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Rams beat seachickens 23-17; The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

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  • Rams beat seachickens 23-17; The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

    In what should be considered their most impressive win in the Fisher era, the Rams won their third game in a row by beating and beating up the seachickens in a tremendous 23-17 win. The Rams capitalized on 3 seachicken turnovers (one of which resulted in a defensive touchdown), didn't turn the ball over themselves, kept the penalties to a minimum, and scrounged out just enough offense to earn their first season sweep of the chickens since 2004. The Rams played their best half of the year jumping out to a 16-3 lead at the break and hung in there to avoid a collapse at the scene of so many painful prior year debacles. Frankly, i am riddled with mixed and incredibly extreme and passionate emotions at this point. On the one hand, i am so thrilled with a tremendous win over a playoff caliber team on the road in which the Rams proved once and for all that they have the talent and capability to win big games, notwithstanding all the injuries coming into the game and those suffered during the game (especially the loss of barron, our leading tackler). When you watch the Rams today, you know that they have the capability of being a playoff caliber team, despite their numerous shortcomings on the offensive side of the ball. On the other hand, i am really depressed, because its incomprehensible to me that a team that can play this kind of game and choke the chickens on the road, the hottest offensive team in the nfl and the #2 overall defense, can possibly be 7-8 with losses to Chicago at home, Baltimore on the road and even Washington. Last week i made the point that the Rams were three plays away from being a playoff team. This week, after this kind of win, the point is that much more valid. We truly are three plays away from being a 10-5 team, even with the bad losses to chicago and washington in which we failed to show up. A couple of made field goals and a catch by kendricks and we beat Pittsburgh, Minnesota and Baltimore. It all seems like such a waste of potential and despite the horrific play by Foles, it really does come down to those three plays. I appreciate that you can't change the past, but you sure have to feel better about the future, and i sure hope we can continue the momentum and not waste this kind of performance by finishing the season by whacking the whiners and winning our 4th in a row.


    The Good

    I have been on Tim Barnes' case all year. I still think he is a lousy center and we seriously need to upgrade that position. However, his two fumble recoveries on pure hustle plays were game changing plays today and i have to give him credit because in both situations, chicken players had every opportunity to fall on the ball.

    The Rams didnt turn the ball over, aided by Barnes and a little luck. That is always a good thing.

    The Rams forced three turnovers, and scored on a nifty 45 yard runback for a td by ayers. The interception by Trumaine was his 4th game in a row i believe and the first for wilson in weeks.

    Keenum was an effective game manager. He made no really stupid mistakes and made a perfect throw to britt for a 28 yard td against richard sherman. Nice to see our receiver win a key matchup, it doesnt happen all that often. Keenum wound up 14-23-103-1 td for a rating of 86. He has a lot of room to improve (he scrambled short of a first down early when he got jumpy when he could have hit tavon for a first and threw one ball that hit the chicken defender in the hands and should have been picked), but overall, he did what coach wanted him to do and his record i believe as a starter is now 5-1.

    We held seattle to 60 yards rushing in 22 attempts, 39 of which were on wilson scrambles. Their running backs got nothing. First time in 25 games the chickens have not run for 100 yards (and first time in 62 games the chickens didnt have a lead at some point).

    Our defensive line hit wilson 13 times and had 4 sacks. They pressured him all game. Just about any other qb and we have about 10 sacks in this game. I think wilson is the most elusive guy i have seen since either fran tarkenton or vick at his peak, the difference being that vick couldnt throw all that well (ie no accuracy). We also had 7 tackles for loss.

    This team will go as far as our offensive line will take us and the offensive line played well enough to win again this week, albeit with room for improvement. The Rams oline allowed ZERO sacks and per the box score keenum was not hit even once. That is pretty impressive and its time to give the pass blocking some credit. I appreciate all the issues, short routes, quick throws etc, but the bottom line is that we gave keenum time to make a few throws and those few throws once again made a big difference in the game. In the second half, we also had some blocking for gurley. We have a long way to go on the offensive line, but things sure look a lot better than they did a few weeks ago, even with probably three guys on the line (or at least two) that wont be starters next year. We wound up with 30 rushes for 104, not great, but not bad against a tough seattle defense stacking the box.

    I continue to like benny (notwithstanding the big fumble, see below). He makes one big play seemingly every week in key situations that often go unnoticed. He had a key third down conversion on a short pass that almost went nowhere, he squirmed his way to the conversion.

    What can you say about gurley. He wound up with 19 carries for 85 yards and a huge 2 yard td run to put the game away on a critical third and goal. His hurdle over earl thomas was a hall of fame move (see below on the fumble). His 10 yard run to the 2 after the stupid holding penalty on reynolds when we had first and goal was really critical. He had a great catch and run out of the backfield for a first down. To repeat my weekly mantra, with any kind of blocking at all, he always seems to be on the verge of hitting a home run. The future is unlimited for this kid, can't wait to see him next year at full strength and with a more dominant offensive line.

