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RamView: Week 13 – Secondary

After being embarrassed the last three weeks, the Ram secondary answered the call today with a close-to-brilliant game. Somebody make sure that animal Craig Dahl gets a game ball. Dahl should have a shot at NFL Defensive Player of the Week. With Arizona deep in Rams territory on their first drive, Dahl blitzed and tripped Hightower up for a loss to force a 3rd-and-long, where Ron Bartell broke up a pass to Larry Fitzgerald to force a FG. Dahl’s diving tackle probably saved a TD on Hightower’s 32-yard run the next possession. Then in the 2nd, he profited from Anderson’s exponentially-increasing inaccuracy for a gift pickoff that set up the lead FG before halftime. In the 2nd half, you may not believe this, but the Rams stopped Arizona cold with excellent zone defense. Quincy Butler(!!) broke up a sideline pass to Fitzgerald, and Kevin Dockery(!) broke up a middle pass for the TE on 3rd down. (Though he played well, Bartell was out of the game by this point due to a shoulder stinger. I find it no coincidence, however, that Ram pass coverage improved dramatically with Jerome Murphy inactive.) Ram safeties may have blitzed as often today as they dropped back in coverage. Safety blitzes forced another 3-and-out in the 3rd. Darian Stewart made a nice play to not blitz in blindly and helped catch Hightower on an inside handoff for no gain on 2nd down, and Atogwe chased Anderson out of the game by blitzing over LT and batting down a pass on 3rd down. They made it three straight 3-and-outs at Max Hall’s expense. Atogwe came at him from well off the line and sacked him on 1st down. Stewart got pressure up the middle on 2nd down. And with Hall panicking on 3rd down, Bradley Fletcher played the sideline pass to Fitzgerald (who had only 4 catches despite being healthy this time around) perfectly and picked the rookie QB off. Dahl revved back up in the 4th, tackling Hightower for a loss and blitzing Skelton into a crazy lob for a grounding penalty. He finished off a fine game defensively by sneaking behind Faneca on a blitz to sack Skelton for the Rams’ FOURTH 3-and-out of the half. Quincy Butler did get beaten a couple of times, and the secondary nearly blew a 3rd-and-25 in the 4th-quarter when they let Fitzgerald get wide open near the sideline 30 yards downfield and Skelton barely missed him. But that doesn’t detract a lot from one of the most dramatic week-to-week improvements by a Rams unit in recent memory. What the heck, give ‘em all a game ball.

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