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  1. #1
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    Rams can look to Super 'omen'

    Rams can look to Super 'omen'
    By Jim Thomas
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Thursday, Jan. 06 2005

    They had more than their share of injuries. During the regular season, they
    were outscored by 58 points in the second half. They finished well into the
    "minus" category in takeaway-giveaway differential. Eleven games into the
    season, they were saddled with a 5-6 record and worried about survival, not
    reaching the Super Bowl.

    Sound familiar, Rams fans? The current Rams team fits all of those criteria,
    right down to be being outscored by 58 points in the second half this season.
    But the team in question is the Los Angeles Rams of 1979.

    "We were just trying to finish the season, and hopefully things would end on a
    winning note," Lawrence McCutcheon said. "But Super Bowl? If everyone was
    honest with themselves, they weren't thinking of that."

    But that's where the '79 Rams ended up - in the Super Bowl despite a 9-7
    regular-season record.

    "It was kind of a freaky year all around," McCutcheon said. "Freaky injuries.
    And talent-wise, it was probably the least-talented team that I played with
    while I was there with the Rams."

    As director of player personnel, McCutcheon is the No. 2 man in the Rams'
    personnel department behind general manager Charley Armey. For most of the
    '70s, he was the feature back on a Rams team that won an NFL-record seven
    consecutive division titles in the NFC West.

    But in 1979, McCutcheon was slowed by severe hamstring problems, and Wendell
    Tyler took over as the lead horse in the backfield. By Week 6, both starting
    wide receivers - Willie Miller and Ron Jessie - had suffered season-ending
    injuries.

    In Week 10, quarterback Pat Haden suffered a freak season-ending injury. He was
    scrambling on a play and suffered a broken pinky finger on his throwing hand as
    it got caught in the seam of the artificial turf in Seattle.

    The Rams tried Jeff Rutledge and Bob Lee at quarterback the following Sunday,
    but lost in Chicago 27-23. Enter young Vince Ferragamo.

    "He was bright-eyed and bushy-tailed," McCutcheon said. "Kind of wild, and
    really hadn't found his footing. He was a little bit of a scatter-armed guy,
    but had a good arm. But to say he was a guy to come in and win games for us and
    eventually take us to the Super Bowl, that was probably a little far-fetched."

    But that's exactly what happened. The Rams won four in a row under Ferragamo to
    clinch a playoff spot on the next-to-last weekend of the regular season.

    Getting a first-round bye as division champs, the Rams upset Dallas 21-19 at
    Texas Stadium when wide receiver Billy Waddy caught a tipped pass and went 50
    yards for the winning touchdown with 2 minutes 6 seconds to play.

    In the NFC title game at Tampa Bay, the Rams won a defensive struggle against
    the Buccaneers 9-0 on three Frank Corrall field goals.

    In Super Bowl XIV against heavily favored Pittsburgh, the Rams took a 19-17
    lead into the fourth quarter when McCutcheon threw a 24-yard TD pass to Ron
    Smith on a halfback option. But the Steelers scored a pair of fourth-quarter
    TDs to win 31-19 at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif. It was the fourth Super
    Bowl title in six seasons for the Steelers, who finished 15-4 overall.

    The upstart Rams finished 11-8 but showed that a longshot can reach the Super
    Bowl. Twenty-five years later, the St. Louis Rams are trying to pull off a
    similar feat.

    "Things like that do happen," McCutcheon said. "So there's hope. In fact, I was
    talking to Todd (Hewitt) about it Tuesday down in the locker room. It's kind of
    ironic that this season here kind of reminds me of that particular year. Just
    the way the season itself has gone. I don't know. Hopefully, it's an omen."

    Hewitt, the Rams equipment manager, was with the club in 1979

    Throughout the other Big Four sports, there are examples of teams that finished
    with mediocre - or worse - regular seasons making noise in the playoffs:

    In baseball, the 1973 Mets reached the World Series despite an 82-79 regular
    season. They edged the Cardinals (81-81) for the National League East title but
    only had to win one playoff series - over Cincinnati - to reach the World
    Series.

    In basketball, the 1977-78 Washington Bullets won the NBA title despite a
    modest 44-38 regular season. In order, the Bullets won playoff series over
    Atlanta, San Antonio, Philadelphia and Seattle to win the championship.

    In hockey, the 1990-91 Minnesota North Stars finished the NHL regular season 12
    games under .500 at 27-39-14. But no one could stop them in the playoffs, at
    least until they ran into the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Stanley Cup Finals.

    Other than the '79 Rams, instances of longshot success in the NFL are few and
    far between. In fact, the '79 Rams and the '88 San Francisco ***** (10-6) are
    the only teams in league history to reach the Super Bowl with more than five
    losses. San Francisco defeated Cincinnati 20-16 to win Super Bowl XXIII.

