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RamView, 12/3/2006: Cardinals 34, Rams 20 (Long)

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  • RamView, 12/3/2006: Cardinals 34, Rams 20 (Long)

    RamView, December 3, 2006
    From Row HH
    (Report and opinions from the game.)
    Game #12: Cardinals 34, Rams 20

    Instead of building on last week's win, the Rams instead hit rock bottom, and hard. Appearing to switch bodies with their traditionally incompetent opponents from Arizona, the uninspired and undisciplined Rams played like garbage from the opening kickoff and lost decisively, at home, to a team that had lost its last seven road games. An unforgivable, inexcusable, stick-a-fork-in-the-season performance.

    Position by position:
    * QB: Marc Bulger (27-45-314, 68.2) deserved a lot better game than the one he ended up with today. It wasn’t his fault the Rams ran on 3rd-and-6 from the Arizona 13 on their first possession, a drive he kept alive with a 3rd-and-7 completion to Torry Holt. It wasn’t his fault the Rams missed an 83-yard TD in the 2nd, as his dead-perfect long ball shockingly bounced off of Holt’s hands. It wasn’t his fault he was swamped with Cardinal rushers all day. Today’s four sacks were all on the offensive line, not on Marc. Two of his INTs weren’t really his fault; Steven Jackson bobbled one away, and one came on a game-ending Hail Mary attempt. It wasn’t his fault a couple of his best passes of the game were called back by penalties. The main play that was Marc’s fault was the Adrian Wilson INT right at the first-half 2:00 warning, which set up an Arizona FG. I don’t know why Marc felt he had to rush the team to the line to beat the clock, when it has never been in much of a hurry even in the no-huddle offense before, but he got the play off, and it was a disaster, as Holt ran in while Marc threw out, right to Wilson. Down 17-3 at halftime, Bulger marched the Rams right downfield, hitting Holt for 21, then 15 and a TD. He had the Rams driving for a tying score until getting a 3rd-down pass deflected at the line. The Rams went with the safe punt; Arizona drove for a TD to restore their big lead. Not Marc’s fault his team’s defense is a sieve. The Rams could only answer that TD with a FG thanks to a sack, and sacks and turnovers kept the Rams out of it the rest of the way until a short meaningless late TD to Isaac Bruce. After this fiasco, a frustrated Bulger justifiably called out some of his teammates. He needed to. Today was plenty of evidence that Marc can’t do it all by himself.

    * RB: Arizona seemed to be careful not to let Steven Jackson burn them as a receiver today, and they did a credible job of limiting him. He had 9 catches for 69, but two of those were in “garbage time”, and several of Steven’s other catches were limited to minimal gains. Jackson was a force running up the middle again, 21-96, and he is getting better and better at putting his shoulder into guys and driving them back. He got nice breathing room up the middle on an early 9-yard run, but didn’t see as much of it as last week, having to grind out a lot of yards on his own today. After kicking off the Rams’ first TD drive with 2 runs for 26 yards, Steven was gradually taken out of the game on the ground by Ram penalties and the ever-increasing scoreboard deficit. With the Rams driving in the 4th, a big play seemed to be developing with Steven sneaking downfield around a Cardinal blitz, but he and Bulger had a hard time seeing each other over the traffic, the pass Marc finally got off after triple-pumping was a little high, and, going for it one-handed, Steven tipped it to David Macklin for an INT and long return. Jackson’s day seemed a little quiet – he didn’t score, and most of his longer plays didn’t lead to scores – but 165 total yards and a lot of hard, punishing running say otherwise. The Rams wasted his efforts today.

    * WR: Torry Holt had a big day, 7-115 and a TD, but by missing a golden opportunity to make it even bigger, he unfortunately provided one of the game’s turning points. Streaking past two Arizona defenders in the 2nd, Torry was wide open past midfield with several steps to spare, and Bulger uncorked one that perfectly hit him in stride for an 83-yard TD, but, instead… doink, off Torry’s hands, and there goes what should have been a 10-7 lead. Torry still had a good game, but that drop is extremely haunting. Isaac Bruce (5-75) added a TD catch, and reacted to and snagged a sideline pass in the 2nd so quickly I don’t think he saw the ball until it was in his hands. We in the crowd were willing to believe he heard the ball coming using funky Isaac Bruce ninja powers. Last but not least, let’s welcome Joe Klopfenstein to the passing game. Joe caught 4(!) for 31 today and proved a reliable outlet receiver.

