I hear the train a comin‘. That’s a locomotive hauling down the Minneapolis & St. Louis Railway, only this puppy has the speed of a cheetah, and didn’t end its operation in 1960. His name is Adrian Peterson, and his league leading 1,600 rushing yards come to the Dome Sunday.
The Rams are getting used to this. Between Frank Gore, Marshawn Lynch, and C.J. Spiller, the defense has had their hands full each week. Minnesota will become their seventh opponent whose rushing attack rank top ten in the NFL. Peterson is certainly another animal, on pace to have a prestigious 2,000 yard season. Peterson is on an absolute tear. In his last 6 games, he has runs of 82, 74, 64, 61, and 51 yards while scoring seven touchdowns. He seeks his 8th consecutive 100+ yard game.
So how do the Rams stop AP?
For one, the Rams offense must control the clock. Minnesota averages over 30 minutes of T.O.P in wins, and just over 20 in their losses. Steven Jackson needs a strong day, and with 71 yards he will become the 27th player in NFL history to reach the 10,000 yard rushing plateau. The offensive line will have their hands full with the Vikings front four, whose 81 sacks since 2011 rank 2nd in the NFL. Defensive Tackle Kevin Williams (6’5, 311) is a beast, and LB Chad Greenway has 126 tackles, good for 2nd in the NFL. It’s an active squad, but they give up their fair share of yards.
On defense, it will take an army. Jo-Lonn Dunbar said it perfectly:
Michael Brockers has improved dramatically each week. His run stuffing ability anchors the defensive line, but his pass rush has really come to fruition the previous two weeks. His interior pressure allows Robert Quinn (9.5 sacks) and Chris Long (7.5 sacks) to collapse the pocket on both ends. He told me today how the game has slowed down since his Week 4 debut:
With the Rams having to keep 8-or-9 guys in the box to contain Peterson, QB Christian Ponder gets favorable one-on-one match ups outside, and down the seam with tight end Kyle Rudolph. Rudolph is tied for 2nd in the NFL among TE’s with 8 TD catches. Ponder’s deceptive speed can turn broken plays into crucifying 3rd-down conversions.
Ponder is catching some criticism locally for his inaccurate deep throws, but 13 of his 14 TD passes have come inside the Red Zone, where he completes 59% of his passes. The Rams secondary will not only have an active day covering, but tackling. Expect the Vikings to run at Janoris Jenkins often.
Sam Bradford will likely have his first down machine, Danny Amendola, back in action. This is always a nice surprise, and creates lanes for Jackson inside and Chris Givens deep. Watch for Brian Quick to have a chance down field, and Darryl Richardson on a backdoor screen.
The Rams are not getting enough first downs on non-scoring drives. Just one per possession would chew some clock, and potentially change the field position game. It’s imperative the Rams avoid a 1st quarter meltdown like Buffalo where they had zero first downs.
Bradford casted his Heisman vote for Johnny Manziel, saying he deserved it the way he led Texas A&M as a freshman quarterback.
Previous December months around Rams Park have been brutal, aside from 2010 obviously. The energy and focus of the 2012 Rams is a tribute to Jeff Fisher’s leadership and tenacity. Here’s a long sound bite, but this is the new St. Louis Rams, not the bottom feeding joke of the NFL anymore.
I hope Rams fans appreciate what their seeing, albeit growing pains are inevitable. Sunday, the Dome needs to rock. The sterile atmosphere creates negative energy, and it’s important the fans rev up the defense, and help propel the home team to the next meaningful challenge in Tampa Bay.
RAMS 27 Vikings 20
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