POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Oct 5, 2010
LAST UPDATED: 1:45 a.m. HST, Oct 5, 2010
ST. LOUIS » Steve Spagnuolo preached patience in his first season as St. Louis Rams coach. Their 1-15 record earned them the first pick in the draft, which brought quarterback Sam Bradford, and there were stumbles that were often painful to watch.
The system is starting to click in Year 2. They're tied for first place in a weak NFC West at 2-2, featuring an always-attacking defense that has forced 10 turnovers and an offense that already can lean a bit on Bradford and not just have Steven Jackson carry all the load.
Enthusiasm, long absent from Rams Park, is building after taking two straight wins for the first time since 2008.
"There is a sense of confidence in the locker room," Bradford said yesterday, a day after a 20-3 victory over the Seattle Seahawks. "I think it's changed from Week 1 to now. It's totally different."
Players believe they can contend for the division title, and not just because other teams have been slipping.
"If we continue on the track we're on and we continue to improve each week, I think we can definitely compete for this division," Bradford said.
Spagnuolo doesn't mind the confident talk as long as players keep things in perspective and prepare just as diligently for this week's game at winless Detroit.
"I don't think there's anything wrong with it as long as it doesn't go too far the other way," Spagnuolo said. "As long as everybody continues to realize we have a lot to do and there's still a hunger."
The defense gave up two big plays in the first half, a 36-yard pass from Matt Hasselbeck to Brandon Stokley and a 28-yard flea-flicker from running back Michael Robinson to Leon Washington. But Seattle got only three points in the first half, and then was held to 83 yards and 0-for-6 third-down efficiency the rest of the way. That was despite free safety Oshiomoghe Atogwe, the defensive captain, getting only a few snaps due to a deep thigh bruise.
Bradford threw two touchdown passes for a personal-best 289 yards, yet saw plenty of room for improvement leading an offense that leaned heavier to the pass (41) than the run (28).
"I just felt like I missed some easy throws," Bradford said.
Spagnuolo said Jackson didn't believe he had any setbacks after playing through a groin strain. Jackson rushed for 70 yards, passing Marshall Faulk for second on the franchise career rushing list.
"He'd probably tell you he wasn't 100 percent, but he was certainly good enough," Spagnuolo said.
SAN DIEGO » San Diego Chargers strong safety Steve Gregory was suspended by the NFL for four games without pay yesterday for violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing substances.
The suspension begins with Sunday's game at Oakland. Neither the NFL nor Gregory said what substance the player tested positive for.
Gregory said in a statement released by the Chargers that he appealed the suspension, and was denied.
"I was completely shocked to find out about this positive test from May during the offseason," Gregory said in a statement. "I have never knowingly used any form of performance enhancing substance. However, as an athlete I know that I am responsible for everything that goes into my body. I appealed these test results, and through this process I was disappointed to learn today that I am going to be suspended for the next four games."
PHILADELPHIA » Michael Vick's rib cartilage injury may force him to miss at least Philadelphia's next game at San Francisco.
"This is going to be one of those day-to-day, week-to-week (injuries)," Eagles coach Andy Reid said yesterday. "We'll just see how it goes and how he feels along the way."
If Vick can't play, Kevin Kolb gets another chance to prove he can be the No. 1 quarterback. Kolb began the season as Donovan McNabb's successor, but lost his job when he suffered a concussion in Week 1 and Vick played exceptionally in his absence.
GREEN BAY, Wis. » Green Bay rookie safety Morgan Burnett will miss the rest of the season after tearing an anterior cruciate ligament in the victory over Detroit, leaving the Packers scrambling for a backup.
The third-round pick out of Georgia Tech started the Packers' first four games.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. » The NFL fined Tennessee Titans defensive coordinator Chuck Cecil $40,000 yesterday for his obscene gesture at game officials.
The league said Cecil violated a rule that prohibits use of abusive, threatening or insulting language or gestures to game officials.
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. » Buffalo Bills starting cornerback Terrence McGee will miss at least the next two weeks because of a surgical procedure performed last week on his left leg.
Coach Chan Gailey said yesterday it wasn't knee surgery, but it was related to McGee's recent knee soreness.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. » Tennessee rookie defensive end Derrick Morgan tore his left anterior cruciate ligament and will miss the rest of the season.
Morgan, the team's No. 1 draft pick, was hurt in the first half of Sunday's 26-20 loss to Denver when he landed awkwardly and twisted his knee.
NE-FG Gostkowski 23, 7:13.
NE-FG Gostkowski 30, :00.
NE-Tate 103 kickoff return (Gostkowski kick), 14:46.
NE-Green-Ellis 12 run (Gostkowski kick), 12:44.
Mia-Williams 28 pass from Henne (D.Carpenter kick), 8:56.
NE-Woodhead 11 pass from Brady (Gostkowski kick), 4:02.
NE-Arrington 35 blocked field goal return (Gostkowski kick), 14:05.
NE-Chung 51 interception return (Gostkowski kick), 6:30.
|Total Net Yards||265||400|
|Time of Possession||27:43||32:17|
PASSING-New England, Brady 19-24-0-153. Miami, Henne 29-39-3-302, Thigpen 2-6-1-15.
RECEIVING-New England, Welker 8-70, Hernandez 5-29, Tate 4-39, Woodhead 1-11, Gronkowski 1-4. Miami, Bess 9-93, Fasano 5-67, Marshall 5-50, Williams 4-45, R.Brown 4-29, Hartline 3-21, Wallace 1-12.
MISSED FIELD GOALS-Miami, D.Carpenter 53 (BK).