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  1. #1
    RamWraith's Avatar
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    Rams' hopes are on ropes

    By Jim Thomas
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Sunday, Dec. 26 2004

    In the immediate aftermath of the Debacle in the Desert, veteran Isaac Bruce
    put things into immediate perspective.

    "There was a lot at stake today," Bruce said as he rummaged through a stack of
    wrapped sandwiches in the visitors' locker room at Sun Devil Stadium. "And next
    week there's going to be a lot at stake as well. We're still in the division,
    and that's the biggest thing that we have to go on right now. Our biggest thing
    is we're still alive. So that's what we have to feed off of."

    But that 31-7 pratfall against Arizona left the Rams with a 6-8 record and
    little margin for error. In fact, following victories Sunday by Seattle (8-7),
    Carolina (7-8) and New Orleans (7-8), there is no margin for error.

    Plain and simple, a loss tonight against Philadelphia eliminates the Rams from
    playoff contention. They could not win the NFC West title. Nor could they claim
    a wild-card berth. Here's why:

    A loss tonight means the best the Rams could finish is 7-9, giving Seattle -
    which can finish no worse than 8-8 - the West division title.

    In the wild-card race, a Rams loss gives Minnesota and the winner of next
    Sunday's Carolina-New Orleans game the NFC's two-wild-card berths.

    Even if the Rams win tonight, they need a victory over the New York Jets next
    Sunday - plus help - to earn their fifth playoff berth in six seasons. But
    there are only two scenarios that work:

    Even at 8-8, the Rams would need a Seattle loss next Sunday against Atlanta to
    win the division title. With both teams at 8-8, the Rams have the tiebreaker
    edge because they swept two division games against the Seahawks.

    If Seattle wins the West by beating Atlanta to finish 9-7, an 8-8 Rams team
    could still make the playoffs as a wild card if Minnesota loses at Washington.
    And that's regardless of who wins the Carolina-New Orleans game.

    "We have to win on Monday to have a chance to get in the playoffs. Period,"
    defensive lineman Tyoka Jackson said. "I can't remember what it's like to win a
    good game around here. I'm glad we're home the last two weeks. But we've
    probably got the best team in football coming into our spot."

    The Rams have won only two games since a Monday night triumph over Tampa Bay on
    Oct. 18, defeating Seattle on Nov. 14 and San Francisco on Dec. 5. Given that
    track record, what reason is there to believe the Rams can win their final two

    "I can give you a lot of reasons," Jackson said. "I've got No. 10 (Marc
    Bulger). I've got 81 (Torry Holt). I've got 80 (Bruce). I've got 76 (Orlando
    Pace). That's a few of them right there. I've got 91 (Leonard Little), 28
    (Marshall Faulk). They'll all be coming on the field."

    Playoff scenarios or not, Bruce has been around St. Louis long enough to know
    that losing to the Cardinals is a no-no to denizens of the Gateway City.

    "It's a big letdown for us," Bruce said. "Big disappointment. But I can assure
    you that next Monday we'll come out and we'll play well. And that's what I
    expect. As a unit, we'll play well."

    Well, "next Monday" is upon us. The Philadelphia Eagles are in town with a 13-1
    record and home-field advantage already assured in the NFC playoffs.

    The Eagles will be without the injured Terrell Owens, their star wide receiver.
    Philly coach Andy Reid has indicated broadly that many of his starters will not
    finish tonight's game at the Edward Jones Dome.

    Why? Because the Eagles have absolutely nothing to gain in terms of playoff
    position in their final two regular-season games. But with an injury list that
    numbered 15 this week, they have everything to lose in terms of banged-up

    But enough about what kind of team the Eagles will line up with tonight. What
    kind of Rams team will show up tonight?

    "We haven't played consistent," Bulger said. "When we have played well on
    offense, we haven't on defense, and vice versa."

    Last week in Arizona, neither side of the ball played well. The Rams' offense
    didn't score a touchdown for the first time in two years.

    "We have too many weapons across the board," Bruce said. "I never thought I'd
    see it. But hopefully, it's the last time I see it."

    All told, the Rams have scored only two offensive touchdowns since Bulger went
    down with a bruised throwing shoulder late in the first quarter against San
    Francisco on Dec. 5. Bulger returns to the starting lineup tonight, as does
    veteran left guard Tom Nutten on a struggling offensive line.

    But points don't figure to come easily against the Philadelphia defense.
    Entering the weekend, the Eagles had allowed only 202 points, the lowest total
    in the NFL this season.

    And which Rams defense will show up? After good outings against Carolina and
    San Francisco, the Rams yielded 31 points and 402 yards to the
    less-than-stellar Arizona offense.

    "They scored 31 points, and I don't know where all those points came from,"
    defensive end Little said. "We can't give up 31 points. All the great defenses,
    they don't give up 31 points no matter what the offense is doing."

    At this point in time, the Rams are several steps short of great - on offense,
    defense or special teams.

  2. #2
    sbramfan Guest

    Re: Rams' hopes are on ropes

    just to dream for a second...

    wouldn't it be crazy if the Rams win out and the Seahawks lose next week...and the Rams have a home playoff game and win and go on to...

    OK, I'm back now. umm, who are they playing tonight again?

    GO RAMS!

  3. #3
    Tailgage-Mayor Guest

    Question Re: Rams' hopes are on ropes

    It could happen. Remember in 2000, the last week of the season we needed to beat the Saints, and Chicago needed to beat Detroit? Well it happened and we backed into the playoffs!

    Keep the Faith!

    We can beat Philly’s second string, can’t we?

  4. #4
    sbramfan Guest

    Re: Rams' hopes are on ropes

    Since you asked....

    I'm not sure if we can beat Philly's practice squad.

  5. #5
    AvengerRam's Avatar
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    Re: Rams' hopes are on ropes

    Hope on a Rope, by Old Spice.

  6. #6
    adarian_too's Avatar
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    Re: Rams' hopes are on ropes

    The Jets have a playoff spot on the line against the Rams. They aren't going to be "resting" anyone. The rope-a-dope only worked for Ali.

  7. #7
    sbramfan Guest

    Re: Rams' hopes are on ropes

    Whatever, bring it on. It's actually better that the Jets are coming to play.

    If the Rams win this Monday Nighter, I would much prefer looking forward to a home game, against a good team that has something to play for, and let's go toe to toe for a shot at the playoffs in the final game of the year. Most seasons, that is what you would ask for at least...still in the hunt going into the final game.

    Just pull off this game tonight, and make a good showing next week (win or lose, because even with a win they need a Seattle or Min loss), and I would be happy.

    Anything less would make for a long off-season.

  8. #8
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    Re: Rams' hopes are on ropes

    Quote Originally Posted by sbramfan
    Just pull off this game tonight, and make a good showing next week (win or lose, because even with a win they need a Seattle or Min loss), and I would be happy.
    I'm not going to get over my unhappiness at the fact that the Rams have to go around with their hands out begging someone else to do them another favor all that easily. If that's what it takes, I'm game to grease Seattle's palm however to get them to lose their last one.

  9. #9
    SFCRamFan Guest

    Re: Rams' hopes are on ropes

    Regardless of what happens at home the next two weeks, Seattle will be playing at home against a Falcons team that will be resting Vick. Schaub will start and their offense looked dreadful with him in there yesterday. With two wins, a Minnesota loss is our only hope... :upset:

  10. #10
    txramsfan's Avatar
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    Re: Rams' hopes are on ropes

    Actually, the Falcons are playing all of their starters.

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