Two good young quarterbacks played good games on Sunday in St. Louis, but the Rams’ 31-28 win over the Redskins will be remembered more for mental errors.
Redskins rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III had another strong outing in his second professional start, and the Rams’ Sam Bradford was even better. And yet neither Griffin nor Bradford was the story of this game.
No, the story was that after Griffin hit receiver Josh Morgan with less than two minutes left to get the Redskins into range for a game-tying field goal, Rams cornerback Cortland Finnegan pushed Morgan, Morgan responded by throwing the ball at Finnegan, and the officials flagged Morgan (but not Finnegan) for unsportsmanlike conduct, moving the Redskins back 15 yards. Instead of a 47-yard game-tying field goal attempt, the Redskins had a 62-yard game-tying field goal attempt, and it was no good.
There were plenty of other mental mistakes before that. Rams running back Steven Jackson was benched by head coach Jeff Fisher after he picked up a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct policy stemming from Jackson spiking the ball in frustration when he thought he had scored a touchdown but the officials ruled he hadn’t. Rookie Daryl Richardson came on in Jackson’s place and played very well, at least until late in the game, when Redskins linebacker London Fletcher knocked the ball out of Richardson’s hand while Richardson was attempting to run out the clock.
Morgan deserved his unsportsmanlike conduct penalty, but what has to be frustrating for the Redskins is how many times throughout the game players on both teams were getting away with pushing and shoving and not getting flagged. Morgan got flagged at the worst possible time.
And that overshadowed a 300-yard passing game for Bradford, who calmly and effectively ran the offense, and led the Rams to their first win under Fisher. The Rams played well, but this game will be remembered mostly for the fact that neither team played smart.