Has Bradford now earned the starting job? Rams rally late to beat Pats
St. Louis Rams’ rookie quarterback Sam Bradford received a huge opportunity when A.J Feeley was injured last week. It gave the number one overall pick a chance to start against the New England Patriots and the rookie seized the opportunity, leading the Rams to a 36-35 victory over the reigning AFC East champs.
Bradford looked really sharp and he wasn’t exactly facing a bunch of pushovers in the Patriots. He battled with Tom Brady and in the end the Rams came out on top in a surprisingly thrilling exhibition game. Bradford’s stats speak for themselves as he was efficient and poised going 15 of 22 for 189 yards and two touchdowns. With this impressive performance, many are now asking the question if the 2008 Heisman Trophy winner will be the starter heading into the regular season.
"We've got to look at the film," Coach Steve Spagnuolo said. "I want to see how he handled things when there was pressure."
Bradford looked good in his first action working with the Rams’ starting offence. With so much invested in him the Rams may be looking for him to be the starter as quickly as possible. Feeley was brought in to ensure the team had a veteran presence but now he may be moved to being a veteran backup behind the talented new kid in Bradford.
"It was a blast out there tonight," Bradford said. "I had fun. I was used to doing what I was doing -- moving the offense up and down the field."
Some may ask whether Bradford played so well or if the Patriots played so poorly on defence. Brady was the bright spot of the Patriots as completed 18 of 22 passes for 283 yards and three touchdown passes.
"We didn't do well on anything," New England coach Bill Belichick said. Indeed they didn’t as the Rams dominated the time of possession, holding the ball for nearly 44 minutes.
The Rams especially dominated early as the Patriots did not get a first down until three minutes remained in the first half and ended up converting for 12 while their defence gave up 30. The Patriots still got out to an early lead thanks to Brandon Tate returning the opening kickoff 97 yards to give the Pats a 7-0 lead.
The Rams responded quickly as Bradford led scoring drives on three of his first four possessions. He threw a five-yard touchdown pass to Michael Hoomanawanui to tie the game. He then set up a 25-yard field goal by Josh Brown and threw another touchdown pass to Hoomanawanui to give the Rams a 17-7 lead.
Brady countered late in the half finding tight end Rob Gronkowski on a 12-yard TD pass but Bradford led a scoring drive with another Josh Brown field goal to give the Rams a 20-14 halftime lead.
Bradford came out of the game at halftime as Thaddeus Lewis led a late rally. After going up 27-14, Brady rallied the Pats to a 28-27 lead after long touchdown tosses to Randy Moss and Gronkowski. Backup Brian Hoyer added a touchdown pass of his own to Sam Aiken to give the Patriots a 35-27 lead.
Lewis then brought the Rams back as he led two scoring drives. Running back Keith Tostson found the end zone from two yards out, but the tying two-point conversion was no good. Lewis then led the Rams down the field in the late stages of the game as Brown booted a 37-yard field goal as time expired to give the Rams the win.
Rams’ receiver Donnie Avery suffered a scary looking knee injury in the first half. Spagnuolo said the injury may be pretty serious. Avery was the Rams leading receiver last season with 47 catches.
The Rams wrap up their preseason against the Baltimore Ravens next week. The Patriots will head to the Meadowlands to take on the New York Giants.