ST. LOUIS -- It can be hard to remember now but there was a time when the St. Louis Rams' 2013 season held much promise. And I don't mean strictly before the season started.
The Rams opened the season with a 1-0 record, winning the season-opener against Arizona 27-24 in thrilling fashion. It was the team's first win in a season opener since 2006. And it wouldn't have happened without the dominant performance of a player who set the tone for many more dominant performances throughout the 2013 season.
Defensive end Robert Quinn had a solid 2012 season, breaking into double digits in sacks in only his second season, but there was little doubt that his head was still far from the ceiling. Quinn wasted no time announcing to the rest of the football world that 2013 was going to be his year as he emerged as one of the game's best defenders.
On the sixth defensive play of the season, Quinn blew past Arizona left tackle Levi Brown to sack quarterback Carson Palmer. He did it again four plays later and by the time the Cardinals came back on the field they had drastically adjusted to try to slow Quinn.
But it wasn't those plays that really set the tone for his season. With the Rams desperately trying to forge a comeback in the fourth quarter, Quinn broke through again, completing the hat trick and forcing Palmer to fumble. Fellow defensive end Chris Long recovered, the Rams kicked a field goal to tie it at 24 and the Rams went on to finish the comeback.
Quinn's three sacks and two forced fumbles provided the foundation for Quinn's 19 sacks and seven forced fumbles as he served notice to the rest of the league that he was going to wreak havoc on a weekly basis in 2013.