EARTH CITY, Mo. -- The news became official Monday morning when the St. Louis Rams announced that a Sunday night MRI confirmed that quarterback Sam Bradford suffered a torn ACL against the Carolina Panthers and is lost for the season.
Bradford will undergo surgery in a few weeks.
Bradford completed 21 of 30 passes for 255 yards and a touchdown with a 93.1 passer rating when he was headed straight toward the out-of-bounds line on a second-and-10 scramble in the fourth quarter.
Panthers safety Mike Mitchell reached Bradford as he was just short of the boundary line and appeared to try pulling him backward. Bradford's left leg landed awkwardly, and while he was writhing in pain, Mitchell spread his arms in celebration on the Rams sideline.
Guard Harvey Dahl went after Mitchell for his taunting, and did not know at first that Bradford was hurt. When Dahl realized that, he raced back on the field to confront Mitchell, who ran away from him. Dahl was penalized, one of several flags for unsportsmanlike conduct during the game.
Rams tight end Jared Cook voiced what many players would not when he said, "It was terrible, just terrible. I don't think it was right. If it was any other quarterback I think (the officials) would have protected him. But who am I to say? ... I'm not saying it was a cheap shot, but usually when a quarterback is going out of bounds, or when they're giving themselves up (you do not hit the quarterback). So I don't understand why in this instance it was different. But the referees deemed fit not to call anything on this play and they have to sleep with themselves at night."
Said defensive end Chris Long, who was ejected from the game after a third-quarter scrum that involved multiple players: "It's really tough. Sam has been playing well. Whatever that situation might be, it's just tough to see him in pain and it's tough to see him get some bad luck on that one. That is really difficult. Sam fights hard for this team and works his ass off. For him to have to exit early, that's really hard for the team."
With Bradford out for the season, backup Kellen Clemens is expected to be the starter but there are no other quarterbacks on the roster or practice squad. Austin Davis was with the team in training camp and competed with Clemens for the backup job, but he was released in the cutdown to 53 players. Davis could be re-signed because of his familiarity with the offense. Contrary to published reports, the Rams have no interest in signing free agent Tim Tebow.
Clemens was shocked to see Bradford injured.
"It's never easy when you see a teammate go down," he said. "When you see a person that you spend as much time with as I do with Sam and genuinely care about as a person; I have a great respect for what he does on the field, but just a genuine concern for him as a person, it was not easy to see."
As for Monday night's game at home against the Seattle Seahawks, Clemens said, "We'll make whatever adjustments we have to going forward. Obviously, if called upon this week after a week of practice and an opportunity to work with the guys we'll be ready to go."
Concluded center Scott Wells, "Even if Sam wasn't hurt, we still have some heavy lifting to do. This adds extra to it, but like coach (Jeff Fisher) said, we are going to move on and we are going to bounce back from it. We have to. There is no other choice."