NFL Preview - Washington (1-0) at St. Louis (0-1)
By Lyle Fitzsimmons, Contributing NFL Editor
(Sports Network) - It's a good thing the St. Louis Rams have Sam Bradford.
Were it not for the former University of Oklahoma star, who's thrown for
nearly 6,000 yards and 25 touchdowns since arriving on the scene in 2010, the
Rams' brass might be having recurring nightmares about 2011 Heisman Trophy
winner Robert Griffin III.
The Washington Redskins made a trade with the Rams in March to acquire the No.
2 overall pick in the following month's draft to select Griffin, who announced
his NFL arrival last week with as impressive a quarterback debut as the league
has seen in recent memory.
Griffin takes to the road for the second time in his brief career this Sunday
to take on the Rams at the Edward Jones Dome, where he'll try to follow up on
a 19-of-26 performance that yielded 320 yards, no interceptions, an 88-yard
scoring strike to free-agent newcomer Pierre Garcon and 42 rushing yards en
route to recognition as the NFC's Offensive Player of the Week.
He also led the Redskins to a 40-32 upset of defending NFC South champion New
Orleans at the Superdome, where the Saints didn't lose a single time all last
"(He brought) a lot of excitement, a lot of optimism," Washington defensive
tackle Barry Cofield said of Griffin. "You get a quarterback, a young guy
comes in with that type of energy and that type of upside and ability, it
pretty much puts a smile on your face. You feel like that guy can make a play
to change the game at any time."
Griffin was helped by two more youngster in rookie running back Alfred Morris,
who ran for 96 yards and two touchdowns, and second-year wide receiver Aldrick
Robinson, who caught a touchdown pass.
Another challenge comes this week, when Washington tries to maintain the
momentum while aiming for its third winning season in 12 years - in spite of
starting a season with a victory in eight of the first 11 campaigns over that
stretch. The Redskins were 2-0 to begin 2011, but finished 5-11.
Since a playoff run in 2007, Washington has been the NFC East cellar-dweller
for four years and went 15-33 over its last three season.
"It's one game. We've got 15 left," Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan said. "I
think our team is mature enough to understand that it was a nice win, but it's
The Rams have been at least 0-2 in five straight losing seasons, including an
0-6 start in 2011 on the way to a 2-14 mark.
It was more of the same last week for St. Louis, which lost by a 27-23 score
at Detroit in head coach Jeff Fisher's debut after allowing a go-ahead
touchdown with 10 seconds left.
"There's a lot of areas on the tape and film where we're a play away," Fisher
said afterward. "You make a play here, you make a play there, you have a
chance to win the ballgame."
The Rams' offense was a glaring lowlight on the film after recording a
conference-low 14 first downs and 251 total yards. Bradford was sacked three
times and running back Steven Jackson had only 53 yards on 21 carries.
On the offensive line, center Scott Wells could miss eight weeks or more after
breaking a bone in his left foot and tackle Rodger Saffold is iffy for this
week's contest with a neck injury.
Wells was a Pro-Bowler in 2011 with Green Bay and one of three new starters up
front, joining free-agent tackle Barry Richardson and rookie guard Rokevious
Saffold missed nearly half of last season with a chest injury and was carted
off in Sunday's loss. He exited the hospital soon after and returned to
practice Wednesday, though it seems unlikely he'll play. If he doesn't, in
steps New York Jets castoff Wayne Hunter.
"It appears at this point it's just a significant strain," Fisher said of
Saffold's injury. "So he's very lucky. So that's good news on our behalf."
Jackson was held to 45 yards on 17 attempts in a 17-10 loss to the Redskins
last season. He caught a touchdown pass from Bradford with 5:45 remaining, but
Washington sacked the St. Louis quarterback three times down the stretch.
Redskins lead 22-9-1
Last Meeting: Redskins 17, Rams 10 (Oct. 2, 2011 at St. Louis)
Redskins HC Mike Shanahan vs. Rams: 3-4 overall, 1-1 with Washington
Rams HC Jeff Fisher vs. Redskins: 3-2 overall, 0-0 with St. Louis
Shanahan vs. Fisher Head-to-Head: Shanahan leads, 3-1
Notes: This will be the third consecutive season these teams will be facing
one another at the Edward Jones Dome, with the Rams scoring a 30-16 home win
over Washington in September of 2010 and the Redskins returning the favor with
last year's aforementioned victory. The Rams and Redskins have also split four
lifetime playoff matchups, though none have taken place prior to 1986.
Shanahan has defeated Fisher in three straight head-to-head bouts, with the
first two wins coming while in charge of Denver and the most recent being a
19-16 overtime decision by Washington over Fisher's Tennessee Titans in 2010.
