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RamView, 10/9/2005: Seahawks 37, Rams 31

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  • RamView, 10/9/2005: Seahawks 37, Rams 31

    RamView, October 9, 2005
    From Row HH
    (Report and opinions from the game.)
    Game 5: Seahawks 37, Rams 31

    Well, the worm has turned in the NFC West, and in a bad way, as the Rams do an awful job of defending their home turf against the Seahawks. The 2005 season is getting harder and harder to pull out of the fire.

    Position by position:
    * QB: Going into the season, I'd have never thought I'd be saying by week 5 that Marc Bulger (26-40-336) needs to play more like Matt Hasselbeck, but it's true. Bulger is hurting the Rams with his season-long poor pocket presence. He was sacked four times today, most because he held the ball too long. Does Marc always have a release valve to go to when he's in big trouble? No, which I see as a major flaw of the Martz offense. But Marc also almost never chooses to run downfield, and today, he barely even dared to run outside the pocket. Damn, Marc, even a little scramble gives your receivers an extra beat to get open. Hasselbeck's no Michael Vick, but he beat the Rams' heads in today just by getting a little outside when he got in trouble. Bulger has become a cigar store Indian in the pocket, allowing opposing DBs to never worry they might have to come back upfield. Marc's voluntary immobility takes a big piece away from his game. Bulger is also killing his team with his now-trademark slow starts. He started 2-for-8, and by not scoring until their 4th possession, the Ram offense kept Seattle in the game instead of capitalizing on the momentum of Chris Johnson's opening kickoff return TD to put them in a big hole. Not that Marc isn't doing many things well. His field vision was impressive on first-half TD passes to Kevin Curtis and Torry Holt, passing up dumpoffs to make the big play downfield despite heavy pressure. And yeah, those plays fly in the face of what I was just arguing about. But at the same time, there were many times that Marc took sacks or threw dubious passes instead of hitting wide open (once by ten yards) Steven Jackson with the dumpoff. Certainly Steven's a better option than taking a sack or one-hopping a sideline pass. And Marc has to do a lot better than the awful pick he threw to Lofa Tatupu (my spell checker says that should be Loaf Taupe) in the 3rd. Not only did that pass look ten yards away from any Ram, it led to the Rams going down 34-21 when they could have been driving to go up 28-27. Despite his likely good fantasy numbers, Marc Bulger is slipping. He is far from a complete QB right now. He has to make better use of his feet under pressure, and he has to drive the Rams farther than ten yards at the start of games if the team still entertains playoff aspirations.

    * RB: Steven Jackson didn't have a bad game at all, 77 yards rushing and 62 yards receiving. He bulled his way in for a 1-yard TD in the 3rd to get the Rams within 34-28. He put the Rams in scoring position all by himself on their 2nd drive, taking a screen pass for 27 and a well-blocked run for 16. He helped set up his rushing TD with a well-designed 15-yard run and an 11-yard reception. And Steven took a 90-flip for 16 yards on 4th-and-1 to set up the Rams' last score, a FG. Steven had 23 touches, and could have had a lot more, since he was open almost every time he ran a circle route, and since Marshall Faulk got looked at maybe once and doesn't show up on the stat sheet today. Though he probably picked the wrong hole on a couple of failed runs, and could stand to cut back more on others, Steven showed good hands, good speed, and wasn't slowed down at all by his recent sternum injury. Madison Hedgecock can use some work at fullback, though; pretty disappointing that a guy of his bulk just gets stood up in the hole all the time.

    * WR: Big day for Torry Holt, 9-126 and a TD, and an outstanding, spinning, one-handed grab of a sideline pass Bulger threw behind him. Torry's right hand never touched the ball; it was just snag, tuck with the left. Torry also burned Seattle for a TD in the 2nd when his defender slipped. He was slowed in the 2nd half with a bruised knee. Kevin Curtis (5-63) had a 25-yard TD catch in the 2nd, a nice catch despite tight coverage, but hasn't been a deep threat at all despite having some of the best speed on the roster. Jackson's good day took work away from the receivers. Shaun McDonald was 5-55 and Dane Looker didn't get any looks. Jeff Robinson's first catch of the season was a nice sliding catch for 28 that helped set up Curtis' TD.

