Monday, September 28, 2009

Rams Lose 36-17, Continue Their Futility

The Rams needed to make a stand Sunday to show their fans – and themselves – that progress is coming with the New Regime.

They failed dismally. Some faces changed in this defeat, but familiar problems remained.

The Rams staggered to their 13th loss in a row and 30th in 35 games, falling to the Packers 36-17 in their home opener at the Edward Jones Dome on Sunday.

“I was disappointed with the result, but I wasn’t disappointed with the effort,” coach Steve Spagnuolo said after the game, repeating his familiar refrain.

With a horrific offensive start, the Rams fell behind 16-0 less than six minutes into the second quarter. They got a spark when quarterback Kyle Boller replaced starter Marc Bulger — who departed with a bruised shoulder.

The Rams fought back to cut Green Bay’s lead to 23-17 . . . and then their comeback bid ran out of steam.

The Rams got two TD receptions by tight end Daniel Fells, 163 total yards from Steven Jackson, 187 return yards from Danny Amendola and a 53-yard field by Josh Brown.

And now the bad news:

  • Bulger and Jackson turned the ball over with first-quarter fumbles. Both mishaps put the Packers into scoring position.
  • Brown had a 48-yard field goal attempt blocked.
  • Despite his two TD passes, Boller finished with a dreary passer rating of 75.2. He misfired on 15 of 31 passes and threw a late interception.
  • Working against the makeshift Packers line, the Rams front seven didn’t apply much pass pressure. These guys let Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers break containment and scramble for 40 yards and a touchdown.
  • Overall, the Rams defense allowed 402 yards as Rodgers posted a passer rating of 126.9. He kept bombing away, hitting one big play after another in the Rams secondary.

“You try to bounce back after those big plays, but they kill you,” Spagnuolo said.

Top Rams wide receiver Laurent Robinson left the game with an ankle injury and starting safety James Butler suffered an MCL injury. Those injuries left a bad team even more shorthanded.

“Laurent had done some good things for us in some key situations,” Spagnuolo said. “We’ll have to have other guys step up.”

And Butler, Spagnuolo said, “he kind of runs the show back there.”

So the Rams, 0-3, sank to the very bottom of the NFL. The Detroit Lions won today, so there can be no team worse than this one.

Spagnuolo says he doesn’t want to discuss the past, but he has done nothing to this point to break the three-year pattern of failure.

Monday, September 21, 2009

Rams Fall Short Against Redskins

By Nick Wagoner
Senior Writer


First Quarter

- The Redskins won the toss and elected to receive. The Rams, in the blue jerseys with gold pants, are set to kick off.

- The Rams defense did its duty, getting a three and out as Jonathan Wade broke up a deep pass on first down and a completion to Malcolm Kelly fell 1 yard short. The Rams take over at their 28.

- Bulger quickly completed a 12-yard pass to Robinson and hit Jackson for a gain of 3 yards two plays later. With those completions, Bulger became the franchise’s all time leader in that category.

- Unfortunately, the 12-yard gain was the only first down the team would pick up and Jones punted to Washington’s 14 where the Redskins took over for possession No. 2.

- The Redskins fared much better this time around as Clinton Portis and Chris Cooley did most of the work. Washington had a first and goal at the Rams’ 8 but the Rams defense did enough to hold the Redskins to a field goal when Witherspoon tipped a third-down pass in the end zone that fell incomplete.

- Suisham connected from 21 yards out to make it 3-0 Redskins with 4:57 to go in the quarter.

- Kenneth Darby got the first kick return opportunity of the day for the Rams, bringing it back to the Rams 15.

- The Rams’ second opportunity started ominously when McMichael fumbled after a catch but it was negated by a roughing the passer penalty.

- Center Jason Brown suffered a right knee injury and was replaced by Mark Setterstrom at center.

- The Rams have a second down at Washington’s 46 to open the second quarter, trailing 3-0.

Second Quarter

- The Rams’ drive stalled after a second down sack and they had to punt it back to Washington. The Redskins took over at their 26.

- Again, Washington was able to march it down the field, converting a third-and-10 in Rams territory when Campbell hit Santana Moss for a gain of 21 yards. The Rams again came up with a hold, as Washington settled for a 28-yard field goal from Suisham to make it 6-0 Washington with 7:58 to go in the half.

- The Rams offense found the spark it needed on second down of its ensuing possession as Jackson snaked through a hole on the right side and raced for a gain of 62 yards. A block in the back on Avery cost them 10 yards but gave the Rams a first down at Washington’s 36.

- The Rams picked up another first down on a completion to McMichael for 7 yards and a penalty.

- That helped set up a third-and-3 for the Rams at Washington’s 17.

- Jackson passed Dick Bass for fourth on the team’s all time rushing yards list.

- Bulger hit Robinson for a key third down conversion to give the Rams a first down at Washington’s 5.

- On third down, Bulger hit Robinson again with a fade pattern to the left corner of the end zone for a 2-yard touchdown to give the Rams their first lead of the season with 3:56 to go in the half at 7-6.

