When the Carolina Panthers' cornerbacks lined up inside, Sam Bradford threw outside.
When they took away the outside routes, Bradford looked in.
And try as they might, the Panthers never could rattle the St. Louis Rams' $78 million rookie.
Bradford completed a career-best 78 percent of his passes for 191 yards and two touchdowns in the Rams' 20-10 win Sunday. It was a crisp, efficient passing effort you'd expect from a 10-year veteran, not a 22-year-old making his eighth start.
Never miss a local story.
Bradford is the only rookie quarterback selected No.1 overall to win four of his first five home starts in the Super Bowl era.
"He's a good young quarterback," Carolina corner Richard Marshall said. "He made some passes. A lot of the stuff we were in, they were running off our leverage and he was making plays."
By leverage, Marshall said he was referring to the inside-out game Bradford was playing - and winning - with the Panthers' secondary.
Despite losing top receiver Mark Clayton to a season-ending injury last month, Bradford has continued to progress during his first season. He completed his first three passes to get in a rhythm the Panthers couldn't break.
"I felt very comfortable out there, probably the most comfortable I've felt," Bradford said. "I thought our offensive line did a great job giving me time. I think that really helped out a lot. I was able to really go through my reads, go through my progressions and find the completions."
The Panthers threw a few blitzes at Bradford, who was sacked twice. But he kept his composure and connected on 25 of 32 passes, spreading the completions to seven receivers.
Most of Bradford's passes were short throws, but that is not to say they were gimmes.
"It was a lot of little short stuff," Marshall said. "You get frustrated because you're on them and you're there. But he throws it to where only the receiver can catch it."
Bradford was content making the short and underneath passes against Panthers defensive coordinator Ron Meeks' Tampa 2 scheme. He averaged 7.6 yards per completion.
"Early in the game I just took what the defense gave me. I think that's a sign I'm becoming more comfortable in this offense, knowing that I don't have to force anything downfield," Bradford said. "Eventually those plays downfield will present themselves. Completions are just huge for us right now."
Bradford has now gone three games without an interception. His smart play Sunday helped the Rams win the turnover battle 4-0.
"We get a lot of that type of offense against us - close to the vest, not a whole lot of risk involved," Panthers coach John Fox said. "They've done an outstanding job doing that and they've protected the football. That's helped them get to where they are."
The Rams are 4-4 heading into their bye week - already a three-game improvement from 2009 and just a half-game out of first place in the NFC West.
"We're right in the mix," Bradford said. "If we can put together a string of wins in the second half of the season, we've got a shot to be in the playoffs."