The feel of the 2015 Rams’ home opener was much different then any of the previous twenty-one seasons. Even with little hope of a win during the Decade of Decadence and last year’s relocation rumors beginning to heat up, the atmosphere for me was always terrific. That wasn’t the initial case yesterday.
Sunday began with a quiet vibe… a nostalgic vibe… a sad vibe. The reality of the Rams potentially leaving really sank in, as I ponied up at Joey B’s on The Landing. A flood of memories flowed through my mind – from day one at the 1995 training camp to the amazing Monday Night Football games in 2000-2003 to the five-year span of the worst football in NFL history.
It’s been quite a roller coaster for NFL fans in St. Louis, and we’ve reached a point where STLNFL means as much or more as STLRams. That was really evident, as I prepared for what could be the final home opener for the Rams in St. Louis.
Everything seemed different. The pre-game festivities, walking to the dome, entering the former home of The Greatest Show On Turf, descending the stairs to my seats and the introduction of the team were all subdued by the potential Los Angeles storm looming in the distance ready to destroy the NFL in St. Louis.
To make matters worse, I expected the game to be a disaster for the Rams. I was prepared for the Seahawks to run and throw all over the Rams en route to a big victory. Then, a funny thing happened. The St. Louis defense was as good as billed. The offense was better than I expected. Nick Foles calmly controlled the field, even after a late fourth quarter fumble/touchdown play gave Seattle 18 straight points and seemed to hand them victory.
The Rams did the unthinkable yesterday. They out-played and beat a legitimate team. There were no trick plays, no flukes or obscure penalties. St. Louis earned one of its best wins, perhaps the best win, since 2003.
These words were a punch line in 2014. It took the Rams six games to acquire one sack. On Sunday, they took down Russell Wilson SIX times! Aaron Donald and Robert Quinn each had two sacks, and Eugene Sims, one of the old men at age 29, collected one for the defensive line that dominated the day.
Beyond the sacks, the Rams held Marshawn Lynch to 73 yards and zero touchdowns (Beast did run in a two-point conversion), and the biggest stop of the game came on what turned out to be the final play of overtime. With fourth and one, Lynch was sent backward by Donald and Michael Brockers to secure the win.
Joy filled the hearts of many fans, when it was announced that Brian Schottenheimer would not return as offensive coordinator. He never seemed to figure out how to best use Tavon Austin. The inexplicable calls to run the tiny receiver between the tackles were expected to be over. However, that wasn’t the case.
New offensive coordinator Frank Cignetti did the same thing! In fact, he lined up Austin alone more than once in the backfield. Granted, he sent him motion one time. Nevertheless, this madness has to stop. I guess there’s a weird aura surrounding the 5′ 8″ wide receiver, who was drafted much higher than he should have been.
It was great to see a St. Louis quarterback in command of a game. Nick Foles completed 18 of 27 passes (66%) for 297 yards and 1 touchdown. Plus, he had ZERO interceptions. If he remains healthy, the Rams may finally have an answer at quarterback. As I mentioned earlier, Foles was in control, and I had more faith in him late in the game than I ever did with Sam Bradford, who I think can be successful in Philadelphia.
Impressive Offensive Line
I expected Foles to be running for his life most of the game. Surprisingly, he was not. The offensive line was tremendous and gave up only two sacks.
Rodger Saffold, Rob Havenstein, Tim Barnes and Greg Robinson played on every offensive down. If that consistency and solid play can hold, the offense will do some great things this year.
The official attendance was 51,792. Yes, there were plenty of good seats available, but all things considered, this was a great crowd. Plus, those in attendance were loud and proud throughout the game, as they have been every year.
I was surprised by the number of Seahawks fans. It was nice to see them sent home stunned, especially the bandwagon fans.
There was something fishy going on with tickets. The lowest price on Stub Hub was $75 according to multiple reports.
Around The Horns
- Brian Quick, the biggest deep threat for St. Louis, was inactive for the game. I still haven’t heard an explanation.
- The Rams’ best wide receiver is Stedman Bailey, yet he only caught 3 passes for 58 yards. While that isn’t bad, he needs to be targeted a lot more. He seemed non-existent until late in the game, when he caught a big pass in overtime.
- Trumaine Johnson had an interception and three tackles, but had to leave the game with a concussion. Hopefully, he will be cleared to play next week.
- With no Todd Gurley or Tre Mason, Benny Cunningham took advantage of his chance to play. He only rushed for 45 yards on 16 carries, but he had 4 catches for 77 yards.
- Isaiah Pead secured his place on the bench with a critical fumble that changed the momentum in the fourth quarter.
- Since the referees correctly overturned their call on the overtime onside kick by the Seahawks, they should have added a penalty against Seattle for hitting Bradley Marquez, the rookie from Texas Tech who wisely called for a fair catch.
St. Louis travels to Washington, where it is favored to beat the Redskins. If the Rams win, they will be 2-0 for the first time since 2001!