[PD]: Rams' collapse makes road to the playoffs a lot tougher
Rams' collapse makes road to the playoffs a lot tougher
BY JEFF GORDON
STLTODAY.COM SPORTS COLUMNIST
Sunday, Oct. 15 2006
When it was all over, thousands of Rams fans stood staring at the field, attempting to comprehend all that happened during Sunday’s frantic game at The Ed.
The Rams blew a 21-7 lead during their full-scale second-half collapse. “The difference in the game is they had a better second half than we did,” Rams coach Scott Linehan said with a massive postgame understatement.
The Seahawks had an opportunity to secure their victory in the final three minutes of play, but running back Maurice Morris fumbled the ball back to the Rams. This was still another late-game gift from an oh-so-helpful opponent.
Marc Bulger orchestrated a 93-yard scoring drive to take advantage of the break. He connected with Torry Holt on a memorable 67-yard bomb -– with a juggling catch at the end -- to give the Rams a 28-27 lead with 1 minute 44 seconds left.
But the Seahawks stormed back down the field and won at the gun, 30-28, on Josh Brown’s 54-yard field goal.
“You hate to lose a game, period, especially with a last-second field goal like that,” Rams running back Steven Jackson said. “There’s nothing you could do. Both offenses were going back and forth. I think everybody left it on the field.
“I don’t want to point any fingers and I don’t think there is a need to point any fingers. Both teams left it all out there.”
So what did we learn about the Rams? At 4-2, they are a pretty good team. Holt caught three touchdown passes in this game. Bulger completed 26 of 39 passes for 360 yards. Comfortable at home, the Rams put on a wonderful offensive show.
But at 4-1, the Seahawks are still better. Playing without star running back Shaun Alexander, they still rushed for 125 yards. Matt Hasselbeck passed for 268 yards and three touchdowns.
And the road to the playoffs just got much tougher for the Rams, especially when you look at the difficult schedule awaiting them after their bye week.
The Rams suffered breakdowns in all phases of the game. With veteran cornerback Fakhir Brown sidelined, this defense could not cover Deion Branch or Darrell Jackson -– or anybody else in the second half, for that matter.
“They were able to get the ball into their playmakers’ hands, make some plays and some critical third downs,” Linehan said. “The third downs made a big difference in the second half. I think that was the reason they were able to stay on the field.”
What went wrong for the Rams defense?
“In the second half, we didn’t execute as well as they did,” Rams safety Corey Chavous said. “When it was time to make the plays, they made them. I’m not in the business of making excuses. They made the plays and won the football game.”
On offense, the Rams didn’t establish consistent run blocking. And their pass blocking fell apart from time to time, even against a three-man Seahawks rush. Bulger suffered six sacks, including one that nearly trapped him for a safety.
Rams tackle Orlando Pace got destroyed by former Ram Bryce Fisher, among others.
“We have too high of a sack number right now,” Linehan said. “That’s a team goal we have to work very hard on, whether it is a certain type of scheme or throwing the ball and the type of routes we were calling. Maybe (we have to) get the ball out quicker.”
Special teams were a mess, too, with Kevin Curtis coughing up one of his kick returns while replacing J.R. Reed in that role. The Rams nearly allowed a touchdown kickoff return as well.
So there will be plenty to work on when the Rams return from their bye week.
“You need to have a short memory and come back tomorrow, see the tape and fix the mistakes and put it behind you,” defensive tackle La’Roi Glover said. “With a 16-game schedule, a lot can happen.”
Re: [PD]: Rams' collapse makes road to the playoffs a lot tougher
I have NEVER seen Pace look as bad as he did today. I have to wonder if his post-concussion syndrome is still bothering him.