St. Louis Rams rookie quarterback Sam Bradford(notes) has been impressing people all season with his arm, accuracy and mobility. On Sunday afternoon, despite being on the wrong end of a 31-13 score against the New Orleans Saints, Bradford found different ways to stand out on two straight plays in the fourth quarter of the game.
Down 31-6, the Rams had the ball at the New Orleans 1-yard line after driving 49 yards in nine plays. Bradford handed off to running back Steven Jackson, and ... well, all heck broke loose. Jackson seemed to fumble, and Saints safety Roman Harper(notes) picked up the ball and started heading to the opposing end zone. Nobody with a shot of catching Harper was anywhere near him, with one surprising exception:
Bradford, who generally ran 40-yard dashes in the 4.6- to 4.7-second range, eventually caught up to Harper, who ran a 4.5/40 at his 2006 Alabama Pro Day. When asked about the Bradford play after the game, Harper did his best to shake off the fact that he let a quarterback run him down.
"First and foremost, [Bradford] didn't walk me down because he didn't touch me,'' said Harper. "I ran out of bounds. Hey, I was trying to be respectful and not run up the score, so I ran out of bounds. [But] he didn't catch me. I've never been caught by a quarterback before in my life. Never. Never.'
"I just needed to get the hell out of bounds and go to the sidelines. Did you see me? Oh my God, I had never got oxygen before in my life. That was the first time I had to go and do that. I was so tired. I don't think I've ever been that tired in my life. "
Yeah, well ... this time, you were caught from behind by a quarterback, Mr. Harper, whether you think you were or not. Rams head coach Steve Spagnuolo challenged the fumble after the play was over, and the recovery was negated -- the Rams would have the ball at the Saints' 1-yard line again.
This time, Bradford took the ball in himself.