- The defense got a stop when Ron Bartell forced a fumble and recovered it. The play was originally ruled down but a booth review overturned it and the Rams went to the locker room with a 7-6 lead.

Third Quarter

- The Rams received the opening kickoff of the half hoping to maintain momentum gained at the end of the first.

- After a 13-yard strike to Robinson on first down, Bulger threw three straight incompletions and the Rams punted. Washington took over at its 21.

- The Redskins managed a trio of first downs, including another third down conversion to Moss.

- On third-and-10 at Washington’s 47, Campbell hit Cooley for yet another conversion, this time for 18 yards.

- Again Washington marched deep into Rams territory and the St. Louis defense found a way to force another field goal.

- Suisham converted this one from 23 yards out to make it 9-7 Washington with 6:27 to go in the quarter.

- The Rams have responded with a long drive of their own, one that’s still going after some key conversions, including a second-and-25.

- At the end of the third quarter, the Redskins lead the Rams 9-7 and the Rams have the ball at Washington’s 21.

Fourth Quarter

- Poised to take the lead in the fourth quarter, disaster struck the Rams. An offense that had taken care of the ball all day, lost it when Avery caught a potential third down conversion and coughed it up when Chris Horton forced a fumble. Carlos Rogers recovered for the Redskins at their 7, where they took over.

- The defense was able to get a stop as a James Hall sack forced Washington to punt from its own end zone.

- The Rams picked up 8 yards on the first two plays but an incompletion on third down led to a Rams punt.

- Washington took over at its 20 and pieced together a long, time consuming drive deep into St. Louis territory, including a fourth-down conversion at the Rams’ 20.

- On fourth-and-short from the Rams’ 2, Washington opted to go for it again.

- This time, the Rams got a stop and got the ball at their 4.

- But the Rams had four consecutive incompletions and Washington regained possession.

- The Redskins got in victory formation and ran the clock out for a 9-7 win.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Seahawks blow past Rams 28-0

SEATTLE (AP)—The Seahawks soared, seemingly revived under new coach Jim Mora.

St. Louis? Looked like the same old Rams who went 2-14 last year and got Steve Spagnuolo his first head coaching job.

Matt Hasselbeck, playing his first game since Thanksgiving Day, overcame two interceptions in his first three throws Sunday to connect with John Carlson for two touchdowns in Seattle’s 28-0 romp past the Rams.

The Seahawks took advantage of a rare use of instant replay to cruise over the sloppy, undisciplined Rams.

Hasselbeck finished 25 of 36 for 279 yards passing, his most for an opener. Seattle beat its division rival for the ninth consecutive time with its biggest win to begin a season since a 38-0 victory over Philadelphia in 1998.

The Rams gained just 247 yards in a flop that looked alarmingly like their 38-3 loss against Philadelphia that opened last season. The Rams were also doomed by 10 penalties—two personal fouls after plays by volatile offensive lineman Richie Incognito.

Julius Jones took the new one-step-and-go run game of first-year offensive coordinator Greg Knapp literally, bolting untouched 62 yards for a touchdown in the second half. Jones finished with 117 yards on 19 carries behind the new zone-blocking scheme of an offensive line that barely missed nine-time Pro Bowl left tackle Walter Jones and starting center Chris Spencer, both out injured.

St. Louis’ bright spots were 14 tackles from rookie middle linebacker James Laurinaitis and an interception early by Oshiomogho Atogwe, who was all over the field.

Too bad for the Rams their offense wasn’t. It managed just 13 first downs against the new, attacking schemes of first-year defensive coordinator Gus Bradley.

Marc Bulger, playing with tape on his broken right pinkie, was 17 of 36 for 191 yards. He was sacked three times.

The game’s decisive—and weirdest—play came in the final minute of the first half. Seattle’s Olindo Mare struck a 49-yard field goal try low. St. Louis’ C.J. Ah You blocked it, and three other Rams could have. Quincy Butler scooped the ball and ran 49 yards for an apparent touchdown.

As the Rams were about to snap for the tying extra point, referee Pete Morelli surprised everyone by announcing the booth officials had called for a review—for whether St. Louis had 12 men on the field.

Turns out, they did. The Rams’ sideline had almost no reaction, as if bewildered at the rare reversal. Three plays later, Hasselbeck found Nate Burleson for a 12-yard touchdown. Instead of 7-7 at halftime, Seattle led 14-0.

The Rams never recovered.

The issue of giving replay officials authority to review plays on the field grew after an infamous incident involving former Steelers coach Bill Cowher in 1995, four years before the current replay system was introduced. The late referee Gordon McCarter incorrectly called Pittsburgh for 12 men on the field during a game against Minnesota. Cowher was fined for comically stuffing into McCarter’s pocket a photo from the press box showing 11 Steelers on the field.

Seattle made it 21-0 midway through the third quarter on a 33-yard pass from Hasselbeck to Carlson one play after Carlson’s 38-yard catch and run.

The Seahawks had two turnovers in the first seven minutes. Hasselbeck’s first interception came in the end zone on a ball tipped by Atogwe to teammate James Butler, three plays after the Rams lost a fumble on the opening kickoff. On the next series, Atogwe jumped a slant route by Burleson for another interception.

