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Bernie: Rams Need To Throw Out Caution
Bernie: Rams need to throw out caution
BY BERNIE MIKLASZ
Monday, December 27, 2010 11:45 am
It was a strange but compelling afternoon of football Sunday at the Edward Jones Dome when the ***** and Rams went after each other in their own special way.
Imagine a TV show that combined the antics of "The Three Stooges" with the desperation of "Survivor" and you'd have a rough NFL version of the *****-Rams. OK, throw in "Mad Men" to account for the ruthless behavior of the game-saving Rams defense.
The Rams' crucial 25-17 victory was part slapstick, part drama. There was comedy (most of it from the *****) and suspense and the continuing adventures of rising star Sam Bradford.
Both head coaches fought their quarterbacks, but in different ways.
On the visitors' sideline you had ***** coach Mike Singletary arguing with his starter, Troy Smith, who was later benched in favor of Alex Smith. It didn't matter. With the unstable Singletary beating down his quarterbacks' confidence all season, the Rams moved in for the flurry of punches that eliminated San Francisco from playoff contention.
On the home-team side we had overly cautious Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo trying to wrestle the football away from his top playmaker, Bradford, by going conservative instead of going straight for the *****' throats.
The Rams were aggressive and creative early, letting Bradford free wheel out of a spread formation to catch the ***** off guard and take a 9-0 lead. And then Spagnuolo, who loves defense, shut down his own offense by trying to become a power-running team.
Spagnuolo apparently believed his team was set to protect a nine-point lead over the final three quarters, but that changed in a hurry, with the Niners scoring twice on big plays to claim a 14-12 halftime lead.
In the second half, after Bradford had passed the Rams into an eight-point lead, the ***** drew to within five points with 5 minutes, 46 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter. After an 84-yard kickoff return by Danny Amendola that set the Rams up at San Francisco's 12-yard line, Spagnuolo ordered up three running plays and settled for a field goal instead of going for the TD that would have instantly terminated the visitors.
After the field goal the Rams led by eight, but it was still a one-possession game and the ***** had a shot. But hey, the winner gets the credit. And in this case Spagnuolo was validated for having unwavering confidence in a defense that came up with four sacks, a safety, two takeaways and a bunch of quarterback hits. The Rams caused five fumbles and allowed San Francisco to convert only four of 16 third downs.
So perhaps Spagnuolo knew best.
"Luckily for me, this time it all worked out," Spags said.
Spagnuolo's motivational skills were sharp Sunday. He had the Rams wired to play, then picked the players back up at halftime, clearing the shock that set in with San Francisco's unexpected rally for a 14-12 lead.
It was a crazy, fun way to spend the day after Christmas. The ***** and Rams may not look like playoff-caliber brigades, but jacked-up fans at The Ed opened their voices to full throttle and provided a playoff atmosphere.
"I thought the environment in the dome today was amazing," Bradford said. "I want to thank our fans — they were great today. That's as loud as I've ever heard this place. And I hope that in a couple of weeks if we're fortunate enough to have a home playoff game, that it's even louder."
Bradford was magnificent, completing 28 of 37 passes for 292 yards and a touchdown, with no interceptions and a passer rating of 107. With the ***** stacking and stalking Steven Jackson at every turn, a conventional rushing attack wasn't an option for the Rams.
Offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur — with Spags' blessing — turned Bradford loose again in the second half. Well, at least until the final five minutes, when Spags pulled back and resorted to the run again. But until then the HC put the game, and the season, in the rookie's right palm. And they gave Bradford a dangerous weapon, the DX missile, wideout Danario Alexander.
Bradford responded like a champ, leading the Rams to 10 fourth-quarter points. The offensive line gave Bradford secure protection for the first time in a month, and that made a substantial difference.
Through one second-half stretch the Rams attempted passes on 17 of 20 plays — including eight consecutively. Bradford completed 16 of 20 passes in the second half for 168 yards and a touchdown.
The Rams move on to Seattle for Sunday's showdown, with the winner taking the NFC West title.
Yeah, we know that the NFC West stinks. I get a kick out of the people who continually bring that up, as if they're Vince Lombardi delivering some remarkably astute and unique observation.
I don't think any reasonably intelligent Rams fan cares about the quality of the NFC West right now. Not after they sat through a horrendous stretch of 6-42 football from 2007 to 2009 including the 1-15 drop to the bottom of the league last season.
Considering the futile football follies of recent years, an 8-8 record and a division title looks attractive. Only two years into a massive reconstruction, an 8-8 record and a division title would be an appropriate symbol of the progress that's already been made.
This is a great opportunity for a young team. Seattle is experiencing a severe case of the bends, having lost seven of its last nine and getting outscored by an average of 22 points in the seven defeats.
That said, the Seahawks are 4-3 at home this season. Qwest Field will be a difficult setting for the Rams, who have been soft on the road. The Rams will have to buckle up, because there will be no free ride in Seattle.
"It's the same mentality we had this week," Bradford said. "It's win or go home. If we want our season to continue, we have to win next week. From everything I've heard Seattle is a tough place to play. I've heard it's one of the loudest in the NFL. We know it's not going to be easy to go up there and get a win. But if you don't get excited for games like this, then you're probably in the wrong business."
The Rams had better go into Qwest Field and attack. You can't play it overly safe. You can't play not to lose. You have to be bold and confident and play to win. I hope Spagnuolo and staff understand that.
-12-28-2010 #2AlphaRam Guest
Re: Bernie: Rams Need To Throw Out Caution
You have to rely on fat ass Bernie's football playing and coaching experience to guide you in such situations....
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