    * Offensive line: Seattle matched the Rams with four sacks, but it wasn't like the line allowed a jail break on Bulger all game long. The sacks he took were mostly his fault. He had plenty of time to at least throw the ball away on most of them. Former Rams Grant Wistrom and Bryce Fisher did next to nothing, but Seattle countered that by getting a lot of heat on Bulger right up the middle. That probably led to Adam Timmerman getting replaced by Claude Terrell for most of the game. On an 11-yard Jackson screen that set up his rushing TD, Andy McCollum and Terrell both did a great job getting downfield and leveling defenders. Orlando Pace did a great job clearing out space on the late 90-flip to Jackson. Unfortunately, the next play, Wistrom smoked Pace, and Chuck Darby cleaned up the sack, beating Alex Barron and Cam Cleeland. Barron and Terrell, both rookies, also both committed false starts. Even so, Bulger got sufficient time to throw, and Jackson got sufficient running room; with the glitches, the line still earns a B today.

    * Defensive line/LB: Pass rush was almost completely ineffective even with Leonard Little in, and he missed a lot of the second half with back spasms. Tyoka Jackson came through with a couple of sacks, and the Rams blitzed for a couple others, but the defense was badly outmatched for the second straight week, even against Seattle's undermanned offense. Where Seattle wasn't undermanned was on their offensive line, which blew the Ram DTs into nothingness all day long, shades of last year. Dexter Coakley (2 tackles) and Chris Claiborne (3) were once again near-nonfactors, and Shaun Alexander rolled to 119 yards and 2 TDs on 25 carries. Any time the Ram front put on a little pressure, Matt Hasselbeck would just roll out, and the Rams made him look like Michael Vick. Hasselbeck was unstoppable as a passer every time he rolled out. And Anthony Hargrove bit on every run fake that set up Hasselbeck bootlegs like a total amateur. Hargrove stuffed three runs but has been nowhere near the pass rush threat it was thought he would be. One of Tyoka's sacks forced a FG, and if anybody was the Ram defensive player of the game in this effort, it was probably him. And it's unfair to put total blame on the defense when the Rams' worthless punter sets up the Seahawks near midfield all day long. But at the same time, the defense gave Hasselbeck all day to throw, and allowed 13 Alexander runs of 5 yards or more. The lack of pass rush is completely exposing the completely weak Ram secondary, so some folks better start getting the job done up front.

    * Secondary: Start researching the college DB prospects, Rams fans, because the way the Ram secondary is playing, they're going to get a chance to be joined by a high 2006 draft pick. The Ram secondary proved it cannot cover anybody today, yielding 316 yards to a Seattle offense missing its top two receivers and roughly 65% of the team's passing offense. Joe Jurevicius (9-137) more than doubled his receiving output FOR THE SEASON, most of it on crossing patterns, a not-that-complex play the Ram defense never figured out. Jurevicius beat Brandon Chillar on a, yep, crossing pattern for 24 and Seattle's 3rd TD, with no Ram DB ever picking him up. Travis Fisher is so bad he had to interfere with one D.J. Hackett (in his first professional game) in the end zone, setting up Seattle's first TD. Seattle's 2nd TD was a 29-yard cakewalk for TE Jerramy Stevens, since Michael Hawthorne was busy looking for someone to blame for leaving Stevens wide open instead of actually covering him. That fiasco got Hawthorne pulled (FINALLY) for Mike Furrey, whose attempt to tackle Alexander on his 2nd TD run was pathetic. Alexander also steamrolled Corey Ivy (I think) at the goal line. Seattle had no-name receivers wide open the entire game, and no one in this secondary except maybe Adam Archuleta would be worthy of starting anywhere in the NFL right now.

    * Special teams: Despite a big play to start the game, special teams played a major role in losing it. Chris Johnson returned the opening kickoff for a 99-yard TD. Excellent work by the wedge (Hedgecock, Terrell, Brandon Green) on the right, and solid blocks by Chillar and Cleeland on the left got Johnson a nice seam to hit. Unfortunately, kick returns were ineffective the rest of the game, with Johnson usually getting shut down inside the 20. Reggie Hodges' pathetic punting did as much to lose the game as anything. Hodges averaged a bad-even-for-high-school 33.2 a punt, had two less than 30 yards, and repeatedly set Seattle up at midfield for short scoring drives. You're in a freaking DOME, Hodges, there is absolutely no excuse for such lousy punting. 33.2? Jeff Wilkins got 35 on a pooch punt in the 1st! New punter, NOW! Terry Fair was active today and returned punts. Poorly, that is, running backwards all the time just like Shaun McDonald. And it gets better. With about 3:00 left, and Seattle punting back to the Rams after three straight incom-pletions, and the Rams having all the momentum, Fair suddenly decides he's too pooped to return this punt after having played a series on defense. Fair motions in a likely-bewildered McDonald just before the play, and McDonald – you guessed it – runs backward, but gets stripped for a fumble to boot, effectively ending the game. That by itself isn't the coaching staff's fault, but you can certainly blame Bob Ligashesky for not getting anything out of Hodges, and the front office for wasting a draft pick on a punter in the first place. The Seahawks signed their punter, Tom Rouen, on Wednesday, and he outpunted Hodges by 7.1 yards a kick. If anybody at Rams Park wants to think about doing some similar waiver wire work to make this team better, Toby Gowin and Micah Knorr are veteran punters with better hang time, average and net average than Hodges has shown this year. And dump Fair and sign Andre Davis to return punts. Just do something.

