Wembley Watch – All the facts and stats you need for New England Patriots v St Louis Rams

Richard Moore delivers everything you need to know ahead of the NFL's Wembley hosted regular season game between the New England Patriots and the 'home' side, the St Louis Rams.

Over the Hill!!...Well they should have been, had Stephen Hill not allowed almost certain victory to slip through his fingers, with the Jets trailing 23–20 with just two minutes remaining in Foxborough.

As it stands, Rex Ryan left for East Rutherford a disconsolate figure, tail well and truly beneath legs, a mere four days after boldly declaring “I want them to know, and they know that I think we’re going to beat them”. I don’t buy into all that other stuff”.

Whatever it was before, that ‘other stuff’ now comes to represent joint last place in the AFC East, a widening gap in one of the most absorbing personal duels in Ryan versus Belichick, (now standing at 3 – 5, including post – season match – ups), but most painful of all, agonising defeat to a team that’s made a habit of snatching defeat from the jaws of victory. An epidemic that started with a missed field goal at home to Arizona, continued with that collapse from 30 – 21 up in Baltimore, and culminating in a meek surrender against the Seattle Seahawks, where New England shipped 14 points in a maddening 7 minute period. Sidney Rice’s touchdown reception with 1:18 remaining left, ensuring Brady and co left CenturyLink Field at 3 – 3.

And things didn’t start too well at Gillette Stadium, as the Jets seized the early initiative through Shonn Greene’s 1 – yard touchdown run; however there was a swift and empathic response through Devin McCourtey’s 104 – yard kick-off return – the second longest in team history, second only to Ellis Hobbs’ 108 – yard effort – both coming against ‘Gang Green’.

Then, the offense came to life as Brady (26 of 42, for 259 – yards and two touchdowns) found tight - end Rob Gronkowski for a 17 – yard score, and the defense then forced Sanchez (28 of 41, for 328 yards, one touchdown and one interception) to frantically booting the ball beyond the back of the end – zone for a safety, after a Greene fumble.

The Jets nearly were on the verge of hitting straight back, until Stephen Hill (not for the first time) missed Sanchez’s pass, and the ball wound up in the hands of rookie Alfonzo Dennard at the Patriots 2. An opportunity missed, although Nick Folk did kick a 54 – yard field goal with 2 seconds remaining of the first half and a 21 – yarder upon resumption of play, at the beginning of the second – half to keep New York in contention.

Brady though, extended New England’s lead to 21 – 13 late in the third quarter, by locating Gronkowski again, this time for a 2 – yarder. No problem then, normal service resumed or was it…

An empathic no, it would appear, as the Jets ate into New England’s lead through Dustin Keller’s 7 – yard score and a pair of Nick Folk Field goals, (his 3rd and 4th respectively), thus evoking memories of events past – Seattle re – visited? New England began to fear the worst.

Thankfully, for those of a Patriot persuasion, those memories were emphatically erased, via the determined hands of Rob Ninkovich, when he stripped, and subsequently recovered, the ball from the flailing hands of Mark Sanchez, thus sealing a dramatic 29 – 26 overtime victory – The relief was palpable “The whole time I’m thinking, Hey this can’t happen again. We’ve got to fight all four quarters, and hold them to a field goal at the end”. In overtime, we said, Hey, it’s overtime, We know we’re going to get a chance, let’s go out there and finish this game” – said a clearly exhausted but elated Ninkovich, who’s side now sit, un – opposed, atop of the AFC East at 4 – 3 (.571).

Belichick, in typical pragmatic fashion, downplayed the significance of the victory and the nature of it, citing a long and arduous road ahead “There’s a lot of football to be played. I don’t think anyone clinched it today”.

That road begins with a long and gruelling flight across the Atlantic to take on a Rams team that experienced contrasting fortunes, albeit a loss to a resurgent Packers outfit that appears to have awoken from its slump, and beginning to show signs of once again becoming the 15 – 1 juggernaut of 2011.

Green Bay once again played the spoiler, as after ending one unbeaten record by decimating the Texans 42 – 24 on the road last week, they went and erased St. Louis’s one hundred per cent record at Edward Jones Dome, by recording a comprehensive 30 – 20 triumph.

Randall Cobb hauled in two scores, whilst Jordy Nelson had eight receptions for a season-best 122 yards and a touchdown for ‘the Pack’ (4-3), who handed the Rams (3-4) their first home loss of the campaign, following impressive victories over RG111’s Redskins, and NFC West rivals, the Arizona Cardinals and Seattle Seahawks.

Though Green Bay’s displays through weeks one to six are best described as erratic, there was nothing erratic about the Quarterbacking offered up by Rodgers, who produced his fourth 300 plus – yard game, by throwing for 342 – yards and fashioning an impressive completion percentage of 81.0% by completing 30 of his 37 attempts.

Despite not getting the volume of carries of past seasons, Runningback Steven Jackson (12 carries, 57 – yards) opened his account for the season, by running in a score courtesy of a 6 – yard burst; it was a deeply frustrating afternoon for Sam Bradford and his offence. As despite throwing for 255 – yards, including 56 and 3 yard strikes to Chris Givens and Austin Pettis, (the latter coming with 3 seconds to play) respectively, he was harassed to the tune of three sacks, one of which giving Clay Mathews his 9th for the year, and an interception.

