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  1. #1
    RamWraith's Avatar
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    Hammering the Cards helps playoff hopes

    By Jim Thomas
    Sunday, Dec. 03 2006

    There's a large sledgehammer in the front of the team auditorium at Rams Park.
    It's hard to miss.

    "It's kind of a commitment that we're going to keep hammering away," coach
    Scott Linehan said. "It's something that coach (Bob) Ligashesky used with the
    special teams. We said we've got to work hard if we're going to get out of this

    The players signed on, literally. All over the sledgehammer's wooden handle are
    signatures of Rams players. Well, it worked last week against San Francisco.
    The Rams busted out of their five-game losing streak, getting:

    A key takeaway by special teams on punt coverage.

    Two interceptions, plus a critical third-and-1 stop by the defense.

    Impressive run blocking, and a game-winning touchdown drive by the offense.

    The weight of that losing streak was removed from the team's shoulders with the
    20-17 triumph over San Francisco.

    "We were in dire need of a win," wide receiver Torry Holt said. "For us to go
    out there and play the way we played ... that was absolutely fantastic. So
    hopefully, we can build on that."

    So the sledgehammer is back for a return engagement this week, with Bill
    Bidwill and the Arizona Cardinals (2-9) in town. Kickoff is at noon Edward
    Jones Dome.

    At the moment, only six teams in the NFC have winning records. Only four are
    more than one game above .500: Division leaders Chicago (9-2), Dallas (7-4),
    New Orleans (7-4), and Seattle (7-4). Until further notice, that puts St. Louis
    in the wild-card race as one of five NFC teams with a 5-6 record entering
    Sunday's games.

    "Now we're right back in the thick of things," center Richie Incognito said.
    "That's just how it goes in this business. One week you're out of it, and the
    next week your right in the middle of it. If we keep playing well, we'll take
    care of it."

    Of the 11 so-called playoff contenders in the NFC, only Chicago has an easier
    remaining schedule than the Rams. The Bears' remaining opponents have a
    combined winning percentage of just .345. The Rams have the next-easiest
    schedule at .400. Of course, absolutely nothing has come easy for the Rams this

    "Fortunately, it's a bad year for the NFC right now," quarterback Marc Bulger
    said. "Somehow, we're still in it. I think the margin for error has gone down a
    lot. I think one more loss will pretty much end it."

    Maybe, maybe not. It's possible that 9-7 gets the Rams a wild-card berth. In
    2004, the Rams and Minnesota both got in at 8-8, and both won first-round
    playoff games on the road.

    "The reality is we're right in the hunt," Linehan said. "It's why we're
    playing. We've got to focus on this game. Without this game, it becomes a lot
    less possible. Yeah, it's the carrot that's dangling out there in front of us."

    Arizona is only 3-18 on the road under beleaguered coach Dennis Green and is
    winless in five road games this season. But the Big Red nearly rallied from a
    31-13 deficit last week at Minnesota. Rookie quarterback Matt Leinart was
    throwing into the end zone for the win from the Vikings 36 when the game ended,
    a 31-26 Arizona loss.

    Leinart launched 51 passes against Minnesota. The Rams aren't expecting a
    repeat performance Sunday.

    "They won't throw the ball 50 times on us," defensive end Leonard Little said.
    "You know they're going to try to establish the running game against us. ..."

    And why wouldn't they? Despite defensive coordinator Jim Haslett's tantrum last
    week, the numbers don't lie. The Rams rank dead last (32nd) in the NFL in run
    defense. Despite the offseason acquisition of Edgerrin James via free agency
    from Indianapolis, the Big Red rank last in the NFL in rushing offense. When it
    comes to the running game, call this a matchup of the resistible force vs. the
    moveable object. But there was some truth to part of Haslett's rant.

    For one, the takeaways are back. After a three-game stretch in which the Rams
    had only one takeaway, the team has had eight in the past three games.

    Over those past three games, the defense has yielded only five touchdowns and
    has been responsible for no more than 17 points allowed in any one game.

    And despite the continuing woes on run defense, the comeback victory against
    the ***** probably doesn't happen without that third-and-1 stop in the fourth

    On the play, Pisa Tinoisamoa helped clog the hole by taking on a pulling guard.
    Brandon Chillar, desperately trying to shed a blocker, made first contact with
    running back Michael Robinson, hitting him almost back first. As Robinson tried
    to spin away, Raonall Smith came in from the left to pop Robinson, and then
    Will Witherspoon helped clean up.

    "It's something you can build on," defensive tackle La'Roi Glover said. "Huge
    moment in the game. Something like that just gives you the confidence that
    says, 'Hey, if you do the things right, this is what can happen. You can win a
    ballgame.' "

  2. #2
    laram0's Avatar
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    Re: Hammering the Cards helps playoff hopes

    IMO, we need to slow down if not stop the Cards run game no matter what it takes. I would love to see ML throw the ball 50 times against us.

    Our offense can help our defense by showing a patient grind/hammer it out approach. An early lead with a ball control, time consumming offense will force the Cards to throw more than they want.

    This is a very winnable game....

  3. #3
    AlphaRam Guest

    Re: Hammering the Cards helps playoff hopes

    Although it is winnable, we need to play run defense. We cannot continue to get gashed each week for 100+ yards by any running back that happens along.

  4. #4
    Spiderwolf's Avatar
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    Re: Hammering the Cards helps playoff hopes

    We got hammered today! This team absolutely blows! What happened to this team. I am thourholy disgusted!


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