Long ejected after long melee in third quarter

Rams’ defensive end Chris Long was ejected with 9 minutes, 59 seconds remaining in the third quarter following a lengthy scrum with myriad Panthers. Following Greg Olson’s 11-yard reception, there was pushing and shoving from both sides. Long came to the aide of his teammate when he was flagged for a personal foul and disqualified for throwing a punch.

The Panthers capitalized on the penalty with a 31-yard field goal from Gano to make the score 20-5, Panthers.

***

The Panthers capitalized with a field goal on another Rams turnover to begin the second quarter.

After Rams’ rookie receiver Tavon Austin coughed up the ball, Graham Gano connected from 37 yards to make the score 10-2.

On the Rams next possession, it appeared the visitors were going to narrow the deficit to one point. Bradford connected with Austin for what would’ve been a 63-yard touchdown pass, but left tackle Jake Long was flagged for tripping to nullify the play. The Rams settled for a 28-yard field goal from Greg “The Leg” Zuerlein to make it a 10-5 game.

While the Rams were within a score of the Panthers, Cam Newton and his offense suddenly awoke and found their rhythm. Newton dumped a short pass to Greg Olsen, who rumbled his way to the Rams’ 36-yard line. Later in the drive, Newton fired a bullet to a wide open Ted Ginn, who was tackled at the 1-yard line before Tolbert bruised his way into the end zone for a touchdown. The score extended the Panthers lead to 17-5.

Turnovers plagued the Rams in the first half. Bradford threw his fourth interception of the season and his second pick six.

***

A critical contest for both St. Louis and Carolina featured little offense and explosive defense in the first quarter.

The Rams ran a play-action fake on their first play from scrimmage, and quarterback Sam Bradford was hit as he threw the ball, which hung in the air before falling into the hands of Panthers’ defensive back Captain Munnerlyn, who ran 45 yards for the pick six.

7-0 Carolina.

Rams head coach Jeff Fisher opted to go for it on fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line, but Bradford was flushed from the pocket and threw the ball away, turning it over on downs.

But the Rams defense answered. Defensive end Eugene Sims stuffed Panthers’ running back Mike Tolbert in the end zone for the safety to make it a five-point deficit.

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Halftime: Rams trail Panthers, 17-5

The Panthers capitalized with a field goal on another Rams turnover to begin the second quarter.

After Rams’ rookie receiver Tavon Austin coughed up the ball, Graham Gano connected from 37 yards to make the score 10-2.

On the Rams next possession, it appeared the visitors were going to narrow the deficit to one point. Bradford connected with Austin for what would’ve been a 63-yard touchdown pass, but left tackle Jake Long was flagged for tripping to nullify the play. The Rams settled for a 28-yard field goal from Greg “The Leg” Zuerlein to make it a 10-5 game.

While the Rams were within a score of the Panthers, Cam Newton and his offense suddenly awoke and found their rhythm. Newton dumped a short pass to Greg Olsen, who rumbled his way to the Rams’ 36-yard line. Later in the drive, Newton fired a bullet to a wide open Ted Ginn, who was tackled at the 1-yard line before Tolbert bruised his way into the end zone for a touchdown. The score extended the Panthers lead to 17-5.

Turnovers plagued the Rams in the first half. Bradford threw his fourth interception of the season and his second pick six.

 

***

A critical contest for both St. Louis and Carolina featured little offense and explosive defense in the first quarter.

The Rams ran a play-action fake on their first play from scrimmage, and quarterback Sam Bradford was hit as he threw the ball, which hung in the air before falling into the hands of Panthers’ defensive back Captain Munnerlyn, who ran 45 yards for the pick six.

7-0 Carolina.

Rams head coach Jeff Fisher opted to go for it on fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line, but Bradford was flushed from the pocket and threw the ball away, turning it over on downs.

But the Rams defense answered. Defensive end Eugene Sims stuffed Panthers’ running back Mike Tolbert in the end zone for the safety to make it a five-point deficit.

Panthers lead Rams 7-2 after first quarter

A critical contest for both St. Louis and Carolina featured little offense and explosive defense in the first quarter.

The Rams ran a play-action fake on their first play from scrimmage, and quarterback Sam Bradford was hit as he threw the ball, which hung in the air before falling into the hands of Panthers’ defensive back Captain Munnerlyn, who ran 45 yards for the pick six.

7-0 Carolina.

Rams head coach Jeff Fisher opted to go for it on fourth-and-goal from the 1-yard line, but Bradford was flushed from the pocket and threw the ball away, turning it over on downs.