    * Offensive line: Missouri’s governor declared St. Louis a disaster area this week, and can amend that to include the Ram offensive line after today. Despite Arizona’s poor pass rush defense, Bulger was swarmed, swamped and swatted all day long. Alex Barron seemed to get run over, or past, by Chike Okeafor on every pass play. One of Okeafor’s 2.5 sacks was a case of Barron getting lazy and reaching instead of moving his feet, and Alex simply has to do better than that. That was a backup (Bertran Berry’s out for the season) you couldn’t handle today, Barron! And it wouldn’t be a Rams game without Barron’s weekly false start. You got any pride under that #70 jersey? There, I’ve called out Barron, like most of the world believes Bulger was doing after the game. Barron wasn’t alone in poor play. One of the Cardinal sacks was a jail break where Adam Timmerman got beat off the snap and both Barron and Todd Steussie got overwhelmed on either end of the line. Adam Goldberg played in Timmerman’s place a lot of the game, and, as much respect as I have for #62, I have to question the wisdom of keeping his consecutive games streak alive, at Bulger’s expense. I like what Richie Incognito’s been able to do at center, but have to repeat my Draft Day ’05 concern that he’s too much of a knucklehead, an impression he didn’t help with another personal foul today. There’s a line that Richie’d better find quickly, and stay behind. If only we could average out Incognito and Barron a little. It’d be a shame to see either flame out, because along with Orlando Pace and Mark Setterstrom, the Rams have tantalizing potential for a very gifted line. But not today.

    * Defensive line/LB: If this were TMQ, I would have set up some AutoText by now, because it is the same crap week after week with this defense. Against one of the league’s worst offensive lines, there was embarrassingly little pass rush on rookie QB Matt Leinart. He was sacked just once, by LaRoi Glover, on a play where Leinart held the ball long enough for even simple antibiotics to cure anything he may have caught from Paris Hilton. Other than that play, Glover was good for little besides defensive holding penalties. Leonard Little got double-teamed all day, and got no help from the rest of the line, with neither Brandon Green nor Claude Wroten making an impact at RDE. I think I saw Jimmy Kennedy break into the Arizona backfield once. Of course, brilliant offensive coordinators like Mike Kruczek know they have little chance against Jim Haslett’s awesome pass defense, so Arizona was forced to unleash its vaunted 32nd-overall, 70-yards-a-game running attack on the Rams. And like everybody else, they dominated the line of scrimmage and succeeded wildly. With the Ram defense starting out as flat as usual, Arizona opened the game with a 90-yard, 7 1/2 minute TD march and never looked back. Edgerrin James got his FIRST 100-yard game of the season (115). Marcel Shipp ran for his FIRST THREE TDs of the season. The Cardinals ran for almost TWICE their season average (137). They ran 37 times! Tackling was bad on every level, though I can’t criticize the LBs much because I can never find them. James broke Little and Kennedy tackles on early runs, and almost never went down on first contact. The Rams did stop a 4th-down play near the goal line, mainly because Leinart tripped and fell pulling away from center. But Shipp went through 2 DBs on his last TD run like they were a French door. Fakhir Brown horribly blew a solo tackle on a dumpoff to the fullback to keep a TD drive alive; Leonard Pope lugged a DB (Atogwe?) for an embarrassingly long gain in the 2nd. You know, like Tye Hill trying to tackle Vernon Davis last week, it sure would be nice to see some GANG tackling on those plays, wouldn’t it? The first guy’s getting there, but wouldn’t it be good to get him some help taking down guys who outweigh him by 75-100 lbs? Maybe one of those guys who “back the line” could get there? Where are they? Where the hell is the ball pursuit in this defense? Little made a couple of run stops, Will Witherspoon made a couple and defended a TD pass attempt, and Hill stopped a James sweep in the 1st, but this defense, whether through poor talent, poor scheme, or both, continues to make far too few plays. Today’s domination by the Freaking Big Dead is the ultimate measure of the depths to which this defense has sunk.

