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  1. #1
    Nick's Avatar
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    Rams offense stuck in neutral in 23-6 loss

    Rams offense stuck in neutral in 23-6 loss
    BY JIM THOMAS



    CHICAGO • It has long been a premise of Jeff Fisher football to keep the game close in the fourth quarter and see what happens. For the third time in three games as Rams head coach, Fisher found his team in just that circumstance — in a one-possession game in the final quarter.

    But on this Sunday in Soldier Field, it didn’t stay a one-score fourth quarter for long. Trailing 13-6 early in the fourth, the Rams had a second and 10 on their 39 with 9½ minutes to play.

    It was then that quarterback Sam Bradford’s short pass to Danny Amendola was deflected in a crowd of defenders and grabbed in the air a few yards away by Chicago safety Major Wright. Wright raced uncontested along the Chicago sidelined for a 45-yard touchdown and a 20-6 lead with 9 minutes 6 seconds remaining.

    On a day when the St. Louis offense struggled and the Chicago defense shined, it was more than enough to ensure a Bears victory. Chicago tacked on a late field goal for a 23-6 victory, improving their record to 2-1. The Rams fell to 1-2.

    Not that the Bears were a picture of perfection, but the Rams were their own worst enemies in the first half. It began on the first possession of the game, when Rams special teamer Mario Haggan gave Chicago punter Adam Podlesh a late shove after a Podlesh punt from the Chicago 46.

    The resulting personal foul on Haggan gave Chicago a first down on the Rams 39. The Bears managed only three yards on the next three plays, but got points out of the St. Louis miscue on a 54-yard field goal by Robbie Gould.

    Later in the opening quarter, the Rams got good field position on Cortland Finnegan’s third interception of the season, on a deflected pass caused by linebacker Jo-Lonn Dunbar’s good coverage. The Rams took over at the Chicago 46, but rookie Chris Givens short-armed a short pass from Sam Bradford, and then Brandon Gibson flat out dropped a deep ball from Bradford down the left sideline that would’ve given the Rams a first down inside the Chicago 10.

    Midway through the second quarter, the Rams botched another chance to get the ball back when safety Darian Stewart was flagged for a late hit on Bears quarterback Jay Cutler. Stewart hadn’t played in the first two games of the season, but dressed Sunday because of Matthew Daniels’ hamstring injury. Obviously, not an auspicious debut for Stewart.

    Instead of punting on fourth-and-8 from the Rams’ 45, the Bears got a first down at the St. Louis after the 15-yard penalty. Five plays later the Bears were in the end zone, when Michael Bush scored untouched on a three-yard run off right tackle. That gave Chicago a 10-0 lead with 1:56 to play in the opening half.

    The Rams’ defense sprung some leaks on third-and-long in the half, including a 12-yard pass from Cutler to Brandon Marshall on third-and-7 from the St. Louis 15 to set up the Bush TD. Fletcher got beaten by Marshall on the play.

    But the Rams did put three points on the board before halftime when rookie Greg "The Leg" Zuerlein booted a 56-yard in the closing seconds of the half. The Rams had only 15 yards of offense to show for the first half before gaining 43 on the field goal drive.

    The Rams' offensive tackles actually held up pretty well against the Chicago pass rush, but it was the St. Louis guards who struggled. Both right guard Harvey Dahl and left guard Quinn Ojinnaka were beaten for sacks. The Bears were credited with a third sack in the half when Bradford got his leg tangled up with Dahl pulling out from center and tumbled to the Soldier Field turf.

    All told, the Bears outgained the Rams by nearly three-to-one — 170 yards to 58 — in the first half, and controlled the time of possession by nearly two-to-one (19 minutes 41 seconds to the Rams’ 10:19).

    The Rams closed to within 10-6 on another Zuerlein field goal — this one from 46 yards — with 6:14 to go in the third quarter. The big plays on the drive were a 13-yard run by Jackson and a 12-yard pass from Bradford to Matthew Mulligan over the middle. After missing the entire week of practice, Jackson tested his groin injury a couple of hours before the game and felt good enough to go.

    Gould broke the 10-6 gridlock with a 22-yard field goal 6 minutes into the fourth quarter. The 71-yard drive featured lots of quick passing by Cutler, but the big play was a 21-yard scramble by the Bears’ quarterback down to the St. Louis 6.

    PREGAME UPDATES

    After testing his injured groin prior to pregame warmups, running back Steven Jackson started for the Rams against the Bears today.

    But wide receiver Brian Quick, the first player taken in the second round of the 2012 draft, was among the Rams pregame inactives.

    Quick was a healthy scratch, reduced to watching Sunday's game against the Bears with the team going with Austin Pettis among its five active receivers in place of Quick. Pettis returned this week after sitting out the first two games of this season as he finished off a four-game NFL suspension.

    Other Rams inactives Sunday: QB Austin Davis, S Matthew Daniels (hamstring), RB Terrance Ganaway, DT Matthew Conrath (knee), OT Rodger Saffold (knee), and DT Michael Brockers (ankle).

    Inactives for the Bears: RB Matt Forte, WR Dane Sanzenbacher, G/C Edwin Williams, DT Matt Toeaina, OT Jonathan Scott, DT Nate Collens, and DE Cheta Ozougwu.
    Last edited by Nick; -09-23-2012 at 05:15 PM.

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  2. #2
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    Re: Rams offense stuck in neutral in 23-6 loss

    That's one hellofa paragraph!

  3. #3
    Nick's Avatar
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    Re: Rams offense stuck in neutral in 23-6 loss

    There we go, my iPad and I had conflicting views on how this article was formatted.
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  4. #4
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    Re: Rams offense stuck in neutral in 23-6 loss

    Quote Originally Posted by Nick View Post
    There we go, my iPad and I had conflicting views on how this article was formatted.
    Once again, nice work Nick!

  5. #5
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    Re: Rams offense stuck in neutral in 23-6 loss

    I actually forgot that Pettis was even back this week. Was he even targeted once? Stuck in neutral is probably the nicest thing you could say about the offense today. Hopefully they'll bounce back next week.

  6. #6
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    Re: Rams offense stuck in neutral in 23-6 loss

    The offense was hard to watch today. The last two games, it looked like at least our receivers were starting to catch the stuff that hit them in the hands. Not today. The receivers dropped passes. The line gave up six sacks. The defense took stupid penalties. It looked all too much like last season.

    Hmm, so Pettis is currently ahead of Quick on the depth chart? That's not a good sign. I know we expected Quick to take some time to develop, but sixth on the depth chart is pretty low for where he was drafted.

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    Re: Rams offense stuck in neutral in 23-6 loss

    Yes, the offense stunk it up today, but I cannot wait for us to get our O-line healthy and actually get receivers who can get open and make plays. We are clearly missing Roger Saffold and Scott Wells. Ojinnaka sucks. Plain and simple. There is just no other way to put it. And it is one thing when you're beaten from your tackles; you can sort of improvise. When you get beat from the middle of your line, it really makes it tough to mount an escape.

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