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Saints vs. Rams: 5 Things We Learned from Rams' Surprising 31-21 Win

Doug ZerjalContributor IIOctober 30, 2011

Saints vs. Rams: 5 Things We Learned from Rams' Surprising 31-21 Win

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    The St. Louis Rams won their first game of the 2011 season Sunday with a solid 31-21 victory over the New Orleans Saints.

    The Rams played a decent but not great game. It gave fans hope that the Rams could continue to improve and win more games going forward. If the Rams could beat the Saints not playing a perfect game, then St. Louis should have some success against weaker competition in the weeks to come.

    Here's seven things we learned from the Rams' 31-21 victory over New Orleans.

Steven Jackson Is One of the Most Versatile Backs in the NFL

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    Steven Jackson was sensational on Sunday against New Orleans.

    Jackson finished his day with 159 yards and two touchdowns. It was his best game of the season and one of the better of his career.

    What makes Jackson truly special, though, are his pass-catching abilities. The Rams utilized Jackson on Sunday by splitting him out wide and in the slot often in passing situations. Twice Jackson caught a pass from the receiver position to gain valuable yards. He finished the game with four receptions for 32 yards.

    This new tactic of splitting Jackson out wide better showcases his abilities and is something the offense should continue to use going forward.

The Quick Passing Game Is the Rams' Best Bet

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    Besides the talents of Steven Jackson, the Rams' best bet offensively is to throw short, quick passes.

    Whether Sam Bradford or A.J. Feeley play, the Rams' offensive line cannot provide consistent protection. The Rams allowed four more sacks today to their already league-high total. This stat is especially evident on any Rams plays that need time to develop (such as roll-outs or play action). The offensive line simply cannot keep things blocked up front for very long and especially have trouble against the blitz.

    By spreading teams out, the Rams could throw quick passes to cut down the rushing abilities of the opposing defenses. The spread would also open running lanes for Jackson.

Brandon Lloyd Is Mentally Tough

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    Brandon Lloyd is a mentally tough player and one the Rams can count on this season.

    Lloyd had a solid day, catching six passes for 53 yards and a touchdown. What made his day memorable, though, were two key plays in the fourth quarter.

    Early in the quarter on third down, Lloyd dropped a probable scoring play. Lloyd ran a slant route and caught the Saints in man coverage. His drop, though, gave the ball back to New Orleans and shifted momentum.

    Lloyd came back to play later in the closing quarter with a key third-down reception to continue a Ram drive that drained valuable clock time from New Orleans.

    Lloyd is a player the Rams can trust and utilize the rest of the year.

Josh McDaniels Should Keep Trying New Things on Offense

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    Offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels had a great game plan and game-calling day against New Orleans.

    By using a variety of formations, including the previously mentioned look with Jackson split out wide, the Rams confused the Saints and were productive offensively.

    The Rams also utilized a few trick plays, including multiple reverses. These variations excited the crowd and the players.

    McDaniels will hopefully continue to be innovative going forward in 2011.

The Rams Still Committed Too Many Penalties

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    The Rams still committed too many penalties in their win Sunday.

    The Rams finished with nine penalties for 64 yards, including six false starts by their offensive line.

    This area must improve for the Rams to continue to win games.

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