Rams defense coming off 2nd straight shutout
ST. LOUIS (AP) The St. Louis Rams have been waiting all year for this Gregg Williams-led defense to step up. Suddenly, it's making an indelible mark.
No matter that consecutive shutouts have come against tail-enders Oakland and Washington, it's quite an accomplishment to ride into the season-ending stretch.
''Guys are playing lights-out right now,'' defensive end Robert Quinn said. ''Hopefully, we just keep it going.''
The Rams (6-7) have beaten the Redskins and Raiders by a combined score of 76-0. The surge had them close to their goal of ranking in the top 10 in overall defense, checking in at 11th on Monday with one NFL game remaining. They were 27th on offense.
St. Louis was 10th against the run, a huge jump after ranking 31st six weeks ago.
''I want to see it again,'' coach Jeff Fisher said. ''We need to keep playing, keep preparing the way we are. When you're getting the turnovers, when you're getting the third-down stops, that gives you a chance.''
Fisher's confidence - some might call it arrogance - no doubt helps. Fisher sent six players the Rams acquired in the Robert Griffin III trade out for the coin toss against the Redskins, rubbing it in their noses just a bit before whipping them 24-0 Sunday.
''It made too much sense to us to go ahead and recognize the guys that probably would not have been here had it not been for that trade,'' Fisher said. ''We wanted to do it before the game because it was a memory that will last them for a lifetime.''
Fisher said in the past he's ''sent other people out for different reasons,'' and added, ''I think they've got more issues than the coin toss.''
The last time the Rams posted consecutive shutouts was 1945, two franchise moves ago, in their final season in Cleveland before leaving for Los Angeles. They blanked the Chicago Cardinals 21-0 and Chicago Bears 17-0. No NFL team had done it since Dallas in 2009.
The Redskins were limited to 206 yards and were 3 for 15 combined on third down and fourth down. The Rams had seven sacks and two interceptions, never permitted a snap inside the 20 and allowed a season-low 27 yards rushing.
A week earlier, the Rams put the hammer down early on the Raiders, taking a 38-0 halftime lead and forcing five turnovers in a 52-0 rout.
St. Louis has allowed 222 points on defense, second-fewest in the NFL and just one point more than Seattle. The overall numbers are skewed by seven defensive touchdowns and two more on special teams, which Fisher made a point to note.
''We've been locked in and just getting better and tightening up on all the little plays that were hurting us,'' safety Rodney McLeod said. ''If you go back and look at our games before, it was just one play here, a couple plays here that were changing the game.''
A healthy secondary is one reason for the stingy play of late. Cornerbacks Janoris Jenkins and Trumaine Johnson are back in form, and midseason pickup Mark Barron is making solid contributions at safety.
The Rams have won two straight for the first time all season entering a short work week, with the NFC West-leading Arizona Cardinals up next on Thursday night. The team reviewed the game on the flight home, and players participated in a walkthrough and meetings Monday, forcing the coach's news conference to be moved to the media room.
The Rams have no injury concerns. Tight end Jared Cook was examined for a concussion before catching two touchdown passes Sunday, and was cleared again on Monday. Guard Rodger Saffold (shoulder) had no issues.
Five starters were listed as not practicing on an injury report that was an estimate: Saffold (shoulder), center Scott Wells (elbow), wide receiver Kenny Britt (not injury related), defensive end Chris Long (ankle) and middle linebacker James Laurinaitis (ankle).
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