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Tavon Austin comes alive in Rams' dismantling of Colts

Tavon Austin finally showed why the St. Louis Rams traded up to select him at No. 8 overall in the 2013 NFL Draft. The speedy rookie racked up 310 all-purpose yards in the Rams38-8 undressing of the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday.

Not only did Austin average 52 yards per touch, he also became the first player in NFL history to have a punt-return touchdown of at least 95 yards and a receiving touchdown of at least 55 yards in the same game.

In an 11-minute stretch from the second quarter to the beginning of the third, Austin gashed the Colts with a 98-yard punt-return touchdown, a 57-yard touchdown on a sideline bomb and an 81-yard catch-and-run score on a crossing route.

By the time Austin had produced 31 of the greatest all-purpose minutes in league history, the Colts were dead in the water, facing a 35-point deficit early in the third quarter.

Although Austin now is up to five touchdowns, he has scored in just two games and was arguably the most disappointing rookie in the league until Sunday.

As Dan Hanzus pointed out, Austin's scoring plays were football equivalent of "easy cheese."

If the Rams can find a way to get the ball in Austin's hands without a defender within 15 yards, this performance can be a springboard to success over the season's final two months. More likely, he'll come out of the Week 11 bye as a bit player in Zac Stacy's supporting cast.

Here's what else we learned in Sunday's game:

  1. The Colts have a two-game cushion in the AFC South, but it's become evident in the past two weeks that this is not their season. They've been outscored 49-3 in the first halves of the past two games against teams with a combined 6-12 record. This is not a good team right now. They have lost too many key players to season-ending injuries.
  1. Never mind the 353 passing yards, most of which were accrued in garbage time. Andrew Luck had his worst game of the season, thanks in part to a game plan from offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton that gave the quarterback no chance for success behind an offensive line that simply can't pass protect or open holes in the running game. With Reggie Wayne and Dwayne Allen out for the season and Trent Richardson running in quicksand, defenses will continue to take T.Y. Hilton away and make players who can't get free from man coverage beat them.
  1. With two sacks apiece on Sunday, Robert Mathis and Robert Quinn are making a run at Michael Strahan's single-season sack record. Mathis is up to 13.5 while Quinn is sitting at 12. Quinn, in particular, terrorized Luck, hitting him four times, including a strip-sack that produced a 45-yard touchdown for Chris Long to open the game.
  1. Rookie Zac Stacy remained the centerpiece of the Rams' offense, touching the ball 28 times on 53 snaps. Over the past two weeks, Stacy has been involved in 50.8 percent of the Rams' plays. In a post-Sam Bradford world, the Rams are taking on Jeff Fisher's identity as a tough team with a defense/running game mindset.

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