But the Rams defense answered.

Defensive end Eugene Sims stuffed Panthers’ running back Mike Tolbert in the end zone for the safety to make it a five-point deficit.

 

Rams Looking For First October Road Win Since 2008

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?

 

 

Bleacher Report: Articles and Columns

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1599590-st-louis-cardinals-odds-that-each-25-man-roster-player-will-stay-for-2014

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1592982-one-bold-prediction-for-every-player-on-the-cardinals-25-man-roster

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1590048-adam-wainwright-contract-extension-cardinals-continue-to-benefit-without-pujols

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1585381-tim-tebow-teams-that-should-give-maligned-qb-a-fresh-start

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1585305-fantasy-baseball-2013-power-ranking-top-5-starting-pitchers

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1585231-nhl-trade-rumors-deciphering-latest-buzz-from-around-the-league

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1585133-duke-basketball-what-blue-devils-must-do-to-advance-to-elite-8

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1585011-doug-mcdermott-future-nba-outlook-on-creighton-star

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1583091-st-louis-cardinals-teams-biggest-spring-training-busts-of-2013

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1573871-nhl-trade-deadline-teams-needing-to-add-players-for-playoff-push

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1573795-march-madness-2013-sleepers-teams-that-will-wreak-havoc-in-everyones-bracket

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1573658-tim-tebow-must-change-positions-to-stay-in-nfl

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1565524-reasons-st-louis-cardinals-season-hinges-on-jaime-garcia-rebound

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1564444-reasons-why-st-louis-cardinals-need-to-capp-up-oscar-taveras-asap

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1555942-why-joe-flacco-will-live-up-to-massive-new-contract

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1554323-reasons-nhl-realignment-is-a-bad-idea

 

 

Cardinals interview Sandberg, Oquendo

The St. Louis Cardinals completed their first, and possibly only round of interviews to fill the coaching void following Tony La Russa’s retirement.

Ryne Sandberg, the Chicago Cubs Hall of Famer and Cardinals third-base coach Jose Oquendo were interviewed at Busch Stadium on Wednesday. Sandberg and Oquendo are the final two candidates to be interviewed by general manager John Mozeliak and chairman Bill DeWitt Jr.

According to Mozeliak, the interview process has been finalized, but there’s a possibility for follow up interviews with the vying six candidates, which include formal Cardinal Gold Glove catcher Mike Matheny, former Boston Red Sox manager and two-time World Series champion Terry Francona, Cardinals Triple-A Memphis manager Chris Maloney, former Cardinal Joe McEwing along with Sandberg and Oquendo.

The Cardinals received permission from the Philadelphia Phillies to interview Sandberg, who played for the Cardinals arch rival, the Chicago Cubs. Sandberg started his managerial career after he was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2005. He managed for the past five seasons in the minor leagues with the Cubs and Phillies and was ruled out as a potential candidate to fill the void in Chicago, according to Cubs president Theo Epstein.

Sandberg met with Mozeliak and DeWitt Jr. for over two hours Wednesday morning, and according to the Associated Press, Sandberg said, “It was a comfortable conversation. From my standpoint, it went about as well as it could have gone.”

Oquendo’s interview was held in the afternoon and lasted around 2 1/2 hours.

When asked about his interview, Oquendo said, “I was encouraged,” according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “I felt like it went pretty smooth. They asked a lot of questions, and it was fun to sit down and talk about it.”

Oquendo has been the Cardinals’ third base coach for the last 12 seasons, and is highly coveted by the organization. According to the Post-Dispatch, Oquendo said he would like to stay on in that capacity, if the opportunity presented itself.

Oquendo, according to the Post-Dispatch, had hoped to have a managing job before now, but he said: “Sometimes, it doesn’t work out that way. You have to be in the right place at the right time. If it’s not going to be me, I’m not going to be saying, ‘Why not?’ If it happens, it happens.”

The Cardinals are expected to make a coaching decision next week.

Cards host No. 11 Iowa

When coach Beth Maddox crafted her team’s 2011 regular season non-conference schedule, she went the ultimate route. Duals with bigger, stronger, faster and better teams were thrown into the mix.

With such a young team, which includes 10 freshmen, the out of conference schedule has been brutal. With the final non-conference game of the season coming today against No. 11 Iowa, the Cardinals are winless in eight chances against non-conference opponents. Four of their losses have come against nationally ranked teams, including No. 20 Northwestern (3-1 on Sep. 13), No. 17 Ohio State (5-0 on Sep. 27), No. 15 Boston University (8-0 on Sep. 16) and No. 7 Michigan (5-0 on Sep. 17).

