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Breaking down Sam Bradford vs. Falcons

Quarterback Sam Bradford has owned third down for the St. Louis Rams this season. At least he did until he faced the Atlanta Falcons in Week 11.

The Rams converted only once in 10 third-down plays Sunday.

Bradford's third-down passer rating was 3.2 for the game, down from 99.1 previously (not counting stop-clocking spike passes).

A few thoughts on what happened after charting the Rams' personnel use against Atlanta:

  • The Falcons blew up that shovel pass and came up with an interception on the play. Everything that could go wrong on this play seemed to go wrong for the Rams. The team needs to execute this play more crisply.

  • Veteran Daniel Fells was the tight end on most of these third-down plays. The Rams will want to see rookie Mike Hoomanawanui develop into a go-to target in these situations as he gains experience. Hoomanawanui's overall performance against the Falcons was promising. He appears in position to finish the season strong. In this game, however, the more experienced Fells got the call in most no-huddle or two-minute situations.

  • Receiver Danny Amendola caught two of the three passes thrown his way on third down. His 4-yard completion on third-and-2 in the fourth quarter accounted for the Rams' only third-down conversion in 10 tries against the Falcons. He also had an 18-yard reception on third-and-21.

  • The Rams moved the ball well enough early in the game to avoid third-down situations altogether. They reached third down only once during 14 first-quarter plays. The team had four of its 10 third-down plays in the fourth quarter. Executing that shovel pass for a 2-yard touchdown would have pumped up Bradford's third-down rating from 3.2 to 90.0, in which case we might not be having this conversation.

  • Bradford owned second down in this game, completing 12 of 14 passes for 112 yards, two touchdowns and a 139.6 rating. Bradford completed 4 of 4 second-down passes to Hoomanawanui for 46 yards and a touchdown. Second down should be a favorable down for Bradford because defenses still must account for Steven Jackson.

The chart, based on my charting, shows Bradford's third-down passing numbers for Weeks 1-10 and Week 11. I excluded stop-clocking spike passes.

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2010 Sam Bradford Third-Down Passing