BY THE NUMBERS
Offensive Team Rankings
Washington: 1st overall (464.0 ypg), 4th rushing (153.0 ypg), 4th passing
(311.0 ypg), 4th scoring (40.0 ppg)
St. Louis: 31st overall (251.0 ypg), 23rd rushing (78.0 ypg), 29th passing
(173.0 ypg), 16th scoring (23.0 ppg)
Defensive Team Rankings
Washington: 19th overall (358.0 ypg), 3rd rushing (32.0 ypg), 31st passing
(326.0 ypg), 26th scoring (32.0 ppg)
St. Louis: 28th overall (429.0 ypg), 13th rushing (83.0 ypg), 32nd passing
(346.0 ypg), 21st scoring (27.0 ppg)
Washington: +3 (3 takeaways, 0 giveaways)
St. Louis: +3 (3 takeaways, 0 giveaways)
Red Zone Touchdown Percentage (offense)
Washington: 60.0 percent (5 possessions, 3 TD, 2 FG) -- tied 10th overall
St. Louis: 0.0 percent (1 possessions, 0 TD, 1 FG) -- tied 29th overall
Red Zone Touchdown Percentage (defense)
Washington: 50.0 percent (2 possessions, 1 TD, 1 FG) -- tied 11th overall
St. Louis: 60.0 percent (5 possessions, 3 TD, 0 FG) -- tied 20th overall
WHEN THE REDSKINS HAVE THE BALL
Griffin became the first quarterback to pass for 300-plus yards, two or more
touchdowns and have no interceptions in an NFL debut last week. He also became
the only quarterback to pass for 300 or more yards and win in his first game.
Morris rushed for 96 yards and two scores in his first outing, while backup
running back Evan Royster has 100-plus rushing yards in both of his NFL starts
- combining for 245 yards over that stretch. Another member of the backfield,
Roy Helu, started five games last season and rushed for 100 or more yards in
three. Wide receiver Santana Moss aims for his third game in a row against St.
Louis with a receiving touchdown. In a September 2010 meeting between the
teams, he had six catches for 124 yards (20.7 avg.) and a touchdown. Garcon
had four catches for 109 yards and an 88-yard touchdown against New Orleans,
but is questionable this week with an ailing foot.
St. Louis defensive end Chris Long has 10 sacks in his past 11 games and has
generated 13 over his past 13 home outings with at least one in 10 of those
contests. Linebacker James Laurinaitis had an interception in last year's game
against Washington and is the only NFC player with eight or more sacks (8) and
five or more interceptions (5) since 2009. Cornerback Cortland Finnegan, a
free-agent pickup from Tennessee in the offseason, had a 31-yard interception
for a touchdown last week in his first game with the Rams. Also, rookie corner
Janoris Jenkins had his first career interception in his NFL debut and
returned the pick 34 yards.
WHEN THE RAMS HAVE THE BALL
Bradford had a 105.1 passer rating last week, his fourth career game with a
number above 100, and notched his first career NFL win against the Redskins on
Sept. 26, 2010. Jackson had 252 yards from scrimmage (150 rushing, 102
receiving) in a 2006 meeting with Washington and also had both a rushing and a
receiving score in that game. Since 1960, he is one of six players in the
league with 150-plus rushing yards, 100-plus receiving yards, a rushing
touchdown and a receiving score in the same game. Since 2006, Jackson has
averaged 114.4 yards from scrimmage per game (9,952 yards, 87 games), the most
in the NFL with a minimum of 60 games. Wide receiver Danny Amendola had six
catches for 56 yards in his last game against Washington, which took place in
2010, and amassed five catches for 70 yards in Week 1 against Detroit. Fellow
wideout Brandon Gibson, meanwhile, had a scoring catch last week.
Washington linebacker Brian Orakpo had 2 1/2 sacks and a forced fumble in last
season's win over St. Louis. In his past two meetings with the Rams, he has
recorded 3 1/2 sacks and aims for a third game in a row against St. Louis with
one. Orakpo also need just 1 1/2 sacks to reach 30 for his career. On the
opposite side, second-year pro Ryan Kerrigan had a sack and a forced fumble in
his lone career meeting with St. Louis, in which the Redskins took down
Bradford a total of seven times. Safety DeJon Gomes had his first career
interception with a 49-yard return last week.
Chances are that Griffin can't possibly be as good as he was in his first time
out, but if he is -- watch out. The Rams struggled offensively against Detroit
and could be in for more trouble with a suddenly very balky offensive line -
and averaged less than three yards per rush attempt in Week 1. A shootout
probably benefits Washington. In a closer game, the Redskins seem competent
enough to hang in with the suddenly familiar zone-blocking run game that
Shanahan always seemed to display in Denver. Add in the mojo from last week's
big victory for a revitalized franchise, and it looks like 2-0 for a second
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Redskins 30, Rams 20
09/13 18:04:01 ET
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