[PD]: Ultimately, Rams must look in mirror
Ultimately, Rams must look in mirror
By Bryan Burwell
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
Monday, Oct. 16 2006
As the first wave of reporters came streaming into the chaotic Rams locker room late Sunday afternoon, any number of players were still trying to figure out what had happened to them in the final exasperating seconds on the Edward Jones Dome turf. Big Todd Steussie stepped over empty equipment bags, wads of ankle tape and sweat-soaked shoulder pads, stirring up heated debate and utter confusion about a controversial last-second call that led to Seattle's 30-28 victory.
"I don't get it," said the giant offensive lineman, standing in front of a group of linebackers.
"It makes no sense," he said, now huddled with a few fellow offensive linemen.
"How does this rule work?" he said as he towered over a new audience of scribbling sportswriters.
Everywhere inside the Rams' quarters, there were angry men like Steussie sorting through the various stages of a painful, self-destructive defeat. If you listened for a few minutes, you could hear things move swiftly from denial to anger, from anger to rationalization and from rationalization to depression.
At first they wanted to cling to the idea that referee Ed Hochuli and his gang that occasionally couldn't see straight had conspired to do in the Rams with all those ill-timed penalty flags that went flying around most of the game. But ultimately, what finally dawned on them was the acceptance that ultimately this defeat had to go under the heading of self-inflicted wound.
Tailback Steven Jackson said, "And now we have a bye (week) so we have two weeks to sit on this."
That should give them ample time to glean every bit of frustrating and promising detail from this football game. We've watched six games turn out just like this, where the Rams battled right down to the last tick of the clock, giving us exciting finishes, hair-pulling anxiety, but most of all surprising evidence that they're capable of being a lot better than anyone could have imagined.
The Rams are 4-2 as they head into their mini-vacation, and have shown an impressive resiliency. We seem to watch them every week make another improbable play that puts them in position to win ballgames, and that's the sort of trait that eventually breeds championship-caliber clubs by the end of the season.
On Sunday, defensive end Leonard Little forced another game-altering fumble late in the fourth quarter, and forced thousands of spectators who prematurely started for the exits to return to their seats to witness this week's particular flair for the dramatic. With less than two minutes to go, the Rams produced that unlikely miracle comeback when Torry Holt flew under a perfectly thrown bomb from Marc Bulger, juggled it with one hand, hauled it in and raced into the end zone for a 28-27 lead.
That should have been enough to finish off Seattle, but for all the surprising things the Rams have learned in Scott Linehan's short time in charge, the one ingredient that needs to be developed is a killer instinct. And the Rams know it, too. Little slowly paced the locker room in a towel, unable to sit still for any length of time.
"We had them," Little said, squeezing his hand into a tight ball. "Ooooh, I mean we had them! If you asked me how certain I was that we were going to win this game, I would have said '100 percent.' I didn't just think we could win this game, I knew we would win it."
But the second half was a good lesson to this team trying to develop championship instincts. The Seahawks, in case the Rams forgot, are the defending NFC champs, and they came right back to take a 27-21 lead. But even after all the second-half mistakes the Rams made, all I know is with a minute and 38 seconds left, they had a 28-27 lead, and that should have been enough.
The Seahawks were 83 yards away from the end zone with a large chunk of the sold-out crowd returning to their seats to scream at the top of their lungs and make life impossible for quarterback Matt Hasselbeck. Was it the refs' fault that Hasselbeck completed three of four passes in 40 seconds, and within a blink of an eye, the Seahawks were at the Rams' 31 and in position to call on Josh Brown to kick a 54-yard field goal that took all the life out of this place as the final buzzer sounded?
At halftime, the Rams seemed ready to transform themselves from an early season surprise into a legitimate NFC contender, but they let the whole thing slip right out of their grasp. And now they have two long weeks to stew on it.
"If you've learned anything about us by now, you know that we're fighters," said Little. "This one has us mad, real mad. I can't wait to get this one out of my system."
Re: [PD]: Ultimately, Rams must look in mirror
The bottomline is that this Coach does not have the fury to punish his oppenents with anger and determination. Overall this team should have
beaten the Seahawks period. And given all the offensive weapons afforded
to him. They were still limited on their production. Torry Holt was the
story of the game. But Coach Linehan seems hesistant to utilize his play
makers to their full potential when it comes time to put the game away.
That was one of Mike Martz's trademark kill them while you are ahead.
It seems Coach Linehan is wishing for a last play turnover to rack up the
wins. If anyone saw his expression on the last play, he was hoping for
10 second runoff to salvage this victory.
No excuses going into the bye week. Either this coach starts getting
agressive when ahead or we will be in the cellar given the schedule
coming down the stretch. The defense is soft and allows big plays. But
it's not their fault. It might as well be coach haslett's Saints at times.
But with a better offensive unit.
Re: [PD]: Ultimately, Rams must look in mirror
Short, sweet'n sour and to the point. Truthfully said.
But the second half was a good lesson to this team trying to develop championship instincts. -- B. Burwell
Sorry, FieldGoal, I disagree with your Coach Linehan assessment. Yes, we had our share of mistakes today but what better evidence of courage and proof of having the will to fight back could we ask for than the 4th TD scored under two minutes to go?
I just feel that the main credit goes to the Sawks for their win today as opposed to putting ourselves down for our tough loss. We need to improve, that's for sure, thus the good lessoned mentioned above.
Clearly, the Rams in the locker room were greatly disappointed but that is often the case when there is still some adrenaline flowing in the system along with the shock of reality making its way into the brain.