Sunday's game is a must-win for fading Rams
By Bryan Burwell
Of the Post-Dispatch
Monday, Dec. 13 2004
Late Sunday night inside the visitors' locker room of Bank of America Stadium,
the staggering Rams slowly rummaged around the place trying to collect their
belongings and the last optimistic strands of a faltering season. Thanks
largely to a parity-diluted conference and a division leader with the
competitive spine of a swaying willow branch, there are any number of
mathematical formulas that say the 6-7 Rams' postseason hopes and dreams are
still quite alive. Yet as the players milled around the room, there wasn't even
the slightest delusional hint that prosperity was just around the corner.
Team captain Tyoka Jackson sat on a stool in front of his locker stall, and as
he shoved his sore feet into his shoes, someone asked him whether the Rams had
to run the table in the final three games if they hoped to reach the playoffs.
His response, though not quite as memorable as Jim Mora's wonderfully
expressive and exasperated "PLAYOFFS? Playoffs??!!" jag, hit a
similar emotional mark.
"We can't be worried about running the table," Jackson said without the
slightest hint of delusion. "This isn't about the next three games. We can't
think about anything but the next game. We need to go to Arizona and win.
Period. There's nothing to hope for, there's nothing to shoot for, nothing to
plan for except the next game. Anything else is a pipe dream."
This is just the matter-of-fact emotional ammunition the Rams need as they
finish this wildly disappointing season. They've spent the entire season
dangling on the edge of elimination, only to have the fraudulent Seattle
Seahawks repeatedly toss them a postseason life preserver. But after Sunday's
20-7 loss to the Carolina Panthers, the Rams know their opportunities are
They can not continue to bank on the charity of the spineless Seahawks if they
want to turn this troubling season into something positive. It's time for this
young team in transition to grow up and become self-reliant.
There are plenty of good reasons why the Rams are struggling. You can blame it
on the salary cap. You can blame it on poor personnel decisions. You can
certainly blame it on trying to overcome the devastating injuries that have
gutted their obvious preseason strengths, the sudden erosion of their aging
veterans or the glaring inexperience of their green-but-growing replacements.
Every one of those elements has contributed to the harsh growing pains of this
But none of that matters anymore. There are three games left in this season,
and time is running out. If Mike Martz is right, and his struggling defense has
turned a corner and found itself, than his offense better find a way to pull
its weight now, too.
If 39-year-old backup quarterback Chris Chandler can't find a way to do what he
was hired to do - play like a seasoned, unflappable 17-year pro - then the
folks around him need to find a way to cover up his inefficiencies. A big piece
of that puzzle will be getting No. 1 pick Steven Jackson back into the starting
lineup at tailback. Nothing protects a struggling quarterback like a workhorse
running back. And Jackson has that rare quality that can turn a sliver of
daylight into a breathless breakaway score.
On Sunday night, Jackson promised "I'm playing (against Arizona) ... How's my
knee? It's fine. Well, at least I can tell you that it's going to be fine
enough to play next week no matter what."
That's precisely the sense of urgency that will serve the Rams well as they
approach these last three games, If there was no sense of urgency around here
before, clearly that has changed by the circumstances before them now. The Rams
season has turned into a series of sudden-death survival tests.
It can't get any simpler than this.
Win or go home.
"I've been thinking that way for the last two or three weeks," receiver Torry
Holt said. "You know we've done it before. We know we can do it again. Now we
have to (win them all). We really have no choice."
Re: Sunday's game is a must-win for fading Rams
I just love Jackson's comments....... THATS WHAT US FANS WANT TO HERE!!!