    * Coaching/discipline: After getting his head handed to him three times last year, Mike Holmgren outcoached the Rams today, even with that three-straight-incompletion sequence inside 4:00 left in the game. With his top two WRs out, Holmgren surprisingly used the pass to set up the run, and it worked beautifully. The Rams were completely unable to deal with it, thanks to the woeful work of Larry Marmie. Seattle was repeatedly able to match WRs up on Ram LBs, and Marmie's coverage "schemes" were rendered helpless by simple crossing patterns. Blitzing was successful for a couple of sacks, but the Ram pass rush was once again ineffective most of the game, and it wasn't helped by Marmie calling stupid line stunts that take a week to develop. Either find a way to speed those up, or get them out of the playbook. One of Alexander's long runs came when Seattle ran away from the side where the Rams were blitzing three. Marmie got fooled by Holmgren all day long, and for the second straight week, little pass rush, horrible pass coverage, confusion and blown assignments, and poor tackling: hallmarks of the Marmie defense.
    Mike Martz heaped blame on himself after the game, but there's not that one moment where you can say he blew it, like last week, and though the play balance was 2 passes for every run, the Rams never really went into flail mode like last week or in San Francisco. Martz got the run going today with some successful calls. There was what I can only poorly describe as a counter draw that Jackson took for 15 in the 3rd, and an altogether-too-risky 90-flip to Steven on 4th-and-1 in the 4th that he took for 16. Bulger can just fall down and get that yard, but no; let's fake to Hedgecock forever before we pitch it out to Jackson. OK, the play worked fine, and the Rams have been in bad need of inventive run plays like these this season. Martz still had some of his usual shortcomings. The Rams coughed up a couple of timeouts due to sideline radio problems, once on a 2nd-and-1. You mean there's no way in creation for Bulger to audible to a run in that situation? The defense could have used those timeouts later. More damning is that the offense got off to a lousy start for the fourth time in five weeks. Pretty sad that the Greatest Show on Earth can't raise the curtain properly. What happened to the Rams dictating to the opposing defense? Do they really have to throw away the first quarter every week for Martz to figure out what's going on? I wasn't too happy with Wilkins' pooch punt in the 1st, either. A 52-yard FG is in Jeff's range. Even going for it on 4th-and-8 would have been a better move, especially staying aggressive and keeping Seattle on their heels. Instead, Martz left his killer instinct at home. Maybe it really was a side-effect of his recent illness, but that's not the Mike Martz we've gotten to know. Tentativeness is not a sought-after quality in any aspect of pro football.

    * Upon further review: Ron Winter led a pretty good officiating effort. Tyoka Jackson complained a lot about getting held, which I don't doubt. And I thought Curtis was interfered with on a slant pass from the 6 in the 1st that would have developed into a very big gain. But refereeing wasn't much of a problem today.

    * Cheers: The home crowd has all but turned on the home team, repeatedly booing weak defense, weak punting and ridiculous waste of timeouts. The offense is drawing regular booing now for its too-regular ineffective stretches. I can't blame anybody, either. This is a deeply disappointing team. If the Rams return to St. Louis 2-4 and start out like crap against the Saints, it is going to get 1998-ugly in the Dome, not a good sign for anybody at Rams Park. Despite all that, strong crowd noise slowed Seattle down early in the 4th, drawing a timeout and a false start to help get a defensive stop and keep the Rams' momentum going. It's not the crowd's fault the offense immediately whiffed on that opportunity. Better start playing like you're in front of 60,000 paying customers if you don't want to get booed by said customers, huh.

