St. Louis Rams running back Steven Jackson (39) scores a touchdown against San Diego Chargers free safety Paul Oliver (27) during the the second quarter of an NFL football game Sunday, Oct. 17, 2010, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson) By Jeff Roberson
St. Louis Rams running back Steven Jackson (39) celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the San Diego Chargers during the the second quarter of an NFL football game Sunday, Oct. 17, 2010, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson) By Jeff Roberson
ST. LOUIS (AP) -- James Hall, Chris Long and Larry Grant had two sacks apiece and the St. Louis Rams stuffed the NFL's top offense in a 20-17 victory over the San Diego Chargers on Sunday.
Sam Bradford threw a 38-yard touchdown pass to fellow rookie Danario Alexander, making his NFL debut, to help build a 14-point cushion in the first half. Steven Jackson finished with 109 yards and a touchdown for the Rams (3-3), who won their third straight at home for the first time since 2004 after entering the season with a 14-game losing streak.
The Rams dominated on both sides of the ball against the NFL's top-ranked offense and second-ranked defense, one week after getting blown out 44-6 at Detroit. Fans stood much of the fourth quarter, helping to rattle the four-time defending AFC West champions.
San Diego (2-4) lost tight end Antonio Gates with a left ankle injury in the first half.
Philip Rivers threw a 5-yard touchdown pass to Buster Davis with 3:16 to go in the fourth quarter, cutting the gap to three points, but the Chargers never got the ball back.
The Rams sat on their lead with conservative play most of the second half. Jackson bailed out that strategy with 28 yards on five consecutive carries on the final clock-killing drive.
Rivers lost one of his favorite targets when Gates hobbled off the field. Gates finished with two catches for 12 yards, ending his NFL-record run by a tight end with touchdowns in nine consecutive regular-season games.
The Rams took a 17-3 halftime lead, getting 172 yards passing by Bradford and five sacks -- already a season best -- from a defense that held the Chargers to 87 yards and seven first downs.
Alexander, elevated from the practice squad this week, had the big play of the half with a diving end zone grab for a 38-yard touchdown that put St. Louis up 10-0 late in the first quarter. Alexander, a former Missouri star who led the nation in receiving yards last year, was undrafted after undergoing a fourth operation on his left knee.
Bradford was sacked on consecutive plays inside the San Diego 10 late in the half, one of them on a helmet-to-helmet hit by Kevin Burnett, but the Rams rebounded on Jackson's 7-yard scoring burst to make it 17-0.
The Chargers, who entered averaging 14.6 points in the first half, avoided getting blanked with a 41-yard field goal by Nate Kaeding in the final minute.
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