But after former Seahawk Josh Brown was booed and then cheered for missing a 37-yard field goal, a Seahawks drive ended with a 1-yard toss to Carlson.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Defense Does It Again

By Nick Wagoner

First Quarter

- The Rams got a quick three and out on Kansas City’s opening possession as Justin King made a nice tackle after stretching a play wide for no gain. On third down, Jonathan Wade stopped Jamaal Charles for a loss of 3.

- On their first possession, the Rams gave it right back after a three and out of their own.

- The Chiefs picked up a couple of first downs before the Rams came up with another stop.

- Likewise, the Rams moved it with a third down conversion to tight end Daniel Fells before a punt.

- Jones booted a 58-yard punt that was downed at Kansas City’s 1 to start the Chiefs’ third drive.

- The Rams went to their second team defense for the most part on the following drive and Kansas City capitalized. A 41-yard jaunt by Larry Johnson gave the Chiefs the ball at the Rams’ 6.

- Penalties derailed the drive and Kansas City had to settle for a 31-yard field goal from Ryan Succop. The Chiefs have a 3-0 lead with 55 seconds to go in the quarter.

- The Rams have put their second team offense in with the exception of Bell, Goldberg and Smith. Brock Berlin is in at quarterback.

- At the end of the first quarter, Kansas City leads 3-0.

Second Quarter

- The Rams got off to a promising start on their next possession as Brock Berlin hit receiver Ronald Curry for a 14-yard gain.
- But a trio of incompletions forced the Rams to punt again. Jones boomed another kick and the Chiefs started their next possession from the 14.

- Rams defense gets a three and out as C.J. Ah You came up with a sack for a loss of 7 yards on third down. Rams take over at their 47.

- Rams took a shot on first down but Berlin just missed Derek Stanley deep down the right sideline.

- The Rams couldn’t convert a third-and-1 and Jones punted again. This time, he dropped it at Kansas City’s 2. Jones is having a big night.

- Dantrell Savage broke a 70-yard run to the Rams’ 28.

- A sack by Victor Adeyanju stalled that drive and the Chiefs had to settle for a 40-yard field goal by Succop.

- The Chiefs lead 6-0 with 9:20 to go in the half.

- The Rams responded with their best drive of the night as Berlin was nearly perfect on the possession and hit tight end Daniel Fells for a 6-yard touchdown. The extra point gave the Rams a 7-6 lead with 1:51 to go.

- Berlin was 7-of-9 on the drive for 74 yards including a 17-yard completion to Curry and a 27-yard strike to Nate Jones for a gain of 27 yards on third-and-10.

- The drive covered 85 yards on 15 plays in 7:29.

- Rams get a three and out right away as a blitz for Adeyanju forces a third down incompletion.

- Chiefs safety DaJuan Morgan appeared to come up with an interception on the Rams first play from scrimmage to give the Chiefs life at the Rams’ 23.

- The Rams defense got the job done again, holding Kansas City to a 34-yard field goal. Kansas City has a 9-7 lead at the half.

Third Quarter

- The Rams opened the second half with the ball and rookie Keith Null at quarterback. Chris Ogbonnaya picked up 26 yards on the drive as the Rams got into Kansas City territory but the drive stalled at Kansas City’s 36.

- The Rams opted to punt and Kansas City took over at its 15.

- After driving into St. Louis territory on a 53-yard completion, the Rams got another takeaway in the preseason as David Roach forced a fumble that linebacker Dominic Douglas recovered in St. Louis territory.

- Null hit Stanley on third down for a conversion to move into Kansas City territory.

- The Rams couldn’t get another first down, though, and Jones had to punt again. This time, he couldn’t drop it inside the 10 and it went through the end zone for a touchback.

- The Chiefs’ possession didn’t last long though as Rams cornerback Quincy Butler sat on an out route and picked off a Tyler Thigpen pass. He returned it 28 yards for a touchdown and a 14-9 Rams lead with 2:48 to go in the quarter.

- The Rams have the ball and a 14-9 lead at the end of three.

Fourth Quarter

- The Rams got yet another takeaway to open the final quarter as Justin King got an interception at Kansas City’s 26.

- The offense couldn’t do much with it though and a fumble on third down that the Rams recovered knocked the team out of field goal range. Jones punted again, this time dropping it at the 10 and Kansas City took over at its 12.

- The teams traded punts but a roughing the punter penalty on Kansas City gave the Rams a first down and new life with about eight minutes to go.

- That was enough to give the Rams another chance to score and they took advantage. Null connected with Sean Walker for gains of 14 and 23 yards.

- Josh Brown connected on a 37-yard field goal for a 17-9 lead with 4:08 to play.

- After Kansas City marched into Rams’ territory, the defense stepped up and got the stop it needed again.

- The offense couldn't salt out the clock and the Rams had to punt with about 50 seconds left. Jones rocked a 62-yard punt, downed at Kansas City's 6 to put it away.

- The Rams ultimately held on for a 17-9 win. The Rams finish the preseason 3-1 for the first time since 2005.