    * Who’s next?: Sure, the Indianapolis Colt offense has not lit up the scoreboard this season the way they have the last two, but does anybody in Rams Nation feel any good at all about facing them next Monday night? Defenses have slowed Peyton Manning down this year by dropping extra men into coverage. That seems right up the Rams' strategically-soft alley, but it stands no chance of working. It means the Rams have to get consistent pass pressure from the front four, something they haven't done in two weeks, even with Leonard Little healthy, and he's hurting. The Colts have one of the league's best offensive lines, making pass rushing double difficult. Manning has been sacked once this season - the punchless Rams are going to get to him? And has the worthless Ram secondary looked capable of covering any NFL wide receiver lately, let alone Marvin Harrison or Reggie Wayne, no matter how many they drop back? Does the run defense of the last two weeks inspire any confidence they can concede the run to Edgerrin James and not get run out of the park? I don't see what Larry Marmie can do against Manning other than fake-blitz a lot and hope to trick him into a lot of checkdowns. Peyton kills blitzing defenses, so any Rams who are coming better get there. And, Larry, cut out the stupid line stunts; Peyton doesn't need the extra five seconds to find an open guy.
    Under former Ram secondary coach Ron Meeks, the Colt defense has dramatically turned around its woeful play of recent years, a major reason the Colts are 5-0 and the current Super Bowl favorites. The Colt defense has held all five of their opponents to 10 points or less. The acquisition of Corey Simon has stabilized a formerly-weak defensive line. Indy leads the league in sacks with 19; the way Bulger holds on to the ball, that lead's only going to grow larger. Dwight Freeney has become the league's elite pass rusher, and looks unstoppable at times with that trademark spin move. What ever amount of help Alex Barron gets – from the guard, TE, RB, FB, coach, maybe a Sherman tank or two – they'll all have their hands full. If the offensive line can hold the fort, Bulger and the Ram WRs may be able to get some work done against the Colt secondary, which has just 3 picks this year, two of those off of Alex Smith today. But don't overlook the Colts' athletic LBs, who have 5 picks, or SS Bob Sanders, at least if you want to keep your head attached. The Colts aren't a great yardage defense; they do their best work in the red zone, unlike the Rams. So many of the Rams' weaknesses – turnovers, red zone, the whole defense – play right into so many of the Colts' strengths, they ought to be a 2-TD underdog Monday night, and a Rams win in Indy would be a bigger upset than another time somebody was a 2-TD favorite in a Rams game: Super Bowl XXXVI.

    -- Mike
    Game stats from nfl.com

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  • MFranke
    RamView, 11/13/2005: Seahawks 31, Rams 16 (Long)
    by MFranke
    RamView, November 13, 2005
    From The Couch
    (Report and opinions on the game.)
    Game 9: Seahawks 31, Rams 16

    Thanks to a complete lack of clutch play on offense (1 TD in 5 trips to the DREAD zone) and defense (only 5 third-down stops in 15 tries), the 4-5 Rams can wave good-bye to 7-2 Seattle and the NFC West title.

    Position by position:
    * QB: Marc Bulger (28-40-304) showed little-to-no rust despite coming off a three-week layoff. He threw as accurately as he has all season, and hooray, even took off and ran a couple of times instead of staying in the pocket for ten seconds and getting killed. Marc got off to a nice start, hitting Brandon Manumaleuna for 33 and 11 on consecutive 3rd downs before a Kevin Curtis drop in the DREAD zone made the Rams' opening drive a FG drive. Marc's numbers should be even better than they are. He threw a perfect 40-yard TD bomb to Torry Holt early in the 2nd only to watch Holt let it harmlessly hit the ground. Next drive, he let a bomb fly for Curtis just as Kevin tripped over DB Kelly Herndon, resulting in a hard-luck interception. In the third, he threw a pass into the corner of the end zone that Holt usually grabs, but not this time, leaving the Rams to settle for another FG. Once Marc and Torry finally got clicking in the 4th, for 10- and 17-yard completions, Manu messed things up with a fumble in the DREAD zone. Bulger and Holt finally connected for a TD with 7:00 left, a perfect 14-yard pass by Marc. You couldn't have asked for more out of Marc today. His passes were on, he didn't hold the ball too long, he ran when it was there, he dumped off to the RB when he had to, and he didn't really force up any bad throws. Unfortunately, what may have been Marc's best game this season winds up a big L in the loss column anyway.

