NFL

Rams at best entering bye week

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ST. LOUIS (AP)

The St. Louis Rams are entering their bye week on a high note.

They built such a huge cushion against the heavily favored Colts that they didn't need any late-game scores to end a three-game losing streak.

''It's a little bit different going down the stretch when you're up by 30,'' quarterback Kellen Clemens said. ''It was fun just to get a win. It's been a while.''

The Rams (4-6), finished off a 38-8 romp on the road fueled by rookie Tavon Austin's long-awaited breakout performance, and big plays in all phases.

It was the franchise's largest margin of victory since a 36-0 rout of the Falcons on Oct. 13, 2003 - also the Rams' last winning season.

Sure, coach Jeff Fisher said, it was more enjoyable reviewing game tape.

''But as coaches we still have to be realistic,'' Fisher said Monday. ''We have to be critical and grade, and look at the mistakes.''

They'll practice Wednesday and Thursday before players get a four-day weekend.

Tight end Lance Kendricks (broken finger) will work out wearing a cast, and Fisher said safety T.J. McDonald (broken leg) and guard Harvey Dahl (knee) are getting closer to returning.

Until Dahl is ready, perhaps another game or so, Fisher will stick with Rodger Saffold at a guard.

The alignment allows the Rams to put their five top linemen on the field. Joe Barksdale emerged at right tackle while Saffold battled injuries earlier in the season.

''We discussed it real early last week and felt like that would be a good option,'' Fisher said.

The Rams traded up eight spots to draft Austin eighth overall in April. It paid off for the first time with 314 all-purpose yards, 98 of them on a daring punt return that surprised the Colts.

''Oh, it definitely was a last-minute decision,'' Austin said. ''I let it bounce, so I just had to make a split decision, went with my instincts, and I just made a play.''

Austin is among three players age 22 or younger with three 50-plus yard touchdowns in a game along with Hall of Famer Gale Sayers in 1965 and Randy Moss in 1998.

Austin accounted for three straight scores that put the game away, with an 81-yard reception making it 35-0 early in the third quarter.

''Sometimes guys make plays, and plays get called back negated due to penalties,'' defensive end Chris Long said. ''A guy is doing all the right things, but he's just not catching any breaks.

''It was great to see those things come to fruition.''

Clemens passed for 247 yards and three touchdowns on just nine completions in his third start in place of Sam Bradford, out for the season with a knee injury. The Rams were 7 for 15 on third down, including both of Austin's long TD catches.

Zac Stacy scored his third rushing touchdown in two weeks.

The defense had four interceptions and held the Colts to 18 yards rushing and 2 for 12 on third down. Robert Quinn stripped Andrew Luck on a sack that resulted in Chris Long's 45-yard fumble return for the game's first touchdown and totaled four quarterback hits.

''Yeah, as a defense we're looking at two out of the last three weeks we've played the run well, and you see what happens when we play the run well,'' Long said. ''That should happen every week.''

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org

Tagged: Colts, Rams, Chris Long

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