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[PD]: Ultimately, Rams must look in mirror

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  • [PD]: Ultimately, Rams must look in mirror

    Ultimately, Rams must look in mirror
    By Bryan Burwell
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    Monday, Oct. 16 2006

    As the first wave of reporters came streaming into the chaotic Rams locker room late Sunday afternoon, any number of players were still trying to figure out what had happened to them in the final exasperating seconds on the Edward Jones Dome turf. Big Todd Steussie stepped over empty equipment bags, wads of ankle tape and sweat-soaked shoulder pads, stirring up heated debate and utter confusion about a controversial last-second call that led to Seattle's 30-28 victory.

    "I don't get it," said the giant offensive lineman, standing in front of a group of linebackers.

    "It makes no sense," he said, now huddled with a few fellow offensive linemen.

    "How does this rule work?" he said as he towered over a new audience of scribbling sportswriters.

    Everywhere inside the Rams' quarters, there were angry men like Steussie sorting through the various stages of a painful, self-destructive defeat. If you listened for a few minutes, you could hear things move swiftly from denial to anger, from anger to rationalization and from rationalization to depression.

    At first they wanted to cling to the idea that referee Ed Hochuli and his gang that occasionally couldn't see straight had conspired to do in the Rams with all those ill-timed penalty flags that went flying around most of the game. But ultimately, what finally dawned on them was the acceptance that ultimately this defeat had to go under the heading of self-inflicted wound.

    Tailback Steven Jackson said, "And now we have a bye (week) so we have two weeks to sit on this."

    That should give them ample time to glean every bit of frustrating and promising detail from this football game. We've watched six games turn out just like this, where the Rams battled right down to the last tick of the clock, giving us exciting finishes, hair-pulling anxiety, but most of all surprising evidence that they're capable of being a lot better than anyone could have imagined.

    The Rams are 4-2 as they head into their mini-vacation, and have shown an impressive resiliency. We seem to watch them every week make another improbable play that puts them in position to win ballgames, and that's the sort of trait that eventually breeds championship-caliber clubs by the end of the season.

    On Sunday, defensive end Leonard Little forced another game-altering fumble late in the fourth quarter, and forced thousands of spectators who prematurely started for the exits to return to their seats to witness this week's particular flair for the dramatic. With less than two minutes to go, the Rams produced that unlikely miracle comeback when Torry Holt flew under a perfectly thrown bomb from Marc Bulger, juggled it with one hand, hauled it in and raced into the end zone for a 28-27 lead.

    That should have been enough to finish off Seattle, but for all the surprising things the Rams have learned in Scott Linehan's short time in charge, the one ingredient that needs to be developed is a killer instinct. And the Rams know it, too. Little slowly paced the locker room in a towel, unable to sit still for any length of time.

    "We had them," Little said, squeezing his hand into a tight ball. "Ooooh, I mean we had them! If you asked me how certain I was that we were going to win this game, I would have said '100 percent.' I didn't just think we could win this game, I knew we would win it."

    But the second half was a good lesson to this team trying to develop championship instincts. The Seahawks, in case the Rams forgot, are the defending NFC champs, and they came right back to take a 27-21 lead. But even after all the second-half mistakes the Rams made, all I know is with a minute and 38 seconds left, they had a 28-27 lead, and that should have been enough.

    The Seahawks were 83 yards away from the end zone with a large chunk of the sold-out crowd returning to their seats to scream at the top of their lungs and make life impossible for quarterback Matt Hasselbeck. Was it the refs' fault that Hasselbeck completed three of four passes in 40 seconds, and within a blink of an eye, the Seahawks were at the Rams' 31 and in position to call on Josh Brown to kick a 54-yard field goal that took all the life out of this place as the final buzzer sounded?

    At halftime, the Rams seemed ready to transform themselves from an early season surprise into a legitimate NFC contender, but they let the whole thing slip right out of their grasp. And now they have two long weeks to stew on it.

    "If you've learned anything about us by now, you know that we're fighters," said Little. "This one has us mad, real mad. I can't wait to get this one out of my system."

  • #2
    Re: [PD]: Ultimately, Rams must look in mirror

    The bottomline is that this Coach does not have the fury to punish his oppenents with anger and determination. Overall this team should have
    beaten the Seahawks period. And given all the offensive weapons afforded
    to him. They were still limited on their production. Torry Holt was the
    story of the game. But Coach Linehan seems hesistant to utilize his play
    makers to their full potential when it comes time to put the game away.
    That was one of Mike Martz's trademark kill them while you are ahead.
    It seems Coach Linehan is wishing for a last play turnover to rack up the
    wins. If anyone saw his expression on the last play, he was hoping for
    10 second runoff to salvage this victory.
    No excuses going into the bye week. Either this coach starts getting
    agressive when ahead or we will be in the cellar given the schedule
    coming down the stretch. The defense is soft and allows big plays. But
    it's not their fault. It might as well be coach haslett's Saints at times.
    But with a better offensive unit.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: [PD]: Ultimately, Rams must look in mirror

      But the second half was a good lesson to this team trying to develop championship instincts. -- B. Burwell
      Short, sweet'n sour and to the point. Truthfully said.

