Rams intent to build on impressive win, tangle with Redskins

(SportsNetwork.com) – The St. Louis Rams hope they saved some points from
their previous win and will visit the Washington Redskins Sunday at FedEx
Field.

The Rams annihilated the lowly Oakland Raiders, 52-0, at home this past
weekend and took advantage of five turnovers by the visiting team, including a
43-yard interception return for a touchdown by Trumaine Johnson.

All three phases worked in St. Louis’ favor and the team rode the legs of Tre
Mason, who ran for a season-high 117 yards and two scores. He had an 89-yard
touchdown run in the second quarter and posted just his second 100-yard game
of the season. Mason also scored on a 35-yard screen pass.

“We practiced with a purpose, we met with a purpose,” Rams head coach Jeff
Fisher said. “We’ve been doing that all year long. It all just came together
for us today.”

St. Louis improved to 5-7 and has rotated wins over the past eight games.

Veteran quarterback Shaun Hill made his third start since replacing rookie
Austin Davis and threw for 183 yards with two touchdowns on 13-of-22 passing.
Hill won his only career start against the Redskins as a member of San
Francisco in 2008.

Oakland used two quarterbacks after rookie Derek Carr was intercepted twice
and passed for 173 yards. Matt Schaub came on in relief and was intercepted,
completing 5-of-9 attempts for 57 yards.

Johnson had two interceptions and was excited for his pick-six.

“This is my first pick six,” Johnson said. “I scored and forgot what it was
like to be in the end zone. My celebration was trash, but I’m just glad I
caught it and put some points up for our team.”

E.J. Gaines posted the other interception for the Rams, who recorded six
sacks, three of which by Robert Quinn. Quinn has nine sacks on the season and
is 10 shy of matching his 2013 total.

The Rams are on the road, where they have lost two in a row and four of the
last five games.

Washington is a dismal 3-9 this season and mired in a four-game losing streak.
It will play three of four games at home to close the season.

The Redskins made a statement by benching franchise quarterback Robert Griffin
III after a 17-13 loss at San Francisco. The move to Colt McCoy produced some
numbers, but it wasn’t enough to overcome Sunday’s 49-27 loss in Indianapolis.
McCoy threw for a career-high 392 yards and three touchdowns with no
interceptions in his second start of the season, and Jordan Reed was his
favorite target.

Reed caught nine passes for 123 yards and DeSean Jackson finished with five
receptions for 84 yards and a score. Wide receiver Santana Moss recorded his
first reception of the season in the second quarter, gaining 13 yards.

“Players have to start stepping up and taking some accountability at some
point,” Redskins coach Jay Gruden said. “We’ve got to do a better job
coaching, that’s all I can say.”

The Colts had 487 total yards to Washington’s 425. Ryan Kerrigan posted the
lone sack for the Redskins and has 9 1/2 this season. He also posted the 13th
forced fumble of his career for the Redskins, who had three takeaways for the
second straight week.

Washington’s defense has seen better days and is ninth in rushing yards
allowed (102.8), 11th in total yards (344.0), 15th in passing yards
(241.2) and 27th in points allowed (26.8). The Redskins are 14th in sacks
(28.0) and 29th in interceptions (5).

“I think everybody in our room works hard,” Redskins defensive back Ryan Clark
said. “I love these dudes. I like the guys I work with. I love the way they
work. I love the way they prepare, but you got to bring it to the grass and we
need to bring it to the grass as a group.”

The Redskins lead the all-time series with the Rams, 24-12-1, but have lost
four of the past six meetings between the two teams. St. Louis won the latest
installment of this series by recording a 31-28 win on Sept. 16, 2012. RG3
passed for 206 yards with a TD and an INT, and also ran for 82 yards and two
scores. Alfred Morris posted 89 yards on 16 carries in defeat.

Washington is 11-5 all-time in regular season home games against the Rams.

WHAT TO WATCH FOR

The Redskins are 10th and 11th, respectively, in passing yards (260.5) and
total yards (370.2) this season. The Rams are allowing 245.2 passing yards and
356.3 total yards on defense, so this could turn out to be a win for the
hosts.

St. Louis sacked the Raiders six times and Quinn led the way. Now he gets to
face McCoy, who was sacked six times on Sunday and 11 times in three
appearances this season. Quinn has nine sacks and four forced fumbles in his
last seven games.

McCoy and the Redskins are closing out the season with pride and effort.

“We have unity. We have good guys in that locker room. We have good coaches
and we know this isn’t how the season, this isn’t how we drew it up,” McCoy
said. “But we all still have a lot of pride and certainly in that receivers
group, there’s a lot of pride. So I can be better and I think we all can be
better. And we just have to continue to grind and continue to improve. The
most important thing is to find a way to get a win. We’re going back home this
week, so I’ll put my best foot forward and keep going.”

Speaking of the receivers, wide receiver Pierre Garcon surpassed 5,000 career
receiving yards and Jackson posted his 400th career reception. Jackson
eclipsed 7,000 career receiving yards and is a deep threat for the ‘Skins. He
has 10 catches for 40 or more yards this season, and is nursing a leg bruise.

Jackson has faced St. Louis twice in his career as an Eagle, posting 12
receptions for 208 yards and a touchdown.

Redskins safety Brandon Meriweather suffered a sprained toe and his status for
Sunday is unknown. Other defensive players who sustained injuries against the
Colts were cornerback Chase Minnifield, linebacker Will Compton and defensive
lineman Kedric Golston.

Gruden said it’s “not looking good” for Meriweather to play this week. Golston
could be out with both a back and foot ailment.

St. Louis hopes to run up the score on Washington like it did versus Oakland,
and can take advantage of a nicked-up Redskins defense. Mason will face a
Washington defense allowing just over 100 yards a game. The Colts had 126
rushing yards on Sunday and Dan Herron had 88 yards and a TD on eight touches.

Mason is riding a strong wave from the Oakland game and will try to carry it
over into FedEx Field.

“I want to be the best player to ever touch a football, and that’s what I’m
heading after,” Mason said. “That’s a goal of mine.”

While those aspirations may be a bit far-fetched, Mason should have similar
numbers Sunday.

“My mindset is that if I’ve done it once, why not do it again?” Mason said. “I
told myself coming into the league to be the best, to be the greatest. And I’m
trying to do it.”

Mason leads NFC rookies with 562 rushing yards and has led the Rams in rushing
in all eight games played.

Rams defensive end Chris Long returned against the Raiders after suffering an
ankle injury in Week 1. Long had a sack and his coach is happy he’s back.

“It’s great to get him back. He’s not 100 percent yet, but I brought him back
just to get him off my rear end,” Fisher said. “He was just wearing me out to
come back and play. Chris understands the game, he plays with leverage, he’s a
good run defender. It’s great to get on the board from a sack standpoint.”

OVERALL ANALYSIS

Shutting out the Raiders in blowout fashion was no fluke by the Rams, but
they’ve struggled on the road all season. The Rams are out of the playoff mix
and would like to end the season on a positive note with high expectations for
2015.

And so would the Redskins.

With a new QB in tow for a second straight week, the home team has the edge in
this one. Gruden liked the way McCoy competed against a tough Indy squad and
had admiration for his QB, which has been rare this season.

“Colt competed,” Gruden said. “There are some things I wish we would have done
differently, play calls and execution-wise, but I feel like he competed and
did a nice job out there.”

Washington’s defense may be banged up a bit, so it’s up to McCoy, Morris and
some talented receivers to keep team pride intact.

Sports Network predicted outcome: Redskins 26, Rams 21