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Burwell: Rams Get Reacquainted With Winning
Burwell: Rams get reacquainted with winning
BY BRYAN BURWELL
Monday, September 27, 2010
At long last this was a real feel-good story, not another maddening spin in the three-year cycle of loser's laments. There were no frustrating explanations, no grim postmortems, no clinical autopsies of another defeat. Inside the Rams' locker room in the depths of the Edward Jones Dome early Sunday evening, sweat-soaked grown men sat in front of their locker stalls, weary, bloodied and bruised - some with their legs propped up on crutches, others with various body parts swaddled in miles of tape and pounds of ice packs - every last one of them laughing and joking like little kids at recess.
There were Steven Jackson and Mike Karney, both of them covered in red welts, but neither of them feeling any noticeable pain.
"You could shoot me right now and I wouldn't care," Jackson cackled. "I honestly don't think I would feel a thing."
This was coming from a man who had abruptly left the game in the first half after the Washington defense treated him like a brittle wishbone on Thanksgiving, yanking Jackson's arms and legs in about six different directions and forcing the big running back to the sidelines with a damaged groin muscle for the second half.
But at this delirious moment, it didn't matter because Jackson and the rest of his Rams teammates were swept up in a strange case of total recall.
Get this, people: The Rams finally remembered how to win.
At the end of a rather impressive 30-16 dismantling of the Redskins on Sunday, your previously woebegone Rams - losers at home for two miserable, frustrating years - were getting reacquainted with that winning sensation and loving every minute of it.
So how do you behave when you finally get off a two-year schneid?
A little goofy. A little joyful. A little introspective. But mostly just happy as all get-out. After two ghastly years of Groundhog Day-like repetition, the Rams finally tossed aside a nightmarish 14-game home losing streak and did what good teams do when it's time to win a football game.
"We just finished," said cornerback Ron Bartell. "We didn't shoot ourselves in the foot. We didn't make stupid plays. The first two games we had interceptions that slipped through our hands. Today, we make the interceptions and win the game."
This time, instead of having an itemized list of self-destructive plays to rehash, the Rams could stand in front of a room full of reporters and recount the smart plays, the go-for-the-throat instances where the veteran Washington team pushed up on the previously skittish kids from St. Louis and the kids finally knew how to push back.
When Jackson went down late in the second quarter with the Rams clinging to a 14-13 lead, you could feel the life getting sucked out of the tin-roofed Dome. The half ended with a bizarre series of plays that should have produced seven points (first and goal on the 1-yard line with 1:05 remaining) but instead ended with a blocked field goal.
And then the Redskins came out at the start of the third quarter and marched right down the field to take a 16-14 lead, and 52,370 anxious souls began to fret about how the Rams had blown a 14-0 lead and were about to let another game slip away.
But on the very next possession, the Rams went on a deliberate, clock-gobbling, 12-play, 74-yard march downfield, with rookie quarterback Sam Bradford efficiently finding little slashes of space in the Washington secondary, and the previously unspectacular backup tailback Kenneth Darby finishing it all off by bursting through the line of scrimmage with some nifty running, a nasty stiff arm and a 12-yard touchdown that put the Rams right back into control of the game with a 21-16 lead.
Then came four consecutive Washington offensive possessions that accounted for a total of 27 yards, zero points and no deeper travels beyond its own 37-yard line, and a big interception by second-year cornerback Bradley Fletcher with less than four minutes to go that all but choked off any hope that the Redskins could mount a rally.
"This time the interception didn't slip through our hands," Bartell laughed. "Fletch made the big play. ... Whew. I know it's only the third game of the season, but we needed this one bad."
Instead of 0-3 with that old sinking feeling starting to pile up on them again, the Rams are 1-2 and at home next week facing the surprising NFC West rival Seattle Seahawks (2-1) in a game that could actually put St. Louis right back into legitimate division contention. Now after losing two games against teams the Rams could have beaten, they steal a game in dominant fashion against a Washington team no one figured they'd come close to beating.
Now you can look at this Rams team for the next few days and imagine the possibilities of what can happen if this young team keeps going in the right direction, if it has finally made the needed breakthrough that marks that defining point in a turnaround.
"And what kind of story line would that have been if we had won those first two games like we should have?" center Jason Brown said. "The St. Louis Rams three and ohh? Just think about that. Did it happen? No. Could it have happened? Yes."
But because this still is a young team trying to find its way out of the depths of too much losing, there is always that possibility that Sunday was a glitch, not a defining moment. Are the young Rams ready to prove that they really are getting better?
The interesting thing is that on the field they did not celebrate like it was a Super Bowl victory. They celebrated like it was the third game of the season, a step on a journey, not a destination.
"And that's the feeling that has to be," said Jason Brown. "This has to be the first of many. You can't just go out there and shoot out a golden egg this week, then next week shoot out a dud and then everyone says ‘What is going on?'"
That's the difference between learning how to win and knowing how.
Re: Burwell: Rams Get Reacquainted With Winning
It's great that our boys won. Enjoy it Sunday night and get back to business on Monday morning. The win has to be put on the back burner and now prepare to beat the snot out of the Seahawks!!!!
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