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Thread: Inside Slant
Ever since he was named head coach of the Rams after the firing of Scott Linehan, Jim Haslett has delivered one consistent message: Don't hang your heads after bad plays. Keep playing. Respond to adversity because there will be adversity.
And that's what happened in Sunday's 19-17 victory over the Washington Redskins. The adversity started early. The Rams had 12 players on the field on Washington's first third-down attempt. It gave the Redskins a first down.
The Rams stopped them, but Dante Hall wasn't able to field a short punt, and it was downed at the 3-yard line. On the second play, running back Steven Jackson fumbled, the Redskins recovered, and on the next play, Clinton Portis scored.
Haslett said Monday, "I was actually laughing at the time. I said to one of the coaches, 'I've been talking about dealing with adversity all week, and it's sure starting early.'"
But the Rams responded. They forced three turnovers in the first half, the first for the Redskins on offense this season. All three were in Rams territory. One, a fumble by guard Pete Kendall, who caught a deflected pass and tried to run, was returned 75 yards for a touchdown by safety Oshiomogho Atogwe with nine seconds left in the first half. The Rams led 10-7 instead of trailing 10-3 or 14-3.
By the time the game ended, the Rams had 168 fewer yards, 14 fewer first downs and 105 fewer rushing yards. But a 49-yard field goal by Josh Brown on the final play won the game, and even that was made more difficult because of a 15-yard unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty on guard Richie Incognito.
Said Haslett, "I think they handled it pretty well today. I'd say there were some adverse situations today. But that's the National Football League, and that's how it is. You have to give my guys credit; they worked their butts off today. It's not easy coming in here and winning."
Said Atogwe: "The first quarter of the season is over and done with. We had to just get on with the rest of the season's ballgames and see what we can do with it. I think that everyone took that approach. We came in with new energy and a new resolve about how we wanted to handle the season."
Of course, the trip to Washington would have been a disappointing one had rookie receiver Donnie Avery not made the catch he did on third-and-13 and if Brown hadn't calmly drilled the 49-yard field goal that won the game.
The Rams had squandered a 16-7 fourth-quarter lead and were trailing 17-16 with 1:13 remaining and the ball on their own 41-yard line. Three plays earlier, quarterback Marc Bulger had connected with Avery on a 12-yard pass on third-and-2. On the next third down, Avery streaked down the right sideline and made an outstanding adjustment to the inside en route to a diving catch for a 43-yard gain.
It was left to Bulger to break things down to their bare essentials, noting the fine line that exists between winning and losing in the roller-coaster NFL.
"Coach Haslett did a good job," Bulger said. "He got us on point, and we knew exactly what is expected of us. There are no question marks. He is a fiery guy. We made plays when we had to, (but) if Donnie doesn't make that play, then there are a lot of question marks."
—In two weeks as head coach, Jim Haslett has made it fun to come to work again, not only for his team, but for the whole franchise. Haslett met with the entire organization Oct. 6 and told them they are all a part of what is trying to be accomplished. He invited everyone to practice. He told them to bring their families. Last Friday, about 10 staffers were at practice.
After the win over Washington, Haslett said game balls will go "to the people in the building. They supported us. They came to practice, hung signs. You don't win in this league with just players and coaches. You win with an entire organization. The marketing side, the business side, everyone has to be as one. When the players do well, it makes their job a little easier. We need to unite this building and make them feel good about themselves."
—Coach Jim Haslett took part of the blame for the over-the-top behavior of G Richie Incognito, who was whistled for two unsportsmanlike-conduct penalties, including one in the final minute that forced Josh Brown to kick a 49-yard field goal instead of one from 34 yards.
Haslett said he talked to Incognito about being nasty and aggressive in the game, but he acknowledged that Incognito crossed the line. "I kinda overdid it," Haslett said, "but he has to understand there's a fine line. When Richie plays his best football, he's aggressive. He played an outstanding game, but he doesn't have to do those extra things. If we had lost that game, he might not be here today."
Haslett talked to Incognito extensively Monday, and he said Incognito has to realize officials are watching him closely. QB Marc Bulger addressed that when he said, "It's tough to calm him down when he's going. Richie's always talking. Going at it. I knew from the get-go ... the refs have a book going into a game. They know who to look for. They came at him during the first series. I tried to warn him they were going to go after him. You don't want him to go that far, but he can get the D-line off their game a little bit. It's nice to have a guy with a little bit of nasty in him."
—After Incognito's penalty, coach Jim Haslett had one play run into the middle of the line and let the clock run down to two seconds. He had more confidence in K Josh Brown than in the offense getting some of the 15 yards back.
Said Haslett, "I told (Brown) that (he is) by far the best kicker I have been around. And not from the standpoint of being a kicker; he's a great kicker, but the guy lets nothing bother him. He got a new holder this week (punter Donnie Jones), he's kicking off grass, and then he was supposed to kick from (34) yards and it got pushed back to (49). Nothing bothers him. He's awesome to be around, he's a team guy. He'll do anything for you. The guy's just the best, he really is."
