The baseball Cardinals are the epitome of October excellence. Seldom are they not winning when the leaves turn. As far as football is concerned, the Rams go into hibernation, having only three wins in October over the past three years.
The local nine come up clutch on the road in October. The Rams haven’t won a road game this month since 2008 when they squeaked past Washington, 19-17.
To put things in perspective, Marc Bulger was under center.
The Rams (2-3) will look to mirror their brethren Sunday afternoon against the Houston Texans at Reliant Stadium.
Season highs in both rushing yards (143) and turnovers forced (3) headed the Rams to their second victory of the season last week against dreadful Jacksonville. The 34-20 triumph featured Sam Bradford throwing three touchdowns, the second time the fourth-year quarterback has accomplished that feat this season.
Can the Rams turn in an encore performance against a stingy Texans defense? Head coach Jeff Fisher certainly hopes so. But it wont be easy, considering the Texans boast the best passing defense in the league, allowing just over 134 yards per game.
“We’ve got to run the football to score points,” Fisher said, following Wednesday’s practice. “We’ve got to be smart and stay balanced and win the one-on-one matchups.”
Bradford, who was 19-of-34 for 222 yards and three touchdowns last week, said the Texans present a big challenge for the Rams offense.
“They’re very good as a whole,” Bradford said. “They don’t really have a weakness. Obviously, handling (defensive end) J.J. Watt and the guys that they have up front … they do a great job getting after the quarterback. They play tight coverage on the outside too, so it’s going to be a group effort this week.”
Watt, who led the league with 20.5 sacks last season, has 3.5 thus far in 2013. Linebacker Whitney Mercilus leads the team with 4.5.
More importantly, however, will be the Rams ability to halt the Texans’ running attack led by Arian Foster and Ben Tate, who average over 133 yards per game. In last week’s 34-3 loss at San Francisco, Foster rushed for 98 yards on 21 carries, while Tate gained 28 yards on seven carries.
But that was against a 49ers club that allows 3.7 yards per carry. The Rams – the league’s worst rushing defense – allow nearly five yards touch.
“It’s their scheme,” Fisher said. “It’s different than most. Got to keep everybody honest and everybody on their feet. They’re hard to get down in one-on-one situations.”
Despite Foster’s longest run of the season being 17 yards, he’s still a vital threat to the Rams, along with Tate, whose longest run of 60 yards came against Tennessee in which the Texans clung to a 30-24 overtime win.
The key for the Rams will be how effective Bradford is in the pocket. If he gets time and protection, the Rams will be able to move the football. If not, it could be a long day in Texas.
“I’ve got to be decisive and get the ball out of my hand quickly,” Bradford said.
Will the Rams finally break through on the road in October, or will we continue to see a winless autumn on the road?