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The same old story for the same old Rams
By Jeff Gordon
STLTODAY.COM SPORTS COLUMNIST
Tuesday, Dec. 12 2006
This grim outcome was fully expected.
The Bears, after all, are a strong Super Bowl contender this season. The Rams
are just another also-ran, a back-of-the-pack team in a downtrodden conference.
So Chicago’s 42-27 victory over the Rams on “Monday Night Football” surprised
absolutely nobody. But there were twists in this particular loss.
After a quiet few weeks, the Rams special teams had a disastrous game. The Rams
allowed explosive Bears kickoff returner Devin Hester to race 94 yards for a
touchdown in the first half . . . and 96 yards for a touchdown in the second
We know Hester is a rare talent, but how that happened TWICE in one game? Those
total breakdowns erased whatever chance the Rams had to score an upset.
“The return was tough,” Rams coach Scott Linehan said. “They were able to make
(big) plays without doing much, as far as driving the ball.”
Also, Jeff Wilkins missed a 48-yard field goal. And long-snapper Chris Massey
screwed up an extra point. Late in the game, the Rams attempted an on-side
kick, but failed to cover it.
So these were new twists to The Same Old Story for the Rams.
Defensively, they couldn’t stop Bears running backs Thomas Jones, Cedric Benson
or Adrian Peterson. The Bears rushed for 172 yards on 34 carries, for a 5.1
So there wasn’t much opportunity to harass Bears quarterback Rex Grossman, who
had been under fire in the Windy City after recording a 1.3 passer rating last
So much for their hopes of harassing the kid into a mistake-filled outing.
Grossman completed 13 of 23 passes for 200 yards and two touchdowns.
“They hit some play-action passes,” Linehan said. “We were playing the run,
primary. (Passing well) is something they haven’t been doing, coming into the
The Rams actually kept the game close for a half, trailing just 14-13 after two
quarters. They even put together a 12-play, 99-yard drive against the vaunted
Steven Jackson rushed for 64 first-half yards and a touchdown. Marc Bulger
completed 12 of 19 first-half passes for 160 yards and a touchdown to Torry
So Rams held the national TV audience for an entire half.
Then the game turned really ugly during the second half as Chicago built leads
of 35-13 and 42-20.
The Bears ripped through the Rams defense with their power running game. The
Chicago defense tenderized Bulger’s sore ribs with a number of vicious hits as
the Rams were forced into a desperate passing game.
Had their receivers hung onto more passes, the second half would have at least
been more interesting.
“You can’t stay on the field if you drop the football,” Linehan observed. “We
had some today. That’s one area . . . we didn’t take care of business there.”
The Rams managed to pile up some meaningless statistics. In the end, though,
the Rams staggered off their home field beaten and bruised.
The Bears (11-2) shoved the Rams (5-8) closer to mathematical elimination from
the NFC playoff “race.”
But Linehan tried to maintain a brave front. “Two years ago, this team was 6-8,
won their last two games and go in (the playoffs),” he said.
“We have to play next week. I don’t think anything is impossible. I never do.”
So there is at least one person who believes the Rams are still alive . . .