Rams Fall to Vikings

Posted Aug 14, 2010

By Nick Wagoner
Senior Writer

There was nothing methodical about the Rams preseason opener against the Vikings on Saturday night.

Those looking for 3 yards and a cloud of dust were mostly out of luck as both teams had an all or nothing kind of night.

Unfortunately for the Rams, on a night when big plays were the order of the day, it was Minnesota making the majority of them. So it was that the Vikings capitalized on those big plays to go on to a 28-7 win at the Edward Jones Dome.

“We have a lot of things to work on, both sides of the ball,” coach Steve Spagnuolo said. “We have got plenty of time here. Nobody is panicking. We are going to get to work on Monday after the guys get a day off and away we go.”

The loss drops the Rams to 0-1 in the exhibition slate while the Vikings improved to 1-0.

The Rams got their first spark of the preseason from a source that has been consistently making plays in training camp.

Danny Amendola has been perhaps the team’s most consistent receiver in camp but he got his first chance to stretch his legs as a returner Saturday night and took full advantage of it.

Amendola took a punt inside the Rams 10 – a taboo move for most punt returners -  from Minnesota punter Chris Kluwe, made the first tackler miss, picked up some blocks along the sideline and raced 93 yards for a touchdown and a 7-0 Rams lead.

“By the rules, I guess I should’ve let that one go,” Amendola said. “It was good. I had a lot of good blocking there. It was a return to the right side and I just saw a big hole and ran through it. I just followed my blockers.”

That was all the Rams could muster in terms of scoring Saturday as the offense failed to gain traction. A.J. Feeley started at quarterback and went two scoreless possessions before giving way for the night.

Feeley finished three-of-six for 19 yards on a night when the Rams offense struggled its way to 150 yards from scrimmage and allowed six sacks.

“We realize we’ve got a lot of work to do,” Feeley said. “We’ve got to be consistent and move the ball. We’re not where we want to be.”

After the two possessions Feeley at quarterback, rookie Sam Bradford made his debut in the second quarter to a rousing ovation from the Edward Jones Dome crowd.

Bradford’s first pass attempt fell incomplete setting up a third down opportunity that resulted in Bradford’s biggest completion of the night.

On third-and-5 at the Rams 27, Bradford zipped a crossing pattern to receiver Laurent Robinson for an 18-yard gain as he went on to complete four of his first five attempts.

The Rams proceeded to drive as far as Minnesota’s 36 but were stonewalled three times while needing just 1 yard to give the ball back to the Vikings.

“It would have been nice to see what would have happened if we had kept that drive going,” Spagnuolo said. “After that, it got a little bit rough for him.”

Bradford got three more possessions, still with the first team offense around him and the Rams went three and out on those two of those chances.

The final opportunity of his night was the team’s first possession of the third quarter as Bradford completed his first two throws for a gain of 18 but protection breakdowns killed any momentum and that was it for Bradford’s evening. He finished six-of-13 for 57 yards.

If nothing else was gained from those short drives, Rams fans could rest easy as Bradford took his first hit and was sacked four times with no ill effects to his surgically repaired right shoulder. Not that he was worried about it to begin with.

“The shoulder feels great,” Bradford said. “I took a couple of hits tonight, and landed on my shoulder on some. It’s not sore at all. We’ll see tomorrow how it feels but right now it feels great.”

Meanwhile, the Rams top defensive unit had a solid showing save for one big play. The Vikings scored on a 2-yard touchdown pass after Amendola fumbled his second punt return attempt and Minnesota recovered at the Rams 16.

With a banged up secondary, the Rams got beat for a 65-yard touchdown pass from Sage Rosenfels to Garrett Mills to give the Vikings a 14-7 lead they would not relinquish.

The big plays continued to hit the Rams over the top as Rosenfels later fired a 71-yard touchdown to receiver Marko Mitchell.

All told, Rosenfels threw for 310 yards and three scores for a rating of 125.9.

While star Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson didn’t play, the Rams were pleased with their run defense as well as the play of a few youngsters.

Linebacker Larry Grant was all over the field, making four tackles and breaking up two passes. Rookie defensive end George Selvie also flashed his pass rushing potential again, coming up with a sack, a forced fumble and creating consistent pressure.

“George Selvie has a lot of promise,” fellow end Chris Long said. “I was really excited to get him and I think he’s going to be a good player for us. He was out there hustling and making plays downfield. He’s also a dangerous pass rusher.”

Against the run, the Rams allowed just 78 yards on 31 carries for an average of 2.5 per attempt.

“I think we came out there and played pretty well,” linebacker James Laurinaitis said. “There were a couple of things that I think we needed to get off the field better on, some third downs and stuff but I think for the most part we did a pretty good job of slowing down the run. Obviously we didn’t see a lot of Peterson but I thought we communicated well and got off the field.”

The Rams will review film on Sunday and get back to practice on Monday. They return to action next Saturday at Cleveland.