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Dropped Interceptions Hurting Rams
Dropped interceptions hurting Rams
BY JIM THOMAS
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
By unofficial count, the Rams have dropped 10 potential interceptions in seven games this season. (They've actually intercepted only half that many — five.) An 11th dropped interception, by linebacker Larry Grant, was nullified by a roughing the passer penalty against Oshiomogho Atgowe in Game 2 against Oakland.
"I think I set a bad precedent early on," cornerback Ron Bartell said, trying to make light of a frustrating development. "I've never seen anything like it."
Bartell dropped an interception in the season opener against Arizona, one that he might have returned for a touchdown had he hung on late in the third quarter with the Rams up 13-10.
The following week in Oakland, Bartell stepped in front of a Bruce Gradkowski pass intended for Darrius Heyward-Bey near the goal line midway through the third quarter. The throw had plenty of zip on it and Bartell couldn't hang on. On the next play, Gradkowski threw a touchdown pass to Louis Murphy, giving the Raiders the lead for good at 13-7.
And in Game 4 in Detroit, defensive end Chris Long clobbered Lions quarterback Shaun Hill on a pass rush, resulting in a gridiron version of a pop fly. Bartell leaped for the ball but was a little off balance. The ball bounced away and fell incomplete. Bartell might have scored on that one as well. The Rams trailed 3-0 at the time midway through the first quarter.
"I don't claim to have the best hands in the world," Bartell said. "But I feel like the couple ones I dropped earlier in the year could've been the difference between a win and a loss. So it's definitely something that we continue to work on. And it's just tough."
Work on it they do. After almost every practice at Rams Park, Bartell can be seen catching tosses from practice squad quarterback Thaddeus Lewis. Atgowe catches ball after ball out of the JUGs machine. And they're not the only Rams defenders staying late to work on ball-catching drills.
"In practice you can see that we make those plays routinely," Bartell said. "We have to carry that over to the game. Maybe it's just looking the ball in. More concentration when you're in the process of catching the ball. But we definitely need to get it corrected, because it's cost us so far."
Bartell has plenty of company when it comes to dropped interceptions. From linemen to linebackers, to cornerbacks and safeties, there have been dropped INTs at every level of the St. Louis defense.
Kevin Dockery against Arizona ... Bradley Fletcher against Oakland ... Atogwe in the red zone against Washington ... James Hall on a tipped ball against Seattle. Some plays were easier than others, but all were potential picks that went for naught.
Sunday in Tampa Bay brought more of the same with three near interceptions.
"You get one of those, there's at least three points on each of those probably off the board," coach Steve Spagnuolo said.
Na'il Diggs' missed interception came on a series that resulted in a Buccaneers punt in the second quarter. Then again, the play occurred deep in Tampa territory, so it might have cost the Rams some points.
Near the end of the first half, Long hit Tampa Bay quarterback Josh Freeman as Freeman was releasing the ball, resulting in another pop fly situation. Atogwe and Bryan Kehl both went for the ball and collided, and the ball fell incomplete. On the next play, Connor Barth kicked a 39-yard field goal, cutting the Rams' lead to 17-6 and starting the Bucs on the path to an 18-17 comeback victory.
"The game's pretty fast now, pretty intense," Spagnuolo said. "Guys see a ball up in the air, I think everybody tries to get it. It's easy when you see TV replay and you sit there and say, 'Oh, this guy should have done that.' But we'll find a way to catch it next time."
The third missed INT came early in the third quarter with the Bucs backed up at their 7. Linebacker James Laurinaitis had good position on tight end Kellen Winslow in coverage, but the ball got on him quick.
"I turned my head and it was right there," Laurinaitis said. "It hit me right in the hands. I bumped into David V (Vobora) and it just kind of popped out from there. But I've got to be able to make that. That's a huge play in the game. You get that pick, they don't get the field goal on it. Just get on the JUGs machine and work at it."
The Bucs converted on third and 7 on the next play and drove to the St. Louis 35 before Barth booted a 53-yard field goal to cut the Rams' lead to 17-9. Laurinaitis says he has no problem with two defenders trying to grab one football.
"You don't want to be passive and assume the other guy is going up to get it," he said. "I'd always rather have two guys going up for it than neither. You don't have time on the field to call somebody off. It's not like baseball where you can call for it."
For his part, Spagnuolo has his own suggestion for eliminating dropped INTs.
"Probably stop talking about it, truthfully," he said. "Just go out and play. They come in bunches — I've learned that in this league. You don't get any for three games and then you get seven in one game. That's just how it is."
Re: Dropped Interceptions Hurting Rams
sigh.... costing us ballgames...sigh
Re: Dropped Interceptions Hurting RamsYou don't have time on the field to call somebody off. It's not like baseball where you can call for it
Granted on Laurinaitis' one, he couldn't call it, but the Atogwe/Kehl one when it was in the air for almost forever? Atogwe can shout for that and get Kehl to clear out the way
The most annoying thing i think about the Laurinaitis one is that he would have picked the ball off on about their 15 yard line, with no one in front of him and Vobora there to block Winslow for him...
Re: Dropped Interceptions Hurting Rams
For crying out loud!!!! What was the first thing we all learned how to do when we were kids?
1. Throw the football
2. CATCH IT!!!!!
or vice versa!!!!
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