Asked about the longer kick, Brown said, "It's still a chip shot; anything under 55 is still a chip shot. That's how you have to view it. It's not an arrogant thing; it's not a cocky thing. I've made this a thousand times. I did. I made it all week this week. (He kicked a 61-yard field goal in practice.) You can't overstress. You hit the ball as you normally would and you watch it go through the yellow sticks. A lot of people want to make this a lot harder than it is. It really needs to be this way. You can talk yourself out of a lot of great opportunities."
When the large crowd at FedExField was mentioned, Brown got off the line of the year. Referring back to his days with the Seahawks, he said, "In Seattle, they're crazy, they're loud, they love that excitement. I had to learn how to feed off all those things. I did. (Here, it's) 92,000 people screaming at you.
"You ever see one man control 92,000 people? You just did."
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
—CB Ricky Manning suffered a broken bone in his lower leg against Washington and will be placed on injured reserve. He will undergo surgery Tuesday.
—CB Fakhir Brown, who was released by the Rams on Sept. 24, agreed to terms Monday to return to the team.
—RB Brian Leonard will undergo surgery to repair recurring shoulder problems and will be placed on injured reserve. Leonard re-injured his shoulder in Sunday's game against Washington.
—WR Dane Looker, who has been undergoing tests to identify an abnormality on his brain, was cleared for practice Monday and will be back working out with the team Wednesday.
—LT Orlando Pace suffered a grade 2 strain of his quadriceps against Washington and likely will be questionable for Sunday's game against Dallas.
—LG Jacob Bell suffered a sprained foot against the Redskins and is considered day-to-day.
—QB Marc Bulger has a jammed finger on his throwing hand that was swollen Monday, but he is expected to be able to play Sunday against the Cowboys.
REPORT CARD VS. REDSKINS
PASSING OFFENSE: C — QB Marc Bulger was 15 of 26 for 136 yards with a passer rating of 72.0, and he was lucky to avoid two interceptions. However, the biggest play of the game was a 43-yard pass to rookie Donnie Avery that put the Rams in position for the winning field goal. Without that catch, Bulger had just 93 yards and averaged 6.6 yards per completion.
RUSHING OFFENSE: C-plus — RB Steven Jackson was exactly at his season average of 3.6 yards per carry, totaling 79 yards on 22 attempts. Most of Jackson's best runs came when Bulger was in the shotgun formation with the defense spread. Jackson's longest run was just 9 yards.
PASS DEFENSE: B-minus — QB Jason Campbell had a passer rating of 93.1, but he had no touchdown passes and threw for just 208 yards. The Rams got to Campbell for four sacks, and one of the three turnovers was a fumble by OG Pete Kendall after he caught a deflected pass.
RUSH DEFENSE: C — The Redskins rushed for 181 yards, with Clinton Portis leading the way with 129 on 21 carries. The average per attempt was 5.8 yards, but the Rams did reduce the big plays against them.
SPECIAL TEAMS: A — This was one of the best all-around special teams performances the team has had in a long time. It starts, of course, with PK Josh Brown's four field goals, which included kicks of 51 yards and the 49-yard game-winner. Brown also had two touchbacks on kickoffs, and the longest kickoff return against was 28 yards. P Donnie Jones averaged 47.2 yards with a 40.7 net, with two inside the 20. The coverage team limited PR Antwaan Randle El to 19 yards on four returns with one fair catch. Rams KR Dante Hall had his best day of the season after letting two short punts bounce at the beginning of the game. Hall had a 32-yard kickoff return and 34-yard punt return.
COACHING: A — It wasn't pretty, but coach Jim Haslett had his team play hard and hang in the entire game. The victory snapped an eight-game losing streak dating back to last season, and this was the first time in seven games that the Rams allowed fewer than 31 points.
-10-14-2008 #2Mooselini Guest
Re: Inside Slant
Very glad that we signed Josh Brown. He's an awesome kicker and like he did for the Seahawks, he's going to win us games.
Bulger and the offense need to step up. Maybe its the line? Who knows. Leckey needs to be replaced, and had Brown missed the field goal, Cogs would be gone. But thats not the case here. Cogs will stay another day, and unfortunately Leckey might also.
Having Burton and Looker back on our side is a big plus for us. I know Looker isn't the best WR option, but he's an option none the less. I hope Burton is the #3 receiver for us, it'll be exciting to watch Holt, Avery and Burton on the field at the same time.
-10-14-2008 #3Registered User
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Re: Inside Slant
Great to hear that Looker will return. His willingness to do whatever is needed to help the team personifies the new spirit that will be key to our success in the near future.
Problems still abound, of course, but Haz's efforts to unify the organization are also very encouraging.
Nothing much ever said about the poor play of FB Kreider.Why don't we give Russ Weil a shot? He's still on the PS,no?
Re: Inside Slant
i absolutely LOVE brown's mentality. "Anything under 55 yards is a chip shot." Truly a worthy successor to Money.
Ramming speed to all
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