Running Game Hits Road Block in Loss to Arizona

Posted Dec 8, 2013

Since the fifth week of the season, the linchpin of the Rams’ offense had been its ability to run the football, led by rookie RB Zac Stacy. With Stacy unable to find running room against the league’s seventh-ranked defense on Sunday, the Rams were saddled with their second consecutive road loss in a 30-10 setback to Arizona.

Stacy was held to just 25 yards on 14 carries on the afternoon, his lowest single-game rushing total in nine career starts. The struggles in the ground game, coupled with a 21-3 deficit early in the third quarter, forced the Rams’ offense into a one-dimensional attack for much of the second half.

“I thought we’d do a better job than we did, but we couldn’t run the football today and that’s disappointing,” Fisher said. “They did an outstanding job against our run game. We turned the ball over, we had too many penalties and we got beat.”

Despite a promising start to the afternoon, QB Kellen Clemens finished the day by completing 16 of 27 passes for 181 yards and two interceptions.

The Rams’ lone touchdown drive came with on a three-play, 60-yard drive in the fourth quarter, culminating in a 1-yard touchdown run by Stacy, his fifth in as many games. The score was set up by a 56-yard run by rookie WR Tavon Austin.

Defensively, the Rams had difficulty limiting Arizona QB Carson Palmer, who utilized a short-passing attack for much of the afternoon and finished 27 of 32 for 269 yards and a touchdown. The Cardinals also limited one of the league’s best pass-rushing defensive fronts to just a single sack on the afternoon.

The loss dropped the Rams to 1-4 within the NFC West, a step back from last year’s 4-1-1 record within the division. Sunday also marked the team’s first loss to Arizona since the 2011 season.

“The NFC West is probably the best division in football,” Clemens said following the loss. “Obviously for us, when we play within the division, we’re playing good teams. Certainly Seattle is in. San Francisco and Arizona, who knows, they might both get in. It’s good opponents. It’s very good defenses. We have to play better, and we will.”

News and Notes:

-LB Alec Ogletree supplied the Rams’ only sack of the afternoon, which was the first of his NFL career.

-K Greg Zuerlein connected on a 44-yard field goal in the first quarter, and is now 20-of-22 for the season. He has converted six consecutive attempts, and is now 35-for-38 on field-goal attempts inside 50 yards in his NFL career.

-After not reaching the end zone in his first four NFL starts, Stacy has scored in four of the last five games. His 721 rushing yards are the third-most by a rookie in Rams history, trailing only Jerome Bettis (1,409 in 1993) and Eric Dickerson (1,808 in 1983).

-Austin’s 56-yard run was his second carry of the season to go for more than 50 yards, and the third such run of the season for the Rams.

-P Johnny Hekker entered the game leading the NFL in net punting yardage, and punted five times for 267 yards, an average of 51.7 yards with an average net of 42.8.