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Bernie: Rams' Problems On Road Are Beyond Crazy
Bernie: Rams' problems on road are beyond crazy
BY BERNIE MIKLASZ
Monday, November 15, 2010
SAN FRANCISCO • The most honest answer of the day came from Steven Jackson, who was asked to explain the Rams' baffling, mysterious, incomprehensible and maddening inability to win on the road.
"I really don't know," the Rams running back said.
Jackson wasn't being flip. He really doesn't know. No one dressed in the blue and gold knows. Those horns on the Rams helmets ought to be tweaked and redesigned to look like question marks. It happened again Sunday at Candlestick Park. The San Francisco ***** were the latest to do a Jack Bauer on the Rams, somehow wriggling free for a bewildering, ridiculous, against-all-odds escape that defies logic, sanity and simple explanations.
This time the drama and torment carried over into overtime, with the ***** prevailing 23-20.
The Rams have been analyzed. And psychoanalyzed. They've done some good things on the road, playing very well for long stretches of game time. Other than the mess in Detroit, road wins have been within easy reach, almost in the Rams' hands. But three times the Rams were denied, and depressed, losing by two at Oakland, by one at Tampa Bay, and by three at San Francisco. They led two of those games at the half and were tied at halftime Sunday.
The ***** had no business winning Sunday. They allowed five sacks, were 0 for 11 on third downs and committed 14 penalties for 105 yards. But when the ***** needed to make a play, they all but borrowed Cody Ross and Edgar Renteria from the San Francisco baseball Giants to get it done.
And the Rams haven't won a road game in the NFC West since Nov. 18, 2007.
"A game is a game," guard Adam Goldberg said. "I think that's something that you (media) guys make a little more out of than we do. I don't know about you, but the players, we really don't care if we're at home or on the road. Obviously it's nice when you are at home playing in front of your fans but it's not like we think playing on the road is a huge disadvantage. It's not something that we put much thought or concern into."
Did someone conk Mr. Goldberg on the head during Sunday's matinee?
Look, the Rams are in second place instead of first place in the NFC West because of this particular losing habit. These road losses are significant. They aren't random events, or a fluke. This has become a trend. A pattern. And these Rams' yack jobs away from St. Louis are why the Seattle Seahawks lead the division with a 5-4 record. The Seahawks — a seriously flawed team — are 2-3 on the road. The Rams are 0-4. Hence, Seattle (5-4) has a one-game lead on the 4-5 Rams.
Someone should show the math to Goldy. Unless the Rams can break through on the road, they won't steal this division from their incomplete and incompetent rivals. And these losses are increasingly difficult to rationalize or brush off. You could understand going down at Oakland; it was the first road game of quarterback Sam Bradford's career. And even good teams let one get away every now and then.
But the collapses at Tampa Bay and San Francisco were awful. The Rams blew a 17-3 lead at Tampa Bay. At San Francisco, they couldn't hold off the ***** by making a stop late in the fourth quarter with the home team facing a third down and 32 yards, then fourth down and 18 yards, to gain for a first down.
Third and 32: San Francisco quarterback Troy Smith, 14 yards to RB Frank Gore.
Fourth and 18: Smith, 23 yards to Frank Gore.
Ummm ... I'm no Buddy Ryan, but let me offer this bit of keen insight: Might be a good idea to have someone cover Gore there. On the fourth-down bullet, Rams defensive backs Jerome Murphy and Michael Lewis seemed confused and out of position.
And on the next play, Smith drilled a 16-yard TD pass to wide receiver Michael Crabtree to give the ***** a 20-17 lead. The Rams would tie it 20-20 on a terrific, clutch drive led by Bradford. (The kid was strong again. Imagine what he'll be like if they ever find him a legit No. 1 receiver.) But when the Rams went three-and-out in their first overtime possession, everyone in the stadium could sense this one was over. It was just a matter of finishing off a spent, assignment-blowing Rams defense.
It also helped that the officials kept the *****' winning drive alive with one of the worst pass interference calls I've seen in 30 years of covering the NFL, but that isn't the reason the Rams lost.
When you make Troy Smith look like Joe Montana ... well, look in the mirror.
"As a defense that's inexcusable," Rams middle linebacker James Laurinaitis said.
It wasn't just the defense, either. Rams head coach Steve Spagnuolo essentially gave the ***** a quick touchdown by making the puzzling decision to start Kevin Dockery at cornerback instead of Bradley Fletcher. Predictably, the ***** attacked the overwhelmed Dockery for a long bomb, setting up an easy TD to put the Rams behind 7-3. (Earlier, they fooled Dockery on a play-action fake and hit on a deep ball, but were unable to move in for points.)
Bradford overthrew an uncovered Danny Amendola on a long pass that would have gone for about a 50-yard touchdown. After taking a 17-10 lead, the Rams blocked a punt and took control at San Francisco's 36-yard line. It was an ideal opportunity to put this baby away. But they stalled and came away with no points, beginning a sequence of four consecutive wasted possessions ending in punts.
Twice, Rams wideout Brandon Gibson could have kept drives alive by making a catch and diving for the necessary first-down yardage. But instead of lowering his head and ramming for the first down, Gibson got cute and opted for fancy, unsuccessful attempts to elude tacklers. That isn't smart football. And on the two-minute drill that resulted in the FG and 20-20 tie, the Rams lost a chance to win it in regulation when tight end Daniel Fells dropped a short pass that could have gone for a touchdown.
"It's really frustrating when you have a chance to put teams away and can't do it," Bradford said. "We've got to find that killer instinct."
Spagnuolo said he was proud of his team because "they're fighters."
Other Rams mentioned that, too.
That they're fighters.
Well, Chuck Wepner was a fighter, too. You can Google him. Basically, Chuck bled a lot. And Wepner once went 15 valiant rounds with heavyweight champion Muhammad Ali. Everyone talked about how hard Wepner fought the night he took on Ali. Sylvester Stallone watched the bout and was inspired to write the screenplay for "Rocky."
Great. Only one problem: Wepner didn't win the fight. And as long as the Rams continue to do the Wepner on the road, all they'll have to show for it are more scars.
Re: Bernie: Rams' Problems On Road Are Beyond Crazy
Tough but fair. That game was fascinatingly frustrating in that the Rams kept finding creative ways to not win the darn game. Dropping the game winning pass. Allowing two big completions back to back to the same receiver (a runningback at that) for a first down that they absolutely needed or they weren't going to win the game. The game is virtually over if you stop them there and we just could not get it done.
We represent the epitomy of choking on the road and it has to end, or we'll just be the Saint Louis Rams, an improved team that still has work to do instead of becoming a contender for something more than not getting the first overall pick.
I don't think I've ever think we needed receiver more than I think we do now.
Re: Bernie: Rams' Problems On Road Are Beyond Crazy
The team is performing very well, lets not lose sight of that. The Rams are also getting better as the season progresse's. The run blocking could be better though. It would be nice if we had a go to reciever but we haven't.
The passing game is improving almost by the week, while the run game is stuttering.
Bell isnt strong enough for me, and Jackson really does need help in my opinion.
I honestly think the defense needs to stiffen, playcalling needs to be less conservative in key situations. Were doing O.K considering, Im optimistic for the future which is unusual. I hope they dont let me down this week?
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