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Rams skid into Carolina with four straight losses

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  • Rams skid into Carolina with four straight losses

    By Jim Thomas

    CHARLOTTE, N.C. After a season-opening victory over Cincinnati in 1996, the Rams lost five in a row. That skid helped get coach Rich Brooks fired by season's end.

    Under Brooks' successor, Dick Vermeil, the Rams lost eight straight the following season, going winless from late September until late November in 1997.

    Fast forward to 2002. Mike Martz and the Rams, in the midst of a severe Super Bowl XXXVI hangover from that wrenching loss to New England, began the season with five consecutive defeats.

    Those are the worst losing streaks since the Rams moved to St. Louis in 1995. Unfortunately for Scott Linehan, his inaugural Rams team is getting perilously close to that neighborhood.

    The Rams have lost four in a row and are one-touchdown underdogs entering Sunday's game against the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium.

    "We're in a rut," quarterback Marc Bulger said.

    A rut of porous run defense, ill-timed penalties on offense, special-teams gaffes, and just plain bad luck.

    "We can't just say it's OK to be like this because it's not," Bulger said. "We're getting to the desperate point. ... Fortunately for us, we're still in it, but we don't have much margin for error."

    So how do the Rams dig out of this four-game rut?

    "Win, and win convincingly," wide receiver Torry Holt said. "That will give us confidence as a football team, that ... we are as good as we thought we were coming into the season."

    On paper, this should be a good team, better than 4-5 certainly. The Rams roster includes 13 players who have made at least one Pro Bowl in their NFL careers. It's 14 if you include left tackle Orlando Pace, who's out for the season with a torn triceps muscle. But of those Pro Bowlers, only Bulger, 29, is under 30 years old. Perhaps the nucleus is aging, without enough up-and-coming players stepping up.

    Whatever the reason, the 2006 Rams haven't come together. The frustration is mounting at Rams Park. For the first time this season, defensive coordinator Jim Haslett seemed defensive no pun intended when questioned about his unit's continuing problems.

    Linehan in particular took last week's Seattle loss hard. Belying his usual even-keel approach, he looked tired and tight early in the week, but he seemed to rebound as the week progressed.

    As for the players, who knows?

    "We're in a business where we've got to keep fighting," defensive end Leonard Little said. "That's what we get paid for. So if anybody comes (to work) with less enthusiasm, less attitude, they don't need to be in this game. If some guys come in with their heads down, and stuff like that, we can't do that."

    There's no need for panic, or finger-pointing. The key, Bulger says, is to keep working, eliminate mistakes, and avoid overreacting to wins or losses.

    "I think most guys on this team understand that, and will come to work to get better," Bulger said. "Some younger players won't understand that, and will want to pack it in. That might work for this year, but they won't last in the NFL."

    The frustrating part is that the difference between 6-3 and 4-5 is two last-second Josh Brown field goals. Without Brown's game-winning kicks for Seattle against the Rams, the Seahawks would be 4-5 and the Rams would be 6-3 and in command of the NFC West. Instead, it's the other way around.

    "It's been frustrating," defensive tackle La'Roi Glover said. "You see the talent in this locker room, the quality of players in this locker room, and you see what's keeping us back. It's been mistakes. ... It's up to us to put a better performance on the field on Sunday."

    Easier said than done against the Panthers, who have two of the biggest difference-makers in the game in wide receiver Steve Smith and defensive end Julius Peppers.

    "If you were to pick three guys in the NFL that you have to game-plan around as an offensive coach calling plays against the defense, (Peppers) is right up there," Linehan said. "He's maybe No. 1 because he's second to none as far as the ability to impact the game from his position."

    The same could be said for Smith at wide receiver.

    "He's the ultimate playmaker," Holt said. "If he gets the ball, it's like (Michael Jordan) in the fourth. He's going to knock down that jumper late. Well, Steve, when he gets the ball in his hand, it can go the distance. ... Hopefully, we'll hold him to a minimum as far as the big-play ability that he has."

    If not, the dark days will continue at Rams Park; it's been 41 days and counting since the Rams' last victory.

  • #2
    Re: Rams skid into Carolina with four straight losses

    This just in, Rams are wearing white pants today, more to follow.

    Adm. William "Bull" Halsey


    • #3
      Re: Rams skid into Carolina with four straight losses

      This team is starting to remind me of the Texans. They seem to find ways of losing games that they should win.

      I am expecting a loss today because I am tired of being disappointed with my expectations for the team.


      • #4
        Re: Rams skid into Carolina with four straight losses

        The only kicking that changed those games were the ones Linehan chose not to make. If we kick the FGs we were in position for, the last second FGs would have been hail mary attempts. We need to put ANY points on the board we can get in position for.



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