Rams 20 - Chargers 17: Bringing the Big 12 to the NFL
You there, way in the back wearing the black-and-gold Mizzou jersey, step forward and claim your prize. Congratulations, you're the winner of the 2010 Homer Award. (No, it has nothing to do with Greek mythology or The Simpsons.)
Just one question as you're basking in triumphant I-told-you-so glory: with Mizzou facing Oklahoma this coming weekend in a showdown for Big 12 -- and possibly BCS -- supremacy, how do you reconcile your affection for former Sooner Sam Bradford with your general dislike for his alma mater and their hoosierific shotgun-toting fans?
Most any Mizzou fan will tell you that it doesn't matter where Bradford went to school as long as he keep chucking touchdown passes like he did in college.
And really, that's what stands out most after yet another eye-opening 20-17 triumph over the San Diego Chargers: the way Steve Spagnuolo and Pat Shurmur have adopted the shotgun spread offense favored by both Mizzou and Oklahoma.
The best example was Alexander's 72-yard touchdown in the second quarter yesterday. Bradford lined up in the shotgun with one back and three receivers split wide to his left. Alexander ran a flawless fade route, blowing past the Chargers corner and laying out to catch a perfectly thrown deep ball by Bradford. Neither Gary Pinkel nor Bob Stoops could have drawn it up any better.
Of course the Rams' spread offense fizzled in the second half (Bradford had 172 yards in the first and just 26 in the second) as they tried to protect their 17-3 lead and control the clock with a healthy dose of Steven Jackson. Jackson obliged, piling up 109 yards rushing on 29 attempts.
The Rams D was outstanding, with an interception and a whopping five sacks to go with nearly a dozen knockdowns and hurries. Nevertheless, Phillip Rivers and Co. seemed like they could score at-will. After a Rams field goal streched the lead to ten late in the second half, the Chargers took the ball the length of the field and scored in a mere 40 seconds, making it 20-17.
It was Jackson who saved the day, rumbling ahead for a couple key first downs, but the lingering image after this game is still Alexander streaking down the sideline and making that spectacular catch. And, as long as Alexander stays healthy, you can bet that it will also be in the mind of every defensive coordinator the Rams face for the rest of the season.