    * Secondary: Even as Jim Haslett’s great pass defense allowed Matt Leinart only 186 yards, the Ram secondary still looked completely overwhelmed most of the day, and I don’t know who besides Tye Hill would make any other team’s roster right now. Fakhir Brown had a lousy day. Arizona’s 2nd TD was set up by a Brown DPI, an iffy call that Brown drew by reacting poorly to Anquan Boldin slowing up for the ball. Leinart got away with hanging up several passes because Ram DBs reacted poorly, or could barely challenge the big WRs for jump balls, like OJ Atogwe vs. Larry Fitzgerald on Arizona’s first TD drive. Brown made Arizona’s 3rd TD possible with a pathetic whiff on a 3rd-and-7 dumpoff to Obafemi Ayanbadejo that went for 27. Then on 3rd-and-10 in Ram territory, Corey Chavous’ coverage of Boldin was as brutal as his 27-yard DPI, setting up a Marcel Shipp TD. Add Chavous to the list of bad Rams FA safety signings. Ron Bartell was beaten handily by a couple of corner patterns out of the slot, but appeared to make up for those with an endzone INT in the 4th, except it was erased by a Little offsides penalty. Will Witherspoon saved a TD by deflecting a pass, and the Rams got a coverage sack early in the 3rd, but those were about the only highlights of a long, long day on defense.

    * Special teams: One decent player the Rams suited up today was kick returner Willie Ponder, who returned one kickoff out to the Ram 38 and averaged 31.5 a return. Ponder is more elusive than any Ram returner in a while, and could be an option to return punts as well. Ponder helped the Rams get away with a stupid call in the 4th. The hated punt return reverse was on, and Shaun McDonald stayed with it even after back-pedaling inside the 10 to retrieve a booming kick from Scott Player. Ponder made the crazy play work by fielding McDonald's tossback cleanly and snaking out across the 20. Matt Turk didn't hit anything remotely resembling that Player blast, and the Rams really could have used one, as often as Arizona got to set up near midfield. But special teams gets a rare pass on a day where the rest of the team failed miserably.

    * Coaching/discipline: A major ice storm Thursday knocked out electric power across much of the St. Louis area, but apparently, the lights were out at Rams Park all week long. If this is the best this team is going to play, when it thinks it’s still in playoff range, when it's at home against the 2-9 Big Freaking Dead, the most moribund franchise in the history of the league, then we can only hope the Linehan Era will be short. The Rams looked as prepared today as FEMA was for Katrina, and as motivated as Kevin Federline is to find a real job. What exactly were Scott Linehan's qualifications again, over oh, say, Ron Rivera? You know, the guy whose defense, which'll be here next week, plays so hard, and well, his team can win without a functioning QB? And seeing as Linehan apparently couldn't motivate a supermodel to purge? Oh, that's right – Rivera might kill the Ram offense. Good thing we avoided that! You want peace in the Middle East? Put Scott Linehan in charge of al-Qaeda. Two weeks, tops, they'll be holding slumber parties and painting each other's toenails. The Rams routinely come out flat for games, and if this coaching staff can't get the team better prepared and motivated, somebody better motivate them.
    And, in light of your press conference mini-rant last week, Jim Haslett, shut up. Just shut the hell up. What are we supposed to consider even remotely good about a defense that even the Arizona Freaking Cardinals respect so little, they run THIRTY-SEVEN times against it? Do you really think we're dumb enough not to know that your pass defense gives up fewer yards than most teams because your run defense is so pathetic? 34 points allowed to a team that averages 17? Nary a blitz that worked today, of the few you did run, even though you were up against a rookie QB behind one of the league's worst lines? Only one sack, and that only because the secondary managed to cover everyone for about 15 seconds? RBs running through the (porous) defensive line directly into the secondary time after time? You've been here how long, coach? Almost a year? What the heck are you doing with the linebackers? If they're screwing up, why still, after all this time? Why can nobody in the secondary tackle now? What happened to ball pursuit on this defense? Why do so many guys have to make plays 1-on-1? Where is Larry Marmie when we need him?
    I assume Greg Olson called offensive plays again today; he made a colossal blunder on the Rams' opening drive, numbskulledly calling an inside run to Jackson on 3rd-and-6 from the Arizona 13. Four yards, and on comes Jeff Wilkins. But I saw a lot of positives in Olson's playcalling. He established Jackson and Holt offensively, and even got Klopfenstein involved. He dialed up an 83-yard TD to Holt, but Torry dropped it. He had a screen going to Jackson against a blitz in the 4th for a big play, but Steven lost it. He didn't abandon the run with the Rams trailing. They ran for 100, passed for 300, and scored on all 4 red zone trips, 2 TDs and 2 FGs. I think some of the sack problems come from trying to force the deep ball, i.e. plays with all deep routes and no outlet receiver, but on the whole, Olson didn't call a bad game.
    Here is where a less crabby, more rational person would say, Cut Linehan some slack. Be patient. It's still his first year. Give Haslett some credit. He's trying to make chicken salad out of chicken crap. To which I reply: True. All true. But I also ask that nobody sue me for expecting this team, even as currently composed, to be able to win a home game over the freaking Big Dead, as opposed to getting blown off the field. Blowing modest short-term expectations this badly doesn't make the long term look rosy.

