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Rams get 9 sacks, bust Cardinals' unbeaten run

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Rams get 9 sacks, bust Cardinals' unbeaten run

ST. LOUIS (AP) Without his favorite target, Sam Bradford seemed lost. The top pick of the 2010 draft completed a measly seven passes.

The St. Louis Rams defense was there to pick him up - by continually knocking down Kevin Kolb.

The Rams (3-2) totaled nine sacks, their most since 1998, in a 17-3 victory Thursday night that ended the Arizona Cardinals' early unbeaten run.

``They've played great all year,'' Bradford said. ``They've kept us in a lot of games. Fortunately, we were able to make the big play in the fourth quarter to go up two scores, but all the credit tonight to our defense.''

Danny Amendola made a spectacular one-handed grab for a 44-yard gain on an underthrown ball that set up Bradford's touchdown pass to Lance Kendricks' on the Rams' opening drive.

Bradford misfired on five consecutive passes before Amendola injured his right shoulder making a diving attempt on a 22-yarder that was initially ruled a catch but was overturned after the Cardinals challenged. Amendola used his left arm to fling his helmet on the way to the X-ray room and had his arm in a sling after the game, when he was not made available to reporters.

Bradford had six more incompletions plus an end zone interception by Patrick Peterson before ending the slump with a 52-yard touchdown pass to rookie Chris Givens for a 14-point cushion early in the fourth quarter. Givens, the fastest player on the team, had dropped a few passes earlier in the game.

``I don't know how wide open I was,'' Givens said. ``But I knew I was going to be open.''

The Cardinals outgained the Rams 282-242. But St. Louis made all the big plays.

Robert Quinn had three sacks, and six others had one apiece. Rookie cornerback Janoris Jenkins had three pass breakups.

``We know we can be a dominant defense,'' said Quinn, a first-round pick last year. ``We don't try to talk too much. Just go out there and execute, and let our play do the talking for us.''

Arizona (4-1) scored at least 20 points in each of its first four games, but had no luck containing a pass rush that had totaled just six sacks on the year and got stopped twice inside the 20 in the final minutes. The Rams also had a strong defensive game last week in a 19-13 victory over Seattle, also at home.

``I didn't like anything,'' Arizona coach Ken Whisenhunt said. ``The thing I respected is our guys didn't quit. And even as bad as it went, we had a chance at the end of the game.''

Kolb got his helmet knocked off twice on hits, once after getting popped in the jaw. He described the Cardinals' first-half woes as ``sickening.''

Arizona was one-dimensional, gaining just 45 yards rushing on 17 carries.

``We need to get our running game going,'' Kolb said. ``That's no secret. That can slow them down some, but it is what it is.''

Kendricks caught a 7-yard TD pass in the first quarter and Greg Zuerlein kicked a 53-yard field goal in the second quarter for the Rams, who are 3-0 at home and ended Arizona's seven-game winning streak in St. Louis - the Cardinals' home before leaving for the desert in 1988.

The Rams have gotten off to a good start under new coach Jeff Fisher after earning just two victories last year. They're 3-0 at home for the first time since 2003, when they were unbeaten in the Edward Jones Dome, and they're above .500 for the first time since they were 4-3 on Nov. 4, 2006.

``I've never been there before,'' Rams defensive end Chris Long said. ``I'm unfamiliar with the sound of it, but I'm liking it.''

Bradford finished 7 for 21 for 141 yards, the second-lowest total of his career. He threw for 126 yards against Tampa Bay his rookie year in 2010.

The Rams, ranked 27th in offense, came out throwing, with Bradford completing passes of 14 yards to Brandon Gibson and 44 yards to Amendola on the first two plays, setting up the score to Kendricks on third down. It was the first offensive touchdown in three games for St. Louis.

Arizona responded with a drive that lasted 9:24, ending with Jay Feely's 35-yard field goal. The Cardinals kept the drive alive with three third-down conversions. Larry Fitzgerald's 5-yard catch on the first play of the drive marked his 122nd straight game with a catch, a franchise record.

Zuerlein, a sixth-round draft pick out of Missouri Western, made it 10-3 early in the second quarter. He is 13 for 13 this season, including four kicks of 50-plus yards.

Feely missed a 40-yard field goal late in the second quarter.

Bradford was 3 for 4 for 65 yards on the opening drive before cooling off. St. Louis was well within Zuerlein's range at the Arizona 16 late in the third quarter when Peterson made an interception in the back of the end zone.

Arizona's loss leaves Atlanta and Houston as the only unbeaten teams. The Cardinals were still the St. Louis Cardinals the last time they were 4-0, in 1974. Known as the ``Big Red,'' those Cardinals won their first seven that season en route to a 10-4 record, before losing in the first round of the playoffs to Minnesota.

The loss was only the Cardinals' third in 14 games after starting the 2011 season 1-6.

NOTES: Fitzgerald broke the mark set by Mel Gray from 1973-82 and finished with eight catches for 92 yards, leaving him 48 yards shy of 10,000 for his career. ... Kurt Warner, who took the Rams to two Super Bowls and the Cardinals to one, got a huge sustained ovation when he was introduced in the first quarter. Warner and another former Rams great, Marshall Faulk, are on the NFL Network broadcast team. ... Rams S Quintin Mikell and Cardinals backup LB Reggie Walker were sidelined by blows to the head.

