ReFo: Rams at Chiefs, Week 8
After taking the opening kickoff and marching down the field for a touchdown, it appeared the Rams would give the Chiefs all they could handle and they went into halftime down by just three points. Ironically, it was a special teams play that did in the Rams, as Knile Davis ran back the opening kickoff of the second half for a touchdown. The Rams were never able to get back in it as Kansas City controlled the game from there, ultimately winning 34-7.
Alex Smith was his usual efficient self in Kansas City’s short passing game, completing 24 of 28 passes for 226 yards without any turnovers. Jamaal Charles and Davis formed a strong 1-2 punch in the running game, combining for 122 yards and three touchdowns. On the Rams side, Austin Davis was under almost constant pressure from the Chiefs’ pass rush, led by Justin Houston, and the Rams were never able to establish the run to take any pressure off their quarterback.
St. Louis Rams – Performances of Note
Robert Quinn, DE: +2.0
Breakdown: Much has been made this season about Quinn’s inability to get to the quarterback after an outstanding 2013 season, but today he showed flashes of what made him so special last year, with two sacks, three hurries, a forced fumble, and four stops on defense.
Signature Play: Q1, 2:37 remaining. After flushing Smith from the pocket, Quinn is able to not only chase him down from behind but strip the football as well. Unfortunately for the Rams, defensive back Lamarcus Joyner can’t make the recovery and the Chiefs end up retaining possession.
Joe Barksdale, RT: -3.5
Breakdown: Barksdale has been terrific in run blocking for most of the season, but he is beginning to get exposed in pass protection, as he was again in Kansas City. He gave up his first two sacks of the year, in addition to five hurries, the most total pressures he has allowed in a game so far in 2014.
Signature Play: Q3, 3:50 remaining. Justin Houston makes a nice inside swim move on Barksdale and takes Davis down for the sack.
William Hayes, DE: +2.5
Breakdown: Ever since Chris Long went down early in the year with an ankle injury, Hayes has done a tremendous job filling in for the All-Pro. His five stops in the run game were second among all Ram defenders on Sunday, and he also contributed three hurries. His Pass Rush Productivity rating of 11.1 puts him fifth among the 37 ranked 4-3 defensive ends for the year.
Signature Play: Q4, 11:38 remaining. A great jump off the line gets him around Chiefs’ right tackle Ryan Harris, allowing him to wrap up Davis for a 3-yard loss.
Kansas City Chiefs – Performances of Note
Eric Fisher, LT: -3.6
Breakdown: The 2013 first overall pick continues to struggle in 2014, with his fifth game out of seven in the red. Blocking the Rams’ defensive line is no picnic, but he allowed five of the 12 total pressures generated by the St. Louis pass rush. That helped push his Pass Blocking Efficiency near the bottom of all tackles at 93.2.
Signature Play: Q2, 1:22 remaining. Quinn is able to beat Fisher with a pure speed rush here for the sack on Smith.
Justin Houston, OLB: +6.1
Breakdown: This was a dominant performance by Houston, at times taking over the game all by himself. He recorded four sacks to go with six hurries on 22 pass-rushing snaps, which translates to an insane Pass Rush Productivity of 38.6. Just for good measure, he added four defensive stops in the run game. He now has 11 sacks and 38 total pressures this year.
Signature Play: Q3, 13:50. Here the Rams’ Barksdale is Houston’s victim again, as the right tackle is barely out of his stance before Houston is around him and forcing a throwaway from Davis.
Josh Mauga, ILB: +3.1
Breakdown: Mauga has come on strong the last month, with his fourth straight positively-graded game after a slow start to 2014. And while he did solid work in all phases of the game, his run defense was especially strong against St. Louis. He chipped in seven tackles, three assists and four stops, to go with a hurry, all on just 39 snaps.
Signature Stat: Mauga has a solid Run Stop Percentage of 9.3% on the year.
PFF Game Ball
This one is a no-brainer, with Justin Houston claiming our game ball for his four-sack (and 10 total pressures) performance.
Follow Roland on Twitter: @PFF_RolandB