All is not lost.....
Despite defeat, banged-up Rams are starting to show their character
By Bryan Burwell
Of the Post-Dispatch
Sports Columnist Bryan Burwell
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - For better or worse, this is who the St. Louis Rams are right now as they stagger to the finish line of this season like some punch-drunk fighter on wobbly legs. They are a stripped-down, decidedly unglamorous, but surprisingly courageous version of their former championship selves.
Sometimes, character does reveal itself at the most unexpected times. So is it possible that the true character of the 6-7 Rams just might be courage? Is it possible that in the wreckage of this season - and in the aftermath of Sunday's painful 20-7 loss to the Carolina Panthers - this young, struggling team in transition is discovering a deeper, and more meaningful, character trait called toughness?
This defeat was not a pleasant thing to watch. But it was to be expected, particularly when you consider that the Rams were playing with a 39-year-old quarterback who hadn't played in a year, a third-string running back whose heart is much greater than his talent, and a third-string right tackle with three games of NFL experience facing a Pro Bowl freak of nature at defensive end.
By any account and most expectations, the reeling Rams were supposed to get waylaid by the streaking Panthers before 73,306 witnesses at Bank of America Stadium. When you saw Chris Chandler look like some skittish rookie in throwing six interceptions and all but gift-wrap this game for the Panthers, you'd have to figure that the Rams would be destroyed by the Panthers.
But the funny thing is, they didn't get smoked. They lost the game, but they revealed a competitive heart that maybe none of us realized existed. Maybe some of them, too.
I can't get upset about the Rams losing to the Panthers when I see Marc Bulger in street clothes. I can't get upset about them losing when I see Steven Jackson after the game with his right leg swaddled in athletic tape from his ankle to his upper thigh. The powerful rookie tailback couldn't play because he had a bad knee that had 50 cc's of fluid drained from it before the game. I can't get upset about them losing when I see Marshall Faulk on the sideline with two knees so tender that Mike Martz doesn't have the heart to put him in the lineup.
"I feel bad because my team played its heart out," said Martz. "All these things accumulated (during the game), but they didn't stop playing. They didn't give up. We played as hard as we could."
Okay, playing hard is not exactly a remarkable thing. That's exactly what professional athletes are supposed to do. But what this team is enduring now is remarkable. They are not only playing hard, they are playing with extraordinary guts and guile, playing with pain, and through injuries that would stop lesser men.
For example, linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa was one of the last players in that locker room to get out of his uniform after the game, mainly because he probably couldn't get undressed by himself. His right shoulder had popped out of its socket again during the first half, and the team doctors strapped his upper body in a confining harness that was supposed to prevent the dislocated shoulder from popping out again.
So there he was an hour after the game, being helped by two team trainers removing his shoulder pads and the harness. The post-game medical report said he had a "mild dislocation."
Tinoisamoa laughed at the clinical description. "Is it 'mild'? Hummmpfff, I don't really know. Mild? Severe? All I know is this damned thing hurts," he said chuckling and rubbing the shoulder blade. "But I don't make a big deal out of it because we have guys on this team who don't want to sit down (and not play because of injuries). We have a bunch of fighters on this team. We have guys on this team who are hurtin' but they keep on playing."
As Tinoisamoa talked, he motioned with his right arm in a big, slow, sweeping motion around the room. He swept his arm out to the far right corner of the room, and started pointing out all the different teammates who were doing the same thing he was doing, enduring extraordinary pain and finding a way to get out on the field and play.
"Look around here," said Tinoisamoa. "Travis Fisher over there has a steel plate in his arm and the screws that are supposed to be holding the plates in place are popping out of his arm. We have guys with bad shoulders. We have guys with bad knees, turf toe, whatever, and they're playing. That's what we do. That's our business."
On the other side of the room, big Steven Jackson was getting dressed and fretting over the fact that he couldn't play. The powerful and talented rookie was angry with himself because he wasn't able to do what some of his teammates were able to do on Sunday. But when a doctor is sticking a long needle in your knee and draining large amounts of fluid out of your knee, it's just not practical to think that the Rams could have rolled him out there against the Panthers.
Yet that didn't stop the kid from imagining what sort of impact he could have had on the game. "It makes me mad, because I know I could have run on those guys," he said, shaking his head. "I saw things out there that I know I could have done. I could have helped us win."
So if there is something positive to be gleaned from this loss, maybe it's this: There is a toughness growing among the younger players on this team, and perhaps it is becoming contagious. "I don't care what's wrong with my knee next week," Jackson said. "Next week against Arizona, I'm playing. Period. How's my knee? It's fine. Well, at least I can tell you that it's gonna be fine enough to play next week no matter what."
Re: All is not lost.....
I loved this article by Burwell. Pisa is the man.
Re: All is not lost.....
I like the comments made by Jackson too...... action Jackson we NEED YOU :(