Indianapolis thought when St. Louis came to town, the win wouldn’t be as tough as it was the week before. They could never have been more wrong.
Guided by three touchdowns by Rams rookie Tavon Austin, the St. Louis Rams put a beat-down on the Colts 38-8.
In the first quarter, as Colts quarterback Andrew Luck attempted to throw a pass, but the Rams’ strong front four got to him fast, and after lineman Robert Quinn strips the football, Chris Long picked it up, running it back 45 yards for the touchdown, to put St. Louis up early 7-0. But that was only the beginning of what would become a great day for the Rams and a brutal day for the Colts.
In the 2nd Quarter, with the Rams already up 14-0 after a touchdown run by Zac Stacy, the Colts were forced a three-an-out and had to punt to the Rams. All year, Austin was caught unlucky breaks due to penalties or having his foot barely stepping out of bounds.
This time, there was no controversy.
Austin took the punt back 98 yards, in what is the longest punt return in Rams’ history, for his first career special teams’ touchdown. He eventually would accumulate 145 punt return yards in total. But Austin was far from finished.
He only had caught two passes on the day from quarterback Kellen Clemens, but both had huge results. The first was a 57 yard touchdown catch in the 2nd quarter on a pass from Clemens, and in the third quarter, Clemens once again found Austin, this time for an 81 yard touchdown, which is the longest touchdown by the Rams in eight years.
Clemens went 9/16 for 247 yards, two touchdowns, and no interceptions, in what was his best game of the season, filling in for injured QB Sam Bradford. Stacy ran 26 times for only 62 yards, and while he did make a costly fumble inside the five, he scored another touchdown to boost his stats.
The offense was not the main strong point in the game. If yesterday proved anything, it was that the Rams won that game in a total team effort. All day the defense had Luck’s number, picking him off three times (total of four interceptions in the game), and adding three sacks. One of the interceptions was by Trumaine Johnson and it was picked off in the end-zone as Johnson dove in the receivers’ path and intercepted the ball. James Laurinitis also had a interception in the game as well.
Eventually, Luck’s backup, former Seahawks’ QB Matt Hasselback came in, and, just like before, St. Louis picked him off.
With three scores of at least 50 yards, Austin joined Randy Moss and Gale Sayers as the only players to accomplish the feat in a single game as a rookie. And that’s not all in Austin’s resume’. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, Austin is the third player in NFL history with at least 3 TD of 55 or more yards in a game.
Overall, it shows the true talent the Rams’ do possess, although the entire season has been mediocre at best. Losing close games hurts’ the confidence of players and coaches, but the Rams’ persevere and fight their way back, and, with strong defense, consistent offense, and outstanding special teams, St. Louis heads into their bye week with a much needed victory over the AFC-South leading Colts.
The schedule after the bye is ranked as the third toughest in the NFL, but the games are very winnable. St. Louis comes back from the bye to face Chicago, then the struggling 49ers at Candlestick, followed by a rematch against Arizona in Phoenix, then a tough match-up at home against the Saints, and close out the year with a home game against Tampa, and a key road match-up against the Seahawks in Seattle.
While mistakes were made yesterday, a lot of promise was shown. The Rams have loads of young, fresh talent, and with time, they will become more consistent and dangerous. There is still plenty of football left to be played, and the best thing the Rams can do now is stay healthy, fight hard each week, and end their season on a high note.
Whatever the result of the season record-wise, the talent on the team gives St. Louis fans hope for the future.