Rams lose opener and suffer several injuries
ST. LOUIS – Without contact, Steven Jackson was injured on the first offensive snap. It was that kind of an opener for the St. Louis Rams.
Quarterback Sam Bradford, wide receiver Danny Amendola, offensive Jason Smith and cornerback Ron Bartell also were injured in a dispiriting 31-13 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday. Bradford expects to be back for next week's Monday night game at the New York Giants, but he might be the only one from that group.
"Quite a few of us went down," Jackson said. "Hey, if we're going to have our injuries, let's get them out of the way now, I guess."
X-rays were negative on Bradford's index finger, injured when he hit the helmet of an Eagles' defender and Bartell doesn't think he'll miss a game. Jackson will have an MRI Monday for an injured right quadriceps, and Amendola (dislocated left elbow) and Smith (high left ankle sprain) will likely be out a while.
"We're pretty banged up," coach Steve Spagnuolo said.
Michael Vick was in dazzling form and the Eagles' other game-breakers were hard to catch, too, for a defense that couldn't use injuries as an excuse.
Vick rushed for 98 yards and passed for two scores, LeSean McCoy scored twice and DeSean Jackson topped 100 yards receiving as the Eagles began their self-proclaimed Super Bowl drive.
"Hey, you know what, it was an epic disappointment," defensive end Chris Long said.
At least it only counts for one loss.
"It's the first game of the year," said safety Quintin Mikell, who played the first eight years of his career with the Eagles before joining the Rams as a free agent. "We're not going to go in the tank right now."
In a pre-game tribute to Sept. 11, players and coaches from both teams stepped forward, all touching a huge flag that covered much of the field. Spagnuolo began his postgame remarks by praising the remembrance as a "special tribute."
The Eagles had 239 yards rushing and were 8 for 11 on third downs. The defense applied constant pressure and piled up five sacks, two by Jason Babin.
Darryl Tapp forced a fumble by Bradford that led to an easy 56-yard touchdown return by Juqua Parker in the first quarter.
Jackson ran for a 47-yard score on the Rams' first play, untouched until a defender got a piece of his leg a step from the end zone. Soon after, he headed to the locker room, making just one more rush for 9 yards before calling it a day with a right leg injury. Bradford was injured in the fourth quarter.
"I prepared all offseason for this," Jackson said. "I had a great training camp. I really felt mentally in tune for this game plan. I knew I could have a big role in this game."
One of the more boisterous crowds in recent memory at the Edward Jones Domes, flush with optimism off an unbeaten preseason, was muted by the Eagles' impressive display — combined with the injuries.
Vick totaled 98 yards on eight carries and was 14 for 32 for 187 yards and two scores. McCoy had 122 yards on 15 carries and a 49-yard TD in the fourth quarter that finished it off, plus a 7-yard scoring reception in the first quarter.
Bradford was 17 for 30 for 188 yards. He left a few plays after getting hurt because he could not grip the ball and Spagnuolo said the team believed it was a nerve issue.
Bradford attended a news conference with the finger taped.
"It's not crazy painful," he said. "I just don't have the motion I would like to have with it right now."
The Rams added quality backups for Jackson in free agency and Cadillac Williams had 91 yards on 19 carries.
"I thought Cadillac did a great job," Bradford said. "He ran hard and had a great presence in the huddle."
Notes: Both teams' first-round picks were inactive. Rams DE Robert Quinn was the 14th overall pick and Eagles OG Danny Watkins was 23rd overall. Watkins recently lost his starting job to free agent pickup Kyle DeVan. The Eagles also didn't dress their second and third-round picks, S Jaiquawn Jarrett and CB Curtis Marsh. ... The Rams have six former Eagles, and all were active. ... The band from suburban Kirkwood High School, the alma mater of Eagles WR Jeremy Maclin, practiced on the high school field 3½ hours before playing during the pre-game. ... Rams Hall of Fame RB Eric Dickerson attended the game. ... Parker scored his second career TD. The first was a 55-yard interception return Oct. 12, 2008 at San Francisco.