When the St. Louis Rams traded up in the 2013 draft to pick Tavon Austin #8 overall, they envisioned that the speedy receiver would be a playmaking machine. Early on in this season, reviews had been mixed, as Austin hadn’t been able to break off any huge plays as either a receiver or a returner. That all changed on Sunday as Austin finally had his coming out party. The St. Louis Rams completely stunned the Indianapolis Colts in Indy by handing them a 38-8 thrashing.
Austin was the main reason for the butt-whipping. He only had two catches on the day, but totaled 138 yards and took both to the house for TDs. He also was dangerous on punt returns, as he had 145 yards on 4 returns, including a 98-yard return for a touchdown. Including his kick return and rushing yards, Austin totaled 314 all-purpose yards on Sunday, the 2nd highest total in Rams history. Seemingly, the Colts had no idea what to do when Austin touched the ball. By the early part of the 2nd half, the game was essentially over, as the Rams held a 35-0 lead.
This outcome was completely unforeseen. The Rams lost starting quarterback Sam Bradford to a torn ACL a couple of weeks ago and are relying on backup Kellen Clemens to lead them the rest of the way. St. Louis had lost three games in a row and looked for all the world to be a team just limping its way through a losing season. Meanwhile, the Colts were playing at home and came into the game with a 6-2 records. Even after this humiliating loss, they appear to be a playoff team, as they are still solidly in first place in the suddenly weak AFC South.
With this win, the Rams keep their faint playoff hopes alive, as their record improves to 4-6. Perhaps this game shows the way for them to succeed the rest of the year. Get efficient play from the quarterback but do not force him to throw a ton of passes. Force turnovers on the defensive end and create havoc for the opposing team’s quarterback with the superior defensive line. Try to get one or two big plays from Austin. Manage the clock with the running game via Zac Stacy.
The Rams have a bye next week, then host Chicago the following Sunday. The Bears suddenly appear vulnerable as quarterback Jay Cutler wasn’t able to complete the game this week due to ankle and groin issues. Josh McCown might be called upon to play down the stretch if Cutler is unable to get healthy. He already tried to rush back this week and apparently made things worse. If the Rams can beat the 5-4 Bears, they will suddenly find themselves in a good position to make a late-season surge.