Quick Thoughts from St. Louis Rams’ 22-7 Victory Over Denver Broncos


The St. Louis Rams came up with a very effective win over the AFC West-leading Denver Broncos on Sunday, holding Denver to single-digit points for the first time since Peyton Manning joined the team in 2012. Here are a few quick thoughts and observations from the Rams’ 22-7 victory:

  • If he hadn’t done so already, Rams rookie running back Tre Mason firmly established himself as the team’s number one back on Sunday. The 21-year-old was the first Rams running back to have 100 yards in a single game since Zac Stacy did so on December 22 of last year. While Mason occasionally struggles to gain ground when running it up the middle, he clearly as some marketable skills, as he is extremely quick on cuts to the outside and will fight for extra yards as he goes down. Obviously with Stacy’s recent fate, we’ve seen how quickly things change in the backfield, but for now Mason is clearly the primary option.
  • After a very rough start to the year, second-year linebacker Alec Ogletree has broken out of his slump and is back on track to become one of the better weakside linebackers in the NFL. For the second straight week, he came up with an interception which propelled the Rams to a successful Greg Zuerlein field goal which increased their lead to 19-7. He also led the team with a season-best 13 tackles. Ever since he was briefly benched against the Seattle Seahawks, Ogletree has been much more consistent and noticeable on the field.
  • While it’s still not appropriate to use the nickname “#SackCity” in a serious fashion to describe the Rams’ pass rush (and almost certainly never will be in 2014), the pass rush was very effective when it mattered on Sunday. In the third quarter, the defensive line converged on Peyton Manning and gave James Laurinaitis a clear path to the quarterback. Later on, Aaron Donald came up with a crucial fourth quarter sack of Peyton Manning that pushed the Broncos’ offense back 12 yards and forced a fourth down. Obviously this group isn’t going to be the best defensive line in NFL history, as many hoped they would be, but they have the potential to be extremely effective over the last six games of the season, with left end Chris Long hopefully re-joining them for the stretch run.
  • The Rams’ odd use of recently-acquired safety* Mark Barron continued on Sunday. He didn’t actually get any time at his natural position, instead operating as both the Rams’ primary strongside linebacker in place of the injured Jo-Lonn Dunbar and as the dime back when Denver went to four-receiver looks. While Barron was serviceable on Sunday and came up with a tackle, it was somewhat disappointing to see a decrease in the creativity of his usage against Denver. Barron was such an impactful player last week against Arizona, being used all over the field and even making an impact as a pass rusher, registering his first sack of the year while making five total tackles. While you can’t be too aggressive with blitzes against an offense that is as spread out as Denver’s, it would have been nice to see Barron, the guy who was able to knock out Carson Palmer for the season last week, at least take a stab at trying to get to Manning.

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  • Rookie safety Maurice Alexander had a breakout day on Sunday, making two big tackles on special teams, one of which saw him laying out Denver punt returner Isaiah Burse right after the ball came into his possession. It had been a rough season up to this point for the fourth-rounder, as he’d been inactive for seven of the Rams’ first nine games, and when he played he failed to record any special teams tackles. It will become increasingly tough for the Rams to decide who to keep up on the 46-man active if they are indeed able to get their roster healthier, but on Sunday Alexander made a great case to remain a part of that group. It would be great for Alexander, who has a bit of ground to make up for the Rams to justify his selection, to start becoming more involved on special teams and start proving himself in games as he attempts to start earning some time from scrimmage as soon as next year.
  • Speaking of spots on the gameday roster, it’s about time that the Rams either do something with running back Zac Stacy or take away his jersey on Sundays. While healthy players like Alex Bayer, and before Sunday Ethan Westbrooks and Alexander, continue to be deactivated on gamedays, Stacy has now registered a “DNP” in two of the Rams’ last three games and has not gotten a carry since October 26 in Kansas City. It’s not like the Rams need to cut Stacy—he showed in 2013 that he can be a productive NFL back—but if he’s not going to be part of the rotation with Tre Mason and Benny Cunningham, it would make a whole lot of sense to either make him useful on special teams or give his spot on the 46-man roster to someone who can be.
  • If you’re a dedicated Rams fan in St. Louis, cherish these moments. As talk about the Rams moving to Los Angeles as soon as next year continues to gain credence, the possibility increases that we could be down to three more home games in St. Louis. The Rams have two very winnable games against the Raiders and Giants remaining on their home schedule, plus another matchup against the Cardinals that they might be able to compete in with Drew Stanton at quarterback for Arizona. With that said, it’s impossible to know what to expect from the Rams, so the thought was in the back of my head Sunday that we might have witnessed the final Rams win in St. Louis. It really was a great win and arguably the biggest upset of the 2014 season, so I hope that if you’re a diehard St. Louis Rams fan, you really took the time to soak it in and enjoy it on Sunday.