    * Upon further review: With Ron Winter heading up the officiating crew, you can always expect a poorly-called game, and the Rams played the first half 11-on-18. Winter set up an Arizona TD with a roughing-the-passer penalty on Little in the 2nd for less contact than was made with Matt Turk on the punt the previous play, which Winter stared right at and ignored. The crew set up Arizona's 2nd TD with a 34-yard DPI call on Fakhir Brown, who didn't touch Boldin, who caught the ball out of bounds anyway. Both of those calls were critical to Arizona jumping out to an early lead. On one play, the entire Arizona o-line appeared to jump, and the crew nearly let them continue the play! before throwing the most delayed false start flag ever. And several Cardinals dry-humping the goal post after a TD is a textbook taunting penalty, also ignored by Winter. Bulger could have used this crew's hair trigger on roughing calls a couple of times this season - they called three on Arizona in the second half. But the way Antonio Smith clocked Bulger in the head, with a 3-TD lead late in the game, he should have been ejected. There'd better be a damn big fine headed his way.

    * Cheers: Not much to say about, or for, today's crowd, which only filled half the Dome's seats. Attendance may have been down because of the area's major power outage; I know I would have preferred to spend the day in a cold, dark room instead of watching that crap. The lackluster matchup was also a likely factor, and the hardy few present were suitably lackluster, rarely managing any kind of volume outside of booing the referees. With their play, the Rams made sure to kill any enthusiasm the crowd did have right out of the gate and as often as they could. I was surprised the team wasn't booed a lot harder than it was; they certainly deserved it. Twelve games into the Linehan Era, the vibe from the crowd is they're fed up with the team to the point of apathy, and, yep, it's 1998 all over again in Rams Nation. The cheerleaders have switched to the alternate Christmas uniforms, and they led the junior cheerleaders for a Christmas show at halftime. But that's all the cheer we figure to see in the Dome the rest of this season.

    * Who’s next?: This week's preview can be summed up quickly. Scott Linehan is not capable of coaching this team to a victory over the Chicago Bears. I'm not eating a hat or going streaking down Broadway if the Rams win next Monday night's matchup, but there is very little reason after today to believe they would.

    Chicago's three losses this year are almost all the work of one guy: QB Rex Grossman, or for you Prison Break viewers, "Tweener". Arizona nearly beat Chicago in October because Tweener was pathetic, with four INTs and two fumbles. Joey Freaking Harrington led the Dolphins to a major upset in Soldier Field last month, despite just 132 passing yards and 2 picks, because Tweener was even worse, with a fumble and 3 INTs. Miami had TD drives that day of 6, 12, and 24 yards, plus an INT TD by Jason Taylor. Tweener similarly had four turnovers in a recent loss at New England. After a hot start, Rex Grossman is now as bad a QB any good team's ever had. But unless the Rams prove capable of slowing down Thomas Jones and the Bear running game, which they aren't, they can't take advantage of Tweener's sheer incompetence. Stacking 8 or 9 in the box is the Rams' only hope I can see; make Tweener beat you, but that relies on Fakhir Brown to be able to handle Ram-killer Muhsin Muhammed one-on-one and for Bernard Berrian to continue to have a quiet second half of the season. We’d never see that strategy anyway, as unwilling as Jim Haslett is to expose his DBs like that. Blitzing could also get to Grossman, and somehow, someway, you have to force him to make mistakes to beat Chicago. I don't see the Rams able to do it.

