Rookie wideout finally makes a penalty-free splash; contributes to road victory.
The Rams’ 38-8 thrashing over Indianapolis on Sunday continued a strange trend of severe peaks and valleys under head coach Jeff Fisher. A backup quarterback, a three-game losing skid, and a putrid 1-3 road record didn’t necessarily scream success heading into Lucas Oil Stadium.
The Rams not only won the game, they delivered the Colts their worst loss ever at Lucas Oil Stadium, which opened in 2008.
For the second time this season, the Rams scored a touchdown on offense, defense, and special-teams. Both occurrences came on the road against AFC South teams (Colts, Texans), and the Rams are 2-0 in those games.
Tavon Austin’s coming out party, albeit nine weeks in the making, was fun to watch as he blew by Colt defenders with three scores over 55-yards. Per Elias Sports Bureau, Austin is the third player in NFL history to do such. There were no illegal blocks, holds, trips, or motion penalties to call back his big plays.
Fisher: Clemens getting better each week
Kellen Clemens overthrew Austin a week ago against Tennessee for a sure touchdown, but made amends against Indy with an 81-yard catch and run score. I marked the longest pass since 2005 when Jamie Martin threw an 83-yard touchdown pass to Kevin Curtis. Yes, it’s fair to say the “big play” has been missing for some time.
Clemens credited the entire team for rallying around him after Sam Bradford’s knee injury:
That’s a credit to the atmosphere Fisher has created, and the players who could very easily sit 3-0 since the Carolina loss.
“Hell With Kell Week” was a nice saying, but in reality, Clemens’ athleticism and versatility under center has proven successful for the Rams. His natural play-making ability extends drives and he’s fearless when it comes to getting an extra yard. His demeanor is like an extended branch off Fisher’s brain and the results speak for themselves.
A lot of the attention on the Rams’ defensive line goes to Robert Quinn and Chris Long, and that’s perfectly fine considering they have a combined 18.5 sacks. But no team overlooks Michael Brockers, William Hayes, Kendall Langford and Eugene Sims. Brockers and Langford held the Colts to just 18 yards rushing while Hayes added six pressures in 29 rushes. Their only fault Sunday was the five offside penalties (four accepted), with each player listed above falling for Andrew Luck’s hard count.
After committing 17 special-teams penalties through the first five games, the Rams have only had three in the previous five contests (none wiped out big plays; one includes Isaiah Pead’s taunting call on opening kickoff against Colts).
Cortland Finnegan allowed a reception on seven of nine targets and missed two tackles. According to Pro Football Focus, Finnegan has the lowest grade among all corners “by a wide margin”.
Janoris Jenkins struggled covering T.Y. Hilton, who beat him on a double-move for 65 yards. Overall, Jenkins allowed five receptions on eight targets, but benefited from a drop, a bad throw, and committed a pass interference penalty. Ouch.
For the first time all season, the Rams started and ended the game with the all five offensive linemen at the same position.
Andrew Luck was awful. He recorded a career-low QB rating of 13.6, tossed three interceptions, and his lost fumble turned into a defensive score. Luck was uncharacteristically inaccurate, in part because of the Rams’ strong pass rush.
SUM IT UP IN A QUOTE
“They beat us in every single phase. From the first strip-sack, punt return, minus four turnover margin, one of five red area, give up big plays, we just didn’t do anything.” – Colts coach Chuck Pagano.