NFL Preview - St. Louis (3-2) at Miami (2-3)|
By John McMullen, NFL Editor
(Sports Network) - The St. Louis Rams find themselves in a rare position as
they get ready to invade South Florida to face off with Ryan Tannehill and the
The Rams are above .500 for the first time in six seasons and will be aiming
for their first three-game winning streak since December of 2006.
Standing in the way is the rookie Tannehill, who has been a bit uneven during
his freshman campaign but has certainly flashed the big play ability the
Dolphins were hoping for when they selected him with the eighth overall pick
in the 2012 draft.
The Texas A&M product has passed for 1,269 yards, and is the first rookie in
NFL history to pass for 1,250-plus yards and record two or more wins in his
team's first five games.
Last Sunday, the dynamic Reggie Bush ran for a third-quarter touchdown,
Tannehill had 223 passing yards and the visiting Dolphins stunned the
Cincinnati Bengals, 17-13, at Paul Brown Stadium.
Tannehill completed 17-of-26 throws for the Dolphins, who were coming off
back-to-back overtime losses.
"It was a great team win," said Miami coach Joe Philbin. "All three components
(offense, defense and special teams) contributed to the victory."
Things could continue to go well this weekend for Tannehill and the Dolphins
since Miami is 4-1 all-time against the Rams at home and St. Louis will be
without the services of star receiver Danny Amendola, who is sidelined with a
sternoclavicular joint separation.
Despite losing Amendola, Sam Bradford connected on a pair of touchdown passes
and was aided by a stifling defense as the Rams downed the Arizona Cardinals,
17-3, back on Oct. 4
Bradford completed just 7-of-21 passes for 141 yards, the second lowest total
of his career, with an interception for St. Louis, which has won its last two
games to push its record over the .500 mark for the first time since 2006.
Steven Jackson carried the ball 18 times for 76 yards, while Chris Givens and
Lance Kendricks each caught a touchdown in the win.
Robert Quinn collected three sacks to lead a defensive unit that racked up
nine in all against Arizona quarterback Kevin Kolb.
"We knew it was going to be a hard day at work offensively, so our defense had
to step up and they did," Rams coach Jeff Fisher said.
The St. Louis defense gave up just 45 rushing yards in Arizona and has given
up just 16 points in its last two games.
"Those guys played outstanding," said Bradford. "They've played great all year
and they have kept us in a lot of games."
The Dolphins lead the all-time series with the Rams 9-2, including two
straight wins. The two teams haven't met in the Sunshine State since Oct. 24,
2004 when Miami took an easy 31-14 win behind then-quarterback Jay Fiedler.
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
The Rams offense, which is ranked 29th in the NFL with 278.0 yards per game,
struggled mightily after Amendola went down against the Cardinals and it's
hard to imagine their passing game getting too much going against any
"Obviously, losing Danny is big," Bradford said. "Everyone knows that he's a
big part of our offense. A lot of what we do runs through him."
Amendola's absence puts a lot on the shoulders of Jackson, who has been
hampered at times by a hamstring issue, as well his rookie caddy, Daryl
Richardson. The Dolphins' run defense is tops in the NFL at 61.4 yards allowed
per game as well as just 2.7 yards per carry, however. In fact, Miami hasn't
allowed a 100-yard rusher in 19 games.
"We're getting the run shut down well and getting favorable down and distance
where we can tee it up and go after the quarterback a little bit," Philbin
said. "That's only going to help us as we move forward."
For Miami, it has to stop the Rams' impressive edge pass push from Chris Long
and Quinn, who has six sacks on the season. Jake Long, a four-time Pro Bowl
selection, remains rock solid at left tackle and rookie Jonathan Martin looks
to have significant upside opposite him.
If Tannehill is given time to throw, he has proven his ability to get the ball
outside the numbers, especially to Brian Hartline, who is averaging an NFL-
best 20.8 yards per reception.
Like most rookies, though, Tannehill is prone to the big mistake and St.
Louis' corners, Cortland Finnegan and Janoris Jenkins, are not adverse to
"He's getting better every single week and you can see it just in the way he
puts us in the right spots, checking the plays and putting us on the right
people to block," Long told the Dolphins' website. "When stuff breaks down
he's able to make plays and the opponents we've faced in these first five
games have been great defenses and really tough. He's handled it well and has
been playing well in crunch time."
The Rams will want to play ball control and hope an improving defense keeps
them in the game late where rookie kicker Greg Zuerlein becomes quite a
weapon. Zuerlein is 13-for-13 on field goals this season and has made four
from at least 50 yards.
Amendola is a bigger loss than most realize, however, and Tannehill has
arrived in South Florida ready to play. The Dolphins just have more big play
ability thanks to Bush and Hartline. That should be the difference.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Dolphins 24, Rams 17
10/11 09:55:22 ET