    Besides, Chicago wins even with Grossman's worst efforts. Tweener was brutal against Minnesota today: 6-19, 34 yards, 3 INTs, passer rating of 1.3. Yet the Bears still won easily, because of their dominating defense and special teams. Brian Urlacher, Lance Briggs and Hunter Hillenmeyer are likely the NFL's best linebacking corps, and they back up a potent defensive line, which will likely send DT Tommie Harris to the Pro Bowl (depending on his leg injury today), and where Alex Brown has found a home as a dominating pass rusher. And I lobbied for the Rams to draft Mark Anderson in April, starting in the 2nd round; guess who leads the Bears in sacks, with 8? Lovie Smith's D is everything the Rams' isn't. They're active, they're aggressive, they get after the ball, they can tackle and pressure the passer. Maybe the Rams can power run Jackson on them, who knows. But when they couldn't hold the line of scrimmage against the goddamn Cardinals today, why expect them to do it any time this year against the Bears? If Grossman forces the Rams to earn most of their points with long drives, forget about this one. The opportunistic Bears often don't even need scoring drives to score; they're great at returning turnovers for TDs, and Devin Hester proved himself again today as the league's most dangerous returner. The Rams are going to have to be more prepared than they've been all year, which ain't saying much, to keep up with these guys.

    Realistically, the Rams are playing out the string now, and as it's traditionally said, the players will mainly be playing for their jobs these last four weeks. I've ripped Scott Linehan up one side and down the other, but he'll be back next season, and probably should be, in the name of stability if nothing else. I would like to see him put something besides a disinterested team on the field. But if he can't motivate these players, he needs to find new ones to motivate, and probably more new ones than we'd suspected back in September. Time to get good looks at the younger players and find out who should stay and who should go. Maybe some good moments down the stretch this year will lay solid ground for next year.

    -- Mike
    Game stats from nfl.com

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  • MFranke
    RamView, 11/26/2006: Rams 20, ***** 17 (Long)
    by MFranke
    RamView, November 26, 2006
    From Row HH
    (Report and opinions from the game.)
    Game #11: Rams 20, ***** 17

    It took a little luck, but with a lot of clutch play, a lot of chewing gum and baling wire to hold the offensive line together, and big coaching mistakes (by the opponent), the Rams pull out of their five-game tailspin and three-game losing streak in the series with a win over the Niners. Here's to a couple of new streaks!

    Position by position:
    * QB: It ain’t how you start, it’s how you finish, and after struggling for about 56 minutes, Marc Bulger (23-34-201, 80.6) put together a sublime drive that brought the Rams a come-from-behind victory. Marc did not start well, killing the opening drive with a stupid pass that Manny Lawson made a spectacular play to intercept. You’re not off to a good start when your throwaway passes are off, meaning, catchable by a defender. Marc never really got the ball downfield at all today. The Rams settled for their first FG after a 4-yard pass to Isaac Bruce on 3rd-and-5 at the SF 10. The long ball just wasn’t hitting; Bulger missed connections with an open Torry Holt a couple of times, and 49er DBs swatted a couple more away. Up 10-7 close to halftime, Marc got plowed under by Bryant Young, bringing Gus Frerotte off the bench. Gus completed just one pass, but it was a big one, a 27-yarder to Kevin Curtis, who set up a FG. Bulger returned but the offense still struggled, stalling three times in its own end in the second half, while the Niners put together two epic drives to take a 14-13 lead and then extend it to 17-13. Settling for that FG left Bulger an opening, though, and he pounced on it. OK, after Young pounced on him for a 10-yard loss, with Bulger loitering in the pocket long enough for Bryant’s next Social Security check to arrive. And the home crowd pounced on Bulger next. But he overcame the boos and the now 90 yards of field in front of him. Two dumpoffs to Steven Jackson and a 4th-down run got the Rams out of the hole. Bulger hit Isaac Bruce and then Stephen Davis to put the Rams across midfield at the 2:00 warning. Marc came out next with a big play, his long pass of the day, a 20-yarder over the middle to Bruce. Three short passes and another 4th down conversion put the Rams at the SF 5 with 0:27 left, where Bulger made his best throw of the day, a low liner that could only be caught by the sliding Curtis, for the winning TD. Marc located him right away and delivered a perfect throw. So you want to talk about clutch? How about nine straight completions for 76 yards on the game-winning drive? On a day when he was having far from his best game, Marc played his best when the pressure was the greatest, and drove his team to a badly-needed win.