      Sorry, FieldGoal, I disagree with your Coach Linehan assessment. Yes, we had our share of mistakes today but what better evidence of courage and proof of having the will to fight back could we ask for than the 4th TD scored under two minutes to go?

      I just feel that the main credit goes to the Sawks for their win today as opposed to putting ourselves down for our tough loss. We need to improve, that's for sure, thus the good lessoned mentioned above.

      Clearly, the Rams in the locker room were greatly disappointed but that is often the case when there is still some adrenaline flowing in the system along with the shock of reality making its way into the brain.
      Last edited by RealRam; -10-15-2006, 10:51 PM. Reason: Italics

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      • r8rh8rmike
        Burwell: Rams Get Reacquainted With Winning
        by r8rh8rmike
        Burwell: Rams get reacquainted with winning

        BY BRYAN BURWELL
        Monday, September 27, 2010

        At long last this was a real feel-good story, not another maddening spin in the three-year cycle of loser's laments. There were no frustrating explanations, no grim postmortems, no clinical autopsies of another defeat. Inside the Rams' locker room in the depths of the Edward Jones Dome early Sunday evening, sweat-soaked grown men sat in front of their locker stalls, weary, bloodied and bruised - some with their legs propped up on crutches, others with various body parts swaddled in miles of tape and pounds of ice packs - every last one of them laughing and joking like little kids at recess.

        There were Steven Jackson and Mike Karney, both of them covered in red welts, but neither of them feeling any noticeable pain.

        "You could shoot me right now and I wouldn't care," Jackson cackled. "I honestly don't think I would feel a thing."

        This was coming from a man who had abruptly left the game in the first half after the Washington defense treated him like a brittle wishbone on Thanksgiving, yanking Jackson's arms and legs in about six different directions and forcing the big running back to the sidelines with a damaged groin muscle for the second half.

        But at this delirious moment, it didn't matter because Jackson and the rest of his Rams teammates were swept up in a strange case of total recall.

        Get this, people: The Rams finally remembered how to win.

        At the end of a rather impressive 30-16 dismantling of the Redskins on Sunday, your previously woebegone Rams - losers at home for two miserable, frustrating years - were getting reacquainted with that winning sensation and loving every minute of it.

        So how do you behave when you finally get off a two-year schneid?

        A little goofy. A little joyful. A little introspective. But mostly just happy as all get-out. After two ghastly years of Groundhog Day-like repetition, the Rams finally tossed aside a nightmarish 14-game home losing streak and did what good teams do when it's time to win a football game.

        "We just finished," said cornerback Ron Bartell. "We didn't shoot ourselves in the foot. We didn't make stupid plays. The first two games we had interceptions that slipped through our hands. Today, we make the interceptions and win the game."

        This time, instead of having an itemized list of self-destructive plays to rehash, the Rams could stand in front of a room full of reporters and recount the smart plays, the go-for-the-throat instances where the veteran Washington team pushed up on the previously skittish kids from St. Louis and the kids finally knew how to push back.

        When Jackson went down late in the second quarter with the Rams clinging to a 14-13 lead, you could feel the life...
        -09-27-2010, 11:01 AM
      • RamWraith
        Rams Preparing for Important Showdown
        by RamWraith
        Thursday, November 9, 2006

        By Nick Wagoner
        Senior Writer

        Under normal circumstances the “Seahawks” printed across the front of the Rams’ opponents’ jerseys this week would be enough to inspire myriad emotions. The words rivalry, dislike and disdain come to mind when a game between Seattle and St. Louis approaches on the schedule.

        The Seahawks and Rams will renew acquaintances Sunday, but given the current state of both teams, the rivalry doesn’t mean nearly as much as the possibility of picking up an important victory.

        “It will be big for us to win a game right now, no matter who we’re playing,” defensive end Leonard Little said. “It will be big if we just win the game. Once we win a game we can go on from there, but until then we’re just going to fight to win the game.”

        On the heels of a three-game winning streak, the Rams have countered with a three-game losing skid in their past three contests. That trio of losses has St. Louis at 4-4 at the midway point of the season.