    But both of those teams won their divisions to avoid wild-card status. Eight
    wild cards have reached the Super Bowl, with three winners: Kansas City in
    Super Bowl IV; Denver in Super Bowl XXXII; and Baltimore in Super Bowl XXXV.

    Since the league went to a 12-team playoff format in 1990, no team lower than a
    No. 4 seed has advanced to the Super Bowl.

    At 8-8, the 2004 Rams are the No. 5 seed in the NFC. As such, they are the
    ultimate playoff longshot. You don't get to be 8-8 without flaws - and the Rams
    have their share, from difficulty stopping the run to a variety of special
    teams woes.

    On defense, they have only 15 takeaways and six interceptions - both all-time
    lows in the 67-year history of the franchise.

    This season, they are minus 24 in turnover differential and have allowed 73
    more points than they've scored. According to STATS, Inc., both numbers are the
    worst for a playoff team since the AFL-NFL merger in 1970.

    But the Rams don't sound like underdogs ...

    "We're still the Rams," defensive end Bryce Fisher said. "We still have as
    talented of an offense and defense as there is in the league. I'm sure there
    are a lot of teams that when they saw us make it in, they were kind of wishing
    somebody else did."

    And they don't sound like longshots.

    "With the way we've played here toward the end, coming down the stretch, I
    don't feel that way at all," coach Mike Martz said. "I mean, I don't feel like
    we're lucky to be in, or just happy to be here.

    "No matter how we got here, we're here. So there's a certain sense of taking
    off now. Whereas in every other playoff year, it was, 'OK, it's finally here.
    Now let's get going.' Right now, it's just like a whole new season's starting.
    The energy level is pretty incredible with these guys. And that's unusual at
    this time of year."

    Maybe so. But there's a lot of work ahead if they want to match the '79 Rams.



  2. #2
    UtterBlitz's Avatar
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    Re: Rams can look to Super 'omen'

    "No matter how we got here, we're here. So there's a certain sense of taking off now. Whereas in every other playoff year, it was, 'OK, it's finally here. Now let's get going.' Right now, it's just like a whole new season's starting. The energy level is pretty incredible with these guys. And that's unusual at this time of year."
    See it is possible to go in to the playoffs with a less than impressive record and still make a statement.

    I like the energy level and the attitude. We may be peaking at the right moment this year.

    :ramlogo: Go Rams!!!!! :ramlogo:
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]

  3. #3
    HUbison's Avatar
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    Re: Rams can look to Super 'omen'

    The upstart Rams finished 11-8 but showed that a longshot can reach the Super Bowl. Twenty-five years later, the St. Louis Rams are trying to pull off a similar feat.
    12-8 has a nice "ring" to it, don't you think?
    "Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road thereto and rough and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning." --- Hesiod

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    HUbison's Avatar
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    Re: Rams can look to Super 'omen'

    Other than the '79 Rams, instances of longshot success in the NFL are few and far between. In fact, the '79 Rams and the '88 San Francisco ***** (10-6) are the only teams in league history to reach the Super Bowl with more than five losses. San Francisco defeated Cincinnati 20-16 to win Super Bowl XXIII.
    As the article alluded to, the '88 whiners have the lowest winning percentage (.625) among all SB winners. However, (trivia alert), if we do manage to win the bowl this year, we would not be the only SB winner to manage only 8 wins in the season. The SB winner in the strike-shortened '82 season was the Washington Redskins at 8-1.

    BTW, there's a name for teams that win the Super Bowl with less-than-stellar season records.....they're called Super Bowl Champions.
    "Before the gates of excellence the high gods have placed sweat; long is the road thereto and rough and steep at first; but when the heights are reached, then there is ease, though grievously hard in the winning." --- Hesiod

  5. #5
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    Re: Rams can look to Super 'omen'

    The Rams aren't that bad. Maybe not that good either. But at 75 - 1 odds to win the SB, they are easily worth dropping a c-note on.

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    WisRamsFan is offline Awaiting Email Conformation
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    Re: Rams can look to Super 'omen'

    Like it said, this is a new season. The records go out the window now. The only use the records have now are deciding draft position. Any team can win this thing, and the RAMS have just as good a chance as any other team (with the exception of the Vikings, they're just haunted) to win the SB.

    The RAMS team going into the playoffs isn't the RAMS team that lost most of the games. So to pinpoint how they did during the regular season you have to take into consideration the injuries this team had. Still the RAMS are not at full strength, but we are in much better shape then the team that was a one point 5-6.

    Go RAMS all the way to Jacksonville.

  7. #7
    Shadesofgrey's Avatar
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    Re: Rams can look to Super 'omen'

    So, I guess I wasn't the only one to draw this same analogy hrrmmmm

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