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Notebook 11/7: Rams Look for Finishing Kick

Posted Nov 7, 2013

If the performance of the Rams and Colts in recent weeks could serve as any indication of the type of game that will be played on Sunday, it would be natural to surmise that the game could likely not be determined until the fourth quarter.

The Colts, winners of their last two games and entering this week 6-2 overall, are riding the momentum of the sixth-largest comeback in franchise history last week in a 27-24 win over Houston. Their previous week included a 39-33 win over previously unbeaten Denver in a game that was still in question until the game’s final possession.

On the other side, the Rams recently suffered a pair of one-possession losses in games that were not decided until a last-play pass to the end zone fell incomplete. While the fourth-quarter outcomes of each team may resemble a study in contrast, the Rams’ efforts to place themselves in those end-of-game opportunities have given reason for optimism, but also speak to a need to capitalize on the opportunities preceding the game’s final possession.

“I think that the biggest thing, obviously as you look at it, is there’s going to be three or four plays in every game that determine the outcome of the game,” offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer said. “And, sometimes that’s in the first series. Sometimes it’s in the last series. To us, it comes down to execution. Again, you go back to last game, make a play here or there, you’re not in that situation where you’re scrambling, having to come back from behind. But again, we just preach execution. That’s all you can preach.”

Colts QB Andrew Luck has received widespread praise for his ability to rally his team from behind, recognition that is well-supported by his 10 career game-winning drives and seven fourth-quarter comebacks, which rank first among quarterbacks with less than three years of NFL experience. Luck’s knack for finishing strong is one the Rams look to take after in Indianapolis this week.

“We’ve had opportunities the last two weeks and got close but didn’t get it done, but we respect what he’s done,” Head Coach Jeff Fisher said of Luck. “He’s really an outstanding quarterback and has a good feel for just making things happen at the end. Obviously, we’ll pay a little bit more attention to the type of things that they’re doing and the things that they’re having success with, but our philosophy is we’re going to do whatever it is to win the football game whether that’s go out and win a two-minute drive or put one together ourselves.”

News and Notes:

-With TE Lance Kendricks sidelined with a hand injury, St. Louis native Mike McNeill figures to see time in Kendricks’ stead this week.

“When you watch him certainly he’s got matchup potential where he’s a matchup problem for certain people,” Fisher said. “In the run game, he’s worked really hard to develop his technique, using his hand placement and the way he moves his feet. He’ll get some play and when he’s in there we’re not going to have any concerns about it. We expect him to step in and do a good job.”

-Sunday will mark the first career start against Indianapolis for QB Kellen Clemens.

-If RB Zac Stacy surpasses 100 yards rushing on Sunday, he would become the first Rams rookie to eclipse the century mark in three consecutive games since moving to St. Louis in 1995.

Injury report:

Rams:

G Harvey Dahl (knee), QB Brady Quinn (hip) and TE Lance Kendricks (hand) did not practice Thursday. RB Zac Stacy (foot) was limited.

Colts:

NT Josh Hampton (knee), CB Josh Gordy (groin), S Delano Howell (neck), RB Trent Richardson (ankle), G Hugh Thorton (calf) and CB Greg Toler (groin) did not practice Thursday. LB Robert Mathis (shoulder), WR Darrius Heyward-Bey (shoulder) and LB Cam Johnson (knee) practiced fully Thursday.