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  1. #1
    RamWraith's Avatar
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    Rams Squander An Opportunity

    By: Bernie Miklasz

    Under new head coach Jim Haslett, the Rams are a better, more competitive and determined football team.

    But they should have won Sunday’s game in New England. Period.

    The Rams offense just wasted a long menu of opportunities.

    Let’s recap:

    1. First possession. Emboldened by Haslett’s successful decision to go for it on 4th down earlier in the drive, the Rams advanced to the New England 2 but had to settle for a FG. Why: Marc Bulger’s third-down pass for Torry Holt went incomplete. Bulger went to the wrong receiver; he had the tight end open underneath. Outcome: 3 points instead of 7.

    2. Second quarter: Rams moved to New England’s 33 and stalled. Why: Bulger fot sacked for a 13-yard loss. They had another shot, a third-down play at the New England 38. Bulger was sacked again, minus 2. Outcome: zilch, after being pushed out of Josh Brown’s FG range.

    3. Third quarter: Haslett called for an onside kick to open the second half and Brown executed it perfectly. The Rams started off at their own 41. Result: nothing, three plays and out. Why: The Rams needed 4 yards on third down and Bulger couldn’t connect with TE Daniel Fell.

    4. Third quarter: safety O.J. Atogwe intercepted a Matt Cassel pass to set the Rams up. They got as far as the New England 33 and conked out. Why: a 10-yard holding penalty on RT Alex Barron. And on third and 14, Bulger’s pass to Holt was good for only 11 yards. I’ve never understood the logic of routes that don’t take the receiver to the first-down marker. Holt is no longer capable of catching passes underneath and making defenders miss. Outcome: Brown kicked a 44-yard FG to tie the game at 13-13. But again, the offense couldn’t find the end zone and lost points.

    5. Third quarter: CB Fakhir Brown intercepted a tipped Cassel pass to get the Rams started at their own 42. They get as far as their own 46. Outcome: Zero, as Bulger missed on a third-down pass to Holt. So in the third quarter the Rams recovered an onside kick and made two INTs and cashed in for only 3 total points. Not good.

    6. Fourth quarter: Rams marched from their 36 to the New England 7. Outcome: a 25-yard FG by Brown, after Bulger can’t hook up with Holt on third down and seven. The FG gave the Rams a 16-13 lead, but they left points on the field… again.

    7. Fourth quarter: The Rams were trailing 23-16 and desperate. Bulger navigated them from their 10 to the New England 33, and then it all broke down. Why? A false start on Richie Incognito, and then an interception by Bulger, who threw into triple coverage. Instead of forcing a bad pass that had no chance, Bulger could have waited a second for an open receiver, Donnie Avery to come completely clear towards the middle of the field. Avery had peeled off but the ball was already in the air. Follow-up: some of you have written to disagree, saying that Avery wasn’t really running free; you say it only appeared that way because the Patriots defenders had left him to play the ball. Perhaps. But here’s the bottom line: Bulger had plenty of time but inexplicably rushed a horrible throw that he had no chance of completing. Outcome: INT and game over.

    Seven prime chances to score.

    TDs scored: none.

    Total points scored: 9.

    And that’s the No. 1 reason why the Rams walked out of Gilette Stadium with their heads down.

    What a shame, because the fellas did so many things well in this game. It’s really excting to see the young wideouts (Avery and Keenan Burton) start to take off. The defense did enough to set the offense up for some scores, and that defense had to play shorthanded after DE Leonard Little and CB Ron Bartell left with injuries.

    The Rams should have flown out of New England with their third consecutive victory and a chance to reach .500 on Sunday vs. Arizona. Instead they’re 2-5 and still have a long way to go to barge their way into contention in the NFC West.

    I want to vent about three more things:

    1. Bulger has to be much, much better than this. The good QBs, the clutch QBs, find a way to win this game. He had all types of chances to make plays; we’ve already discussed all of the blown opportunities and third-down misfires. Bulger started off well, but as soon as the Patriots smacked him around, he lapsed into his old routine of throwing off the back foot, and becoming squishy in the pocket. The pressure got to him again. Bulger showed signs of being unnerved by the effects of BQS. (Battered Quarterback Syndrome). The more the Patriots hit him, the more Bulger retreated. Yes, the early flourish put Bulger in position to finish with 301 yards passing. That may look good on the stat sheet, but those who saw the game know better. In the second half Bulger completed only 8 of 20 passes and had a QB rating of 38.9. The O-line didn’t offer great protection, and Bulger was sacked four times, but on a couple of those sacks he needed to get rid of the danged football. After some hopeful progress during the previous two games, Bulger regressed. And I don’t want to hear any of this “They Didn’t Have Steven Jackson” baloney to make excuses for Bulger. Jackson’s replacement, Antonio Pittman, did a solid job. He rushed for 83 yards, averaged 4.4 yards per carry, and caught some balls to finished with 105 total yards from scrimmage. Jackson averaged 127 yards from scrimmage in the first six games.

    2. I simply did not understand the play-calling approach of offensive coordinator Al Saunders, at least in the passing game. I hosted a virtual chat during the game over at the Bernie’s Press Box forum, and those who joined in know that I was squawking about the Rams’ stubborn refusal to work the middle of the field. The middle was wide open a lot during this game; the Patriots aligned their defense to rush Bulger from the edge, and to take away the sidelines. But instead of running patterns over the middle to exploit the Patriots’ coverage schemes, or to force the slower NE linebackers to cover, the Rams continued to direct much of their air game to the sideline. I respect Saunders but this one had me hollering at the TV set. Incomprehensible.

