Several Rams with big game in resounding win
Monday, November 26, 2012
ST. LOUIS (AP) — The five-game winless streak is over for the St. Louis Rams, and not just because of rookie Janoris Jenkins’ historic day. Steven Jackson and rookie Chris Givens had big days on offense, too, and the defense threw a shutout in the second half.
The bruising Jackson had a season-best 139 yards rushing in Sunday’s 31-17 victory at Arizona, putting him in easy range of an eighth straight 1,000-yard season, which would extend his franchise record. He’s eighth in the NFC with 724 yards and with a pair of 100-yard efforts in the last three games.
“He took over,” quarterback Sam Bradford said. “I have seen it before. He gets that look in his eye and he is not going to be stopped.”
Givens, a fourth-round draft pick out of Wake Forest, had five catches for 115 yards and a touchdown for his first career 100-yard game.
“Yeah, it’s pretty cool,” Givens said. “I care more about wins and losses than my stats, but it’s definitely cool to get the first one under my belt.”
The Rams (4-6-1) had a season-best 173 yards rushing with a 5.1-yard average behind a line that had all starters in place for the first time since the opener. Center Scott Wells had been out since breaking a bone in his left foot in Week 1, and his return strengthened the line at two spots with replacement center Robert Turner moving to left guard.
Wells was one of the Rams’ top free agent pickups in the offseason, coming off a Pro Bowl season with the Packers. Coach Jeff Fisher said Wells looked good in the game and, just as important, felt fine afterward.
Jackson and the line stepped up in the fourth quarter with an 11-play, 71-yard drive that consumed nearly seven minutes, capped by a chip-shot field goal by Greg Zuerlein that put St. Louis up by two touchdowns with 5:32 to play.
Jackson had 41 yards on 10 carries in the first half, and 98 yards on 14 carries the rest of the way, including a key 15-yard burst on third-and-1 from the St. Louis 36.
“That first half I told them to be patient with me, I will get into the rhythm of the game,” Jackson said. “And that was definitely what we did.”
Thanks to Jenkins’ ball-hawking skills, the Rams ended a five-game turnover drought with an exclamation point. The second-round pick out of North Alabama, after getting kicked off the team at Florida, is the first rookie since 1960 and first St. Louis player to have two interceptions for touchdowns in one game.
Jenkins has stepped up since getting a one-game disciplinary suspension for the first 49ers game two weeks ago, along with Givens and defensive tackle Kellen Heard. The less-heralded Heard was released.
“The issue has been put aside. I don’t think the issue had anything to do with their production prior to them being sat down,” Fisher said. “They both have room for considerable improvement.”
Prior to the suspension, Jenkins had been burned for four touchdown passes in three games. Givens, one of the fastest players in this year’s draft class, has developed into an all-around threat after getting a 50-yard reception in five consecutive games earlier in the year, but not much else in that span.
“You’re seeing more production and different types of production,” Fisher said. “The first few weeks it was the long balls and now he’s making the short catches and runs, the jailbreak screens.
“As we said, we wanted to get him involved in the short and intermediate passing game, and he’s coming along.”
Givens told Bradford he could handle Cardinals rookie cornerback Justin Bethel, saying “Come on, let’s take a shot at this guy. He’s not ready.”
Three of the Rams’ four interceptions against rookie Ryan Lindley came in the second half after coaches dialed up the pressure with more blitzing, getting just one sack but plenty of hurries. They finished with 17 unanswered points to wrap up their first sweep over the Cardinals since 2003 and their first sweep over a division opponent since knocking off the Seahawks three times in 2004, including the playoffs.
“We’ve kept saying that it’s nothing we’re not doing, it’s just the ball has to bounce our way. We have to create our own luck. All of a sudden they come in bundles.”
The Rams had been 0-4-1 since beating the Cardinals 17-3 in Week 5 to go to 3-2 on the season, topping their victory total from 2011. They won on the road for the first time since Week 10 last season.
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