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Bradford throws 2 TD passes in Rams win

Bradford throws 2 TD passes in Rams win

November 1st, 2010 by By JIM SALTER, Associated Press in News

Rams linebacker James Laurinaitis celebrates after sacking Panthers quarterback Matt Moore during the third quarter of Sunday's game in St. Louis.

Photo by The Associated Press /News Tribune.

ST. LOUIS (AP) - Sam Bradford is learning quickly, and the St. Louis Rams are far from the same team that won only one game last season.

The rookie quarterback threw two touchdown passes Sunday, the defense forced four turnovers and St. Louis reached the season's midway point at 4-4 and in contention in the NFC West after beating the Carolina Panthers 20-10.

Bradford threw a 2-yard scoring pass to Danny Amendola in the second quarter and a 23-yard touchdown pass to Daniel Fells in the fourth quarter. He was 25-for-32 for 191 yards and no interceptions, with a season-best quarterback rating of 112.4.

"I felt very comfortable out there today, probably the most comfortable I've felt," said Bradford, the No. 1 overall pick in the draft. "I think the game is really slowing down for me."

St. Louis goes into its bye week with more wins than the previous two seasons combined - the Rams were 2-14 in 2008 before last season's NFL-worst 1-15 record.

It could be even better. St. Louis has surrendered more than 17 points just once and lost two games after leading in the fourth quarter.

Coach Steve Spagnuolo isn't worrying about what could have been.

"Everything that we had in front of us is still there," Spagnuolo said. "The NFC West is the first focus and we'll go from there."

Things aren't so rosy for Carolina (1-6). Matt Moore was 23-for-37 for 194 yards. One of his three interceptions, and a fumble by Steve Smith, led to 10 St. Louis points in the fourth quarter.

"You're just not going to win games, especially on the road, when you turn it over that many times, so it was frustrating," Carolina coach John Fox said.

Fox gave Moore a vote of confidence - sort of - when asked if he'll start this week against New Orleans.

"I think right now Matt gives us our best chance," Fox said. "We'll evaluate it after we look at the tape. We've got to do something to be better and execute more consistently on offense."

The Panthers, who entered the game ranked next-to-last in total offense, mustered just 201 total yards. They missed Pro Bowl running back DeAngelo Williams, out with a foot injury suffered in last weekend's win over San Francisco. His replacement, Jonathan Stewart, carried 14 times for 30 yards. Overall, the Panthers rushed 17 times for 25 yards.

Still, Carolina had the ball at midfield, down 10-3 with a chance to tie early in the fourth quarter. But Smith fumbled after catching a pass and Chris Long recovered, giving St. Louis the ball at the Carolina 43.

Five plays later, on third-and-18, Bradford rolled to his right and connected with Fells in stride, and he went into the end zone to make it 17-3.

James Hall hit Moore's arm on Carolina's next possession, causing the pass to be intercepted by James Butler, setting up a field goal to make it 20-3.

Carolina scored with 3:37 to play on Moore's 17-yard pass to Brandon LaFell.

After a sluggish first quarter - the teams combined for four first downs and 44 yards - St. Louis opened the scoring on Josh Brown's 33-yard field goal early in the second quarter. The kick ended a scoreless drought for St. Louis from the second quarter of last week's 18-17 loss at Tampa Bay.

The Rams made it 10-0 with 2:07 to go in the half on Bradford's short pass to Amendola. Carolina responded with a drive ending with Kasay's 44-yard field goal in the final minute of the half.

Rams linebacker James Laurinaitis had eight tackles, one sack and one interception. Long had a sack, a fumble recovery and a forced fumble.

Laurinaitis said the defensive toughness is a reflection of Spagnuolo, the second-year coach who was defensive coordinator for the Giants' Super Bowl-winning team.

"He's a tough guy who preaches playing with heart and passion and that's what these guys do," Laurinaitis said.

The Rams' Steven Jackson, playing with a broken ring finger on his left hand, rushed 23 times for 59 yards.

Notes: The Rams and Panthers combined for just 447 total yards. ... Jackson's injury clearly hampered his ability as a receiver. He came out in obvious passing situations. He caught just one pass, for 4 yards, and did so one-handed.