    * RB: Despite a decent game from Steven Jackson (17-70), and Marshall Faulk’s 5-54 receiving, the Ram running game still left wanting, due in large part to DREAD zone struggles. Sometimes the offensive line failed, like the Rams’ first DREAD zone trip, but other times, the mistakes were Jackson’s. Prior to the fake FG attempt, Steven could have gained 5-6 yards on 1st down with a decisive cutback, but he was hesitant and lost ground. The next play, a well-set-up screen pass got 5, but would have been a big play if Steven hadn’t bobbled the ball. Rams come away with no points. After Dexter Coakley’s early 2nd-half interception, the Rams fail again in the DREAD zone, as Steven loses ground cutting back and running laterally (not his strength) instead of running downhill (his strength). The offensive line’s at fault, too, but Jackson isn’t off the hook for the Rams’ DREAD zone failures today. Steven still made some good plays. Early on he got 18 through a big hole from Adam Timmerman and Alex Barron, breaking an ankle tackle. He got 14 right after Coakley’s INT with a great cutback, dragging a DB along. Late in the 3rd,...
    Travis Fisher
    18.18%
    2
    Jeff Fisher
    0.00%
    0
    Bryce Fisher
    45.45%
    5
    Carrie Fisher
    36.36%
    4
    Taje Allen
    0.00%
    0
    -11-14-2005, 08:38 AM
  • MFranke
    RamView, 10/15/2006: Seahawks 30, Rams 28 (Long)
    by MFranke
    RamView, October 15, 2006
    From Row HH
    (Report and opinions from the game.)
    Game #6: Seahawks 30, Rams 28

    Instead of putting the Seahawks away when they had the chance, the Rams resuscitated them not once, but twice, and in the end, weren't even saved by a football miracle, a spectacular late TD bomb to Torry Holt. In blowing a 21-7 lead and losing, the Rams handed Seattle the hammerlock they had on the NFC West, and let a game get away that never should have, which may come back to bite them in the ass all season long.

    Position by position:
    * QB: Marc Bulger had a spectacular fantasy football day, 26-39-360 and 3 TDs, but like the rest of the team, he had a rough second half that turned a Ram romp into a disappointing loss. Marc’s biggest issue today was that he took six sacks, many by holding the ball way too long, a problem he appeared to be past the last couple of weeks. Bulger was a house afire in the first half, even though he blew a TD for Torry Holt on the game’s opening play by badly underthrowing a long pass. He finished that drive with a TD pass to Torry so good, he couldn’t have put it in a better place if he had walked down there and handed it to him. He hit Joe Klopfenstein for 28 and Isaac Bruce for 8 to convert 3rd downs on the Rams’ 2nd TD drive; the Rams were 6-for-9 on 3rd down in the half. Bryce Fisher sacked Bulger out of FG position to end the next drive, one of a couple of times the Rams blew a long FG opportunity by giving up a sack on 3rd down. But Bulger fought right back with a 10-yard TD to Holt, making it 21-7 Rams. Marc had a spectacular 140.8 passer rating, and the party was starting. Except now, cue the sound of the record player needle being raked across the record. Bulger hit Kevin Curtis for 39 right before taking another, and frankly bad, sack from Fisher to end the half. They drove back across midfield in the 3rd after Josh Brown’s double-doink FG miss, but Marc couldn’t get a 3rd-and-3 completion off a rollout. Then things really went to pot. The Rams answered a Seattle TD with a 3-and-out, with Bulger badly missing a very-open Holt on first down. Seattle seized a 24-21 lead before the Rams got the ball again, and they responded with a brutal 3-and-out. Steven Jackson whiffed on Julian Peterson for a sack, then Marc held the ball forever on third down, nearly giving up a safety before being sacked on the 1. Down 27-21 in the 4th, Bulger badly underthrew Holt and instead hit Lofa Tatupu for his first INT of the season. That was the game until Seattle fumbled it back. Then, with 2:05 left, Bulger hit Shaun McDonald for 28 on 3rd-and-7. A few seconds later, he threw one as far as he could, and Marcus Trufant appeared to have a bead on it for Seattle, but Holt snatched it away for a jaw-dropping 67-yard TD, and you know what? That should have been enough right there. Sure, one less mistake from Bulger probably wins the game, but criminy, he still did...
    -10-16-2006, 12:09 PM
  • MFranke
    RamView, 9/11/2005: ***** 28, Rams 25 (Long)
    by MFranke
    RamView, September 11, 2005
    From The Couch
    (Report and opinions on the game.)
    Game 1: ***** 28, Rams 25

    The Rams open the 2005 season in the most unimaginable, embarrassing way possible and stake an early claim as the NFL's most disappointing team. The Martz Era just took a massive uppercut to its glass jaw.

