Rams run defense improves, but secondary's issues are concerning

DENVER -- Aaron Donald was itching to return to the field and prove that the Los Angeles Rams defense was capable of adjusting.

Days after the star defensive tackle said that the Rams' run defense was better than it demonstrated the previous two weeks, the unit held the Broncos to a season-low 60 yards rushing in a 23-20 victory inside a chilly Broncos Stadium at Mile High on Sunday.

"We just filled the gaps and played how we play," Donald said after the game. "We were really playing sound football and we showed up."

Over the previous two weeks, in victories over the Minnesota Vikings and Seattle Seahawks, the Rams' run defense was plagued by players abandoning their assignments in an effort to make stops. The Seahawks piled on 190 rushing yards.

Leading up to Sunday's game, Rams defensive coordinator Wade Phillips reminded his unit to play the defense called and trust their teammates.

Coach Sean McVay said after the game that the defense accomplished what it set out to, as Broncos running backs Royce Freeman and Phillip Lindsay were held to 22 and 18 yards, respectively.

"They have high standards for themselves, and rightfully so," McVay said about a group that includes the reigning NFL Defensive Player of the Year in Donald and All-Pro Ndamukong Suh. "They were intentional about doing an excellent job stopping one of the top five rush teams in the league."

Defensive lineman Michael Brockers, who injured his right shoulder during the game but eventually returned, said the defense played to its expectations.

"It definitely felt like the defense we wanted to come out and show," said Brockers, who finished with five tackles. "First thing was stopping the run. I felt like last week wasn't my best game, so I wanted to come out and emphasize on stopping the run and making sure that's not part of the offense that’s going to beat us."

Donald finished with 3 tackles and a sack. He took down former teammate and Denver Broncos quarterback Case Keenum in the third quarter for a 14-yard loss. Donald credited Suh for helping him to get to Keenum.

"Suh did a great job putting pressure on his face and I just saw him running and I ran with him," Donald said. "He just took a sack, so I'm glad he did that. I got doubled and I just tried to push back."

But as the Rams' run defense found its way, the passing defense seemingly lost its path. Keenum passed for 322 yards and two touchdowns, with an interception.

The Rams remain in search of a solution for the cornerback spot once filled by Aqib Talib, who was placed on injured reserve after undergoing ankle surgery following a Week 3 win over the Los Angeles Chargers.

The Broncos targeted Troy Hill on multiple plays, including passes that went for 43, 45 and 41 yards. And backup Sam Shields picked up a costly pass interference penalty inside the red zone. The Broncos scored two plays later.

Safety John Johnson III intercepted Keenum in the third quarter when he attempted a deep pass into the end zone that was tipped by linebacker Cory Littleton. The interception was Johnson's second of the season. Safety Lamarcus Joyner also had a sack and 7 tackles.