In front of a packed crowd at the Edward Jones Dome, one that seemed like more Bears fans were in attendance than Rams fans, St. Louis showed that they should never be underestimated, routing the potential NFC North champs 42-21. The Rams rushing combo of rookies Zac Stacy and Benny Cunningham completely torched the Bears once stout run defense, rushing for a combined 258 yards and three touchdowns, including Cunningham’s first career touchdown.
It was also a battle of brothers, as Kyle Long, an offensive lineman for the Bears in his first year in the NFL, faced off against his brother, Rams defensive end Chris Long, although they didn’t line up against each other. In the first half, K. Long got into a huge altercation with Rams’ DE William Hayes, and, in the midst of the argument, C. Long left the bench (which he could have been penalized for), ran onto the field, and pushed his brother back to ease the tension.
Rams rookie WR Tavon Austin once again had a breakout game, starting the Rams first drive with a 65-yard touchdown run in the first quarter, the longest rushing TD for the Rams in 12 years.
Overall, Quarterback Kellen Clemens had a decent game, completing 10/22 for 167 yards and a touchdown, but he showed some signs of confusion when passes were over or under thrown, and in the red-zone near the end of the half, Clemens threw a pass that didn’t seem to go anywhere but right into the ground.
St. Louis pressured Bears’ QB Josh McCown all day, sacking him twice and forcing three turnovers overall. Robert Quinn showed why he is one of the best lineman in the NFL, getting a sack, forcing a fumble, and scoring his first career touchdown, but it was a play that Michael Brockers made in the fourth quarter that shows how watered down the NFL has become.
In the 4th quarter, during a red-zone drive by the Bears, and following two pass interference penalties by Rams’ CB Brandon McGee, Brockers launched right into McCown, sacking him, forcing a fumble. The referee, however, called a roughing the passer penalty on Brockers, enraging the Ram’s sideline and the fans in attendance. The Bears would score a couple plays later.
While that was just one call, it showed how the NFL has changed so much, it seems that defensive players can’t even hit the QB without a penalty or fine being issues. Roger Goodell and the executives in the NFL need to know the league is not as safe as they play it out to be. Because the rules force defensive players to hit low, more ACL’s, MCL’s, PCL’s, and hamstrings are getting torn, and even knees are being blown out because of the new rules. Just ask Sam Bradford, who tore his ACL due to being tackled against Carolina a few weeks ago.
For the NFL, it’s not just the amount of calls that are being made, it’s the amount that aren’t. Last week, Drew Brees of the New Orleans’ Saints got hit in the upper neck/shoulder area by 49ers’ linebacker Ahmad Brooks, and Brooks was eventually fined over $15,000 by the NFL. But when Matt Ryan got hit in the same general area on Thursday Night Football this past week (against the Saints), no call was made. Quarterbacks such as Jason Campbell of the Browns also fell victim to vicious hits to the head with no-call from the refs. Campbell took a vicious shot from Steelers’ safety William Gay, but he did not get flagged for the hit, and Campbell suffered a concussion.
It goes without question that NFL referees will not always get the right call, but when you call sacking the quarterback “roughing the passer” you begin to water down the game of football. Football is a physical sport, and everyone who plays it knows the risks attributed to it (or else they would not play it), and they are very tough athletes that pour their hearts into the sport every week.
Despite what Goodell claims, you cannot eradicate concussions from football. It just cannot be done. Yes, you can decrease the amount of concussions, and the rate of them has lowered recently, with improved care and proper testing, but they will happen regardless. The fact three Rams’ players are on the injury report due to concussions prove that. But in trying to reduce concussions, the rate of torn muscles have risen.
There are instances when players should be penalized (horse collar tackles, helmet to helmet without warning, etc). But just sacking a quarterback should not. Brockers should not have been penalized, and unfortunately, he will not be the last to be penalized for non-roughing the passer hits like that.
These are troubling times in the National Football League…..