    Position by position:
    * QB: Marc Bulger has been a good closer in the past, but not today, which was a big blemish on a big statistical day (34-56-362, 2 TD). The Rams turned the red zone into the "dread zone", settling for four FGs in four trips before converting for a TD late in the game. Whenever the Rams reached the dread zone, the whole offense fell apart. After a Tim Rattay fumble in the 1st, Bulger couldn't get the Rams in from the 11, hitting Torry Holt for only 1 against one of San Fran's persistent blitzes and throwing a 3rd-down incompletion. Bulger could beat the blitz as long as he wasn't in the dread zone. The second drive, Marc hit Holt for 15 to beat a blitz, but once in the dread zone, it's sack, deflected pass, end zone pass for Kevin Curtis batted away, FG. Bulger responded poorly with the Rams down 7-6 – a poor near-INT and a sack. Down 21-6 near halftime, Bulger leads the Rams into the dread zone with a spectacular 44-yard bomb to Holt and a 14-yarder to Shaun McDonald. The finish, though, is 4 to Holt, sack, short dumpoff to McDonald, FG. Down 28-9 after halftime, the Rams bog down in the dread zone for the fourth straight time. Bulger and Torry miss open connections in the end zone, and Bulger is sacked AGAIN the next play to force another FG. Bulger and Bruce connected for a pretty 32-yard TD to make it 28-18 (note: outside the dread zone). But Bulger is bad the next drive, ending it with three incompletions, one a near INT-TD, one a 3rd down pass into triple coverage. But down the stretch in the 4th, Marc looked ready to work some comeback magic. He slips a third down blitz to hit McDonald for almost 9 and converts the 4th down on a sneak. 15 more to McDonald, and after ANOTHER sack makes it 4th-and-9, a lovely sideline connection with McDonald for 20 more. In the dread zone again, Isaac Bruce gamely dives at the 5-yard line for a first down, and though Bulger struggles mightily, he hooks up with Brandon Manumaleuna for an easy TE screen TD on 4th down to make it 28-25. In the final minute, the choking ***** hand the Rams the ball at the 33, and all Bulger has to do is not screw up, but ack, his first throw is way behind Isaac, who flails at it one-handed, as Mike Adams pulls it in for a game-sealing interception. Bulger wasn't himself today. He held the ball too long on several sacks and made a lot of poor throws. He floundered in the dread zone and had two bad series in the 4th with the game on the line. The Rams really can't afford any slippage in Marc's play right now.

    * RB: Steven Jackson (19-60) got off to a strong start....
    The Blood Red Zone
    0.00%
    0
    The Pink Zone
    20.00%
    1
    The Dread Zone
    20.00%
    1
    The Neutral Zone
    0.00%
    0
    The Twilight Zone
    60.00%
    3
    -09-12-2005, 06:06 AM
  • MFranke
    RamView, 10/2/2005: Giants 44, Rams 24 (Long)
    by MFranke
    RamView, October 2, 2005
    From The Couch
    (Report and opinions on the game.)
    Game 4: Giants 44, Rams 24

    Mike Martz returns from the hospital, but his defense plays like they belong in intensive care, in yet another road disaster, a third straight loss to the Giants. Looks like 2004 all over again.

