Austin’s Breakout Performance Keys Convincing Win Over Colts

Posted Nov 10, 2013

By halftime of Sunday’s 38-8 win over Indianapolis, Tavon Austin had already revealed all the traits the Rams envisioned when they made him the eighth overall pick in this year’s draft.

Austin’s second quarter included a 98-yard punt return for a touchdown and a 57-yard reception for a score, helping the Rams to a 28-0 first-half lead.

“He has the chance to change games, and we’re going to continue working to get him the football,” Head Coach Jeff Fisher said. “There’s respect for him. After the return for a touchdown, the pooch punts took over, but when he gets his hands on it, you see what he can do.”

He wasn’t done yet.

On the Rams’ third offensive play of the second half, the rookie receiver tallied his third touchdown of the day, this time an 81-yard catch-and-run. By the end of the afternoon, Austin accounted for 314 all-purpose yards, which marks the second-highest single-game total in franchise history.

Austin’s performance highlighted what was arguably team’s most dominant showing of the year. For the second time this season, the Rams scored a touchdown on offense, defense and special teams. DE Robert Quinn helped set the tone for the day when his sack and forced fumble on the Colts’ first offensive possession was returned 45 yards by DE Chris Long for the first score of the day. The sack was the first of two on the day for Quinn, who leads the NFC with 12 sacks on the year.

“It set the tone in a big way,” Long said. “I may have scored the touchdown, but Rob did such a great job of freeing that football. It just bounced my way and I did my best not to screw it up.”

The Rams followed Long’s return by scoring another 28 unanswered points, keeping the Colts out of the end zone until Donald Brown’s 13-yard touchdown reception ended the Rams’ shutout bid with 1:35 remaining in the third quarter.

QB Kellen Clemens completed nine of 16 passes for 247 yards and two touchdowns. His passer rating of 140.2 was the highest of his career, and his touchdown passes of 57 and 81 yards to Austin were his two longest career pass plays.

For Austin, Sunday’s showing was a culmination of a season-long process of both patience and steady progress, a level of performance that had a measure of inevitability when met with opportunity.

“I knew this day was going to come,” Austin said. “I’ve just been real patient and been true to myself and just kept working. On this day, I got an opportunity.”

Game notes:

-The Rams held the Colts to 18 yards rushing on 14 carries. Excluding four scrambles by QB Andrew Luck, the Colts were held to one rushing yard on 10 carries.

-Chris Long’s 45-yard touchdown return following a fumble recovery was the first touchdown of his career.

-Rodger Saffold made his first career start at right guard.

-RB Zac Stacy scored his third rushing touchdown of the season on a 1-yard run in the second quarter.

-Austin’s 98-yard punt return for a touchdown was the second-longest punt return in team history.

-Austin had 145 punt-return yards in the first half, which was good for the second-highest total in franchise history for a single game.

-Robert Quinn wrapped up the Colts’ Andrew Luck twice in the first half to push his NFC-leading sack total to 12.

-The Rams carried a 28-0 lead into halftime for the first time since Sept. 26, 1999 in Atlanta.

-Austin’s 81-yard touchdown reception in the third quarter was the Rams’ longest play from scrimmage this season.

-Austin’s 314 all-purpose yards were the second-most in Rams history.

-The Rams’ five takeaways and four interceptions established season bests.

-Benny Cunningham’s 56-yard run in the fourth quarter was the Rams’ longest rushing play of the season.