Monday, September 17, 2007

Rams, 0-2 at Home, Have History Against Them

By Bill Coats

Research done by colleague Bernie Miklasz makes this much crystal clear about the Rams: Statistically, their chances of making the playoffs are almost nil.

As Miklasz wrote earlier in the week, “Over the last five seasons, since the divisional realignment went into place, of the 60 NFL teams to have qualified for the playoffs, only four made it there after starting off 0-2. And of the four of the 60 who survived, only one, the 2003 Philadelphia Eagles, reached the postseason after opening the regular season with two consecutive home losses.”

That exactly where the Rams stand after stumbling at the Edward Jones Dame against Carolina last week and then San Francisco 17-16 on Sunday. The Rams last started 0-2 at home in 1998; they finished 4-12.

“It’s a hole,” kicker Jeff Wilkins said just moments after his 56-yard field goal try with 1:04 left fell short. “But it’s a long season.”

That was the mantra in the locker room as the players tried to apply some positive spin to a highly disappointing start.

“It’s a big loss as far as the (NFC West) division goes,” linebacker Will Witherspoon said. “There’s a long road ahead of us. You can’t just say, ‘Well, we started 0-2 and let’s just ride in from here.’ You can’t just shut it down.”

Dante Hall, whose fumbled punt with about 5½ minutes left, set up Frisco’s game-winning field goal, was perhaps the most adamant in defending the Rams’ hopes of achieving a major turnaround.

“We went 4-1 last year and didn’t make the playoffs, so it’s not in any way a season-ending loss for us,” Hall said. “It hurts, but in no way, shape, form or fashion is this season over.”

It resumes next week at Tampa Bay.


Wilkins, who nailed a 53-yarder earlier in the game, is one of the most accurate long-range kickers in the league. Still, he knew after pregame warmups that 56 yards was probably out of his range.

“I give (coach Scott Linehan) a distance, and last week and this week I was saying the 35-yard line, which would be a 53″- yard try,” Wilkins said. “But then when it comes down to something like that . . . that’s where I rely on adrenaline maybe to get me a couple of more yards. I hit it and . . . that was pretty much (all) I had.”


Notes & quotes:

>>QB Marc Bulger, sacked six times and hit hard on perhaps half of his 41 pass attempts, reported soreness in his ribs and knee after the game. Since Bulger became the team’s primary QB in 2002, he’s only been sacked more often twice – seven times, by Carolina last year and Frisco in ’05.

>>RG Claude Terrell left briefly with a bruised right thigh, Adam Goldberg stepping in for him. “I got leg-whipped pretty good,” Terrell said.

>>WR Isaac Bruce’s 145 yards (on eight catches) marked his most prolific outing since he totaled 170 vs. Green Bay in 2004.

>>The Rams did a decent job on RB Frank Gore, the NFC’s top rusher last year. Gore’s 20 carries netted 81 yards, but 43 of them came on a tackle-busting 43-yard touchdown jaunt. He averaged only 2.0 yards on his 19 other carries.

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