Originally written on Rams Herd  |  Last updated 11/14/14
Sam Bradford completed only seven passes against the Arizona Cardinals in their first meeting, only eight in their second. But he'll take winning by two touchdowns apiece any day of the week. For that, he has his defense to thank.  After playing so soft over the last month that they could have been cast in a Charmin commercial, the Rams finally found their aggressive streak, and finally unleashed talented rookie Janoris Jenkins from the Tampa Two hell he's been living in. Jenkins, who drew primary coverage on Larry Fitzgerald for much of the day, intercepted two Ryan Lindley passes and returned them both for touchdowns. In so doing, he became the first Rams player ever and only the third rookie in NFL history to accomplish this double-down feat.  Meanwhile, Brian Schottenheimer finally found occasion to dust off his "ground and pound" playbook, one week too late, giving Steven Jackson 20-plus carries for only the third time this season. Jackson and the defense laid the table for a second-half shutdown effort that drained the drama from a close game and sent the Arizona fans heading to the exits early.  A tale of two halves Beanie Wells, first half: 11 carries for 38 yards and two TDs. Beanie Wells, second half: 6 carries for ten yards.  -- Ryan Lindley, first half: 17-24, 183 yards, 1 INT Ryan Lindley, second half: 14-28, 139 yards, 3 INT -- Rams RBs, first half: 10 carries, 41 yards, 4.1 ypc Rams RBs, second half: 21 carries, 130 yards, 6.2 ypc -- Sam Bradford, first half: 6-12, 146 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT Sam Bradford, second half: 2-5, 59 yards, 1 TD Bend-but-don't-break makes a reappearance The Rams defense has not been a shutdown unit in terms of yardage all season, but when they were at their best, they were putting pressure on the passer and forcing key turnovers. While we didn't get the gaudy sack numbers this week that we did last time around -- credit new LT Nate Potter's improved play on Robert Quinn for that -- we were able to goad Lindley into a trio of rookie mistakes in the second half.  Of course, pressure is only half the equation. Blake Williams, who has been wearing the headset and calling plays without the title of "Defensive Coordinator" most of the season, finally started taking some chances with his defensive backs. Perhaps sick of seeing our guys get beat deep, Williams was willing to give up a constant eight- to ten-yard cushion to even the greenest opposing receivers, giving opposing quarterbacks easy targets and defeating his own pass rush. The "Tampa Two" approach is one that has been around the league for a long time, and a fad that has largely died out, as opposing offenses have been able to counter it. Chris Brown of SmartFootball.com and Grantland.com wrote up an effective dissection of the Cover Two more than two years ago (showing how dated the defensive approach is). And the Cardinals happily took advantage of the Rams' tendencies by running a trips formation right out of the Smart Football playbook to set up the game's opening score. (More on this later in the week.)  However, starting in the second quarter, Blake Williams began varying his coverages much more effecitvely, mixing press coverage with zone and throwing different looks at Lindley and the Cardinals' offensive staff.  The result was a series of throws that only a rookie can make, giving the Rams three second-half turnovers, and taking superstar receiver Larry Fitzgerald (0 second-half catches on six targets) completely out of the game.  Steven Jackson carries us home I don't think it's possible to say enough about how Steven Jackson is running the ball right now. After lighting up the Jets (until being mysteriously shelved) for 6.2 yards per carry last week, and wrecking-balling the 49ers for 101 yards on 29 carries two weeks ago, Jackson put the Rams on his back once again to close out the win. The Rams held the ball for nearly 10 minutes of the final quarter of play, with Jackson and Daryl Richardson getting the bulk of the work. Together they choked out the game clock and, with a Greg Zuerlein chip shot, put the game officially out of reach.  It was a dominant finish to a game that didn't exactly feel dominant through the first 30 minutes of play. It set a tone for a happy flight home, closing out the Rams' first road win and setting their division record at an impressive 3-0-1. That guarantees the Rams their first winning record in the NFC West since 2004.  Is there still progress to make? Yes. But for now, we'll take a win like today, where they finally proved they know how to separate themselves from a team that they should beat. 
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Panthers coach replaces break-in victims’ Christmas presents

Bruce Arians benches Logan Thomas on Christmas Day

Richard Sherman: Marshawn Lynch having MVP season

Curt Schilling tweeted advice to Johnny Manziel

Aaron Rodgers buys TVs for Packers teammates

Harbaugh smiled when asked about Michigan's bday tweet

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

Jackie Robinson West Little League accused of cheating

Police: Fire that burned down McClain's home 'suspicious'

Furniture store will refund purchases if OSU wins title

What each NFC team in the hunt should ask for from Santa

Is SI ashamed to mention Jameis Winston on its cover?

Kobe Bryant disappointed Lakers didn't get Rajon Rondo

WATCH: Kenny Smith pushes Shaq into a Christmas tree

Q&A with Rich Eisen; TNF, DirecTV and living in LA

Is the NFL playoff system heading south?

WATCH: Quincy Acy ejected for throwing punch at John Wall

Billy Beane did not want to trade Josh Donaldson

Peyton Manning plans to be back with Broncos next year

WATCH: Blazers announcer botches Damian Lillard call

WATCH: P.K. Subban disguises himself, surprises kids for Xmas

Baseball cards: a fan's love for the ultimate stocking stuffer

Packers game is a career defining moment for Stafford

A look inside Jason Grilli's contract with the Braves

10 Week 17 NFL matchups that will impact the playoffs

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.

Q&A with Rich Eisen; TNF, DirecTV and living in LA

Dan Le Batard sums up Miami's relationship with LeBron

Is the NFL playoff system heading south?

WATCH: Announcer botches call

Police: McClain fire 'suspicious'

10 Week 17 NFL matchups that will impact the playoffs

Bahamas Bowl ends on crazy Hail Mary

49ers OT Davis takes shot at coordinator

Will FIFA ever care to change?

Top storyline for each Week 17 game

40 great Christmas-related sports names

Nick Mangold and dealing with feelings as a sports fan

Today's Best Stuff
For Bloggers

Join the Yardbarker Network for more promotion, traffic, and money.

Company Info
Help
What is Yardbarker?

Yardbarker is the largest network of sports blogs and pro athlete blogs on the web. This site is the hub of the Yardbarker Network, where our editors and algorithms curate the best sports content from our network and beyond.