LANDOVER, Md. – Two demonstrations of social activism by some St. Louis Rams players haven't affected the team's performance on the field.
To the contrary, the Rams haven't put up back-to-back games like this in nearly seven decades.
The Rams blanked the Washington Redskins 24-0 Sunday, giving the franchise its first winning streak of the season and its first consecutive shutouts since the Cleveland Rams beat the Chicago Cardinals 21-0 and the Chicago Bears 17-0 during the 1945 season.
"1945? We're about to shut out three!" defensive tackle Michael Brockers said. "When's the last time we shut out three?"
That would be never. Brockers will get a chance to back up the guarantee at home against the Arizona Cardinals on Thursday.
Such blustering aside, several Rams players offered another sobering reminder of life and death beyond the confines of football. Guard Davin Joseph wrote the words "I Can't Breathe" on the cleats he wore during pregame warmups. Receiver Kenny Britt wrote on his cleats several names of black men or teens, including Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin, whose deaths led to protests.
And, of course, this was the same team whose receivers performed a "Hands Up, Don't Shoot!" show of solidarity before a home game a week earlier. The slogans reference Eric Garner and Brown, who were killed in confrontations with police in cases which, amid much dispute, did not lead to indictment by grand juries.
"Every life in this world is worth something," Joseph said. "And when you lose one, it hurts, no matter who it is. We have to stand for the value of life."
Here's more from a game that pushed the Rams to 6-7 and dropped the Redskins to 3-10:
GOOSE EGG REDUX: The Rams throttled the Oakland Raiders 52-0 the previous week, so the shutouts have come against a pair of bottom-feeders. Still, it's not easy to keep a team scoreless in the modern NFL; no team had posted back-to-back shutouts since the Dallas Cowboys late in the 2009 season.
The Rams limited the Redskins to 206 total yards and had seven sacks. The defense has 29 sacks over six games.
"We're built to rush, we've known that," coach Jeff Fisher said, "so it's nice to get back on track a little bit."
RUBBING IT IN: The six players sent out by Fisher for the coin toss were part of the team's three-year haul stemming from the deal that allowed the Redskins to select Robert Griffin III in the 2012 draft. Right now, that looks like a one-sided trade — because Griffin has been benched twice in two years and his future in Washington is in doubt.
"I will always be remembered as (being a part of) that blockbuster trade," Brockers said. "And, you know, the Rams won. The Rams won that one."
RG3 PLAYS: Griffin did make it into the game because Redskins starter Colt McCoy suffered a sprained neck when sacked for the sixth time with 2 minutes to play. McCoy was sent to the hospital for X-rays, and first-year coach Jay Gruden, whose future might be as tenuous as Griffin's, said he'll review both McCoy's health and performance before deciding who starts next week.
"Colt hurt his neck," Gruden said, "so we are back to the drawing board."
KICKING MISADVENTURES: St. Louis' Greg Zuerlein missed an extra point, a 28-yard chip shot and a 38-yard field goal attempt — all wide right — before sneaking one just inside the upright from 34.
After the game in the locker room, Fisher brought some levity to his kicker's struggles by having holder Johnny Hekker put the ball down and Zuerlein kick it into a locker while the rest of the team watched.
"Anytime you have a day like this, it's never easy to show your face around everyone," Zuerlein said. "But coach Fisher is awesome."
GEOLOGY CHECK: The Redskins have lost five straight, have their fifth double-digit loss season in six years, and are heading into another December of turmoil that will focus on the futures of coaches, quarterbacks and the front office.
"I've said rock-bottom once before," Washington linebacker Ryan Kerrigan said. "It downplays what rock-bottom is if you keep saying (it) every time you lose."
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