Rams smashed by Cardinals 30-13; The Good, the Bad and the (plenty of) Ugly
The Rams were physically manhandled in the second half today by a tough Cardinals team in a 30-10 loss which wasn't quite as close as the score indicated. With the exception of one terrific long run by Tavon Austin, who was injured on the play, the Rams showed absolutely no pulse of any kind on offense after halftime, to the point where excluding a couple of passes in absolute garbage time, we actually achieved negative passing yardage in the second half and no running game either. Without Sammy, the Rams are obviously not a team that is going to do particularly well when we can't run the game, and we are certainly not structured to come from behind with Clemens at the helm. Both of those issues were evident in the extreme today, and Clemens is probably lucky to escape with his life. His head will certainly filled with ugly dreams on Dansby and Abraham clobbering him into submission. We were officially eliminated from the playoffs today, something that was inevitable the day Sammy went down, but we are now playing for jobs and pride for the last three games of the season.
Best news of the day-Redskins get blown out.
Fantastic 56 yard run by Tavon Austin, showing moves, burst and speed.
Nice sack for Tree, who had 9 tackles (despite a big miss on a 21 yard run)
Hecker banged punts all day and leads the nfl in net kicking (although he did kick one from midfield into the end zone that he should have dropped around the 10)
Special teams did a very nice job containing Peterson on the punt returns.
Or run defense wasnt terrible at all (32 attempts for 107), although we continue to be plagued by missed tackles and our pass defense was a disgrace (see below)
The first half featured excellent pass protection and some nice throws by Clemens, who was 11-15-141 at half and was sacked only once as Arizona focused on cutting off the run. Clemens 102 rating in the first half was obviously NOT a foreshadowing of the debacle that happened after halftime.
Bailey had an excellent first half (3-46 and drawing an INT against him as well) before disappearing in the second half. He has to play regularly for the rest of the year. I really like his route running and he has very reliable hands.
Nice catches by Kendricks (15 yards for first down), Harkey (9 yards), Cook and Givens (21 yards, and an actual catch of a ball that hit him in the hands). All of these of course were in the first half.
Trumaine had a couple of nice tackles for losses on Fitz, at least when Fitz was not running wild in the secondary, looking like the second coming of Jerry Rice.
Janoris had a couple of nice pass breakups (he also had a couple of rough penalties called on him that looked very ticky tacky). He gave on several passes today, but didnt get beat deep (see below for commentary on the secondary in general).
Nice pass breakup by Laurinaitis in end zone vs Floyd (although he had a quiet day with only four tackles)
Good challenge by Fisher on the punt at the goal line.
The Leg made his one field goal attempt today (44 yards).
The entire second half, excluding the Austin run was just bad, and was really more ugly than bad.
Our tackling is still way too erratic. Too many misses on what could be negative or contained plays.
Terrible on 3rd down on defense. Arizona was 8-14. That won't get it done (see commentary below on ugly section on our complete lack of pass rush).
When clemens did have some time in the second half, he made terrible decisions and threw some bad INT's (see ugly below). He wound up 16-27-181, which means he was 5-12 for 41 yards and four sacks in the second half!
We were physically dominated at the line of scrimmage in the run game. Stacy wound up 14-25 and had no chance all day. THis was really the key to the game.
We were physically dominated by the Arizona offensive line. We had no functional pass rush, and that puts pressure that we can not handle on a young and in many ways suspect secondary, especially at the safety and slot corner positions. Two 80 yard drives, including one right before halftime, really hurt.
We kept Fitz from beating us deep, but he killed us for 12-96, beating us like a drum on third down over and over.
We were physically dominated by the Arizona defensive line with 4 second half sacks and a safety.
Most of the bad really belongs in the ugly. The second half was just about as ugly as it gets if you exclude the Austin run.
Cleveland, Minny and Atlanta all blew games that they had either won or big leads in.
Brian Quick completely AWOL today.
The penalties 11-90 with 5 first downs are ugly in the extreme. We are not remotely good enough on either side of the ball to make those kinds of mistakes, especially the stupid pre snap penalties and personal fouls. How in the world do you get a delay of game when you are punting from your own 10 yard line.
No running game, no second half pass protection, no ability to cover receivers and no pass rush. That about says it all.
The secondary looked terrible, with Palmer completing 27-32-269 and a td. However, we didnt get beat deep and a number of those passes our guys were right on the receivers. I am not defending the secondary, i know we need real help back there, but we had nothing that even remotely resembled a functional pass rush today, and without a pass rush (one sack and only a handful of hits on Palmer), with an experienced qb and quality receivers, there isn't much hope. TJ McDonald had 8 tackles, missed 8 more, had a terrible late hit penalty and couldnt cover the tight end on a huge play early. Palmer was 16-17 in the first half and we werent in the same area code as him pass rush wise on almost all of those throws.
The cardinals must have signed Anthony Munoz during the week because Quinn didnt do much again. He had 2 or 3 hits and a few tackles, but he sure didnt cause any real problems. He also had a stupid penalty when he pulled off his helmet. Chris Long was essentially invisible today and got no pressure at all that i saw. We also got no effective push up the middle.
Jake Long struggled terribly in the second half.
The INT at the start of the third quarter which effectively ended the game was just an ugly decision and a ugly throw by clemens. He just can't throw the ball out into the flat like that.
The last TD run was embarrassing. Three missed tackles up the middle on 3rd and 6, with McLeod missing among others.
The refs blew the call that could have made a big difference in the game when Janoris recovered the fumble in the end zone and ran it back, but of course, Simms had a moronic penalty hitting the qb right in front of the ref, so even if they got the call right, we still would have had the play called back.
Our field position was beyond ugly all day. Two starts on the 1 and i think four inside our own 10.
Let's hope the injury to Tavon doesnt turn out to be ugly. When he was twisting around in pain i was fearful that it was a torn achilles, but at least he walked off under his own power.
Where do we go from here as we play out the string? The Saints at home, a much improved Tampa team at home, and Seattle on the road (in a game that may or may not have any impact on the seachickens playoff seeding). It will be up to coach to see if he can motivate our team to play hard, but it really comes down to whether we can run the ball, because as we have seen in the last two weeks, when we can't run, we are simply not a competitive NFL team without Sammy. The future of the Rams depends on many things, but the Redskins draft pick is certainly one of them, and let's hope that the falcons show up next week at home vs. the 'Skins and win that game, which has huge implications for us. Sammy's injury has nothing to do with all the stupid penalties, and it certainly doesnt explain no pass rush against the Cardinals, who are now 8-5, making the NFC West by far the toughest division in the NFL.
By the way, i corrected the error in the title, i realize we only scored 10 points today, not 13!
Ramming speed to all