- Associated Press - Monday, December 1, 2014

ST. LOUIS (AP) - Kenny Britt, Jared Cook and a group of St. Louis Rams pass-catchers made a statement before the game started. Then their teammates joined in for an entirely different kind of statement on the field.

Five Rams players came out of the tunnel with their hands up in a demonstration related to the unrest in the St. Louis area after a grand jury decided not to indict a police officer who fatally shot an unarmed teenager in the suburb of Ferguson.

In some ways, the silent gesture was louder than the team’s dominant 52-0 victory on Sunday against the Oakland Raiders.

“Everything about the situation touched me because it could have happened to any of us. Any of us are not far from the age of Michael Brown and it happened in our community,” said Cook, referring to the teenager who was killed in August. “We are part of this community. We are people of this community, so everything about it just touched me.

“I wouldn’t want to be in any one of those guys’ situations that it happened to.”

A peaceful protest was held outside the Edward Jones Dome with the Rams (5-7) already firmly in control of the game. Rookie Tre Mason ran for 117 yards and two touchdowns - including an 89-yarder that made it 28-0 less than 19 minutes into the game - and added 47 yards receiving and another score on a 35-yard screen pass.

He and Britt also did the hands-up gesture - a reference to the claim by some witnesses that Brown might have had his hands up when he was shot - after his touchdowns.

“I don’t want the people in the community to feel like we turned a blind eye to it,” said Britt, identified by teammates as the orchestrator of the demonstration. “Let them know that we’re going to sit here and we’re going to support them.

“What would I like to see happen? “Change in America.”

Stedman Bailey, one of four receivers who took part in the pregame demonstration along with tight end Cook, had a career-high 100 yards receiving. Shaun Hill threw for two touchdowns and ran for another, his first rushing TD since the 2008 season finale with San Francisco.

Trumaine Johnson had two interceptions, returning the second one 43 yards for a touchdown in the fourth quarter.

The Raiders committed five turnovers - including two interceptions by Derek Carr and an interception and fumble by Matt Schaub, who replaced him in the fourth quarter. But most of the damage was done before then, with Oakland going three-and-out on its first three drives, and St. Louis capitalizing for touchdowns each time.

Here is what else should be known about Sunday’s game:

QUICK-START RAMS: The fast-starting Rams took their early dominance to another level. Already among the top NFL teams in first-quarter scoring margin with a 65-32 advantage, St. Louis scored touchdowns on its first five possessions and led 21-0 after the first quarter and 38-0 at halftime.

The Rams have built double-digit, first-half leads in five straight home games. They squandered a 21-0 lead against Dallas and a 14-point edge against San Francisco before closing out victories against Seattle and Denver.

The 38-point margin was the biggest halftime lead in Rams franchise history, surpassing the 44-7 cushion they had in a 51-21 victory against Green Bay on Sept. 21, 1980. That game represented the team’s biggest first-half scoring output.

RUSTY RAIDERS: Given three extra days to prepare after their only win this season, the Raiders couldn’t carry over any momentum from their 24-20 win against Kansas City last Thursday night.

The margin of defeat was the second-largest in franchise history. Only a 55-0 loss to the Houston Oilers on Sept. 9, 1961, was worse.

“I had my fair share of losses, but I guess my memory deleted all those other ones, like I hope it does this one” defensive end Justin Tuck said. “I can’t think of anything of this magnitude.”

Raiders coach Tony Sparano said he didn’t see the blowout coming, and he wants his players to remember both the feeling after last week’s victory and what it felt like to lose so badly.

“This hurts. This is bad,” said Carr, who was 24 for 39 for 173 yards. “This is a bad feeling, but we know it’s really tough right now. Are we going to turn on each other? Are we going to hold hands? Obviously, we’re going to stick together and see what happens.”

The Raiders had only given up 50 or more points in five other games, including one each of the past two seasons. It was their first shutout loss since a 28-0 whitewash against Kansas City on Oct. 23, 2011.

“We got hit in the mouth and didn’t punch back,” receiver James Jones said.

OUT TOO LONG: Defensive end Chris Long returned to the Rams lineup after missing 10 games with an ankle injury sustained in the season opener. He logged two tackles, a fumble recovery, and his first sack of the season. He also pressured Carr on the first drive of the game when he started out standing up in the middle of the line instead of his usual spot at defensive end.

“It felt really good,” Long said. “It’s tough. You prepare for the season and then you’ve got to watch your buddies out there going through good and bad. I just was really happy to be a part of it.”

With Long back, St. Louis notched its first shutout since Dec. 17, 2006, also against the Raiders.

NO PROTECTION: Despite their nearly across-the-board struggles this season, Oakland had generally been solid at protecting its quarterbacks. The Raiders had allowed only 13 sacks through their first 11 games, with only Denver (12) giving up fewer.

The Rams bucked the trend by sacking Carr and Schaub six times. Robert Quinn, who led the NFC in sacks last season before a slow start to 2014, got to Schaub twice in the fourth quarter and knocked the ball out twice.

“When you’re able to rush with one of the best in the business, it’s a lot of fun coming to work every day,” said Long, who pounced on Schaub’s first fumble.

The Raiders’ Kevin Boothe was able to cover the second one to allow Oakland the chance to punt.

QUICK HITS: In a game featuring two teams rumored to be considering a move back to Los Angeles, fans behind the north end zone held up white letters spelling out “KEEP THE RAMS IN ST. LOUIS.” It could be seen on television during extra-point attempts in the second quarter. … The Rams’ biggest shutout was a 59-0 victory against Atlanta on Dec. 4, 1976. … Mason’s touchdown reception was the first of his career. … The Raiders lost right tackle Menelik Watson to a left ankle injury in the second quarter. Tight end Brian Leonhardt was evaluated for a possible concussion sustained in the first quarter. St. Louis guard Rodger Saffold, who signed with Oakland in the offseason before having his contract voided because of concerns about a shoulder injury, hurt his left shoulder in the second half. He has started every game this season.

___

AP NFL websites: https://www.pro32.ap.org and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL


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