Rams force 4 TOs, down Texans 38-13
HOUSTON (AP) — St. Louis wasn’t surprised by anything the Houston Texans did on Sunday in the Rams’ 38-13 win.
They were however, a bit taken aback that they were able to force four turnovers.
“That was the big thing,” coach Jeff Fisher said.
Indeed, it was.
Houston’s turnovers, which included two fumbles and two second-half interceptions of backup quarterback T.J. Yates, resulted in 17 points for the Rams.
St. Louis put the game away in the third quarter.
Daren Bates turned a fumble by kick returner Keshawn Martin 11 yards for a touchdown to give St. Louis a 25-point lead with less than eight minutes left in the quarter. Alec Ogletree capped the Rams’ scoring with a 98-yard interception return with under a minute left in the third to make it 38-6.
“Any time our defense creates a turnover, that gives us a spark on offense,” Rams quarterback Sam Bradford said. “Those were two huge plays in the game; (they) gave us a lot of momentum and kind of sealed the deal.”
The Rams benefited from Houston’s generosity early. A fumble by DeAndre Hopkins in the first quarter led to a St. Louis field goal.
Houston’s biggest problem in its four-game skid has been turnovers. They also had four last week in a 34-3 loss to San Francisco.
“We just seem to make too many mistakes, key mistakes,” Houston coach Gary Kubiak said. “Obviously a lot of stuff is going on is good, but we can’t overcome the mistakes right now.”
Five things to know about the Rams-Texans game:
SCHAUB’S STREAK: Houston quarterback Matt Schaub entered Sunday’s game having thrown an interception which was returned for a touchdown in four consecutive games. Schaub did not get picked off by the Rams before leaving in the third quarter with an apparent right ankle injury. He was replaced by Yates, who made it five in a row for Houston when his first drive ended with Ogletree’s interception return for a score. Ogletree high-stepped his way into the end zone as the home fans serenaded the Texans with boos. Some fans cheered while Schaub was down after the injury, angering Houston’s players.
“For them to cheer about something like that, it just shows they have no class,” Andre Johnson said.
Fisher, who began his head coaching career in Houston with the Oilers, also criticized the reaction by fans.
“It’s disappointing,” Fisher said. “It’s disappointing in that Matt’s won a lot of games here ... Matt’s a competitor, and he’s earned the right for people to respect him.”
RAMS STRUGGLE AGAINST RUN: The St. Louis run defense entered the game ranked 29th in the league and those struggles continued on Sunday as Houston ran for 153 yards.
“We knew we were going to have a hard time with the run game,” Fisher said. “Obviously that was evident during the first half. We did make some adjustments, however, and got things settled down.”
Rams defensive end Chris Long said improving the run defense is a priority and they have to be more disciplined in that area.
RED ZONE WOES: Houston’s defense entered the game allowing the fewest yards in the NFL and held the Rams to 216 yards, which was a season-low for the Texans. It was seventh straight game Houston has held an opponent to fewer than 300 yards, which is a franchise record. But the unit continued to struggle in the red zone against St. Louis. All three the Rams touchdowns on offense came on plays from inside the five-yard line. Bradford threw two touchdown passes of 2 yards and one for 4 yards.
“We all made mistakes today that contributed to a shellacking, a beating by a team we really gave everything to,” safety Ed Reed said. “We have to execute better, and we will.”
RAMS ROOKIES ROCK: St. Louis got big contributions from three rookies on Sunday. Running back Zac Stacy, a fifth-round pick made his second career start and finished with 18 carries for 79 yards. First-round selection Ogletree, who was chosen 30th overall, forced a fumble in the first quarter before his interception return for a TD in the third. Bates, an undrafted free agent, returned a fumble on a kick return 11 yards for another score.
ARIAN 5,000: Houston running back Arian Foster had 20 carries for a season-high 141 yards rushing to pass the 5,000-yard rushing mark for his career. It was his 57th career game, leaving him tied with Emmitt Smith at 13th- fastest in NFL history to reach the plateau. Foster added 57 yards receiving on Sunday to give him the fourth-most all-purpose yards in his career.
Freelance writer Bernardo Fallas contributed to this report.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org