Torn ACL Brings Bradford’s Career-Best Start to Abrupt Conclusion

Posted Oct 21, 2013

With one awkward step toward the sideline while being tackled by Carolina safety Mike Mitchell, Rams QB Sam Bradford’s 2013 season came to a close. Bradford suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in his left knee on the play, bringing an end to what had been—by many conventional measures—his best seven-game start to a season.

Bradford finishes 2013 with career-bests in completion percentage (60.7), passer rating (90.9) and passing yards per game (241). Perhaps most notable of his achievements was his ability to protect the football. He threw 14 touchdowns to just four interceptions in seven games. His touchdown pass total ties him with New Orleans’ Drew Brees for fourth-most in the NFL, and his interception rate of 1.5 percent is tied for the league’s sixth-lowest rate.

“It’s difficult, because he’s a big part of our offense, but we have to be adults and be men and move on because we still have a season to play,” WR Chris Givens said. “I think Sam was really coming into his own and getting the grasp of things and getting comfortable. It’s really tough to see him go out when he’s at the top of his game.”

After missing six games during the 2011 season with a high ankle sprain, Bradford remained healthy and had flourished under offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer’s scheme during the past two seasons. Bradford threw for a career-high 3,702 yards and 21 touchdown passes in 2012 before improving upon that pace through the first seven games of this year.

Armed with a collection of young receivers, Bradford utilized the Rams’ depth by completing passes to at least six different receivers in each game, including a season-high of 10 in the Rams’ Week 2 game in Atlanta. Prior to his injury on Sunday, Bradford was in the midst of putting together a performance that his teammates had grown accustomed to, having completed 21 of 30 passes for 255 yards and one touchdown with more than five minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. He also became just the seventh Rams quarterback to eclipse 11,000 career passing yards.

“It’s a very difficult loss, especially for him,” Head Coach Jeff Fisher said at his Monday news conference. “He was playing very, very well, not only yesterday, but he was just improving weekly with the group around him. I’m especially disappointed for Sam because of the work and the effort and the progress that he’s made. He was off to a great start, so it’s unfortunate, but he’ll be back and he’s our quarterback.”