Sam's Silver Linings - Week Fourteen
With three games left to go in the 2012 season, the Rams are still in the playoff hunt.
If you’re a Rams fan, those are some of the most beautiful words you have heard this week. I know they are beautiful to me. The chances that the Rams will actually make it to the wild card round are very slim. If the season ended today, the Rams would be the 10th seed. Over the next three weeks, we will be facing three teams who are also in the hunt for a playoff spot. First, it’s the Vikings, then the Bucs, and finally the Seahawks. Each of these teams are dangerous – the Vikings are fighting their way up, the Seahawks are under the impression that they can actually win out and take the division away from the niners, and the Bucs are pretty much in the same spot we are in – they not only have to win out, but have to have a little help from Lady Luck.
By beating the Bills this past Sunday, the Rams have won three in a row. Those are beautiful words, too. If you have been a Rams fan for a while, you have paid the dues. You got used to hearing things like “the Rams came up short”, or “embarrassing loss by the Rams”. The Rams have shown that they CAN win on the road, CAN beat better teams, and CAN compete with the best in the NFL.
Sometimes, that is. We came up short in some games we should have won – Detroit and Miami are two examples. We got slaughtered in London by the Pats, yet we took the best the niners could give – and beat them. We aren’t the Rams of the past few seasons, that’s for sure. But, on the other hand, we aren’t the team we need to be to compete consistently every week. We’re close – probably one more draft away – but we aren’t there yet.
This past Sunday was a prime example of this. The Bills – a team that by all rights should be rated better than they are – looked to be the team that would come out of this game with a win. Just to make sure that the Bills started off looking like the stronger team, the Rams had to do the best job they could at shooting themselves in the foot. Bradford couldn’t complete a pass for any reason, Jackson couldn’t get more than a yard or two, and our defense was starting to make some simple mistakes. It looked like another game where the Rams would allow our opponents to set several new franchise records. Yet, for some reason, I didn’t worry. This season, I found out that the Rams don’t give up.
That faith in the Rams was rewarded with only 48 seconds left on the clock as Chris Givens sealed the deal after Brandon Gibson put six on the board, giving us the lead.
I still haven’t gotten to the point of remaining calm when we are in need of a last minute score to win or tie a game. Only one short year ago, the Rams always seemed to find a way to lose a game if we had a chance in the fourth quarter. This year, if we’re still alive, it is almost as if we have the “Hulk Hogan” syndrome. Those of us who are old enough remember the Hulkster remember his usual routine – every time he got in the ring, he got a beatdown. Everyone knew he was hurt, no human could come back from that, he was finished. Then – from underneath a half ton of muscles and/or flab, there it was – a hand. Soon, that hand began to tremble. Once that hand was shaking, it didn’t matter who was pinning the Hulk on the mat, every person KNEW that Hulk was going to get up and beat the living haggis out of his opponent.
Jeff Fisher seems to have instilled that same “shaking hand” desire in the Rams. The difference is that the NFL is not usually a scripted performance, but instead, an actual competition. It is such an inspiring thought knowing that the Rams will fight to the bloody end.
Now, for this week’s “Silver Linings”:
1. Sam Bradford: For some reason, many in Rams nation are ready to toss him to the wolves; I don’t understand the negativity. Yes, he had a crappy day, he didn’t complete many passes. What some people don’t seem to see is the “never say die” attitude he has. People always tell me that if the running game doesn’t work, keep feeding the ball to Steven. I say if the passing game doesn’t work, keep throwing the ball. This week, it paid off. After three quarters of incompletions and an interception, Sam kept throwing the ball. The end result was a win.
2. Jo-Lonn Dunbar: An interception at just the right time to seal the win for the Rams, along with two tackles and four assists. Not a bad day’s work.
3. Brandon Gibson: In his fourth season, he is showing the consistency and talent I wish he would have shown all along. Six receptions, 100 yards and one TD made him a standout in the game. Yes, he missed a few, including a couple he should have been able to grab, but while I was cussing about this, I remembered it was cold, and there was rain and sleet falling.
4. Steven Jackson: He didn’t have the kind of day I wanted to see, but he did have some success. One of the most important things this man does is wearing down the defense. It’s truly amazing the way he can carry the ball and five or six defenders at the same time. Another important thing he does is scare our opponents. He may not be as big as some of the linemen, but I guarantee you they feel it when Jackson hits them. You’d feel it if a 6’2”, 240 pound brick wall ran into you at full speed, too. Though he only went 19 carries for 64 yards, he racked up six points for us.
5. Johnny Hekker, a.k.a. “Puntimus Prime”: All I can say is “HOW?” I am still amazed at the recovery and kick he made. I still can’t believe he got that kick off.
6. Michael Brockers: One and a half sacks, and looking better every week. I think we got a great deal on this draft pick.
I’m making the list a little shorter this week. I am of the opinion that we did not give our best in this game, at least not until late in the fourth quarter. There were other bright spots in this game, and I am sure you will agree. There were also some rather bad spots.
Three more weeks – unless the Rams can find a way to win the next three games and have a little luck on their side; this is all we have left for football this season. I don’t think the Rams will be giving up at any point before the season ends; instead they will fight until the final second of the last game.
Everyone be careful out there; I would like to say חנוכה שמחה, Merry Christmas, and Habari Gani to those I may not see or talk with before the Holidays.