Behind Enemy Lines Week 15: St. Louis Rams
The Arizona Cardinals got a much-needed 17-14 win over the Kansas City Chiefs Sunday in Glendale.
The victory pushes their record to 10-3 and closer to their first playoff berth since 2009.
But there is little time for the Cardinals to sit back and appreciate their 10th victory of the season. Their schedule features three games against NFC West foes to close the season — a stretch that starts Thursday night in St. Louis against the red-hot Rams.
St. Louis has not only won their last two contests, they’ve notched back-to-back shutouts over the Oakland Raiders and Washington Redskins. It’s the first time they’ve blanked consecutive opponents since 1945.
The Cardinals will certainly have their work cut out for them Thursday night.
Leading up to the game, we’ll give you all the happenings in St. Louis as the Rams get ready to entertain the Cardinals…we go Behind Enemy Lines.
Thursday, December 11
• Cardinals vs. Rams preview (ESPN.com)
ESPN writers Josh Weinfuss and Nick Wagoner break down whether the Rams’ defense can continue their hot streak against Drew Stanton and a frequently injured Cardinals offensive line and make their predictions for Thursday night’s NFC West showdown.
• For the Rams lately, there’s been no place like home (FoxSports.com)
The Rams did not start the season well at home, getting blown out in Week 1 and showing little fight against the San Francisco 49ers on Monday Night Football in Week 6. But amid the team’s recent hot streak, they’ve regained their mojo in St. Louis and have a great chance to continue that roll against the Cardinals on Thursday night.
• Zuerlein looks to put bad day in the past (STLToday.com)
Rams kicker Greg Zuerlein had a fairly successful first two years in St. Louis that have mostly come crashing down this season as he’s struggled to make field goals, even missing the first extra point of his career. As coach Jeff Fisher continues to be bewildered by the kicker’s awful game on Sunday, Zuerlein attempts to put the bad day behind him and salvage the rest of his season starting on Thursday.
• Rams’ ‘Heads Up’ protest was Britt’s idea (Associated Press)
The Rams signed wide receiver Kenny Britt this offseason in hopes that they would get a much more mature player than the one that was consistently in trouble while playing with the Tennessee Titans. As Britt continues to work hard on the field, the receiver is now making headlines off of it for his leadership while organizing the Rams’ protests of issues in Missouri.
Wednesday, December 10
• Rams’ defensive surge starts with the run (ESPN.com)
The St. Louis Rams’ defense started the season very poorly, with the team at a 2-5 record after the first eight weeks. They have now become a formidable defensive team, and much of that traces back to their ability to stop the run. The Rams have the fourth-best run defense since Week 6, and they are now flirting with a .500 record.
• QB Matchup Pits Friend Vs. Friend (CBS St. Louis)
Not only does Thursday’s game pit two backup quarterbacks against each other. It’s also a matchup between two former Lions, and two friends. Shaun Hill and Drew Stanton have remained close since their time in Detroit, and wish each other well during the season. Just not this week.
• Rams’ wheel of destiny keeps spinning — and where it stops, nobody knows (FoxSports.com)
The Cardinals made their move from St. Louis to Arizona in 1988. Twenty six years later, rumors abound concerning another St. Louis football relocating, this time to Los Angeles. So far, it’s only rumors. St. Louis is continuing to put plans together for a new stadium to try and keep their team.
• Austin Awarded NFC Special Teams Player of the Week (StLouisRams.com)
Rams wide receiver and punt returner Tavon Austin was named the NFC Special Teams Player of the Week. This is the second time he has received this honor. Austin notched 143 punt return yards in St. Louis’ win over Washington, including a 78-yard return for a touchdown.
Tuesday, December 9
• Jeff Fisher defends players he chose to send out for coin toss (STLToday.com)
Rather than go with the normal team captains for the opening coin toss against Washington on Sunday, St. Louis coach Jeff Fisher sent a group of recently drafted and signed Rams. As players taken with the help of a slew of draft picks given to the Rams by the Redskins for the second overall pick in 2012, this group likely meant far more in the matchup than the St. Louis team captains.
• Rams make history with second straight shutout (StLouisRams.com)
For only the 15th time in NFL history, and the first for the Rams since 1945, a team has kept their opponent off the scoreboard in two straight games. Although the feat is impressive, it may not be an incredible surprise for the Rams, who are hitting their stride on defense and simply keeping teams from even making it to the red zone.
• Rams the team no one wants to play (Associated Press)
The Rams are almost completely out of the playoff picture with a 6-7 record, but that doesn’t stop them from being a definite threat to spoil another team’s playoff hopes. Already boasting impressive performances over other contenders, the Rams provide an unenviable threat for their matchups against the Cardinals and Seattle Seahawks as the two teams vie for the division title.
A week after the team made waves with their hands-up gesture while entering the field, Rams wide receiver Kenny Britt put his own spin on protests against recent court rulings. Britt played Sunday’s game with the message “I Can’t Breathe” written on his cleats, a slogan that was worn on athletes’ clothes throughout the week in various sports.
Monday, December 8
The normal 24-hour rule which allows players to seethe over a loss or bask in the glow of a win was called off by coach Jeff Fisher in his postgame comments to the team. As far as Fisher was concerned, Sunday night might as well have been Wednesday night.
That’s because the Rams have no time to waste with their next game just three days away. St. Louis hosts the Arizona Cardinals on Thursday night.
• Fisher: Redskins have bigger worries (ESPN.com)
Before Sunday’s 24-0 win against the Redskins, Fisher strayed from sending the team’s normal captains to midfield for the pregame coin toss. Instead, he sent the six players who the team drafted with picks acquired in the 2012 trade with Washington to handle those duties.
• Miklasz: Rams finally show how good they can be (STLToday.com)
These are your St. Louis Rams. They are behind schedule in their arrival to respectability — but hellbent on making up for lost time. A team that has pulverized Oakland and Washington on consecutive Sundays, scoring 76 points and allowing none. Back-to-back wins. Back-to-back shutouts. Back-to-back demonstrations of how good they can be.
• Rams vs. Redskins Report Card (STLToday.com)
Jeff Gordon grades the Rams’ performance in their victory over the Redskins.
• Ten Takeaways from Sunday’s 24-0 Win Over Redskins (101Sports.com)
The Rams finally won a second consecutive game on Sunday in Washington, becoming only the fifteenth team since the merger to turn in back-to-back shutouts in a 24-0 whitewash of the Washington Redskins.
A week after their controversial “Hands Up, Don’t Shoot!” display as they were being introduced, several St. Louis Rams players made another statement Sunday with the message: “I Can’t Breathe.”