Then the Rams went out and defeated the visiting Carolina Panthers 20-10 with two touchdown passes from rookie quarterback Sam Bradford and four takeovers from the defense for the team's fourth straight home victory.
“Isaac spoke to the team yesterday and it was great," Bradford said. "He really focused on having confidence in yourself, being positive, always encouraging your teammates. I think it was really good for us as a team to hear that. ... Isaac is a great guy, and to be able to win on the day we retire his jersey is a great day for the organization.”
Bradford, the No. 1 overall pick, completed 25 of 32 passes for 191 yards and two touchdowns and finished with a season-high quarterback rating of 112.4.
He connected with wide receiver Danny Amendola for a 2-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter and hit tight end Daniel Fells for a 23-yard touchdown pass in the fourth quarter.
"I felt very comfortable out there today, probably the most comfortable I've felt," Bradford said. "I think the game is really slowing down for me."
The Rams improved to 4-4 after winning just three games combined in the previous two seasons. The team is 4-1 in St. Louis.
“Big win for us," running back Steven Jackson said. "Today, we knew coming into this game that Carolina was going to be stout against the run. We feel like they’re a tough, physical team, they’re a good tackling team, and we were going to need our young guys and our tight ends to step up, and they answered the call today. To be 4-4 at the break is pretty good. We’ve put ourselves in a good position. It’s not ideal where we want to be, but it allows for us to take the bye week and really get revved up for the last eight.”
The Rams defense made things difficult for Carolina quarterback Matt Moore, pressuring him for much of the day. St. Louis intercepted three passes — by middle linebacker James Laurinaitis and safeties James Butler and Oshiomogho Atogwe — and defensive end Chris Long recovered a fumble.
The Rams turned two fourth quarter takeaways into 10 points after struggling to score in the second half of their last three games.
"The best way to win football games is the get a lot of turnovers and make sure you don’t turn the ball over," Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo said. "So that certainly worked in our favor today.”
The St. Louis offense gained 246 total yards. Jackson, playing less than a week after having surgery to repair a fractured ring finger on his left hand, carried 23 times for 59 yards.
Bradford completed passes to seven different receivers. Wide receiver Brandon Gibson caught six passes for 67 yards, while Amendola caught six passes, wide receiver Laurent Robinson caught five and Fells caught four.