Defense Sparks Rams to Win Over Jacksonville

Posted Oct 6, 2013

Led by an opportunistic defensive effort, the Rams picked up a key 34-20 win over Jacksonville on Sunday to end a three-game slide.

In a game where the Rams recorded season-highs in both points scored and rushing yardage, veteran safety Matt Giordano turned in perhaps the afternoon’s most pivotal play.

Trailing 7-0 with less than four minutes remaining in the first quarter, Giordano recorded his second career touchdown when he picked off an overthrown Blaine Gabbert pass and returned it 82 yards. The interception sparked a 24-point first half for the Rams. Giordano’s interception was due in part to DE Robert Quinn, who pressured Gabbert on the play and hurried the throw. Pressure from the Rams’ defensive front four contributed to three Jacksonville turnovers on the day, with none more pivotal than the return by Giordano.

“I would like to take the credit for it, but I can’t, because there’s 10 other guys doing their job,” Giordano said. “It all starts with Robert Quinn hitting the quarterback, and it doesn’t really come any easier than that into your lap.”

Along with fellow safety Darian Stewart, Giordano had been thrust into a more prominent role this week following an injury to rookie safety TJ McDonald last week against San Francisco. Stewart also contributed on Sunday, recovering a fumble that set up a 16-yard touchdown pass to TE Lance Kendricks with 11:34 remaining in the second quarter.

With the early deficit erased, the Rams managed to establish the running game that had proven elusive through the season’s first four games. Rookie RB Zac Stacy carried 14 times for 78 yards in his first NFL start to lead a Rams ground attack that established a season-best with 143 yards.

“It seems like a long 10 days, but it was a good win for us,” Rams Head Coach Jeff Fisher said. “As we’ve been talking about during the past week, there were things we set out to do, things we needed to do differently, and fortunately we were able to put those things in motion a little bit. When you have 36 rushes and 34 pass attempts, and balanced, that suggests that you’re keeping the ball and you’re creating third-down situations that are convertible.”

Aided by the increased defensive attention to the running game, QB Sam Bradford completed 19 of 34 passes for three touchdowns and no interceptions.  Two of his touchdown passes were to third-year receiver Austin Pettis, including a 31-yarder with 4:37 remaining in the fourth quarter to provide the winning margin.

News and Notes:

-Stacy’s career-high 78 yards rushing were the most by any Rams running back this year.

-Giordano’s 82-yard interception return was the second touchdown of his career. His last was in 2007 while playing as a member of the Indianapolis Colts.

-Austin Pettis’ two receiving touchdowns marked his first career two-TD game. He has now reached the end zone in five of his last seven games. His 31-yarder gave him a team-leading four receiving touchdowns on the season.

-The Rams’ 24-point first-half was the most scored in a first half by St. Louis since scoring 26 in the first half of a 36-33 win at Denver on November 28, 2010.