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Rams still trying to get over hump
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
11/24/2009 By Jim Thomas
The Rams lost in overtime at Jacksonville, won at Detroit and had the ball at the end against New Orleans and Arizona with a chance to win or force overtime. The only blowout over the last six Sundays has been the 42-6 loss Oct. 25 against an Indianapolis team that remains unbeaten four weeks later.
But on a weekend when two of the NFL's lesser lights, Kansas City and Oakland, sprung upsets over playoff contenders, the Rams could only come close — once again — in a 21-13 loss Sunday to Arizona.
"There's going to be a point when this team is going to get over that (hump)," defensive end Leonard Little said. "It's going to happen."
"We've got to pick up our learning curve because there's only six weeks left in the season," defensive tackle Clifton Ryan said. "We don't want to be sitting here at Week 15, Week 16, talking about turning the corner. We've got to turn it now. From top to bottom, from 1 down to 53 (on the roster), we've got to turn the corner."
On paper, there may be no better opportunity than this Sunday's game against Seattle. Yes, the Seahawks have won nine straight against the Rams, including a 28-0 whitewash on opening day of this season. But they've lost seven of nine since that contest and come to town with a 3-7 record.
"There's a silver lining to everything," coach Steve Spagnuolo said. "I think the team is getting to the point where we're in those games."
After a horrendous first half Sunday, the Rams were able to make it a one-possession game. Apparently there was more to their second-half revival than just the absence of Kurt Warner in the Arizona lineup.
"I liked the way the team was a halftime," Spagnuolo said. "I liked the way we came out, the fact that we got ourselves back in the football game. ... All that's good. We need to continue to do that, and like I told the team (Monday) morning, we've got to get the football right. We've got to get the football things, the details, so that all these little things that keep coming up that lead to us not being ahead, or not winning the game, are erased."
Things got intense in the Rams' locker room at halftime, with the team trailing 21-3. Little and safety Oshiomogho Atogwe got vocal, challenging the team — and each other — to pick up their play.
"It was an intense thing because we're not playing like we're capable of playing and everybody knows that," Little said. "It was like a sense of urgency that went on at that time. It happens that way in football because guys want to win. And guys want to be able to compete with the upper-echelon teams. In the second quarter, we really didn't. They had their way with us a little bit."
At least two Rams, defensive end Chris Long and running back Steven Jackson, told reporters after the game that they thought the team came out flat in the first half.
"I did not get that feeling," Spagnuolo said. "Now, I'm not one of the players, so if a player feels that in himself, they know themselves better than I do. But I thought we came out (OK). It wasn't until the second quarter that it kind of got away."
It was a game full of decisions about whether to go for it on fourth down or not. Whether to kick the field goal or not.
Spagnuolo took the blame for one of the ill-fated fourth-down calls, a fourth-and-1 dive play by Jackson that was stopped for no gain at the Arizona 22 midway through the second quarter. The Rams trailed 14-3 at the time.
"That's the head coach's fault, and I'm going to tell you why," Spagnuolo said. "That play I called. ... (Offensive coordinator) Pat (Shurmur) and I talk a lot on those fourth-and-1s. And if I had to do it all over again, I would've ran a different play. There's a better play we could've run. I personally should've been smarter."
Late in the third quarter, trailing 21-3, Spagnuolo decided to kick a field goal on fourth-and-goal from the Arizona 2. Did what happen earlier on fourth down influence Spagnuolo's decision to kick a field goal here?
"I try not to let that happen because you miss it on one fourth down, what are you going to do, say we can't make any fourth-and-1s?" Spagnuolo said. "Had it been fourth and a half a yard at the goal line, maybe (you go for it). Maybe at the 1."
So he opted for a Josh Brown field goal, which made it a two-possession game, and which brought a torrent of boos from the crowd at the Edward Jones Dome.
"There were?" Spagnuolo joked. "I understand that. I can appreciate it. There's different ways to go. We chose to go that way. In hindsight it didn't work out all that bad. We had our opportunities ... to get two scores. The flip side is if you don't make it (on fourth down) and it's 21-3, it's a three-possession game.":ramlogo:
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