    * RB: The toast of Rams Nation wears the #39 jersey, as Steven Jackson ground up the hated ***** and spit them out, rumbling for 121 on the ground and enhancing what ought to be a Pro...
    -11-27-2006, 01:25 PM
  • MFranke
    RamView, 12/31/2006: Rams 41, Vikings 21 (Long)
    by MFranke
    RamView, December 31, 2006
    From The Couch
    (Report and opinions on the game.)
    Game #16: Rams 41, Vikings 21

    The Rams close the 2006 season in style in Minnesota. Steven Jackson shocks the league's best run defense and the Ram defense benefits from Viking rookie QB mistakes for a win nowhere near as close as even the blowout final score shows. St. Louis finishes the season 8-8 and with an eye toward a bright future.

    Position by position:
    * QB: Marc Bulger had an efficient game (19-30-248, 100.4) that would have been a dominant game if not for several brutal drops by his receivers early on. A good throw that Isaac Bruce stabbed for a 23-yard gain on 2nd-and-20 set up the Rams' opening drive FG. The offense stopped moving for a while after that, thanks to ugly drops by Torry Holt, Aaron Walker and Bruce. Bruce's 3rd-down drop made you wonder if the Rams were just going through the motions today, but after that play, all aspects of the Ram offense got clicking. Holt made a nice scoop for 13, and Marc hit him again with a beautifully-timed pass on the sideline for 18 more, to put the Rams at the Viking 6 and set up Steven Jackson's first TD. Later in the 2nd, facing a 3rd-and-9 up 17-7, Bulger fed Kevin Curtis perfectly for 31. From the Viking 21, he hit Holt for 12 on 3rd-and-10 before shoveling to Jackson for a 10-yard TD. After halftime, the Rams scored for the 3rd straight drive to make it a 27-7 game, and Bulger led them to a 4th straight score thanks to a juggling catch by Holt, Curtis' dive for the 1st down on 3rd-and-7, and a 26-yard shot upfield to Walker. Marc wasn't called on to throw deep, but he did everything else. These last two weeks, he's been as strong in the pocket as he's been all season, unloading the ball on time and very accurately, pretty close to unstoppable. Scott Linehan's been pretty good to Marc Bulger. He wasn't sacked today, and has been protected much better than he was under Mike Martz's kill-Bulger scheme. In turn, Bulger's been very good to Linehan, with his second Pro Bowl season: 4300 passing yards, 24 TDs, just 8 INTs. A great formula to follow again next year.

    * RB: Steven Jackson hasn't just elevated his play this season, he's gone into orbit, to a place where not even one of the best single-season run defenses in NFL history can stop him. They allowed just 54.5 yards a game coming in, but the Viking defense was humbled today by Jackson, who rolled up 142 rushing yards and four TDs. Steven opened up with an 18-yard run, patiently waiting for a block, then popping it outside while breaking two DB tackles. That drive ended, though, with Steven getting stuffed running out of the fullback position on a 3rd-and-2. That would be about the last time Minnesota stopped Jackson at anything, though. He ran through three Vikings for a 4-yard TD that put the Rams up 17-7. He started up the next drive with a nice cutback left for 14. After picking...
    -01-01-2007, 02:42 PM
  • MFranke
    RamView, 12/7/2008: Cardinals 34, Rams 10 (Long)
    by MFranke
    RamView, December 7, 2008
    From The Couch
    (Report and opinions on the game.)
    Game #13: Cardinals 34, Rams 10

    $50 million for a RB who fumbles twice and gives up a touchdown.
    $60 million for a QB who throws a 3-yard TD for his team and a 100-yard TD for the other team.
    $36 million for a left guard who gets beaten like a dirty rug.
    $14 million for a placekicker who misses easy field goals, and indoors!
    Watching three more games of a crap franchise, incapable of even staying on the same field as the Arizona Freaking Cardinals for two years now, while they play out the string in their worst season in St. Louis?

