CLEVELAND • En route to a 33-14 victory over the Browns. there were big catches by Kenny Britt and Brian Quick. Long runs by Chris Givens (after a catch) and Benny Cunningham. On defense Alec Ogletree had an interception. Rookie Aaron Donald started the second half with a sack fumble deep in Cleveland territory that led to a score.
But for every big play the Rams produced Saturday at FirstEnergy Stadium, they suffered an injury. Seemingly returning to better health, 20 of the Rams' 22 projected opening-day starters were in the lineup.
But before halftime, five of those starters were out with injury _ two with knee injuries, and three with ankles. And of course, the one injury the Rams absolutely, positively couldn't afford: an injury to quarterback Sam Bradford's left knee.
The on-site examination by Rams medical officials proved inconclusive. Bradford will undergo further tests Sunday in St. Louis to see if he has re-injured the anterior cruciate that was torn last October at Carolina.
Bradford went down on second-and-7 from the Cleveland 12 on the opening drive of the night, holding his left knee once he landed. He had been hit by Browns defensive end Amonty Bryant _ who got around left tackle Jake Long _ after releasing an incomplete pass to tight end Jared Cook. Bradford's left knee buckled as he braced himself after the Bryant hit.
It was Long's first game of the preseason; he's coming back from offseason knee injury of his own and looked a little rusty early.
Earlier in the drive, Bradford had completed a pass of 21 yards on third-and-7 to Cook that was wiped out by a penalty. After the penalty yardage was assessed, he connected with Quick for 13 yards and a first down that counted. Then came a 36-yard deep ball to Britt to the Cleveland 15.
But none of that mattered, obviously, when Bradford went down after the Bryant hit. After a couple of minutes on the turf, Bradford got up with some help by the team medical staff. No cart was needed.
After a couple more minutes on the sideline, Bradford then walked off the field into the tunnel to the visitors' locker room, walking with a slight limp.
The absence of a cart, and Bradford walking under his own power perhaps be seen as good signs. But it probably will take an MRI Sunday to really find out what's going on with the knee.
Obviously, trying to get through an entire season without Bradford, who has looked good in training camp and in exhibition play, would make the Rams' hopes for a breakout season next to impossible.
And if only the injuries had stopped with Bradford's. On the Rams' first defensive series of the night, defensive tackle Kendall Langford went down with a right ankle injury. Langford got the ankle re-taped and went in for another series, but then was taken out for good _ a precautionary measure, according to the team.
On the first play of the Rams' second offensive series, left guard Rodger Saffold went down with a right ankle injury. He was done for the night, again a precautionary measure according to the team.
Then, with 5 1/2 minutes to play in the second quarter, cornerback Trumaine Johnson and defensive tackle Michael Brockers were injured on the same play. For Brockers, just coming back from an ankle injury, it was another ankle injury _ the severity of which was unknown.
Johnson suffered a knee injury on the play _ a knee injury that looked serious and could be season ending. Johnson left on a cart and had a towel over his face as he left.
The Rams' third corner, Brandon McGee, didn't dress Saturday. He has been slowed by an ankle injury this camp and preseason. Next in line are Missouri rookie E.J. Gaines, as well as Darren Woodard, Greg Reid, and Marcus Roberson.
At quarterback, Shaun Hill finished off the first drive after Bradford's injury, which ended in a 30-yard field goal by Greg Zuerlein. Hill then engineered another drive ending in a 30-yard field goal, one which included a 32-yard completion to Britt and a 21-yard run by Cunningham, who started ahead of Zac Stacy.
But Hill was done after that series, completing two of six passes before giving way to Austin Davis. Davis, playing ahead of rookie Garrett Gilbert for the first time this preseason, saw extended playing time _ all the way into the fourth quarter.
After the Ogletree interception and 27-yard return in the second quarter, the Rams took over at the Cleveland 28 with 8:13 to play in the half. The Rams overcame a false start, and a holding penalty to get their first touchdown on a 6-yard Davis-to-Quick pass for a 13-0 lead.
It was an active night for Quick, who had four receptions for 47 yards on six targets. The Rams made it four scores on five possessions a few minutes later, when Givens grabbed a short pass over the middle on crossing pattern, then turned up field and turned on the jets.
No one could catch Givens, who raced all the way to the end zone for a 75-yard TD and a 20-0 lead with 2:48 left in the half.
The Browns finally got on the board in the final minute of the second quarter, and sandwiched a couple of touchdowns around a third Zuerlein field goal. The second TD came on a 7-yard scramble by Johnny Manziel midway through the third quarter delighting the crowd at FirstEnergy.
But Davis engineered another field goal drive, giving the Rams a 26-14 lead with 11:37 to play in the fourth quarter.
Then came the moment we've all been waiting for: Rams defensive end Michael Sam sacked Johnny Football. Sam celebrated by mimicking Manziel's "Money" gesture. Talk about your ESPN moments.
Garrett Gilbert took over at quarterback after that Browns possession, and the Rams kept moving the ball, all the way down the field until Trey Watts scored on a 12-yard TD run, giving the Rams a 33-14 lead with 5:40 to play.
This was a game the Rams dominated statistically. Following Watts' TD the Rams had 452 yards of offense, compared to just 120 for Cleveland.
But given the injuries to Bradford and others, that didn't seem to matter much.