INDIANAPOLIS --St. Louis produced big plays early, often and from every source -- offense, defense and special teams.
The Rams zoomed to a 38-point, third-quarter lead before Indianapolis dented the scoring column Sunday. The Colts couldn't mount a sustained rally and couldn't dig out of their significant hole. The Rams returned home with a 38-8 victory.
"They came to play," Colts Coach Chuck Pagano said about the Rams. "They beat us in every single phase."
The ruinous numbers for the Colts went further than the final score.
Indy suffered four interceptions -- three tossed by Andrew Luck, one by Matt Hasselbeck -- and committed five total turnovers, compared to just one for St. Louis. The Colts were 1-of-5 in red-zone efficiency. They converted only 2-of-12 third-down situations.
"We didn't do anything," Pagano said. "And I take full responsibility as the head football coach. I did not have this team ready to play."
Luck completed 29-of-47 passes for 353 yards and a touchdown. He absorbed three sacks, including an especially hurtful one on the game's opening drive. Defensive end Robert Quinn slammed into him and stripped the football. St. Louis' Chris Long returned the fumble 45 yards for a touchdown.
"A terrible way to start the game," Luck said.
And it was just the first of many big plays for the Rams, who also scored on a 98-yard punt return and pass receptions of 57 and 81 yards. Tavon Austin produced all three of those huge gainers.
The Colts' problems led to a deficit that forced them to change their mode of attack. Typically a team that aims for balance in its offense, Indy was relegated to eschewing the running game and attempting risky passes in an effort to catch up.
"When you get down like that, you have to take chances," Luck said. "I'm not trying to make excuses for throwing interceptions. They were bad throws and bad decisions.
"But when you can't line up with a fullback and tight end and run the ball and try to do what we pride ourselves on, you get one-dimensional. Credit to (the Rams)."
Rams quarterback Kellen Clemens hit 9-of-16 passes for 247 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Austin had 138 receiving yards while averaging 36.3 yards on four punt returns.
Pagano's message to the Colts after the loss was simple and direct.
"We gotta move on," said Pagano, whose club will play at Tennessee in a Thursday night game. "We didn't play well. Credit (the Rams). They played better in every phase. It's a tough business. It's not for the meek. It's for grown men. Everybody in that locker room -- coaches and players -- they have broad enough shoulders to handle it."
FIRST QUARTER (12:12 remaining)
The Rams' defense set the early tone with a stunning play. Defensive end Robert Quinn slammed into the Colts' Andrew Luck in the pocket, getting a sack and forcing a fumble. Chris Long recovered the fumble and returned it 45 yards for a touchdown. Greg Zuerlein kicked the extra point.Rams 7, Colts 0.
SECOND QUARTER (14:30 remaining)
The Rams' offense went to work and gathered the team's second TD. The big gainer of a four-play, 43-yard drive was a 35-yard pass from Kellen Clemens to Chris Givens. Zac Stacy bolted in from the 1-yard line for the score. Zuerlein booted the extra point.Rams 14, Colts 0.
SECOND QUARTER (10:28 remaining)
The Rams' special teams took its turn getting into the scoring act. Tavon Austin received a Pat McAfee punt, set sail down the right sideline and went 98 yards for the touchdown. Zuerlein connected on the extra point.* Rams 21, Colts 0.*
SECOND QUARTER (6:58 remaining)
Clemens and Austin hooked up for a big play to put the Colts in a deeper hole. Austin gained separation in the Colts secondary and Clemens lofted a high, soft pass to him for a 57-yard touchdown down the left sideline. Zuerlein hit the extra point. Rams 28, Colts 0.
THIRD QUARTER (13:55 remaining)
The Rams continued their onslaught with another big play. This time, Austin grabbed a short Clemens pass over the middle and maneuvered his way down the field for an 81-yard score. Zuerlein added the extra point.Rams 35, Colts 0.
THIRD QUARTER (5:15 remaining)
Zuerlein kicked a 32-yard field goal to extend the Rams' lead after an eight-play, 45-yard march. Clemens had pass completions of 14 and 17 yards to highlight the drive.Rams 38, Colts 0.
THIRD QUARTER (1:35 remaining)
The Colts' offense awakened and put together an eight-play TD drive. Luck was 8-of-8 passing for 90 yards. The score came on a 13-yard pass to Donald Brown. Luck completed another pass to Coby Fleener for a two-point conversion.Rams 38, Colts 8.