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Thread: Rams run defense rises
Rams run defense rises
By Jim Thomas
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
When you're 0-6, bright spots are hard to find. But one sliver of optimism in the past two games has been the play of the Rams' run defense.
Two Sundays ago, Edgerrin James and the Arizona Cardinals averaged only 3.3 yards a carry. Last Sunday in Baltimore, Willis McGahee and the Ravens averaged 2.5 yards a carry. The longest run in either game was a modest 13 yards — by James.
Following the Ravens' 22-3 victory, Baltimore coach Brian Billick said the Rams stacked the box with extra run defenders as much as any team he's faced.
"We played more 8-man fronts and put the onus on the corners to play man-to-man," Rams defensive coordinator Jim Haslett said. "Whether it was effective or not, we did it. We blitzed a lot, but on the other hand we didn't play a lot of two-deep (safeties), seven-man box."
With cornerbacks Tye Hill and Fakhir Brown back on the field, the Rams have more flexibility to load the box against the run or blitz the quarterback. Haslett agreed with the suggestion that the defense is gaining more confidence that it can play the run.
"You can feel it," he said. "We're doing a very good job inside on the ball. Now, they're running the ball outside, off-tackle. So we've got to keep working in that area."
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
The Rams still had a chance to make a game of it midway through the third quarter, when a 66-yard drive stalled at the Baltimore 14.
Trailing 16-0, they faced a fourth-and-1 situation with seven minutes left in the quarter. In theory, it was still a "two-score" contest; two touchdowns followed by a pair of 2-point conversions could tie the score 16-16. But instead of going for it on fourth down, Scott Linehan sent out the kicking unit, with Jeff Wilkins making a 32-yard field goal for the Rams' only points. Why not go for the first down?
"I gave it a lot of thought," Linehan said, "and just felt at that point, because of what happened the drive before, that we needed to get points on the board, make a positive out of the drive. And if you can get a stop, you make it a one-score game with another drive."
What happened on the drive before was an interception thrown by quarterback Gus Frerotte, his third of the day. But following the Wilkins field goal, the Ravens tacked on two more Matt Stover field goals to take a 22-3 lead.
OK, he wasn't penalized Sunday in Baltimore, but OG
Richie Incognito continues to make a name for himself with his, uh, aggressive style of play. The latest to take notice was Ravens LB Terrell Suggs. "(No.) 68 was playing — there's no way to sugarcoat it — he was playing dirty," Suggs said.
— CB Ron Bartell (thumb) is probable for Seattle on Sunday.
— WR Drew Bennett (hamstring) will try to play against Seattle but is questionable.
— WR Isaac Bruce (hamstring) could play against Seattle, according to Linehan.
— SS Corey Chavous (pectoral muscle) could play against Seattle, according to Linehan.
— LB Brandon Chillar (calf) is probable for Seattle.
— WR-return man Dante Hall (ankle) probably is out until after the bye week.
— RB Steven Jackson (groin) is doubtful for Seattle.
— RB Brian Leonard (ribs) is probable for Seattle.
— DE Leonard Little (toe) is probable for Seattle.
— WR Dane Looker (thigh) is doubtful for Seattle.
— C Brett Romberg (ankle) is questionable for Seattle.
— LB Raonall Smith (knee) is doubtful for Seattle.
In the 70 years of Cleveland-Los Angeles-St. Louis Rams football, no Rams team has started a season 0-7.
"By the fourth quarter, I think they were ready to get on their bus." — Ravens LB Bart Scott, on the Rams.
In what quietly has become one of the NFL's most entertaining rivalries, the Rams travel to the Pacific Northwest to play Seattle. Seven of the past nine meetings have been decided by seven points or less. The Seahawks won both games last season on last-second field goals by Josh Brown.
Re: Rams run defense rises
That quote of Bart Scott is the kind of stuff that will put Linehan in boiling water. With all the injuries, opportunities have been there for some of these 2nd and 3rd stringers. One would think they would try and make the most of it by giving 110%. If they're not, cut em'!! I'm sure there are guys out there that would jump at the chance to play in the NFL regardless of the situation.
I feel much better now.
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