The Rams didn't just go into an offensive shell in the second half Sunday, they all but dug a hole and crawled in. After taking a 17-3 halftime lead, the Rams went very conservative in the second half of Sunday's 20-17 victory over San Diego.
After throwing 24 passes in the first half, quarterback Sam Bradford threw only seven times in the second half. Coach Steve Spagnuolo pleaded innocent, saying he was busy with the defense.
"I was very, very involved with the defense in the third quarter," Spagnuolo said. "So I'm going to honestly tell you that I didn't see a lot of the offensive plays."
The Rams managed only 28 yards and one first down in the third quarter. Six of the Rams' first nine plays in the third quarter were handoffs to Steven Jackson.
When asked if he was surprised that the Rams didn't throw more in the second half, Bradford replied: "Yes and no. Obviously, as a quarterback you like to throw the ball. But when we have a lead and our offensive line is doing the job that they're doing — you know creating lanes for Jack (Steven Jackson) — and he's doing a great job of running, then no, not at all. When that's successful for us, that's great. I have no problem doing that."
Trouble was, it wasn't very successful on the first four possessions of the second half. During that time, Jackson carried eight times for 23 yards.
The NFL has become very concussion conscious, and very alert to helmet-to-helmet blows to quarterbacks. Yet there was no flag late in the second quarter when Chargers linebacker Kevin Burnett sacked a scrambling Bradford with a hard helmet-to-helmet blow. Bradford's helmet came off on the play.
"I think the explanation I got was that (Bradford) made himself a runner at that particular time," Spagnuolo said. "I think any time you see the quarterback's helmet come off, I think we all get concerned, No. 1, and we think he should be protected. But I have no problem with the way the officials called it. When I say that, they explained it to me, I take the explanation, and then we move on to the next play."
Once the quarterback breaks the pocket, he's treated like any other runner, meaning helmet-to-helmet blows aren't necessarily a penalty.
"It's part of it, especially when I break the pocket," Bradford said. "I'm a runner, so things like that can happen."
That play was part of a sequence where Bradford was sacked three times in four plays in the red zone. On the third sack he ran out of bounds for lost yardage instead of throwing the ball away.
"On both of those scrambles, I had guys open in the end zone," Bradford said. "I just couldn't get my body in a position to get the ball to them. Probably should have thrown them away."
The Rams still came away with seven points, on Jackson's 7-yard touchdown run.
Rams owner Stan Kroenke was in attendance Sunday, and as has become his postgame custom, he worked the locker room afterwards shaking hands with many players.
"That was cool," Kroenke said of the Rams' victory.
Kroenke told the Post-Dispatch that he has officially "closed" on his purchase of controlling interest in the Rams. All the details and paperwork were completed a couple of weeks ago, meaning he officially owns the team.
Three Rams didn't finish the game because of hamstring injuries: WR Mardy Gilyard, CB Justin King, and S Darian Stewart. Starting cornerback Ron Bartell suffered a wrist injury late in the contest. The severity of the injuries wasn't known, but King and Stewart have battled hamstring issues off-and-on this season.
Sitting it out
For one of the few times this season, injuries didn't play much of a role in determining the Rams' eight game-day inactives. The only player who wasn't a healthy scratch was LB Chris Chamberlain (toe). The other inactives: CB Kevin Dockery, OT Renardo Foster, TE Fendi Onobun, DT Clifton Ryan, DT Darell Scott, DE Eugene Sims and RB Chauncey Washington.