    Position by position:
    * QB: Marc Bulger is likely to need arm-reattachment surgery Monday after throwing 62 times, ending up 40-62-442, 2 TD. Unfortunately, the Rams opened the game with a 123-out, and were in a 10-0 hole before they struck back with their first TD. Bulger set it up with a perfectly timed pass to Shaun McDonald for 29. Proving football is a game of inches, Bulger throws a swing pass a couple of plays later that barely misses Michael Strahan's hands and lands in Steven Jackson's for a 13-yard TD. The Rams failed to maintain that momentum on either side of the ball, though. The offense sputtered badly with another 123-out and a turnover, and the defense might as well have been chalk outlines of themselves, as the Giants rolled to a 27-7 lead before Bulger could muster another TD drive in the 2nd. Bunches of short passes to Torry Holt, Marshall Faulk and Dane Looker got the Rams in close for Jackson's rushing TD. Near the end of the first half, Marc's perfect sideline pass to McDonald for 21, and a Giant penalty, got the Rams within 10 for a FG. Marc even got the Rams in position for another FG before the end of the half, hitting Looker for 17 and hitting Kevin Curtis nicely on the sideline for 13. (Bulger hit eight different receivers today, including himself.) Even though Jeff Wilkins couldn't convert the late FG, Bulger drove the Rams right back down-field after halftime. Short passes and a key scramble to convert a 3rd-and-9 got the Rams in scoring range, or from the Giants' standpoint, scaring range, before a brutal call by the coach flatlined the Rams' momentum for good. The offense went into flail mode the last quarter-and-a-half, and Bulger made a bunch of dumb mistakes, three interceptions, keeping the Rams out of the game. He tried to force one to Jeff Robinson in the 3rd; bad idea. Late in the 4th, he tried to force one to McDonald in triple coverage; BAD idea. And Marc ended the game with a brutal interception that missed McDonald by a good five yards. Marc deserves some credit today; the Ram passing attack was missing Isaac Bruce and two TEs, and the Giants basically knew he'd be throwing every play the last three quarters. Not fair to say Marc had a bad game, but with the interceptions, too many misfires and too slow a start, you're still left with an empty feeling.

    * RB: Steven Jackson (10-17) was understandably tentative – the guy's got a crack in the big bone that protects the human heart, you know? – but the Rams' complete inability to run was one of several killers today. The running game was dead on arrival. Jackson danced for minus-4 on the...
    -10-03-2005, 05:51 AM
  • MFranke
    RamView, 10/30/2005: Rams 24, Jagwires 21 (Long)
    by MFranke
    RamView, October 30, 2005
    From Row HH
    (Report and opinions from the game.)
    Game 8: Rams 24, Jagwires 21

    The Rams ignore the backstage drama, the "experts" and the injury list, score a complete team victory over the Jagwires, and score the moral victory of making it to the bye week at 4-4.

    Position by position:
    * QB: Luckily, Jamie Martin's (13-21-200, 2 TD) big plays outweighed his bad ones today. He was sacked on his first pass attempt after a War and Peace-long wait, but his first actual pass was epic, a perfect pass to Kevin "White Lightning" Curtis in stride for an 83-yard TD. Unfortunately, Jamie kept the Jagwires in the game with interceptions, three, to be exact. Curtis nearly came away with the first one for a TD in the 1st, but the pass was ill-advised; Rashean Mathis had Curtis blanketed. Mathis picked Martin again in the 2nd, on a ball way over Dane Looker's head, and even if Looker ran the wrong route, there was no route he could have run for that pass to make sense. Bad throw. Martin regrouped and overcame Alex Barron's penalty parade to lead the Rams to a FG to end the 1st half, which ended with the Rams ahead 17-14. 18- and 23-yard completions to Shaun McDonald helped move the Rams into position. But Jamie came right out after halftime with another INT, another bad-looking throw to a well-covered Looker. All three Martin INTs came in Jagwire territory, and the Rams would have put the game away much earlier if not for his mistakes. I just think Jamie should know better than to force throws like he did on the first and last INTs. Luckily, the defense only allowed 7 points off Jamie's turnovers, and Steven Jackson carried the offense, which included taking in Martin's 2nd TD pass, putting the Rams ahead to stay. Not to ignore the scoreboard, though. Chris Chandler went 0-2 as a starter last year and drove the Rams into a ditch, but Jamie Martin has gone 2-0 as a starter this year and has led an injured, troubled team to the bye week with newfound confidence. Martin may not merit a standing ovation for his work, but he's sure earned a healthy round of applause.

    * RB: The Ram game plan wisely centered on Steven Jackson, and the young RB responded with the best game of his young career, 25-179, 1 TD, 200 total yards. I count six plays by Jackson of 10 yards or more, including a beautifully-blocked 19-yard screen pass TD in the 4th that put the Rams ahead to stay, and that Steven finished off by crashing through a tackler at the goal line. Sometimes Steven got great blocking; other times, he did it on his own. He opened the 2nd half with a 36-yard bolt, one of those plays where you can almost see the opposing DB say, “Oh sh*t, I forgot he was that fast.” He did that again to polish off the Jagwires with a 51-yard run with little time remaining. Steven cut back from where the play was meant to go, used a couple of strong alternative blocks,...
    -10-31-2005, 09:30 AM
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