Rams are own worst enemies

By Jim Thomas
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
11/30/2009

At least there were few witnesses. That's about the best that can be said of the Rams' latest loss, Sunday's 27-17 setback to Seattle.

The announced attendance of 47,475 at the Edward Jones Dome made it the smallest home crowd since the Rams moved to St. Louis in 1995. In terms of local television, the game was blacked out.

As for the Rams themselves, they were left black and blue.

They got bludgeoned for 170 yards rushing by a Seattle team that managed just 4 yards that's right, 4 on the ground last week against Minnesota. Quarterback Kyle Boller threw two costly interceptions, one of which was returned for a touchdown.

And not even the surprisingly busy day for running back Steven Jackson 28 touches for 116 combined yards rushing and receiving despite a sore back could spark the Rams to victory.

"That was a step backwards," defensive end Chris Long said. "We've got a long way to go, so we can't afford to take steps back. ... Nobody's going to dig us out of a hole except ourselves."

It's a hole of historic proportions. At 1-10, the Rams are off to the worst start of any team in the 43-season history of St. Louis professional football, a period that encompasses 28 seasons of St. Louis Cardinals football and now 15 seasons of the Rams.

The Rams have now lost 11 in a row at home, matching the franchise record for home futility set by the Los Angeles Rams from 1961-63. And they've managed to lose 10 straight to a Seattle team that no one will confuse for a juggernaut at least not lately.

Take it from Boller: "Losing (stinks). ... We've got to find a way to win. I don't care how it is; we've just got to find a way to win."

But in typical fashion for a team that has lost a staggering 37 of its last 43 games, the Rams made critical mistakes at critical times all afternoon. Just when they appeared to be gaining momentum, they'd misfire in one fashion or another. A few examples:

The Rams' 1,100-yard rusher, Jackson, was stopped on third and 1 from the Seattle 29 on the Rams' opening series of the game. As was the case in short-yardage situations last week against Arizona, the Rams tried to muscle up with extra blockers at the line of scrimmage and got nowhere. Josh Brown then pushed a 46-yard field goal attempt wide right.

So much for momentum.

In contrast, 194-pound scatback Justin Forsett of Seattle raced 11 yards on fourth and 1 from the St. Louis 18 to start the fourth quarter, setting up the Seahawks' third TD of the day. It's hard to imagine giving up 11 yards on fourth and 1, but it happened.

Early in the third quarter, rookie linebacker K.C. Asiodu partially blocked a Jon Ryan punt, giving the Rams excellent field position on the Seattle 35. Trailing only 14-10 at the time, the Rams had a chance to take the lead and perhaps take control of the game.

"I made a little up-and-under move and I felt a little piece of (the ball)," Asiodu said.

But five plays later, Boller underthrew wide receiver Danny Amendola on a corner route, with Seahawks safety Jordan Babineaux winning a jump ball for an end zone interception.

So much for momentum.

"I've got to put that ball out there for him to at least have a chance to make a play," Boller said. "There's some plays that I really wish I could have (back) some big plays that I think might have changed the game."

With the score tied 7-7 late in the second quarter, Boller threw into double coverage on a fourth-down gamble from the Seattle 34. Cornerback Josh Wilson picked off the deflected pass, which was intended for Donnie Avery, and raced 65 yards for a TD and a 14-7 Seattle lead with 1 minute, 38 seconds left till the half.

"I honestly thought we could make a first down" on fourth and 4, coach Steve Spagnuolo said. "So you can second-guess me on that, but I didn't expect an interception. I thought at worst we might be playing defense, and I was comfortable with the defense in the two-minute drill there."

The St. Louis defense had three 3-and-out sequences in the first half; they'd had only 21 all season entering Sunday's game, the second lowest total for any defense in the NFL. In fact, Seattle ran only six plays in the entire second quarter, but managed a TD thanks to Wilson's "pick six."

So much for ...

"You put in all the work during the week, and you feel like you're in the game, and when you don't come out with the result that you thought, it's very frustrating." Boller said.

As usual, Spagnuolo praised the effort and fight of his team. All well and good, but in the final analysis, maybe the talent level just isn't good enough, especially with an injury-depleted depth chart.

"I would never say that because I believe in the guys we have," Spagnuolo said. "And we'll keep fighting. In this league, anybody can beat anybody on any given Sunday."

Anybody except the Rams, that is.

Justin time

After allowing just two 100-yard rushers in their first nine games, the Rams have seen two relatively low-profile running backs go over 100 yards in the past two games. The Rams also have allowed six consecutive opponents to put up more than 100 rushing yards as a team. A look at how the Rams have done against each opponent's leading rusher this year:

Opponent Leading rusher Carries Yards
Week 1: Seattle Julius Jones 19 117
Week 2: Washington Clinton Portis 19 79
Week 3: Green Bay Ryan Grant 26 99
Week 4: San Francisco Glen Coffee 24 74
Week 5: Minnesota Adrian Peterson 15 69
Week 6: Jacksonville Maurice Jones-Drew 33 133
Week 7: Indianapolis Joseph Addai 20 64
Week 8: Detroit Maurice Morris 14 63
Week 9: Bye
Week 10: New Orleans Reggie Bush 6 83
Week 11: Arizona Tim Hightower 14 110
Week 12: Seattle Justin Forsett 22 130