beyond 2013.
Stacy did not have the running room he's used to and averaged less than 3.0 yards per carry, but with 68 yards from scrimmage and a rushing touchdown, his performance was not too shabby.
Had it not been for a goal-line fumble early in the game, Stacy could have easily had a multiple-touchdown performance for the second week in a row.
It wasn't a flashy game for the young back, but he's still getting it done.
This Rams Team Is Not Giving Up
The fans and media have pretty much surrendered all hope when it comes to the 2013 Rams, but the players are clearly not giving up on salvaging the 2013 season.
The team could have easily packed it in after the Bradford injury and abandoned all hope, but this young team is obviously hungry for wins.
Even if the postseason is a pipe dream at this point, it's important for the youth on this team to experience winning and learn how to put games away in the NFL.
The effort may not pay dividends this season, but the experience will certainly contribute to the team's success in 2014 and beyond.
The Rams will now enter their bye week and get some much-needed rest. After the bye, expect this team to come back as strong as ever for the remainder of the year.
Steven Gerwel is the longest-tenured Rams Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report and serves as the Rams game-day correspondent. You can find more of Gerwel's work by visiting his writer's profile or by following him on Twitter.
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