Rams dominate early in 31-17 victory over Ravens
(AP Photo/Seth Perlman)
By R.B. FALLSTROM
AP Sports Writer
ST. LOUIS (AP) Sure, they were going against backups. The St. Louis Rams were just glad to finish the preseason on a positive note.
Sam Bradford threw three touchdown passes in 1 1/2 quarters and the defense forced four turnovers in a 31-17 victory over the Baltimore Ravens, who rested most of their regulars as they gear up for a Super Bowl run.
"Their twos are certainly twos, but they're great NFL players," defensive end Chris Long said. "They were in the championship game last year, they're a good team from top to bottom."
The Rams (2-2) are rebuilding under new coach Jeff Fisher and built confidence while matching their 2011 victory total in the preseason. Fisher had planned on leaving his starters in until after the half, but began substituting freely after a 9-yard catch by Mike Hoomanawanui made it 21-0 with 6:59 to go in the half.
"We played our guys, didn't play as long as I had anticipated," Fisher said. "Overall, I thought it was a pretty good effort, really from start to finish."
Ravens coach John Harbaugh got what he wanted - a really long look at his backups. Many of the regulars didn't even dress.
"After I look at the tape, I will see some really good performances out there, and some that weren't so good," Harbaugh said. "It will help us make some decisions."
The Ravens (2-2) committed four turnovers, including three interceptions by Curtis Painter, who threw touchdown passes to Billy Bajema and Deonte Thompson in the second half. Tyrod Taylor started in place of Joe Flacco and was 8 for 12 for 58 yards.
Harbaugh said he hasn't decided whether to keep two or three quarterbacks, but thought Painter, who started last year for Indianapolis after Peyton Manning was injured, had a "really good preseason."
"You know, he's done well," Harbaugh said. "He's a guy who's a starter, he's got experience and he's a pro."
Bradford threw five touchdown passes in the preseason, all of them at home for the Rams (2-2).
"It's very satisfying," Bradford said. "The way we finished definitely shows that we're comfortable out there. I think we're moving into the regular season in a very nice way."
Rookie Janoris Jenkins was a rare Rams starter who played into the third quarter, and made it 28-0 with a 76-yard interception return for a touchdown off a pass by Painter that deflected off Bobby Rainey's hands.
"Most definitely, I want to take it to the house," Jenkins said. "I always think that."
The Rams intercepted Painter on the previous play, too, but Craig Dahl fumbled it back.
Robert Quinn had a sack, a forced fumble and a fumble recovery while stripping Taylor to set up Danny Amendola's 7-yard score late in the first quarter. He also deflected a punt in the second quarter.
The Rams played well in both home games despite sparse attendance. The Edward Jones Dome, which holds 66,000, was probably about one-third full for the opening kickoff and all but empty at the end.
Fisher's plan to play his starters backfired when first-round pick Michael Brockers injured his right ankle after getting tangled up with Jah Reid near the end of the first quarter and did not return.
Brockers was helped off the field by two trainers, but was able to put weight on the leg, then was carted off the field.
X-rays were negative and an MRI was scheduled for Friday for Brockers, who was in a walking boot but didn't think it was a serious injury.
Bradford was 11 for 16 for 175 yards and spread the ball to eight receivers, with Austin Pettis starting the scoring with a 14-yard catch capped by a dive inside the pylon.
Bradford recovered his own fumble off a center snap for a 5-yard loss the play before throwing the touchdown pass to Hoomanawanui.
Rookie kickers for both teams showed plenty of leg.
The Ravens' Justin Tucker, who beat out Billy Cundiff, made a 49-yard field goal in the second half after barely missing from 57 yards near the end of the half. That was the lone miss in eight preseason attempts, including a pair from 50 yards or farther for the undrafted Tucker.
The Rams' Greg Zuerlein hit his fourth field goal from 50 yards-plus in the preseason with a 59-yarder that scraped the crossbar early in the fourth quarter.
He was just short on a 62-yard attempt in the third quarter that was caught by the Ravens' Asa Jackson just under the crossbar.
"I'm glad the coaches gave me another opportunity," Zuerlein said. "Really, it was two bad kicks for me. I've got to put it behind me."
NOTES: Ravens backup OLB Courtney Upshaw (shoulder) will have an MRI exam Friday. "Yeah, we're concerned," Harbaugh said. ... OL Justin Boren (right foot sprain) also will have an MRI, and TEs Bruce Figgins (right knee sprain) and Matt Balasavage (high left ankle sprain) were injured. ... The Rams are 3-0 against the Ravens in the preseason.
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Updated August 31, 2012