The St. Louis Rams returned to .500 with a decisive 20-10 win against the Carolina Panthers, thanks to an outstanding performance from rookie quarterback Sam Bradford and a defense that held the Panthers back whenever their offense managed to get on the field.
Bradford, who was just 13 of 26 last week against the San Diego Chargers, was 25 of 32 against the Panthers, picking up two touchdowns and no interceptions on 191 yards passing. Steven Jackson, limited by a finger surgery earlier in the week, still carried the ball 23 times for 59 yards.
With Danario Alexander the latest Rams wide receiver to miss significant time, the question marks about who’d catch the ball were answered this week — everybody. Brandon Gibson led the way, with six receptions for 67 yards including a game-high 33. Danny Amendola caught six balls as well, including a touchdown; Daniel Fells picked up the other.
The Rams’ defense forced four turnovers in the Panthers’ 23 minutes of possession. James Laurinaitis and Chris Long picked up a sack; Long forced one fumble and recovered another, while Laurinaitis, OJ Atogwe and James Butler all picked off Panthers quarterback Matt Moore, who struggled in his second start since replacing rookie Jimmy Clausen under center.
Moore was 23 of 37 with 194 yards passing, one touchdown and three interceptions. Jonathan Stewart ran the ball 14 times for just 30 yards; the offense as a whole had 17 carries for 25 yards.
A suffocating defense and an incredibly efficient offense — the Rams couldn’t have done anything more in the course of improving to 4-4.