Defense steps up in both of Rams victories
ST. LOUIS (AP) Big stops by the defense have been behind both of the St. Louis Rams’ victories.
Against the Cardinals, they perhaps had more ferocious hits than they’d had the previous three games combined.
”It was great,” defensive end Chris Long said after Sunday’s 24-22 win at Arizona. ”The defensive backs played awesome, linebackers played awesome, we played our role up front.”
Coach Jeff Fisher was cautious on Monday, perhaps an attempt to guard against overconfidence with a team that’s been known to follow up good games with duds.
The Rams (2-2) opened the season with an overtime victory over NFC champion Seattle, and then lost the next two weeks against the Redskins and Steelers.
”It doesn’t do anything,” cornerback Janoris Jenkins said. ”It just shows that we have talent and all we have to do is come out and play every week and stay together as a team.”
The Rams need to keep it going without Alec Ogletree, their leading tackler. The outside linebacker will undergo surgery for a fractured right ankle Tuesday and could be lost for the season.
Ogletree had 11 tackles before being hurt when teammate T.J. McDonald landed on his legs while trying to make a diving tackle in the second half.
Fisher said the team would have a better idea after the procedure whether there was a chance Ogletree could be placed on injured reserve/designated for return.
”He was here in the meetings today,” Fisher said. ”He’s going to have to put his coaching hat on now here for whatever time.”
McDonald led the way Sunday with several jarring hits, plus one of the team’s four sacks.
”He put some pretty good licks on some people, which he’s good at,” Fisher said.
The Rams have 17 sacks on the season, tied with Green Bay for second in the NFL and just one behind the Broncos. There were contributions from Lamarcus Joyner, Chris Long and James Laurinaitis also getting a sack, Rodney McLeod forcing a fumble and Laurinaitis adding three quarterback hits.
Jenkins had a memorable end zone interception, securing the ball against his helmet with one hand in the second quarter.
”I just went and got the ball at the highest point, and somehow it ended up on my helmet,” Jenkins said. ”All I could think about was control the ball when you’re coming down.”
Mark Barron forced a fumble on the opening kickoff that led to the first of Tavon Austin’s two touchdown catches.
St. Louis allowed 447 yards, including 334 passing, but made big stops when it counted. The Cardinals had one touchdown in five trips inside the red zone and in 14 plays totaled 7 yards, including two of the Rams sacks.
”Maybe we weren’t quite dominant, but we have a complete defense and that showed,” Long said.
Arizona averaged a league-leading 42 points the first three games, had scored TDs on 11 of 12 trips to the red zone, and had allowed one sack of Carson Palmer.
The Rams are 2-0 in the NFC West for the first time since 2012.
Notes: Fisher wasn’t pleased by wide receiver Stedman Bailey’s end zone stunt after catching a touchdown pass in the second half. Bailey put his head on the ball, pretending it was a pillow. He was surprised Bailey wasn’t penalized, and wouldn’t be surprised if the player got fined. … RB Trey Watts comes off a four-game suspension for violating the league’s substance abuse policy this week. … Fisher said the Rams might have caught a break when officials ruled Benny Cunningham down by forward progress and not a lost fumble on the last play of the third quarter.
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