        Obviously, there is plenty of football left to be played and plenty left to play for, but none of it matters unless the Rams can, like Little says, find a way to get a win.

        Despite the .500 record, the Rams find themselves in a competitive spot within the NFC West Division. Seattle has a 5-3 record and sole possession of first place, but the Rams are right on their heels and can move back into a tie with the Seahawks with a victory.

        On the flip side, a loss to the Seahawks could be devastating to the Rams’ divisional and playoff hopes. While every week is important in the NFL because there are only 16 games, it’s pretty clear that, for a midseason game, they don’t get much bigger than this one.

        “It’s like last week, they’re all big,” quarterback Marc Bulger said. “We’re on a three-game slide, it’s in the division, and we dig a very large hole if we lose this one. I think everyone in here understands the magnitude.”

        The first meeting between the teams came on Oct. 15 and was the type of game that will be remembered for a number of reasons. The Rams jumped on the Seahawks early, grabbing a 21-7 halftime lead in a half that St. Louis dominated in nearly every facet.

        The second half brought one of the wackiest finishes to a game in recent memory. The Seahawks forged a comeback by coming up with big play after big play. But receiver Torry Holt’s circus catch for a 67-yard touchdown to give the Rams a 28-27 lead with about two minutes to play.

        Seattle promptly drove down the field before a penalty appeared to give the Rams a 10-second run off for a victory. But, after much confusion, it was ruled there would be no run off for illegal formation and Seattle’s Josh Brown booted a 54-yard field goal to win as time expired.

        The first half featured the Rams at their best, putting up points...
        -11-10-2006, 05:10 AM
      • Nick
        Burwell: Young Rams weren't ready for spotlight
        by Nick
        Burwell: Young Rams weren't ready for spotlight
        BY BRYAN BURWELL, Post-Dispatch Sports Columnist | Posted: Monday, January 3, 2011 11:10 am

        SEATTLE • Of all the noise that they expected to hear on Sunday night at Qwest Field, this was the one the young Rams never imagined.

        It was the morgue-like silence of a season coming to a sudden end. In the visitors' locker room under the southern end of the stadium, here's what the end sounded like. There was a distant hiss of the showers, not the joyful sound of players laughing. It was the sound of crates of equipment being slammed, with shoulder pads and helmets, dirty laundry bags and dog-eared game plans being tucked away until next year.

        But the worst of it was this, the sound of all these players who only a few hours earlier were convinced that their improbable season would stretch on for another week, now trying to explain why it was all over.

        "The biggest disappointment is to come into this game, that was a must-win, winner-takes-all and we come up short," said Steven Jackson, his voice as glum as a funeral sermon in the aftermath of a 16-6 loss to the Seattle Seahawks. "And now the season is over so abruptly."

        One season removed from being considered the worst team in football - a 1-15 mess that looked even worse than the record indicated - the Rams were sitting on an opportunity on Sunday night to complete one of the craziest one-season turnarounds you could have imagined.

        Beat the Seahawks on the road, finish with an 8-8 record then head home with the NFC West title in your hands and a home playoff game Saturday afternoon in the Edward Jones Dome.

        It could have been a turnaround for the ages, but instead they will have to settle for a more appropriate improvement for a franchise that had fallen down so far. Nothing shameful in a 7-9 finish. Nothing shameful about a team that now gives you hope and shows all sorts of promise for the future.

        But these young Rams walked out the stadium Sunday night knowing that it could have been so much better. They left knowing that the job was incomplete.

        There's no way they should have lost like this, scoring only six points against one of the worst defenses in football. There's no way it should have ended like this, with somebody named Charlie Whitehurst, a journeyman quarterback with no particular NFL pedigree, using his arm and legs to lead the staggering, stumbling, dead-men-walking Seahawks to this ugly victory.

        But the longer this night dragged on, the more puzzling it got, the more confusing and frustrating it felt. What happened to the steadily maturing young Rams who seemed primed to rise up to this modest championship moment? What happened to this nationally televised, prime-time coming-out party for a franchise that was aching to show the pro football world just how much better...
        -01-03-2011, 11:26 AM
      • Nick
        Feisty Rams' motto: "We're not done yet"
        by Nick
        Feisty Rams' motto: "We're not done yet"
        By Bryan Burwell
        Of the Post-Dispatch
        10/10/2004

        SEATTLE - At the end of this mind-blowing, uplifting, heart-pounding, totally delirious Sunday afternoon, the only thing left to do was to add a little insult to injury. So there was the normally placid Isaac Bruce, out there in the middle of the formerly raucous, but suddenly silent Qwest Field, gleefully assuming the surprising role of the audacious agitator.

