Big kicks lead Rams to win
BY R.B. FALLSTROM Associated Press
Monday, October 01, 2012
10/01/12 at 4:56 AM
ST. LOUIS - Forget about Sam Bradford and Steven Jackson. The St. Louis Rams' true offensive star thus far is a rookie kicker from a Division II school.
Greg Zuerlein made 21 consecutive field goals last fall at Missouri Western, and he's been a sure thing in the NFL, too.
The rookie kicked four field goals, setting a club record with a 58-yarder and then topping it with a 60-yarder, and helped the Rams beat the Seattle Seahawks 19-13 on Sunday. He's 12-for-12 on the year.
"Right now, our kicker is the MVP of the season," Jackson said. "Pretty much, all we've got to do is get across the 50-yard line and we're in his range."
Coach Jeff Fisher began the year with a conservative approach, saying he would let Zuerlein air it out at the end of a half or game. He's no longer concerned with the great field position the opposition would get should Zuerlein miss.
"When the coach has confidence in you, it gives you more confidence in yourself," Zuerlein said. "I love it when they give me those chances."
Zuerlein also was a perfect decoy on the biggest play of the day - a fake field goal that turned into a 2-yard touchdown pass from punter Johnny Hekker to Danny Amendola. The score put the Rams (2-2) ahead 10-7 late in the first half.
Amendola was pretending to jog off the field and stopped just shy of the sideline. He was all alone, and had to leap just a bit to snare a high spiral from Hekker, a former high school quarterback.
"The play kind of took a while," Amendola said. "I was afraid they would see me, but they didn't see me. I was just trying to get as small as I could, so nobody sees me."
Seahawks coaches upstairs noticed the trickery, but not quickly enough. Coach Pete Carroll was on the field trying in vain to get the officials' attention right before the snap.
"I don't know how far, but I was out there running at them," Carroll said. "I didn't do a good enough job of getting in their view, because I was calling timeout before the ball was snapped."
The Rams won for just the second time in 15 meetings against the Seahawks, who had outscored them 70-26 in the previous three games.
The Seahawks (2-2) lost six days after beating Green Bay when a botched call by replacement officials on the final play gave them the winning touchdown. Regular officials were back this weekend.
Marshawn Lynch led Seattle with 118 yards on 20 carries, including an 18-yard score on the game's first possession.
The Rams intercepted Russell Wilson three times, the clincher coming from Bradley Fletcher at the Rams 25 with a minute to go. Wilson had just one pick through the first three games but Carroll was pretty happy with the rookie's play, noting wide receiver Anthony McCoy slipped and fell on Fletcher's interception.
"I still think he's improving and getting more comfortable and all that," Carroll said. "We'll see what it all means. I don't know yet."
St. Louis is 2-0 at home, also beating the Redskins in Week 2.
St. Louis quarterback Sam Bradford (center), Brit Miller (left) and Chris Givens celebrate near the end of the Rams’ 19-13 win Sunday over Seattle. SETH PERLMAN / Associated Press