Wizards

Brady, Patriots rout Rams 45-7 at Wembley

201210281340492066913-p2.jpeg

Brady, Patriots rout Rams 45-7 at Wembley

LONDON (AP) The New England Patriots made sure they can enjoy their transatlantic flight back to the United States after a victorious visit to London.

For the St. Louis Rams, the journey will seem a lot longer - and so will the road to making the playoffs.

The Patriots (5-3) enter their bye week with the best record in the AFC East after blowing out the Rams 45-7 at Wembley Stadium on Sunday and finally look to have recovered their ability to put opponents away emphatically after a couple of close losses and a narrow escape against the New York Jets last weekend.

``It's great to come on a trip like this, put everything into it,'' quarterback Tom Brady said. ``We've got the bye week next week. It's a good feeling. I'm sure the guys will have fun tonight.''

The Rams (3-5), however, have little reason to celebrate going into their bye week.

After a surprisingly good start to the season, the Rams have dropped two games in a row against high-powered offenses, also losing to the Green Bay Packers last weekend. For a team that already has surpassed its win total from last season, this drubbing showed just how much it still needs to improve to compete with the top teams.

``It's embarrassing the way we played tonight,'' Rams quarterback Sam Bradford said. ``Just embarrassing.''

After the Patriots gave up an early 50-yard scoring play, Brady responded by leading five straight touchdown drives as the NFL's top-ranked offense proved too much to handle for the young Rams defense.

New England had at least 350 yards of total offense for the 17th straight game, breaking an NFL record set by the Rams in 1999-2000, back when Kurt Warner was leading ``The Greatest Show on Turf.''

Brady led four straight touchdown drives for a commanding 28-7 lead by halftime, and then hit Brandon Lloyd for a 9-yard score to start the third quarter.

Brady passed for 304 yards with four touchdowns and tight end Rob Gronkowski caught eight passes for 146 yards and two scores. Lloyd also had two touchdown catches, while Stevan Ridley ran for 127 yards and a score as the Patriots put themselves atop the AFC East heading into their off week.

It was the 50th career game with at least three touchdown passes for Brady - and also the 50th game with at least 300 yards.

The Rams struck first when Bradford hit Chris Givens with a 50-yard touchdown pass on the opening drive of the game - exactly the kind of statement the team hoped to make to rattle the favored Patriots.

But St. Louis, which arrived in London on Tuesday, three days before the Patriots, to get better adjusted to the time difference, was the team that looked jetlagged the rest of the way.

``You can't ask for a better start to the game. First time we touched the ball we go down and score,'' Bradford said. ``It just all fell apart from there.''

After the Rams took the lead, Brady led a 78-yard drive to tie the score with a 19-yard pass to Lloyd. On their next drive, coach Bill Belichick opted to go for it on fourth down at the 1-yard line, and Shane Vereen broke into the end zone.

It was the only fourth down the Rams forced until the middle of the third quarter, when the Patriots had to settle for a 26-yard field goal to make it 38-7.

In between, Brady hit Gronkowski on a 7-yard touchdown pass and Ridley had another 1-yard run into the end zone 10 seconds before halftime.

Gronkowski celebrated both his touchdowns with theatrical spikes to fire up the crowd, doing a high-stepping strut before the first one to mimic a local tourist attraction. That led to questions about what the move was called, a Changing of the Gronk, a FrankenGronk, or what?

``That was a `Palace Guard,''' the tight end joked.

Even Brady was a bit perplexed.

``I don't know what the hell he was doing on that first one,'' Brady said. ``I was trying to get out of the way. He needs some work on that.''

St. Louis only had one other scoring opportunity in the first half, but botched the snap on a 52-yard field goal attempt.

Givens' touchdown gave him a reception of at least 50 yards for the fifth straight game, a rookie record, but he left temporarily with a toe injury and only managed two more catches after returning. Running back Steven Jackson was also largely shut down, finishing with 23 yards on seven carries. Bradford was 23 of 31 for 205 yards and added an interception in the fourth quarter before being replaced by backup Kellen Clemens near the end.

New England became the first team to win two games in London, having beaten Tampa Bay here in 2009. As expected, the Patriots also had the majority of crowd support from the 84,004 fans at Wembley, despite the Rams being the designated home team.

That, however, didn't stop backup quarterback Ryan Mallett from getting booed when taking a knee to run out the clock - one of the few aspects of the American version of football the British crowd didn't seem to appreciate.

Belichick had no complaints about the atmosphere, though.

``The stadium was great,'' he said. ``Playing on grass is always good. ... It's good to see the jerseys muddy, grass stains. Guys picking up dirt out of their facemasks, stuff like that. We don't see a lot of that back in the States.''

NOTES: The Rams had originally agreed to return to London in 2013 and 2014, but pulled out of the deal. ... The NFL will stage two regular-season games in London in 2013 for the first time. ... The Patriots didn't punt until 2:36 left in the third quarter. ... Rams wide receiver Danny Amendola missed his third straight game with a right shoulder injury. ... London Mayor Boris Johnson addressed the crowd before the game, saying he was proud to welcome ``this glorious descendant of rugby union football'' to Wembley.