    William Hayes was a man possessed today. 9 tackles, 3 sacks, 6 qb hits, spent the entire day chasing wilson. Trumaine was sensational again, making tackles and breaking up passes. Forget seattle, i think our two corners are as good as any pair of starters in the NFL. Simms played very well and caused the critical fumble by wilson at the end (which effectively ended the game). Barron was having a great first half, caused the fumble that ayers scored on, before leaving with a concussion. Ayers was terrific today, he had 8 tackles, 1/2 sack, recovered two fumbles, one of which he ran in for the td. In fact, the Rams caused 5 fumbles today (2 as a result of terrible snaps). Aaron Donald was very disruptive in the first half especially with a couple of tackles for losses and drew a key holding penalty late in the game to negate a big chicken pass play after wilson evaded about six rams who almost sacked him. McLeod has improved tremendously, he is a keeper in my view. Had a really nice pass breakup on a big hit on an open receiver. Janoris had a huge pass breakup on a 3rd and 4.

    Tavon didnt do much today, its hard to run wide on seattle, but he did have a nice 20 plus yard punt return that led to the 28 yard td pass to Britt on the first play after the return.

    Holding the chickens to a field goal when they had a first and goal right before halftime was huge.

    5 penalties for 60 yards, a couple of which were highly suspect (especially the crucial third down roughing the passer call on aaron donald which was a joke). I think we had no false starts and only one offensive holding penalty. By Rams standards, that is a pretty clean game that we can all live with (note that the chickens had 10 penalties for 83 yards and a number of uncalled offensive holding penalties.


    The Bad

    We allowed baldwin to catch 8 balls for 118 and a td. Not good.

    Our third down defense, especially on a couple of third and longs (3rd and 18 and 3rd and 31) was not great today, they converted 8-17 on 3rd down, which in a lot of ways, kept them in the game.

    Hekker had a stupid 15 yard late hit and was not that good today, 40 yard average, a shaky game for our pro bowl punter.

    Zuerlein's kickoffs were bad most of the game, a real problem given the speedy lockett returning.

    Key play in game (which i actually thought might cost us the game). We are ahead big, have all the momentum, they cant move at all, 3rd down, we stop them but trumaine has a hit to the head which was not needed and they kept the ball and scored a td on that drive to make it 16-10.

    The fumbles by gurley and benny were both bad. I dont put them in the ugly category because both times the balls were knocked out, but still, you really cant cough the ball up like that, we got lucky both times per barnes hustle and the chickens inability to fall on the ball. If we lose this game, both those fumbles for sure are in the ugly category.

    We had 207 yards of offense, 14 first downs and were 5-12 on 3rd down. That is not good. It was good enough to win today thanks to the three turnovers and the defensive td, but you cant call it good.

    The Reynolds holding penalty on the goal line was bad news. That really could have cost us big time but fortunately didnt cost us at all as we got a td from gurley anyway.

    We lost barron, fairley, westbrooks, trumaine and britt to injuries, although trumaine returned to the game.


    The Ugly

    The missed extra point by the Leg was ugly. He did make a 42 yarder, but missed extra points are not acceptable.

    The td pass to baldwin on 3rd and 18 where alexander was badly out of position was ugly (alexander did have 7 tackles today and one nice play). The difference between 16-10 and 16-6 at that point of the game was huge.

    Allowing 28 yards on 3rd and 31 was ugly. That led to them converting on 4th and 3 and getting a td to get back into the game. I understand why fisher took the penalty (although it was a close call, i dont think he wanted them to kick the 54 yard field goal, i dont think it was a pure field position issue).


    SUMMARY

    Today's performance is what we all hoped we were signing up for at the start of the season. I don't mean that people thought we were going to beat seattle on the road, i bet all of us had this one down as a loss. What i mean is hard played tough defensive football being competitive against any opponent even on the road. Lack of consistency has certainly been the key to the fisher era, but we have now won three in a row, albeit in effectively garbage time during the season. I think Fisher is going to be back next year. The effort from the team has been outstanding at the end and the team is built around his and sneads plan. If they fire fisher now, when the team is really showing a pulse, they are going to likely need to overhaul the roster and that probably means more rebuilding and i dont see us going down that road unless its absolutely necessary. I think cooler heads will prevail and we will try to sign guys on defense, upgrade the oline and try to pick up a playmaking receiver. I think its better than 50-50 that if fisher is back keenum is the qb next year. The Foles debacle certainly is on fisher and snead, but i have to say that i just could not have predicted that he was going to be this bad. If Fisher is gone, the Foles situation will have been his undoing.

    The Rams finish with the Whiners on the road. Lets call it what it is, that is a game we should win. If we do, we will finish 8-8 with 4 wins in a row and wins over seattle (2) and arizona, with very near misses against quality teams in minnesota and pittsburgh. We are playing terrific defense despite the loss of quinn, tree, tj, and gaines and almost nothing out of chris long. That is an awful lot of talent to be out of the lineup and still stop seattle the way we did today. 8-8 is certainly not what we all wanted this year and i think it would be an underachievement, but at the risk of repeating myself, it could have been a lot better than that with just a couple of plays going a different way. I sure hope that we don't blow it next week vs. the whiners because that would be a terrible way to end the year.

    Let's enjoy a HUGE WIN tonight and not focus on what could have been. Beating the chickens anytime is great, beating them on the road for the first time in 10 years is something to feel really good about, especially the way that they have been playing lately.

    Ramming speed to all

    General Counsel
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      Good write up.

      I think it was ugly that we accepted the penalty with the Seagulla on 4 and 10. Giving them a new (long) third down. I am pretty sure they would not have gone for it on 4 and 10.

      Else great game.
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