    3. The officiating was a disgrace, and an embarrassment to the NFL. Nine penalties on the Rams? And NONE called on the Patriots? (Well, they did call a couple of penalties which were declined by the Rams, but that’s not the point). The Rams had to go into New England and not only beat the Patriots and handle the home crowd, but also had to overcome the grossly incompetent officiating. The refs ignored a blatant late hit out of bounds against Fakhir Brown when he made his INT. Head referee Scott Green ignored an obvious roughing-the-passer episode that happened several feet from him, and while he was staring at the play. Green also threw a flag on the Patriots for hitting Bulger in the facemask, then picked up the flag and waved off the penalty. They missed other stuff, too, including some flagrant holding calls. The lazy, gutless display by this crew only reinforced the impression that the Patriots get special treatment. The Patriots came into the game having been flagged only 16 times in the first 6 games, the second-fewest total in the league. Patriots coach Bill Belichick is very good at intimidating officials, and it apparently worked again for him on Sunday. I had to laugh late in the game when the TV camera zoomed in on Belichick as he screamed at the officials. What was Coach Hoodie possibly upset about? Did one of the officials fail to properly shine Belichick’s car? Did Scott Green forget to pick up the coach’s dry cleaning? Did one of the refs make a mistake and deliver the wrong kind of pizza to Bill’s house on Saturday night? LOL. No surprise. I don’t even know why I get worked up. The way NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell handled “Spygate” and made it disappear told us all we needed to know.

    Wanted to add something upbeat as I finish… as Andy B, one of the posters at Bernie’s Press Box said: it feels good to be mad at the Rams for losing a game like this. This is a helluva lot better than the non-competitive and dull blowouts we were seeing under the previous head coach.

    Thanks for reading …


  2. #2
    laram0's Avatar
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    Re: Rams Squander An Opportunity

    I really thought we could go to Foxboro and beat the Pats. What I didn't take into consideration was that we had to overcome the officiating also. What was I thinking?

    Stupid me!!!

    Hopefully Haslett makes a special note in his little black book.

    (In preparing for our next game against the Pats have Al Saunders work with the offense on 1st and 15 & 1st and 20 alot.)
    Last edited by laram0; -10-27-2008 at 09:03 AM.

  3. #3
    Mooselini Guest

    Re: Rams Squander An Opportunity

    I can tell you the Rams will come out with more fire next week. We're in our house so it makes it that much better.

    We played a tough team in their home. So I'm not upset that we lost. A little disappointed, but hey, it was a hard team to play. We kept up with them and we will learn from our mistakes.

    Next week we play a tough Arizona team who is coming off a loss also.

  4. #4
    shower beers's Avatar
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    Re: Rams Squander An Opportunity

    This logic seems a bit ignorant. You can say the same things about the Patriots missed chances, and then the "score" would still favor the Patriots. It works both ways. The Patriots weren't perfect.

  5. #5
    LA Rammer's Avatar
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    Re: Rams Squander An Opportunity

    Quote Originally Posted by shower beers View Post
    This logic seems a bit ignorant. You can say the same things about the Patriots missed chances, and then the "score" would still favor the Patriots. It works both ways. The Patriots weren't perfect.
    According to the officials they were

    It's Jim not Chris

  6. #6
    Azul e Oro is offline Registered User
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    Re: Rams Squander An Opportunity

    Well, it would feel wrong not to have a half-baked kneejerk analysis by Miklasz on a Monday morning.

    MB played well. There are squandered opportunities in every game by every QB. With Seymour in his face on almost every play, & a merely adequate performance by Pittman, he got us close to stealing a game in Foxboro; something virtually no team in the NFL has done in recent years.

    I also suppose it's MB's fault that Avery doesn't know his "hot reads". At least twice he didn't break off his routes when the blitz was obvious. Kid had a great impact on the game, both positive and negative.

    Pittman also left quite a few yards on the field by not following the blocks up the gut. It was deja vu all over again. SJ was doing it earlier this year but finally got the point that going to the body early pays dividends at the end.

    Maybe that's why Al fell into the panic trap & only ran TWICE on the final drive when we had plenty of time & timeouts.Kind of setting MB up to take the fall when he was pressured all day & still has a weak WR group to work with, Avery's development notwithstanding,no?

    With SJ , we would have stood a very good chance of blowing out The Pats with that second half field position.

    The difference in the game was a mis-match of a LB on a RB in endzone pass coverage & the pass rush gave Cassel time to find Moss repeatedly.Would have looked even worse if Welker & Moss hadn't had some uncharacteristic drops.

    Yeah, the zebras sucked. So what else is new for The Rams?

    Yeah, the middle of the field was sometimes open but hard & dangerous to throw there under pressure without a reliable TE.More likely to result in INTs vs such an experienced LB group.

    Instead of going for the obvious & amateurish Mon QB observations, Mr Miklasz, why don't you mention the fact that we couldn't get to the 2nd most sacked QB in the NFL enough?

    That was far more of a factor throughout the entire game than any of the plays missed by MB.
    Last edited by Azul e Oro; -10-27-2008 at 02:47 PM.

  7. #7
    TheBritishRam's Avatar
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    Re: Rams Squander An Opportunity

    I think it speaks volumes that we're disappointed by a loss in Foxboro, 4 weeks ago a lot of us, me included, had given up on the season, i just hope the rams can bounce back and beat the cards.

    Here's to O lineman being taken in the 1st round!!

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