With today’s game against the Iowa, the Cardinals attempt to be the first Mid-American Conference team to defeat the Hawkeyes this season. Also, the Cardinals are vying for the first non-conference win and first win over a Big Ten opponent this season.

*Notes

  • No. 11 Iowa: 4-0 versus the MAC this season
  • Ball State is 0-5 against the Big Ten Conference this season

Rangers rally with a two-run ninth, knotting the series 1-1

With a chance to take a commanding two games to none lead in the 2011 Fall Classic, the Cardinals coughed up a one-run lead in the top of the ninth inning, allowing the visiting Rangers to even the series 1-1.

Jaime Garcia turned in his best outing of the postseason by tossing seven shutout innings while allowing just three singles, walking one and fanning seven. Garcia retired nine of the first 10 hitters he faced before surrendering a walk to Ian Kinsler in the fourth inning.

The dominant performance went to waste, as veteran left-handed reliever Arthur Rhodes was charged with a blown save after Jason Motte allowed two hits and two runs, one of which was earned.

Colby Lewis had the Cardinals off guard all night. Lewis weaved his way in and out of trouble in his 6 2/3 innings of work. With two outs in the home half of the third, shortstop Rafeal Furcal roped a double to right field, but center fielder John Jay was unable to drive Furcal in, who was stranded at second.

The Cardinals knocked Lewis out of the game in the seventh after a pair of singles from third baseman David Freese and second baseman Nick Punto. Manager Tony La Russa called back Garcia in favor of pinch-hitter Allen Craig. Rangers skipper Ron Washington countered by bringing in hard-throwing righty Alexi Ogando. But Craig, as he did in Game 1, got the best of Ogando by lining an RBI single to right-center field, scoring Freese to give the Cardinals a 1-0 lead.

With three outs standing between the Cardinals and a two-game lead in the series, the Rangers offense suddenly awoke. Kinsler led off the top of the ninth with a single to center field, and stole second, narrowly beating Yadier Molina’s throw. With a runner in scoring position and nobody out, the Rangers were destined to score. Shortstop Elvis Andrus singled off of Motte, advancing Kinsler to third base. Motte was then relieved by Rhodes, who allowed left fielder Josh Hamilton to tie the game with an RBI SAC fly. The Rangers weren’t finished there. Another pitching change by La Russa brought righty Lance Lynn into the game fresh off of the 60-day disabled list. First baseman Michael Young produced the winning run with an RBI SAC fly to center, scoring Andrus from third.

After walking Molina to open the bottom of the ninth, closer Neftali Feliz retired the next three Cardinals hitters to secure the win, sending the series to Arlington.

Notes:

  • Garcia was the first Mexican-born starter in the World Series since Fernando Valenzuela in 1981.
  • For the second time this postseason, Garcia tossed seven innings.
  • This World Series features two teams who hit into the most double plays during the regular season. …The Cardinals were first and the Rangers were second.
  • Albert Pujols has yet to record a hit…He’s gone a combined zero-for-six, with a run scored and a walk.

Craig’s pinch-hit RBI single lifts Cards past Rangers

With the temperatures in the forties, the St. Louis Cardinals and Texas Rangers kicked off what could be one of the most exiting World Series’ in recent memory.

The best of seven series began in St. Louis and the home team didn’t disappoint. Calling upon their ace, Chris Carpenter, the Cardinals received a great six-inning, 87-pitch performance from the 36-year-old right-hander.

The Cardinals signature starter turned Tuesday night’s opener into a masterpiece. Finding himself behind in the count on numerous occasions, Carpenter weaved his way out of trouble, exiting for a pinch-hitter in the sixth inning with a 2-2 game.

Manager Tony La Russa inserted Allen Craig into the game to face one of Texas’ most dominant relievers, Alexi Ogando. Craig fell behind on two fastballs before connecting on another that just got under the outstretched glove of right fielder Nelson Cruz, scoring third baseman David Freese and giving the home team a 3-2 lead.

With three innings to work with, La Russa leaned on his bullpen, which has been virtually unhittable this postseason. The combination of right-handers Fernando Salas, Octavio Dotel, Jason Motte and left-handers Arthur Rhodes and Marc Rzepczynski, worked the final nine outs, preserving the important initial win of the series.