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Clubs meet for pride, little else
By Jim Thomas
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
This long, strange and disappointing Rams journey began 15 weeks ago against San Francisco in Monster Park.
When Jeff Wilkins kicked his second field goal of the day, with 13 minutes 7 seconds remaining in the first half, the Rams had run 28 plays to just five for the *****.
St. Louis had gained 139 yards to just 12 for San Francisco at that point. But for all that dominance, the Rams had only a 6-0 lead.
And when Brandon Lloyd scored on a 35-yard touchdown pass from Tim Rattay, the momentum swung toward San Francisco in a big way. If you could point to one play that defined the Rams season, this was it.
Free safety Michael Hawthorne, whose tenure with St. Louis ended with his release Oct. 13, was in perfect position for an interception - or at least a pass breakup.
But Hawthorne never touched the football. He said he lost it in the sun. Funny, the sun didn't seem to bother Lloyd.
Before the Rams knew it, they were down 28-9 early in the third quarter, before finally succumbing 28-25.
"I have no idea how that happened," defensive tackle Ryan Pickett said. "That was pretty embarrassing to me, and I think to the rest of the players, how we went up there (and lost). I think that kind of started our whole season off with a funk."
For the most part, it's a funk the Rams have been unable to shake. At 5-9, they need a victory today against the same ***** to avoid their first losing season at the Edward Jones Dome since 1998.
Once dominant at home, the Rams have lost three in a row in the once-friendly confines and are 3-4 there this season.
"We've given those fans so much to cheer about," wide receiver Torry Holt said. "And to see how we are right now is tough to swallow."
Today marks the 113th Rams-***** meeting in one of the NFL's oldest rivalries. Only eight other series in league history have run longer.
This time, there's next to nothing on the line. The ***** have managed only one other victory since their season-opening stunner over the Rams, and at 2-12 are in position to claim the No. 1 overall draft pick for the second year in a row.
Of the 22 meetings between the squads since the Rams moved to St. Louis in 1995, this marks only the fourth time that the combined records of the teams is below .500.
So who really cares what happens today?
Well, Holt does for one.
"I don't care if there are five people in the stands," Holt said. "I don't care if there is one TV camera and a couple of media people there to cover this event. We're trying to go out and win a ballgame. We haven't won in a long time."
Should the Rams stumble again today, it would be doubly embarrassing, marking the first time since '98 that the ***** have swept St. Louis.
"That's something we definitely don't want to happen," safety Mike Furrey said. "Both teams are in a tough position. Neither of us are where we want to be. But. ... we kind of owe them from the first game."
Not only did the ***** come away with a victory on Sept. 11, they did a little crowing in the process.
"We're a much faster team than they are," ***** defensive back Mike Adams said after the game. "Don't get me wrong, their receivers are fast, but our secondary is much faster. We matched up very well against them."
It's not the first time a 49er has gloated after beating the Rams. See: Dana Stubblefield, 1995, "Same old sorry (bleep) Rams."
Mike Martz used to make a big deal of the rivalry. But interim head coach Joe Vitt has not.
"We're worried about us right now," Rams safety Adam Archuleta said.
And there's plenty to worry about.
For one, Vitt scalded the offensive line at his Monday news conference, saying the linemen were playing soft, among other things.
Suffice to say, the big fellas didn't appreciate Vitt's comments.
"That's putting it nicely," offensive guard Adam Timmerman said Friday. "It's maybe something that could've been said in the team meeting room. But I guess that's his way of handling it.
"Definitely, the offsides (penalties against Philadelphia) were our fault. We definitely have to take our responsibility for that. But I thought we ran the ball well. We didn't give up sacks. Some of the comments were warranted about the offsides, but other than that, that's it."
The Rams were flagged for eight false-start penalties last week against Philadelphia, with six of those infractions charged to the offensive line.
Beyond the particulars of that game - or any game this season - is the equally unsettling big picture.
Most, if not all, Rams players and assistant coaches realize there will be a coaching change at the conclusion of the season.
That means job uncertainty for many, and most likely a new way of doing things for those who stay.
"There's a very good chance that this might be my last home game here," said Archuleta, who'd like to stay but is scheduled for free agency.
It could indeed be his last, and the same could hold true for many others.
-12-24-2005 #2Rip32 Guest
Lets get a win,I am starting to get sick of losing:sad:
-12-24-2005 #3talkstoangels61 Guest
Re: Clubs meet for pride, little else
Well the Rams i guess have NO pride!
Re: Clubs meet for pride, little else
none ........ none at all.