By Kasey Mcknelly @Cmcknelly
Rams 17 Cardinals 13
The LA Rams seem to have found a groove. They won the 3rd game in a row Sunday in the desert. The Rams have not been 3-1 since week 4 of 2006. Following the win on Sunday the Rams are atop the NFC West.
Sunday’s exhibition was a true team win. Both sides of the ball stepped up and contributed to the win. QB Case Keenum connected with WR Brian Quick for a 65 yard touchdown. Keenum and Quick have been connecting quite well over the past 2 weeks. The past 2 games have netted Quick 4 receptions for 123 yards and 3 TDs. Those 3 receiving TDs have landed him tied for 2nd most in the NFC.
All the buzz is that the Rams “don’t have a quality QB” and I would have to dispel that chatter. The Rams might not have a TOP drafted QB or BIG name QB, quite the opposite actually, in fact many might consider Keenum a “journeyman”. The facts are that Keenum continues to hold title of “most prolific passer” in NCAA history.
He holds the all-time record for passing touchdowns and holds a record for career completions. He has won 8 of 11 games started and is 6 and 2 as a Rams starter. On Sunday against the Arizona Cardinals Keenum was 18/30, 266 yards, 2 TDs and 0 INT. I would say that he is holding his own.
The Rams offense is slowly starting to come together. They are working to try to find a way to incorporate the remarkable strength and talent of RB Todd Gurley. Gurley has yet to make his splash this season but honestly I am not surprised. This is his 2nd year and any smart and prepared coach is watching the same game production that the rest of us are. They are ready for him, the box is stacked and teams are determined to shut the Rams secret, or not so secret weapon down. It is still early and I am certain that he will get loose very soon.
Improvement of the Rams offense shows progress but the one thing that remains constant is the Rams DOMINATING defense, week after week they continue to play strong and fast. The pressure of the Rams defenders forces the opposing team’s quarterback to adjust his timing. This was evident on Sunday with QB Carson Palmer.
DT Aaron Donald is being called the “most dominant player in the NFL right now”, even being named NFC Defensive Player of the week for the 3rd time in 20 weeks. Donald connected with Palmer this week marking his first sack of the season and he was credited with another half sack on the day. He also leads the league in quarterback hits with 11 thus far. I will go out on a limb right now and say that we are looking at the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year.
Donald is not the only Rams defender that ranks among the league’s leaders, CB Trumaine Johnson is tied for leader in passes deflected, with 8. Johnson was tagged as the team’s franchise player in the offseason and is currently the Rams highest paid player. Johnson finished Sunday’s game with 5 tackles, 6 pass deflections and 1 INT (if you ask him he had 2, one was overturned)
S/LB Mark Barron logged another INT. Until last week he had not intercepted the ball since 2013. S TJ McDonald and CB EJ Gaines are both players who are returning to action after season injuries in 2015. They are impactful players making big plays and hard hits.
Hard Knocks featured Rams CB Lamarcus Joyner and his strong will to play with the starters. At one point he had a conversation with the coach, saying that he wasn’t interested in anything but playing football. Joyner’s passion and determination shone brightly on Sunday. He was all over the field making plays.
The LA Rams 17-13 victory over the Arizona Cardinals was a true TEAM win. Next week the Rams are back in LA to battle the Buffalo Bills.
Featured image of Aaron Donald courtesy: usatoday.com
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