---

Online:http://pro32.ap.org/poll andhttp://twitter.com/AP-NFL

Quick Links

3 things to watch for improved Wizards vs. Cavs

3 things to watch for improved Wizards vs. Cavs

The Washington Wizards still have John Wall, Bradley Beal and Otto Porter. The Cleveland Cavaliers no longer employ LeBron James. That makes Wednesday’s first meeting of the season between the Eastern Conference foes curious. The radical change for the visitors also requires a preview. Tipoff is at 7 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington. 

Here are three things to watch...

Sustaining the surge

Monday’s 117-109 victory over the Orlando Magic extended the Wizards’ winning streak to a season-high two. Don't knock the modest uptick after a 2-9 start. John Wall’s stat line took a big leap over the last three games: 24.0 points, 10.3 assists, 4.3 rebounds, and 45.5 percent on 3-pointers. Beyond the numbers, the point guard appears to have knocked off the remaining rust physically. We’re used to his aggressive end-to-end pushes, but now Wall is firing up the court immediately after makes or misses, helping Washington quickly enter its offensive sets. Another strong outing from the five-time All-Star could propel the Wizards to their first three-game winning streak since Feb. 10-22.

Quick rematch

Starters Wall, Bradley Beal, Dwight Howard and Markieff Morris had solid games against the Magic, but the Wizards’ second unit played above previous season norms. All five reserves finished with a plus-minus of plus-8 or better. Jeff Green continued his sizzling shooting, sinking 4 of 5 from beyond the arc en route to 18 points. The 6-foot-9 forward is 9 of 13 from beyond the arc overall during the last four games, and 21 of 28 overall. Backcourt partners Austin Rivers and Tomas Satoransky, slow to develop chemistry this season, showed increased comfort during the winning streak. Washington needs more from the pair to help keep minutes for Wall and Beal at reasonable levels.

Cleveland doesn’t rock

From four consecutive NBA Finals appearances to the NBA’s worst record (2-11, tied with Phoenix). Yeah, the Cavaliers miss LeBron James just a little. They also are down Kevin Love (toe surgery), leaving Jordan Clarkson (15.2) and Rodney Hood (12.9) as Cleveland’s top scorers. That’s not ideal. The Cavaliers are 27th in scoring (103.3) while giving up 113.1 points per game, which is better than Washington’s league-worst 118.5. Rookie point guard Collin Sexton, the No. 8 overall selection in the 2018 NBA Draft, is filling in for the injured George Hill. Sexton is averaging 17.0 points over the last three games.

MORE WIZARDS NEWS:

Quick Links

With 2 TDs in 2 games, Josh Doctson headlines Redskins stock report

With 2 TDs in 2 games, Josh Doctson headlines Redskins stock report

After an important road win in Tampa, the Redskins stock is soaring. The team is 6-3 and two games up in the NFC East.

For individual players, Josh Doctson headlines the stock surge but a pair of defenders are moving the other way. Let's dig into the Redskins stock report.

Stock up - Josh Doctson - The third-year wide receiver has scored in two straight games and has caught seven of 10 balls thrown his way. The yardage numbers don't jump off the page, but all four catches in Tampa were important. Further, Doctson rebounded from a tough game against Atlanta where he dropped two passes and got flagged for a (wrong) taunting penalty. Most impressive with Doctson? The touchdown in Tampa came off schedule and showed that he kept working back to his QB once the play broke down. That will garner more trust from Alex Smith, and maybe more chances for big plays down the backstretch of the year.

Stock down - Danny Johnson - For an undrafted free agent out of Southern, Johnson has had a remarkable season. In Tampa, he did not have a remarkable game and got replaced on the field by Greg Stroman. Let Jay Gruden explain, "Danny had a good week of practice. He filled in for Stroman when Stroman had the hip issue last week and we thought we'd give Danny a shot to start. Danny was playing a little soft [coverage] there for a little while, so we decided to give Stroman a crack at it." Once Stroman got in, he grabbed an interception and had a nice pass breakup downfield. Johnson has a firm roster spot - the Redskins just released Josh Holsey - but looks like he fell behind Stroman on the depth chart. 

Stock up - Kapri Bibbs - With Chris Thompson on the shelf and a murky timetable for his return, Bibbs is getting more and more chances on the field. And increasingly, he's delivering when he gets looks. Against Tampa, he ran the ball three times for 28 yards and added two catches for 13 yards. He also had a huge gain just before halftime, the Redskins first big chunk play in weeks that Bibbs took after a screen pass, but it got called back on a holding flag. 

Stock down - Pernell McPhee - No player wants to be a healthy scratch, but that's just what happened to McPhee last week in Tampa. Jay Gruden explained: "Unfortunately I had to sit McPhee, not performance related, but just I had to get another body on the offensive line because we're banged up." It was mostly a work of roster construction that landed McPhee on the inactive list, but still, Cassanova McKinzy made the active roster after being on the practice squad. McKinzy showed some ability rushing the passer, and he can play special teams. This could be a situation worth monitoring. 

MORE REDSKINS NEWS: