Rams keep moving beyond their lowest of lows

Columnist Jeff Gordon
(E-mail a "Letter to Gordo")By Jeff Gordon
STLTODAY.COM SPORTS COLUMNIST
11/16/2008

Perhaps you believed it couldn’t get any worse for the Rams.

Perhaps you believed they could never top the humiliation of last Sunday, when they fell behind the New York Jets 40-0 by halftime at the Meadowlands.

But give the Rams credit – they can really dig deep while embarrassing themselves today. They found some new and exciting ways to fail.

They went to San Francisco to face the *****, who limped into the game with a 2-7 record. Playing a fellow laughingstock, the Rams had a chance to wash away the bitter taste of their Week 10 humiliation.

Instead, they caved in, again, during a stunning 35-16 loss.

Hapless Rams quarterback Marc Bulger threw two interceptions and lost a fumble during the disastrous first half – when the Rams fell behind 35-3. Thirty-five to three!

“That first half was a disaster,” coach Jim Haslett told Rams Radio moments after the fiasco finally ended.

Journeyman Shaun Hill was quarterback for the other side, not Joe Montana or Steve Young. Interim coach Mike Singletary was running the show, not Bill Walsh.

There was no excuse to lose THAT badly to THAT team. But lose the Rams did.

“We’ve had eight turnovers in a game and a half,” Haslett told Rams Radio. “You can’t beat anybody doing that.”

Making matters worse, tackle Orlando Pace went down with a knee injury. So did cornerback Ron Bartell. Guard Richie Incognito suffered a shoulder injury.

The Rams broke down on both sides of the ball, allowing the ***** to walk all over them.

“You have to stop somebody some time – and we didn’t do a good job of it,” Haslett said.

It didn’t have to be this way. The Rams moved the ball with relative ease early in the game.

They gained 122 yards and earned six first downs during the first quarter. But Josh Brown missed a 48-yard field goal, then the Rams settled for a 24-yard Brown kick after stalling near the goal line.

After failing to make the most of those forays, the Rams packed it for the day. A promising game went south in a hurry.

“I really don’t understand it.” Haslett said.

The Rams gave up on themselves, their interim head coach and their opportunity to salvage some self-respect before the end of the season.

Pro football is an extraordinarily emotional game. Once a team gives up – and this team apparently surrendered during the second quarter of the Cardinals game in Week 9 – it has no chance.

Maybe it would have been different had star running back Steven Jackson stayed healthy. Maybe it would have been different if Haslett had taken Jackson out of the Cowboys game when his team was comfortably ahead.

As it is, though, the Rams rolled over on Haslett’s watch. Because of that, owner Chip Rosenbloom should not consider him for the head-coaching job.

For three weeks, the Rams showed life under Haslett. But once they collapsed against the Cardinals, he could revive them. The following two games became catastrophes.

Sadly, there is nothing he can do with the group now. The Rams still have enough talent to win a few more games, as they showed for much of the first quarter, but they have lost their collective will.

The losses have piled up on them. They are buried now, crushed under the wait of repetitive failure.

Bulger is the poster boy for the team’s failure. His epic deterioration is indicative how bad things have become.

This once-efficient quarterback is a shell of his former self, a mistake waiting to happen.

But he is not alone in his suffering. Outside of punter Donnie Jones, not many of these players can feel proud of what they did on this day.

Most of the players appear to be marking time until the season mercifully ends. Too bad there are six games to play.