However, it must be noted, his cause was hardly helped by an ever growing brigade of the walking wounded as Bradford had to make do as best as he could, with an offensive line devoid of key starters in Wayne Hunter and Rodger Saffold, who’s injury enforced absence led to starts for both left tackle Joe Barksdale (signed off waiver wire from Oakland), and left guard, Shelley Smith, who though hardly disgracing themselves in the face of stern opposition, committed false starts, and allowed Mathews through to record a crucial sack and a loss of 9 – yards on one play.

One things for sure, with the considerable collective shadow of Vince Wilfork, Rob Ninkovich, Chandler Jones and Dante Hightower, to name but a few, looming large under Wembley’s arch, they dare not repeat the same mistakes…

So, with the 6th annual International series game almost upon us, what can we expect? Well, without resorting exclusively to cliché, and saying that the games not played on paper, and therefore nothing should be beyond the realms of possibility, what’s written on this paper does provide the exception to the rule, especially when glancing at the comparison’s below. Or does it?...

Total Offense

New England Patriots –

  • Ranking - 1st
  • Points per game - 31 points per game,
  • Yards per game – 436.1

St. Louis Rams

  • Ranking – 28th
  • Points per game – 18.6
  • Yards per game – 315.1

Quarterbacks

Tom Brady –

  • Completion percentage – 65.3% (186/285)
  • QB Rating – 96.9
  • Average yards per game – 300
  • Total yards – 2, 104
  • Touchdowns – 12
  • Interceptions – 3

Sam Bradford –

  • Completion percentage – 59.8%
  • QB Rating – 81.3
  • Total yards per game – 227.4
  • Total yards – 1,592
  • Touchdowns – 7
  • Interceptions – 6
Receivers:
 
New England Patriots –
 
  • Wes Welker – 54 receptions, 688 – yards (1st in league), 12.7 on average, and 2 touchdowns.
  • Julian Edelman – 12 receptions, 92 – yards, 7.7 on average, and 1 touchdown.
  • Brandon Lloyd – 35 receptions, 407 – yards, 11.6 on average, and 1 touchdown.

St. Louis Rams –

  • Brian Quick – 4 receptions, 51 – yards, 12.8, and 0 touchdowns.
  • Chris Givens – 10 receptions, 270 – yards, 27.0 and 1 touchdown.
  • Danny Amendola – 32 receptions, 395 – yards, and 2 touchdowns.
  • Brandon Gibson – 25 receptions, 335 – yards, 13.4 and 2 touchdowns.
  • Steve Smith – 11 receptions, 114 – yards, 10.4, and 0 touchdowns.

Tight – Ends

New England Patriots –

  • Rob Gronkowski – 35 receptions, 434 – yards, and 5 touchdowns.
  • Daniel Fells – 2 receptions, 53 – yards, and 0 touchdowns.

St. Louis Rams –

  • Mathew Mulligan – 5 receptions, 8.2 yards, and 1 touchdown.
  • Lance Kendrick’s - 16 receptions, 133 – yards, and 1 touchdown.
  • Mike McNeill – 1 reception, 10 – yards, and 0 touchdowns.

Runningback’s

New England Patriots –

  • Steven Ridley – 135 carries, 539 – yards, 4.4 – yards per carry, and 4 touchdowns
  • Danny Woodhead – 46 carries, 161 – yards, 3.8 – yards per carry, and 1 touchdown.
  • Brandon Bolden – 43 carries, 5.4 yards per carry, and 2 touchdowns.
  • Shane Vereen - 10 carries, 50 – yards, 5.0 – yards per carry, and 1 touchdown.

St. Louis Rams –

  • Steven Jackson – 101 carries, 380 – yards, 3.8 – yards per carry, and 1 touchdown.
  • Daryl Richardson – 55 carries, 282 – yards, 5.1 – yards per carry, and 0 touchdowns.
  • Isaiah Pead – 1 carry, 1 – yard, 1.0 yards per carry, and 0 touchdowns.

Total Defense

New England Patriots –

  • Ranking – 23rd.
  • Points allowed per game – 23.3
  • Yards per game – 376.0

St. Louis Rams –

  • Ranking – 10th
  • Points allowed per game – 20.1
  • Yards per game – 324.4

Most Tackles

New England Patriots –

  • Jared Meyo – 72 tackles (1st in league)

St. Louis Rams –

  • James Laurinaitis – 69 tackles (2nd in league)

Most sacks

New England Patriots –

  • Chandler Jones – 5.0
  • Rob Ninkovich – 4.0

St. Louis Rams –

  • Robert Quinn – 7.0
  • Jo – Lonn Dunbar – 3.0

Verdict: If the old adage is true, and defense does indeed ‘wins championships’ then the Rams appear to be in good shape, as they seem to trump their celebrated AFC East opponents in nearly every category (most tackles, aside). However, there’s a noticeable chasm as far as offensive potential, as from a statistical standpoint, the Patriots are vastly superior in both the aerial and run game. With all being considered, despite the evident improvements in attitude and performance in St. Louis under Fisher, I can only see one winner – New England.

However, Rams rookie kicker Greg Zuerlein has made 17 of 20 field goal attempts (a completion percentage of 85.0), and is 5 for 7 from 50 – yards or greater…

Score: New England Patriots 31, St. Louis Rams 21.

image: © jdn

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