    PRICELESS.

    Position by position:
    * QB: Marc Bulger (22-37-228, 75.1 rating) wasn’t awful today, but the Ram passing game was, if that makes any sense. The Rams had 17 passing yards at halftime, scarcely even trying to throw downfield. Bulger’s long completion for the half was a 10-yarder to Donnie Avery. His highlight was a quickly-thrown 3-yard TD pass to Steven Jackson. I think the only deep throw of the half was by Dane Looker on a WR option attempt. Bulger’s last two passes of the half were stupid screen passes that Arizona was all over for huge losses. The third quarter was almost over before Bulger passed the 58 yards Kurt Warner got out of one first-half completion to Steve Breaston. And since Arizona had a 27-7 lead by that time, they played very soft defense the rest of the way and let Bulger pile up a respectable 135 yards or so in the 4th quarter. That gave Bulger a chance to show he wasn’t the biggest part of the Rams’ woes. There had been costly fumbles by Jackson. Playcalling was lousy. Avery was where he was supposed to be about as often as an electric football player is. At the end of the game, the receivers treated the ball like a live porcupine, with four drops in six attempts. But Bulger threw accurately and moved in the pocket well throughout the game. There was just a lot going on that was out of his control. And by the time Bulger took control, the game was out of control. He had a shot at proving himself in the 4th, engineering an 82-yard drive. On a 3rd-and-long, he stepped up and winged a 16-yard pass to Looker. He found Joe Klopfenstein (!) twice for 36. He drove the Rams all the way to the Cardinal 10. Show us what you’re made of, Marc. Here it comes… an out route at the goal line for Holt, who he’d been hitting well with sideline passes all half… underthrown… picked off by Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie… returned 100 yards for a TD. Bulger’s season in a nutshell. The Ram passing game is awful, but it’s not all Bulger’s fault. But he’s not that good, either.

    * RB: The Ram offense – hell, the Ram franchise – is geared to be carried by Steven Jackson (19-64), and when he doesn’t get the job done, we’re in for ugly days like today. Jackson’s two third-quarter fumbles, both forced by LB Gerald Hayes, led...
    -12-08-2008, 11:18 AM
  • MFranke
    RamView, 9/24/2006: Rams 16, Big Dead 14 (Long)
    by MFranke
    RamView, September 24, 2006
    From The Couch
    (Report and opinions on the game.)
    Game #3: Rams 16, Big Dead 14

    The Rams win a game in Arizona that was so crazy you couldn't make it up. A fumble by each team in the final 2:00? Arizona had a chance at a 75-yard FG with 0:00 left? Then didn't? If this had been a movie, the script would be criticized for lack of realism, but it's a very real, very relieving, win for the Rams.

    Position by position:
    * QB: Marc Bulger (21-31-309) is getting it together, and not a moment too soon. After his typical slow start, the timing and rhythm of the Ram passing game looked much better than it has this season. In the 2nd, the Rams' first TD drive came from 91 passing yards. Marc quickly hit wide open Torry Holt for a 45-yard catch-and-run out to midfield, beat a blitz with a screen pass to Steven Jackson for 26, hit Holt for 13 down to the 10, and hit Torry for the TD with a perfect pass at the back of the end zone. Driving again in the 2nd, Marc converted a key 3rd-and-5 by rolling a little right and hitting Tony Fisher for 6. That led to a FG and a Ram 13-7 lead. Marc came out throwing after halftime, a 16-yard screen to Aaron Walker and a 28-yard pass to Isaac Bruce, leading toward another FG. Now up 16-7, Bulger and the Rams had a chance to put Arizona away, and Marc hit Isaac with a sweet sideline bomb for 45 yards. Shaun McDonald fumbled the next pass away, though, and Marc failed at other chances to put the Big Dead away. 1st- and 3rd- down incompletions early in the 4th kept the ball, and the clock, from moving. The Rams were still up 16-14 heading toward the 2:00 warning, but Marc committed a bungle that threatened to put the whole season in a tailspin, fumbling away a handoff that put Arizona in prime FG position. Luckily for Marc, Kurt Warner was the hero for the Rams again today, or Rams Nation would be abuzz about Bulger blowing the game. Instead we can look at his good day passing, hitting a lot of good sideline passes, throwing no INTs, throwing one TD and having a should-have-been TD pass denied. All that's forgotten, though, if Kurt doesn't return the favor after Marc's fumble. Marc's getting the Ram passing game back on track, but, much like the other St. Louis team, he'll have do a much better job of closing out games the rest of the season.

