It wasn’t necessarily pretty, but the Rams got the job done.
The St. Louis Rams defeated the Seattle Seahawks 34-31 in overtime on Sunday at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis.
Tyler Lockett got the scoring started early in the first quarter with a 57-yard punt return touchdown. Lockett showcased his impressive returning abilities in the preseason. This author picked Tyler Lockett to be one of the breakout rookies in the NFC West solely because of his returning abilities and Lockett clearly showed today that he is dangerous.
The Rams evened the score at 7-7 when Tavon Austin scored on a 16-yard rush early in the second quarter. Austin has been the subject of being called a bust, as he hasn’t performed well in his first two NFL seasons. Many picked him to have a breakout year. With the Rams getting rid of offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer and promoting Frank Cignetti they had a new mastermind, who will get Austin more touches. Austin’s offensive stats weren’t great (2 rec, -2 yards and 4 rushes, 17 yards, TD) but him finding the endzone was key.
After the game, Austin added “That’s what it’s all about…just opportunities. Coach (Jeff) Fisher believes in me, my team believes in me. I’m just thankful for the opportunity that I had. I’m just glad I made the play for us. It was multiple plays made out there, not just by me. I’m just thankful right now that we got the win.”
The two teams then traded field goals and the game was tied 10-10 at the half.
A little passed the midpoint of the third quarter, Steven Hauschka added another field goal to give Seattle a 13-10 lead. The following drive, the Rams answered with a one-yard Nick Foles rushing touchdown; his first score as a Ram. The next Seattle drive, they were forced to punt and guess who struck again; Austin. He exploded for a 75-yard punt return touchdown to put the Rams up 24-13 heading into the fourth quarter.
Seattle drove down the field and hit newly acquired tight end Jimmy Graham for his first touchdown with the Seahawks. They then converted the two-point conversion on a Marshawn Lynch run to make the score 24-21 in favor of the Rams. Then the next drive, Rams RB Isaiah Pead fumbled the ball in Seattle territory giving the Seahawks the ball back. Seattle went down the field and Hauschka’s boot tied the game up at 24-24.
What happened next was nearly unbearable for Rams fans. On their next drive, Foles was stripped on the first play of the drive by Cary Williams, who scooped the ball up and ran it in eight yards for the score to put Seattle up 31-24 with 4:39 remaining in the game.
But the Rams wouldn’t give up. They drove down the field, and Foles threw his first touchdown pass as a Ram to a wide-open Lance Kendricks for a 37-yard touchdown after the man covering him, Dion Bailey stumbled and fell leaving Kendricks wide open. Bailey was Kam Chancellor’s replacement as Chancellor’s holdout continues. Fisher commented on Foles resiliency after the strip sack saying, “We were on the sideline just screaming ‘It’s definitely not over.’ We believe in him and he believes in us. On the field, him and (TE) Lance (Kendricks) hooked up on a good go route. And that’s how it was.”
Seattle got the ball on its own 20 yard line with 53 seconds remaining and one timeout. The Seahawks were moving the ball with a lot of small completions near the sideline where the receivers could get out of bounds. They spent their last timeout and moments later, Russell Wilson was sacked. Though Rams defensive end Eugene Sims was injured on the play and had to be helped off of the field. With one second remaining and Seattle took a knee, sending the game to overtime.
In over time the Rams won the coin toss and elected to receive. Seattle tried to surprise the Rams with an onside kick but undrafted free agent wide receiver Bradley Marquez recovered the ball. The Rams started their drive with a highlight throw by Foles, who completed the pass to Stedman Bailey. The Rams couldn’t convert on third down later in the drive as Foles was pressured and threw the ball away. Greg Zuerlein nailed a 37-yard field goal to give the Rams a 34-31 lead.
After a touchback, Seattle moved the ball relatively well, but was faced with a 4th & 1 on the Rams 41-yard line. Seattle was in shotgun and handed the ball to Marshawn Lynch but Aaron Donald and Michael Brockers shedded blocks of the Seattle offensive line and brought Lynch down in the backfield at about the 43-yard line, ending the game and giving the Rams the victory. Rams head coach Jeff Fisher had high praise for Aaron Donald after the game.
“(No.) 99 in the backfield. Like I said, if you put one guy on him, you’re asking for trouble. (No.) 99 is a special player. There’s no limit for him if he realizes the true potential he has to be a great player,” Fisher said.
When asked for his first thoughts after the win, Fisher said “As a team, I think we just finished the game. We started off hot. Seattle made great plays on both sides of the ball to get themselves back into the game. They made plays, like I said, to keep themselves alive. The guys just finished the game. We’ve preached that the past few years – finish, finish, finish. We were able to finish. It wasn’t pretty, but at the end of the day, we got the ‘W’ and that’s what we look for. We know we can always get better at things. As long as we keep winning and we still improve, the sky is the limit. It’s a great way to start a season. That’s a great Seahawks team and we’ll take it from here.”
The St. Louis Rams (1-0) take on the Washington Redskins (0-1) in DC next week on Sunday at noon central time.
The offensive line, which is the most questioned position group on the team, only gave up two sacks, and one was on an overload blitz.
Foles was spectacular in his Rams debut, going 18/27 for 297 yards and one passing touchdown and he also scored on a rushing touchdown.
The Rams didn’t have their best two running backs in Tre Mason and Todd Gurley and still won the game. The running back duties were put mainly on Benny Cunningham, as he led the team with 16 carries
The Rams defense only allowed 73 rushing yards to Marshawn Lynch and 31 to Russell Wilson. They also allowed no rushing touchdowns. All in all, the Rams defense only gave up one actual touchdown, which was a Jimmy Graham touchdown catch.
Rams DE Eugene Sims went down at the end of the game with an apparent knee injury and will be getting an MRI. He isn’t a starter but losing him would eliminate some of the great depth that the Rams defensive line has.
All photos used in this article are via stlouisrams.com.