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Thread: Punchless, winless
By Jim Thomas
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
IRVING, TEXAS — There is oh so much to choose from, but if you had to pick a single play to summarize the disaster that is Rams football 2007, look no further than:
Third-and-3 for Dallas, ball at the 50-yard line, 56 seconds remaining in the first half Sunday at Texas Stadium.
In what was then a 7-7 game, Dallas center Andre Gurode sent a shotgun snap w-a-y over the head of Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo. Romo compounded the problem by muffing his attempt to scoop up the football, sending it even farther downfield.
With defensive ends James Hall and Leonard Little bearing down on Romo, it looked like at least a monstrous loss for the Cowboys. Or the Rams might scoop up the ball for a takeaway deep in Dallas territory. But no. Romo picked up the football way back at the 17, somehow eluded Hall and Little and kept running.
Romo didn't stop running until he had crossed midfield and reached the St. Louis 46 ... for a first down. All told, Romo ran roughly 70 yards on the play, to gain four yards.
"He just made a play," a frustrated Little said. "Me and James had him pretty much cornered. He picked up the ball, got outside of James and got to the sideline."
Hall actually ran into Little a little bit on the play when they converged on Romo.
"We just didn't make a play," Little said. "What can I say?"
No one on the Rams is making plays these days. Well, almost no one.
Romo's great escape fueled yet another great collapse by the Rams. Dallas scored a touchdown before the half ended, added three more TDs in the third quarter and coasted to a 35-7 victory that kept the Rams winless at 0-4.
So much for that victory "guarantee" by wide receiver Isaac Bruce.
"Roger Goodell might want to get (Bruce) drug-tested," Cowboys wide receiver Terrell Owens told reporters afterward. "Because I don't know what he was thinking about."
Ever the optimist, Bruce wouldn't back down in the visitors' locker room.
"I declared a victory, yes I did," Bruce said. "I still believe in my words, and I won't back down from it."
So will Bruce "guarantee" a victory next Sunday against Arizona?
"Without a doubt," he said.
And guarantee a victory in every game the rest of the season?
"Every last one of them," Bruce said. "Kicking and scratching."
Scratched, bruised, beaten and bloodied is how the Rams left Texas Stadium on Sunday. For a while, Rams players seemingly left the field every other play with some sort of injury. Coach Scott Linehan read another lengthy injury report after the game, including what could be a season-ending knee injury to offensive lineman Adam Goldberg.
But Linehan said he's not sick of reading injury reports.
"I'm sick and tired of losing," Linehan said. "I think everybody else in that locker room will tell you the same."
In Chapter 4 of What Can Go Wrong Will Go Wrong:
— Jeff Wilkins missed a 28-yard field-goal attempt early in the second quarter. He had missed only three of 106 tried between 20 and 29 yards until then.
— The Rams' defense, which entered the game ranked seventh in the NFL and first in the NFC in total defense, was bludgeoned for 502 yards.
— The Rams' offensive scoring drought reached 11 quarters and 31 possessions without a TD.
— Quarterback Marc Bulger was benched late in the third quarter after his pass intended for Drew Bennett in the end zone was intercepted by Ken Hamlin.
When asked what's gone wrong with the Rams, Linehan replied: "If you guys had about five hours, I'd give you a whole bunch of excuses. ... We've got to find a solution to the problem."
When reminded by a reporter that he keeps saying he's looking for solutions, Linehan lost his temper.
"What do you want me to say?" Linehan replied. "You want me to tell you what the problems are? You guys already know 'em. We haven't scored. We haven't executed. We've played very poorly on offense. I'll stand here and tell you that."
Bulger, who looked antsy in the pocket and was under pressure most of the day, completed only 11 of 24 passes for 114 yards — and a lowly 42.7 passer rating — before giving way to Gus Frerotte.
"It's as frustrating as it looks," Bulger said. "No points offensively, again. To not score any points, that's a big deal. It's not like we're scoring 14 and we're trying to score 35. We're just not scoring any."
Bulger continues to insist that his ribs, two of which are broken, are not affecting his performance. He also had no problem with Linehan pulling him for Frerotte.
"If I look like an idiot because I threw a 'pick' in the end zone, then put it on me," Bulger said. "I'm just trying to win. ... I don't want to speak for Coach, but if he feels like we need something to get going, then I'm on board. I'll do anything right now to get our offense going."
But when will that happen? Because as tight end Randy McMichael puts it: "We're basically just stinking it up."
Re: Punchless, winless
If it wasn't for Dante' Hall and the punt return team we would have been shut out 35-0. I know 35-7 is bad enough but imagine the wrath if we were shut out.
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