Saffold Enjoys Special Weekend

Posted Nov 26, 2012

It was, at times, equal parts maddening and joyous, the type of weekend that can be hard to put into words.

But as 48 hours or so go, you’d be hard pressed to find anyone who enjoyed the past few days any more than Rams left tackle Rodger Saffold.

“It’s pretty much No. 1,” Saffold said. “Having my daughter on Saturday morning and being able to come out here and dedicate the game to her, I was like ‘We better win this game.’”

In a whirlwind weekend that saw Saffold depart with his team for Sunday’s game against Arizona on Friday with his wife Asia deep into her pregnancy but not necessarily ready to pop, attempt to get back to St. Louis for the birth of his first child, deal with an illness of his own, ultimately be relegated to stay at the team hotel in Phoenix and using Skype to communicate and then playing in a football game against the Cardinals on Sunday, the frustrations that might have jumped in along the way ultimately gave way pure, unadulterated happiness.

The result, of course, was a 31-17 victory over Arizona that keeps the Rams undefeated in the NFC West Division and, far more important, a beautiful and healthy baby girl by the name of Aaliyah. 

As Saffold stood near his locker in the University of Phoenix Stadium late Sunday afternoon, a smile seemingly permanent etched across his face, he recounted the ordeal that he went through Friday night after arriving in Phoenix.

Under normal circumstances, Saffold would have been fine to be present for Aaliyah’s birth but the Rams have started traveling to their West Coast games a day early, with a Friday departure instead of Saturday.

So when Asia went into labor around 1 a.m. on Saturday, Saffold was already in Arizona. He quickly scrambled to try to find a flight back to St. Louis in order to be present for the birth but with no morning flights available, he had to rely on technology to take part in Aaliyah’s birth.

“We flew in on Friday, that’s what was so hard about it,” Saffold said. “I found out in the hotel. I couldn’t get out there in time so I pretty much was on Skype the whole time. I was on Skype. I was also under the weather and didn’t want to affect the baby so me and my wife decided I should stay.”

Between team meetings and a walk through on Saturday, Saffold stayed in nearly constant contact with his two girls in St. Louis.

When Rams coach Jeff Fisher broke the news to the team about the Saffold family’s newest addition, a chorus of congratulations combined with some jokes began flying in the big offensive tackle’s direction.

“Everybody was happy for me,” Saffold said. “(Fisher) told me I was going to be in the doghouse from now on and I am ready to accept that responsibility and just keep moving forward.”

After a strong performance only slightly marred by a holding penalty that nullified a near-touchdown run by Steven Jackson in the second half against the Cardinals, Saffold had only one small request for the pilot of the team plane.

“I told the captain to try to speed it up a little bit so I can get back home,” Saffold said, laughing.

ROOKIE ON ROOKIE CRIME: Facing second-and-1 at Arizona’s 37 with 10:06 to go in the third quarter of Sunday’s game, Rams quarterback Sam Bradford and receiver Chris Givens took notice of a slight quick in the Cardinals personnel.

On the previous play, Arizona linebacker Quintin Groves suffered an injury and the game came to a sudden stop after two big plays from the Rams running game.

When Givens looked across the line of scrimmage, he saw Justin Bethel, a rookie sixth-round pick out of Presbyterian in the 2012 NFL Draft, right in his face.

Bethel had spent most of this season and the preseason working at safety and only recently had been getting more work at cornerback.

Givens and Bradford quickly got on the same page and when the game resumed and the ball was snapped, Bethel attempted to press Givens at the line of scrimmage. Givens quickly got past it, turned on the speed and made a perfect diving catch for a 37-yard touchdown to give the Rams the lead for good at 21-17.

“We kind of saw it,” Bradford said. “We saw that 31 was in the game and we knew we wanted to get after him. Chris did a great job, it was a great catch and fortunately he was able to bring it in for a touchdown.”

CELEBRATION EVALUATION: With rookie cornerback Janoris Jenkins and tight end Lance Kendricks contributing three of the Rams’ four touchdown celebrations on Sunday afternoon, a trio of touchdown celebrations previously unseen were unveiled.

For Jenkins, it was his first and second career touchdowns while Kendricks notched his second career score. Jenkins attempted to do the “rubber band” dance once made famous by Hall of Fame cornerback Deion Sanders.

But Jenkins had some glitches and couldn’t get the rubber band off so it looked like he was out of sorts.

Kendricks, meanwhile, performed his own take on the use of the goalposts as basketball hoop. Instead of dunking, Kendricks went for a left-handed, mid-range jump shot.

“The jump shot was a little broken, but I’m excited for him,” end Robert Quinn said.  “Putting up points, and we came in the same rookie class together, and to see him out there producing is always a good thing.  But, that jump shot, we’re going to have to ask Ray Allen to teach him a little bit.”

INJURY REPORT: Fisher said the Rams came out of Sunday’s game pretty clean with no real new injuries to speak of.

Of more concern was how receiver Danny Amendola (heel) and center Scott Wells (foot) came through the game.

Amendola was a surprising late addition to the active game day roster and played only a handful of snaps as the Rams limited his workload. Fisher said Amendola came out of it OK even if he was feeling the effects of playing on the injured right foot.

“He’s a little sore but he’s got a chance to get back on the practice field,” Fisher said. “He’s healing but it’s going to take some time to where he’s back to 100 percent so we just have to watch him during the practice week.”

Wells was playing in his first game since suffering a broken foot in the season opener against Detroit. He not only made it through the game but played well, according to Fisher.

“He looked fine,” Fisher said. “And the good thing about his game is he felt really good after. So he didn’t have any issues and felt good. We should only get better upfront now with him working himself back in and having played a couple games.”