- Associated Press - Saturday, November 27, 2010

ST. LOUIS (AP) - St. Louis Rams defensive end Chris Long knows the importance of pressuring the quarterback.

“As our defensive line goes, so goes the team,” he said.

He wants to make sure the line is at its best Sunday when the Rams (4-6) play the Denver Broncos (3-7).

The St. Louis defense was held without a sack for the first time this season in a 34-17 loss to Atlanta last Sunday. That didn’t set well with Long and his teammates, who entered the game with a league-leading 28 sacks.

“The number of sacks we get is not necessarily something we keep track of,” said defensive end James Hall, who leads the team with 7 1/2 sacks. “But we know we weren’t able to get to the quarterback, and that’s something that we’ve got to do if we’re going to be successful.”

Atlanta quarterback Matt Ryan was knocked down a couple times early in the game. But once the Falcons went to a hurry-up offense, the Rams struggled to get pressure on him.

“They did a good job getting the ball out, and you’re going to have days like that,” Long said. “We’ll bounce back; we always do.”

In a 35-14 loss to San Diego on Monday, Denver quarterback Kyle Orton was sacked five times. The Broncos have allowed 26 sacks.

Long, who has 5 1/2 sacks, feels his defense can get back in the swing of things on Sunday.

“We have to define our success and get out there and get the job done,” he said. “We’re going to put it on our shoulders.”

St. Louis coach Steve Spagnuolo says some different packages might loosen things up for his defense.

Hall doesn’t plan on making any drastic changes to his mode of attacking the quarterback.

“Getting to the quarterback is a priority, but we have to stop the run too,” Hall said. “We can’t just worry about (Orton).”

Long, the son of Hall of Famer Howie Long, was the second overall choice in the 2008 draft. He has at least one sack in four of his past five games. He tops the team with 14 quarterback hits and 13 pressures. Hall leads all defensive linemen with 33 tackles.

Fred Robbins, an 11-year veteran, has two sacks and Gary Gibson has 22 tackles.

The group hopes to set the tone early Sunday.

“They do a lot of play-action passes and max protect kind of things,” Hall said. “They’ll probably takes some shots early in the game. We’ve got to be ready.”

Notes: The Rams practiced outdoors in 38-degree weather Friday to prepare for the Denver climate. … The game in Denver kicks off three consecutive road games for the Rams, their first three-game swing since 2002.

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