    * RB: Steven Jackson ran for just 62 yards, but added 59 yards worth of catches in another strong effort. Two of his biggest plays were middle screens against blitzes. He took one for 22 in the 1st and another for 26 in the 2nd, the latter during the Rams' TD drive. On both passes he broke at least three tackles, continuing the tough running style expected from him. The Rams' 2nd FG was made possible by Steven's strong effort on a 3rd-and-1 90-flip, outsprinting the Arizona defense around the corner. He followed that with a 14-yard run up Arizona's gut, getting the Rams inside the Arizona...
    -09-25-2006, 09:05 AM
  • MFranke
    RamView, 11/5/2006: Chiefs 31, Rams 17 (Long)
    by MFranke
    RamView, November 5, 2006
    From Row HH
    (Report and opinions from the game.)
    Game #8: Chiefs 31, Rams 17

    Closer than the usual Rams-Chiefs game, but no less dissatisfying, as the Rams bury themselves under three early turnovers to lose for the third straight week. Half a season in, I don't know what kind of team we've got any more. They don't look ready to play, they've quit forcing turnovers, they continue to get run over. If those things and the offensive turnovers keep up, what we've got is a team that won't be playing in January.

    Position by position:
    * QB: It was another spectacular day for Marc Bulger (31-42-354), but it was marred by a big mistake in the 2nd quarter that helped bury the Rams in a 14-0 hole. Knowing Jared Allen was bearing down on him, Marc nonetheless failed to unload the ball, as he too often does, and this time, he coughed it up for a turnover the Rams never really recovered from. As also happens too often, Marc took a while to really get rolling. The Rams were already down 17-0 in the 2nd before Marc engineered a TD drive, which featured a couple of long passes to Isaac Bruce, including a pinpoint sideline strike. Marc ran the no-huddle offense reasonably well for over half the game, though it was much more “mosey-up” than “hurry-up”. He drilled a pass to Kevin Curtis at the sideline on 3rd-and-1 late in the 2nd to set up a FG that pulled the Rams within 24-10. Marc started an 80-yard TD drive in the 3rd by hitting Torry Holt for 27, and firing a couple of bullets, to Holt for 6 on 4th-and-1 and to Curtis on the goal line to end the drive. Remember when Marc never used to check down? Well, he may have overcompensated today, hitting Steven Jackson 13 times. Bulger and Jackson really kept the offense moving, though. Bulger got the Rams into scoring range a couple of times in the 4th. The first time, though, a poor OPI call on Bruce and two Alex Barron false starts killed the drive out of FG range. The second time, now down 31-17, Bulger got the Rams down to the KC 5 with a lot of dumpoffs and a smart scramble, as the Chiefs had vacated the middle of the field, but he went 0-for-4 from there, throwing a ball Jackson wasn’t looking for and forcing three passes into tight coverage which all fell incomplete, essentially ending the game. Marc played very conservative football today, and the statistics show it was effective, but he didn’t play mistake-free ball. That fumble was a killer.

    * RB: Steven Jackson definitely got enough touches today, and some eye-popping numbers: 32 touches, 13 receptions for 133 yards, 219 total yards. The Chiefs didn’t seem real interested in covering him out of the backfield, and he took full advantage, serving further notice that he has become an all-purpose back. Unfortunately, Steven also lost his first fumble of the season in the 2nd to Jared Freaking Allen. That led to a Chief FG, as they would gain 17 points off turnovers...
    -11-06-2006, 12:25 PM
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