        Mere moments after Shaun McDonald had raced into the end zone with the game-winning 52-yard touchdown catch and the Rams had completed this exhilarating 33-27 sudden-death victory over the Seattle Seahawks, Bruce went racing across the field, laughing and shouting like a man possessed. He held his blue-and-gold helmet high in the air, pumping it fast and furiously (ah, there goes that phrase again), until he reached the 10-yard line near Qwest Field's southern end zone seats.

        It was there that Bruce could look out and see all the bewildered faces of these stunned Seahawks players and fans. They held their heads in despair. They slumped in their seats in disbelief. They pounded the stadium walls in frustration, or just milled around like lifeless zombies.

        So Bruce knew exactly what he had to do. He defiantly pounded his helmet onto the ground like he was some daring explorer and this tomblike building and all he surveyed was his conquered land.

        "We're STILL the (NFC West) division champs!" Bruce screamed, thumping his chest, waving his fist and shouting to the heavens. "You ain't won NUTHIN' YET!"

        This was the message of the day - maybe even the message of the entire season. Don't bury the Rams just yet. Before anyone in the NFC West starts planning any funerals for the Rams, who have won three of the past five division titles, it would be strongly advised to kill them first. And as this improbable come-from-behind victory showed, deposing the Rams won't be all that easy.

        "This is the kind of victory that can be a springboard for us," said Tyoka Jackson, as the Rams defensive captain hobbled around the visitors' locker room with a strained hamstring. "This is the kind of victory that can start us on another one of those runs we've been known to have."

        For most of the day, the Rams had played like a team on the verge of being banished into that dark and ugly athletic netherworld where has-beens and deposed champions go to die. For most of the day, the Seahawks played like the pre-season Super Bowl favorites most of the football world had them pegged to be. The Seahawks had rolled to a dominating 27- 10 third-quarter lead, and appeared to be on their way to their fourth victory of the season without a defeat.

        By halftime, it sure did look like the Seahawks were ready to finally stake their claim...
        -10-10-2004, 11:12 PM
      • RamWraith
        Rams Positioning for a Run
        by RamWraith
        Wednesday, November 2, 2005

        By Nick Wagoner
        Senior Writer

        Most teams in the NFL break the season down into quarters. That way, they can evaluate how they performed after each four-game period and figure out what they can do better in the next quarter.

        But this Rams team didn’t have the luxury of waiting until the second quarter was over after falling into a three-game tailspin that had them sitting 2-4 with any hopes of making the playoffs hanging by the tiniest of threads.

        Making the margin for error even smaller for games seven and eight was the fact that St. Louis would be without six starters, four of whom are Pro Bowlers and a head coach out for the year with a heart condition.

        That’s why the Rams put a different spin on the quarterly look at the season. That’s why before the Oct. 23 game against New Orleans, St. Louis cut the quarter in half. It became a two-game season with thoughts of getting to 4-4 the only thing on the team’s mind.

        Soon after the Rams’ 45-28 loss to Indianapolis on Oct. 17, interim head coach Joe Vitt made clear what the Rams needed to do if they wanted to get to the NFL’s promised land in January.

        “We have two games to be .500 at the bye, and that was the focus,” Vitt said. “Let’s take one practice at a time. Let’s take one quarter at a time and let the chips fall. The guys the last two weeks, their practice habits, their intent, attention to detail, buying into what we’re trying to talk about, it’s been marvelous.”

        That all sounded like a good idea, of course. Any time a team has some adversity it could go either way, but few teams have had to deal with the myriad problems the Rams had entering that game against the Saints.

        St. Louis headed for that contest without the use of quarterback Marc Bulger, receivers Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce, left guard Claude Terrell, defensive end Leonard Little and cornerback Travis Fisher. Coach Mike Martz was receiving treatment for a heart condition called endocarditis and the Rams appeared to be a ship without a rudder.

        Instead of complaining about their misfortune, the Rams did something about their situation. No starting quarterback, no superstar receivers, no stud pass rusher, no head coach? No problem.

        The Rams found a way to get past New Orleans with a 28-17 win. It was the first sign that maybe things weren’t going to be so bad for a team that had been beaten up in the previous three games.

        For those doubting the Rams’ will and spirit, it wasn’t quite the answer they were looking for, but it would suffice for the time being.

        “I don’t know if it’s an attitude change, but everyone kind of knows that we are backed into a corner and nobody is giving us a chance,” Bulger said. “Usually that’s when we are at our best, when we aren’t expected to win or expected to play with people sometimes....
        -11-03-2005, 05:29 AM
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