|Leonard, Lovell lift Rams past Vikings 13-10|
|Written by Admin|
|Friday, 10 August 2007 17:19|
St. Louis' defense looked a lot different than last year's edition and the Rams beat the Vikings 13-10 on Friday night.
Kevin Lovell's second field goal of the game, a 40-yarder as time expired, gave St. Louis the victory. Rookie Brian Leonard scored on a 10-yard touchdown run in the first half for the Rams.
Dontarrious Thomas returned his second interception of the night 82 yards early in the third quarter for the Vikings' lone touchdown.
Ryan Longwell pulled a 42-yard field goal wide left, fumbling a chance to give Minnesota the lead at the 3-minute mark. Longwell didn't miss a kick under 46 yards all last season.
Tarvaris Jackson was sharp with 83 yards on 8-for-11 passing and 25 yards on two scrambles for the Vikings, an encouraging sign for a team that topped 21 points only four times last year during a 6-10 season. Even Troy Williamson, trying to regain some trust after a season filled with dropped balls, caught three of Jackson's passes for 32 yards.
But a Rams defense that gave up the second-most yards on the ground in the league last season was tough to run on, with first-round draft pick Adam Carriker seeing plenty of time at nose tackle. Minnesota failed to move the chains on five of seven third downs in the first half.
Longwell's 30-yard field goal was all the starting offense, minus Pro Bowl guard Steve Hutchinson, mustered while playing through most of the second quarter. Rookie Adrian Peterson rushed 11 times for 33 yards after subbing for Chester Taylor.
It was the defense, once again, that contributed the most. Dwight Smith intercepted Marc Bulger's tipped pass - Ben Leber got his hand on it after a strong rush by Ray Edwards forced a throw - late in the first quarter at the Vikings 20-yard line.
Thomas caught a last-second heave into the end zone by Ryan Fitzpatrick on the last play of the first half, and Minnesota's top backup linebacker picked off Fitzpatrick again in the third quarter. The throw was intended for Dominique Byrd, who appeared to run a different pattern than Fitzpatrick was anticipating, and Thomas darted in front of it before racing down the sideline to make it 10-7 Vikings.
Leonard, the second-round draft pick from Rutgers, was the star for St. Louis with a 10-yard touchdown run up the middle that gave his team a 7-3 lead. The backup to Pro Bowl pick Steven Jackson, Leonard rushed nine times for 36 yards and caught five passes for 30 yards.
Bulger, who recently cashed in on his best NFL season with a six-year, $65 million contract extension that included $27 million guaranteed, was 6-of-7 for 42 yards.
Torry Holt caught two balls for 26 yards, and rookie Derek Stanley from Division III Wisconsin-Whitewater caught four passes for 61 yards for the Rams.