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Lamar Jackson makes history with career day in win over the Bengals

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Lamar Jackson makes history with career day in win over the Bengals

BALTIMORE — Lamar Jackson set the tone for Sunday’s game on the Ravens' first drive of the afternoon. 

He rushed just twice, one of which went for a touchdown, but had 57 yards on the game-tying opening drive. 

Jackson finished with 152 yards on the ground — a career high — to carry the Ravens to a 23-17 win over the Bengals at M&T Bank Stadium. 

“I take advantage, like I said before, and I’m trying to win at the end of the day,” Jackson said after the game. “If I’ve got to run, I’ve got to do it and today that’s what it was. Sometimes I had to pass. Sometimes I had to run.”

He did throw for 236 yards and completed 21 of 33 passes, too. But the story was his legs, which kept the Bengals off-balance all day.

“Lamar was able to get out and run because of the way they were playing,” coach John Harbaugh said. “They were playing kind of spill defense. They really didn’t want us to run the ball up inside with our running backs, and that opened up some other things."

Jackson now has 460 rushing yards on the season and is on pace for over 1,200. He’s also on pace for just over 4,000 passing yards.

His dual-threat ability has flummoxed nearly every team the Ravens have played this season. Jackson has had over 300 scrimmage yards in all but one (last week in against the Steelers) of the Ravens' games. 

“That’s the most frustrating thing for a defense,” Bengals coach Zac Taylor said. “You have a play covered, and he’s an elite athlete. We’ve played a couple of good athletes. He’s one of the rarest I’ve seen in person. Just one little crease and he’s got 30 yards on you.”

Cincinnati sold out to stop the interior run, and Jackson and the rest of the Baltimore running attack burned the Bengals on the outside. 

Jackson’s elusiveness was never more evident than on the Ravens' last full drive of the game. The Ravens received the ball with 13:32 left in the fourth quarter and a 20-10 lead. They didn’t give the ball back to the Bengals until there was just over three minutes to play.

“I catch myself on the sideline stretching because, you know, they’ll be holding the ball for a minute and we’ve got to stay warm,” Matthew Judon said. “He picks us up in crucial times and keeps getting first downs. It’s hard, man. You can’t cover everybody and keep a spy on him [at] all times.”

The nine minute, 46 second drive, highlighted by a 16-yard Jackson scramble on 3rd and 14, put away any realistic chance the Bengals had of pulling off an upset.

It capped off a historic day for Jackson and his place in the NFL record books. He became the first player in NFL history to rush for more than 150 yards and register at least 200 yards passing in a regular season game.

The Bengals sold out to stop interior rushes and mostly took away big passing plays from the Ravens. Jackson just made the Bengals pick their poison when it came to choosing what to stop. 

And Jackson made Cincinnati realized that whatever it chose was still poison.

“He was cutting it back, throwing outside and running around,” Bengals linebacker Preston Brown said. “He was just having fun on us, and that’s what you never want to have done.”

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From intelligence to 'work of art' route running, Terry McLaurin displayed it all in Miami

From intelligence to 'work of art' route running, Terry McLaurin displayed it all in Miami

Terry McLaurin's first touchdown against the Dolphins on Sunday wasn't just the result of one well-executed play.

Instead, it combined intelligent film study, superb route running and excellent speed, three of the qualities that McLaurin has shown off all season long as he's establishing himself as an Offensive Rookie of the Year candidate and one of the best picks in the 2019 Draft.

Earlier in the week, the 24-year-old saw Amari Cooper run a similar route versus Miami — one that starts off looking like a crosser before a change of direction turns it into a dash to the corner — and he took note of how the defender tried to undercut it. So, he know if he sold the crosser well, he'd break free once he planted his foot in the ground.

It's one step to put in that work, though. It's a whole other step to actually carry it out on the field. But that's what McLaurin did in Week 6, and it ended up as one absolutely tremendous highlight in an overall impressive afternoon.

No. 17 would go on to find the end zone a second time in the contest, as well as secure an important, long catch late that got the Redskins off of their own goal line. After the win, the team's first in six tries as well as the first of McLaurin's pro career, he was asked if he's surprised by how effective he's been.

"Not really," he said. "I want to be a guy you can come to on third down, the clutch situations, press man. I want to develop into that."

While at the postgame podium, Bill Callahan described the way McLaurin gets open as a "work of art." Case Keenum was just as complimentary.

"He's friendly on the eyes as a QB," Keenum told reporters. "Just the body language he gives in and out of breaks, I know where he's going to be at all times."

In five contests for the Burgundy and Gold, the wideout has 23 catches for 408 yards. He's averaging 17.7 yards a grab and has nabbed five scores. He's beating guys deep, he's beating guys over the middle and he's beating the guys in contested situations.

Yet the trait everyone keeps coming back to, from coaches to teammates to analysts, fans, is his route running. Callahan comparing it to art wasn't a stretch, and Keenum calling him "friendly on the eyes" is deserved. It's top-notch already. 

It's something McLaurin takes a ton of pride in, too.

"I think that's what separates good receivers from great receivers," he said. 

Now, the Redskins' Week 6 victory over the Dolphins was far from flawless. In fact, if it weren't for a dropped ball on a two-point conversion attempt, it very well could've been another loss. 

But while fans of the franchise may not take much comfort in the final score, they should find time to appreciate what McLaurin is doing. 

He's not just an emerging star in the organization, he's an emerging star in the entire sport, and covering his rookie campaign has been a treat so far. Well, for everyone covering him except opposing defenders, of course.

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