After being drubbed 35-11 by the San Francisco 49ers on a nationally televised game on Sept. 26, the Rams were 1-3 and looking for answers.
They decided to get back to the basics, to re-emphasize the run game and return to the power football that head coach Jeff Fisher is known for.

“We’re a different team,” said Fisher, whose Rams take on his former NFL team, the Tennessee Titans, Sunday at noon at the Edward Jones Dome. “We were pretty much forced into that, I think because of some situations that happened, but I kind of like where we’re at.”

The Rams finished October with two wins and two losses, but they deserved a better fate in Monday night’s 14-9 loss to visiting Seattle. While the overall play has improved, probably the key to the team’s recent surge has been the hard-nosed running of rookie Zac Stacy.

Stacy, a 5-foot-8, 214-pounder, was third in the NFL and second among rookies with

344 rushing yards in October. Against Seattle, the league’s No. 2-ranked defense, he set personal bests with 26 carries and 134 rushing yards.

Since the Rams arrived in St. Louis in 1995, just six rookie backs have surpassed the 100-yard mark, and only Steven Jackson — with 148 yards against the Philadelphia Eagles in 2004 — has had a bigger rushing game than Stacy.

“It’s a nice milestone, but we lost. Really, the only stat I’m worried about is wins and losses,” said Stacy, 22. “It all starts up front; the guys on the o-line are doing a great job. Even though we lost, we did some good things against Seattle, one of the top teams in the league. Hopefully that gives us something to build on.”

Stacy, who suffered an ankle injury in Monday’s loss, did not practice Wednesday but expects to be ready for Sunday.

“If Zac can’t go, it means there’s something really wrong with him,” running backs coach Ben Sirmans said. “Even as a rookie, he’s learned that playing running back in the NFL means playing through pain. He’s just a tough young man.”

And that’s something his teammates have come to appreciate.

“Zac’s going a great job seeing the holes, making the cuts and then getting yards after contact,” quarterback Kellen Clemens said.

“The rookie Zac, I think he’s continuing to put the team on his shoulders,” tackle Rodger Saffold said. “He’s going to keep on running and keep on running hard. The yards he’s getting after contact is ridiculous.”

Guard Chris Williams agrees: “He’s doing a great job of eliminating those negative runs. Even when there’s nothing there, he’s getting two or three yards, running through tackles and playing tough. But I’m not surprised — he’s a Vandy guy.”

So is Williams.

At Vanderbilt, Stacy set career marks for rushing yards (3,143) and touchdowns (30) and became just the eighth back in SEC history to post consecutive 1,000-yard seasons.

The Rams traded up to select Stacy in the fifth round (160th overall) last April. Despite being slowed by minor injuries in camp, he was the team’s second-leading rusher in the preseason.