After piling up 458 yards of total offense on the road last week against the 49ers, the St. Louis Rams entered Sunday's game against the Jets as three-and-a-half-point favorites. Rightfully so—they had just sliced through one of the best defenses in the NFL through the air and on the ground.
Unfortunately for offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer, he wasn't able to dial up that same kind of success against his former employer. St. Louis started hot as they marched down the field on its opening drive of the game. Sam Bradford and company spanned 86 yards of real estate on 13 plays and one key fourth-down conversion.
However, that proved to be the end of any type of offensive success until garbage time. The Rams did an okay job of moving the ball in between the 20s at times, but they couldn't stop themselves from inflicting self-induced wounds.
Quarterback Sam Bradford was an underwhelming 23-of-44 for 170 yards and two touchdowns. Disastrously, his two touchdown passes were offset by two first-half turnovers. Bradford's first turnover was an interception that came late in the first quarter, and Muhammad Wilkerson's strip-sack came midway through the second quarter.
It's talked about every week—Danny Amendola is by far Bradford's most relied-upon target. And when opposing defenses take him away, St. Louis' offense changes dramatically. Even though Amendola managed to catch seven passes, he only averaged 5.9 yards per reception with a long of 10 yards.
Antonio Cromartie, Kyle Wilson and Ellis Lankster all gave their best efforts in order to shut down No. 16. The Jets secondary arguably had its best game of the season as a unit—not a single receiver garnered more than 46 yards receiving and, outside of Amendola, no wideout had more than four catches.
Not to mention, it didn't help that Bradford's favorite target missed a few series due to a heel/ankle injury. Which leads me to this: How come the Rams didn't do a better job of utilizing running back Steven Jackson more throughout the game in his absence?
Jackson had a very hot hand by the end of the first half. He accumulated over half of his yards in the first two quarters, and as soon as things went south, rookie running back Daryl Richardson starting eating up all of his snaps. By the game's end, SJ39 had carried the ball 13 times for 81 yards. Since when does a 6.2 yard-per-carry average ever delegate a player to the bench?
Questionable play-calling and coaching decisions definitely played a large role in deciding the outcome of this afternoon's game. Note to head coach Jeff Fisher: Please don't keep your Pro-Bowl running back on the sidelines when attempting a late-game comeback.
As much as you would like to prove you don't need him next year or the year after that, it might be wise to use him while you can. You may just end up winning a few more games that way. And oh yeah, he's still a better pass-catcher than rookies Richardson and Isaiah Pead.
Another noteworthy tidbit is today marked the fourth game in a row where St. Louis' defense didn't force a turnover. They have now tied the longest streak in NFL history.
When you don't win the turnover battle, it's likely you won't win the game. Unless, of course, you're the Arizona Cardinals.
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