Fisher: Rams QB Keenum will get tougher test at Seattle
ST. LOUIS (AP) — Case Keenum could not have done much better. Still, the St. Louis Rams want to see more.
Coach Jeff Fisher stopped well shy of an endorsement for next season on Friday, a day after Keenum had a near-perfect passer rating of 158 in a 31-23 victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
“We’re going to take the weekend off and put a good plan together and go up there and compete against the Seahawks,” Fisher said. “There’s no harder place to play as a quarterback. So, we’ll see how he does.”
Keenum was 14 of 17 for 234 yards and two touchdown passes, both in the first quarter to fuel a dominant first half. His wide receivers and tight ends had no drops. The Rams (6-8) led 21-3 at halftime and 31-13 early in the fourth quarter before letting the Buccaneers into the game.
Keenum lacks arm strength, but clicked on a 60-yard touchdown pass with Kenny Britt and has won both of his starts since coming off a concussion. He’s making a bit of a case for himself after twice replacing Nick Foles, who has not done much to deserve the two-year contract extension he got during training camp.
The Rams also have third-round pick Sean Mannion but have been in no hurry to get an early look at the rookie.
Fisher said Keenum was “much more comfortable” and a lot more decisive against Tampa Bay.
“Rhythm was good, timing was good, decisions were good for the most part,” the coach added.
Fisher also had high marks for offensive coordinator Rob Boras’ second time calling plays, although he noted Boras was “still agonizing” over settling for a field goal in the fourth quarter after Benny Cunningham’s 102-yard kickoff return to the Tampa Bay 3.
It’s the fourth-longest non-scoring return in NFL history, according to the Rams.
Consistency on the offensive line was definitely a help. The Rams have been hard-hit by injuries and forced to lean heavily on youth, but the same combination has started the last three games and Keenum was sacked just once, when he was caught on a rollout.
“The O-line was giving him time and he was just slinging it,” said tight end Jared Cook, who led the team with four catches for 64 yards. “He caught fire early. He got the ball out of his hands fast, which is what you need to build rhythm.”
The Tampa Bay defense tried to take away the run and was successful for the most part by limiting St. Louis to 98 yards and a 3-yard average a week after they piled up 203 yards against Detroit. Todd Gurley topped 1,000 yards for the season but had just 48 yards on 21 carries, a 2.3-yard average, with a touchdown.
After winning twice in five days, players earned the weekend off. Some of them are planning to visit wide receiver Stedman Bailey, recuperating in a Miami-area hospital after getting shot twice in the head last month.
Besides the emotional backdrop of the potential final home game in St. Louis, the team was inspired by a FaceTime chat with Bailey on game day.
“It was something I’d never experienced before. It was really special,” Fisher said. “Guys didn’t anticipate it.”
NOTES: Fisher is no fan of the nearly illegible numbering on the Bucs red jerseys and says he’ll “mention that to the league office. From my standpoint, that’s a competitive advantage. I mean, you had no problem telling who we had on the field but we had difficulty telling who they had on the field.” ... WR Tavon Austin has 10 TDs, the first double-digit scoring year for St. Louis since Steven Jackson had 16 and Torry Holt 10 in 2006. ... Austin has 390 yards rushing, the most by a wide receiver in the NFL since Eric Metcalf had 611 in 1993.