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Thread: It's in the numbers for the Rams
It's in the numbers for the Rams
By Michael Rushton, NFL Contributing Editor
(Sports Network) - The St. Louis Rams have had no trouble keeping pace in the first half this year. It's finishing games that has been the problem.
The Rams were hosting the two-loss Packers on Sunday, and trailed by just a 17-14 margin at halftime. Not bad for a then 3-10 team, right?
Sixteen second-half points later, and Green Bay left town with a 33-14 victory.
"We had some plays that weren't made, and we can go back and say 'if we made that play here or if we finished that drive before the half' we could have at least tied the game up," said Rams head coach Scott Linehan. "Again we have to give them credit for executing better than us."
Poor second-half play has been a constant theme for the Rams this year. Take a look at this dive into the numbers.
- The Rams are outscoring their opponents by a 144-132 margin in the first half of games this year, but are getting pummeled by a 217-76 spread in the second half.
- In 10 of St. Louis' games this year, the club has posted three points or less in the second half. Just twice have the Rams have outscored their opposition in quarters three and four: an 18-17 advantage in a Week 5 loss to Arizona and a 10-9 edge in a Week 14 setback to Cincinnati.
- The Rams have scored an average of 5.4 points in the second half while allowing an average of 15.5 points.
- In St. Louis' three victories this season, they have a 48-10 edge in first- half scoring, but have been outscored 44-30 in the second half.
Running back Steven Jackson was the prime example this past weekend. He totaled 103 rushing yards on 13 carries, including a 46-yard touchdown run in the second quarter. However, he was held to just 40 yards in the second half.
Jackson said he felt he ran well in the second half, but that falling behind early takes away the run game.
"They still didn't stop us in the running game (in the second half)," he said. "They got ahead. When you have to play from behind that just means more passing."
That meant more pressure on Marc Bulger, who was returning to action after missing the last two weeks due to a concussion. He completed 20-of-39 passes for 219 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions.
"I credit their defense for tighter coverage, they got an early interception and that factored into it a little bit," Linehan said. "Once we got behind we got into a little bit of a passing mode, more than what we had anticipated."
The Rams know they need to learn how to finish games next year. A healthy offensive line -- something the club doesn't have now -- will help, but perhaps the front office needs to take a look at how its coaches are conditioning their players.
In other words, Linehan needs to make some changes, or he might be not be finishing out the length of his contract.
I THOUGHT WE WERE HOME
Losing a host of games won't do wonders in drawing fans to the stadium. However, having a future Hall-of-Fame quarterback in town will, only it will be the other kind of fans.
Despite playing at Edward Jones Dome, the Rams must have felt like the visiting team on Sunday, as the crowd was behind Green Bay and quarterback Brett Favre.
"The Packers have a great tradition and great history," said safety Oshiomogho Atogwe, who posted two interceptions in the game. "Their fans follow them everywhere. We knew there were going to be a lot of Packer fans supporting their team."
There were a lot of factors working against the Rams on Sunday. For starters, the club is now just 1-6 at home. Secondly, in addition to having a loyal fan base, Green Bay was traveling with a quarterback who was poised to break yet another record. As such, there were many Favre fans who were willing to make the trip to the Gateway City.
"You know this year we just haven't been playing well at home," said Bulger. "It wasn't overly loud, but usually when you are home it's not like that. They (Green Bay) are having a great year. Their fans are excited...It looks like an exciting environment to play for that team, it reminds you of college a lot."
Favre threw for 227 yards against St. Louis, passing Hall of Famer Dan Marino on the NFL's all-time passing yards list. He came into the contest needing 184 yards to break Marino's mark of 61,361.
"Some teams are going to travel well," linebacker Will Witherspoon said. "That brought more guys than we did today. That's a sad story, but at the same time their fans are traveling to see their guys do something great."
While a lot of the Rams stressed that they have great fans too, one player wasn't happy at all.
"It was a joke. It's simple as that," said Jackson. "The whole first level was Green Bay Packers. We allowed them to put up signs. It's a joke."
The Packers really did have an easy time on Sunday. That is not a total knock at the Rams, it was just fact.
St. Louis allowed Green Bay to return three punts for 30 yards and three kickoffs for 130 yards. The Packers began six of their 12 drives in St. Louis territory and never behind their own 31-yard line.
"We spent a good deal of our time defensively on the wrong side of the field and offensively on the wrong side of the field," Linehan said. "It is tough to overcome the field position battle."
Linehan said on Monday his team just missed tackles in the return game.
"The first one was a good return by them, but again, we had an opportunity to make a play and minimize the damage. The next two returns we missed tackles right at the point of attack."
That explains why the Packers needed to go only 279 net yards to post 33 points.
RECORD OF THEIR OWN
Lost in Favre-mania was the latest accomplishment by Rams wide out Issac Bruce. Bruce made four catches for 72 yards, giving him 13,983 for his career. He passed current Colts wide receiver Marvin Harrison for fourth place on the all-time receiving yards list.
Harrison has played in just five games this year due to a knee injury.
"When we came off the goal line I asked Ike if he had gotten enough yards and he told me he did so that was pretty special to be in there because I didn't think I was going to get the chance (to be a part of it)," said Bulger. "Unfortunately he got shut out last week so I got to be on the field for that so that was pretty cool.
Bruce will attempt to put more distance between himself and Harrison next week and close in on the list's third place occupant, James Lofton. Lofton amassed 14,004 receiving yards in his career.
UP NEXT: MAYBE GIVE AWAY SOME TICKETS
The Rams face another team with a rabid fan base on Thursday, as they host the Pittsburgh Steelers in a short-week matchup. Pittsburgh is 9-5 and tied atop the AFC North with Cleveland after Sunday's 29-22 setback to Jacksonville.
The Rams have a 15-5-2 edge in the all-time regular season series with the Steelers, including a 33-21 win at Heinz Field when the teams last met, in 2003. Pittsburgh won the previous meeting, a 42-6 home rout in 1996. The Rams, who will be playing the Steelers in St. Louis for the first time, last won a home game over Pittsburgh in 1993 in Anaheim.
The Steelers have won in their last two trips to St. Louis, beating the Cardinals there in 1972 and 1979, but are 0-9-1 in road games played in the series
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