It was a tale of two halves. The Rams started off fast on both sides of the ball in the first half. The offense was clicking on all cylinders, SJ39, from the LOS, finished with 149 all-purpose yards. He ran with power, desire, and passion to finish every run falling forward. His effort earned him the Rams All-Time rushing title, passing Eric Dickerson in the first half. Sam Bradford delivered passes that pushed the offense down the field on sustaining drives and into the end zone. He threw two touchdown passes, one to Danny Almendola and the other to Michael Hoomanawanui. The offensive line played hard, and worked together, allowing Bradford and Jackson the ability to create production. The defense unleashed their high pressure blitzes that held Tampa Bay in check most of the first half by yielding only six points.
Then there was the second half, which was a nightmare. They got off to a slow start. They were unable to move the ball. The defense was spotty, allowing big plays at the most inopportune times. The offense stalled with marginal play calling, players with sluggish movement and the lack of a single point in the second half. The defense looked tired with the combination of poor tackling skills and lack of play making ability. The Special Teams played well all day and had a solid performance, but not their best.
As the heat took its toll late in the fourth quarter, the defense fatigue was obvious because the offense struggled to sustain drives and give them rest. While the humidity was not a real factor, the 90 degree day was. Teams that live and practice in the Midwest – teams that play in a dome – might need some extra running as a team. The bottom line is you can push yourself to be conditioned for practice pace, but game situations in the heat call for extra conditioning.
The young gun comparison was well noted, and extremely fun to watch.
Third down Efficiency
Fourth Down Efficiency
Total Offensive Plays
Average Gain per Offensive Play
Net yards passing
Yards Lost Attempting to Pass
Average Gain per Pass Play
The statistics are very equal, with the exception of the Big Easy (Sam Bradford) throwing two touchdown passes to Freemans one. The two young guns played well, neither of them throwing an interception. While both displayed strengths and weaknesses in their young careers, there is room for further development.
The battle came down to the final drive. Josh Freeman the sophomore showed the rookie what a difference a year makes, ending the game in fine fashion. Josh capped his 5th fourth quarter comeback drive for a win, by defeating the Rams 18-17 in Raymond James Stadium. I look for this newly formed NFC rivalry between these two young talented quarterbacks to continue throughout their careers. From the Big 12 to the NFL, these are two of the best young elite quarterbacks in the National Football League.