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Rams-***** is anything but a Monster matchup

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  • Rams-***** is anything but a Monster matchup

    Post-Dispatch Online Sports Columnist

    Back in the day, "***** Week" triggered a call to arms at Rams Park. The long-standing Los Angeles-San Francisco rivalry came east when the Rams franchise fled Orange County.

    "Forty-Niners versus the Rams, that was a big game when I was young, growing up," ***** coach Dennis Erickson said during a conference call with St. Louis media members. "That's just the way that it was."

    The Niners owned the Rams during most of the 1990s. Then the Rams started retaliating for those beatings in '99, during their dramatic Super Bowl-winning season.

    The last two seasons resulted in a spirited 2-2 split. But now the rivalry lacks the usual sizzle, since both teams are stumbling along at the bottom of the NFC West.

    The Rams are 1-2 and desperate for a victory. The ***** (0-3) are in a state of emergency after that 34-0 spanking they took from the Seattle Seahawks.

    "This is what I would say is just a flat (backside) kicking," Erickson said after that loss.

    "The reality of it is we weren't competitive," general manager Terry Donahue said.

    We're guessing that ESPN didn't envision this sort of match-up when it booked these teams for a showcase Sunday night game. The Rams are a good team playing badly these days.

    And the Niners? They are just plain bad after letting veterans Terrell Owens, Jeff Garcia, Tai Streets, Garrison Hearst and others depart the offense.

    Erickson has tried to foster high expectations despite those losses, but it hasn't been easy.

    "You don't tell players that they are not going to be successful because this guy goes here, this guy goes there," he said. "You just don't do that. That's the attitude we've taken. We know that we have to – and still are – replacing players from the offensive football team, starting at quarterback, wide-out, the offensive front.

    "But we do have those players in place. Now we just have to get better and continue to improve in those positions."

    Perhaps looking to build some confidence for Sunday night's home game, the ***** renamed their stadium Monster Park. The only scary aspect of this team, though, is all the mistakes it has made through three weeks.

    The ***** have lost five fumbles and thrown four interceptions. Their turnover ratio is minus-7. They have been penalized for 232 yards. They have allowed opponents to complete 68.2 percent of their passes.

    In other words, they have struggled with many of the issues plaguing the Rams in this young season. Unlike the Rams, however, they have precious few offensive playmakers.

    Running back Kevan Barlow appears to be legitimate; he rushed for 1,024 yards last season while sharing the load with Hearst. This season he has rushed for 212 yards and a 4.3 average in three games.

    The team may get starting quarterback Tim Rattay back from the injured list this week. Fill-in Ken Dorsey has a grim 59.5 quarterback rating. He has suffered six sacks and lost a couple of fumbles.

    The Niners also need to get receiver Brandon Lloyd (groin strain), center Jeremy Newberry (knee surgery) and tackle Kwame Harris (ankle, knee injuries) back on the field. With those guys missing, San Francisco couldn't run or pass on the Seahawks.

    "We've been beat up pretty good from the start, but everybody in this league gets beat up," Erickson said. "You just have to make that adjustment and do whatever you can personnel-wise, whatever you do with Xs and Os according to the personnel that you have.

    "It's been a tough start for us. Normally, you see something like this halfway through a season or even further. We had the injuries earlier. Hopefully we'll get some of these guys back as time goes on. We'll be playing some of our seconds and they're starting right now. That's just the way it goes."

    And it is NOT going very well.

Related Topics


  • r8rh8rmike
    Opportunity Knocks, But Can The Rams Answer?
    by r8rh8rmike
    Opportunity knocks, but can the Rams answer?

    Monday, December 27, 2010 8:26 am

    The Rams have suffered plenty this season.

    Crippling injuries, agonizing growth pains, debilitating mishaps, infuriating officiating blunders – there has been lots of cringe-worthy stuff. Exasperating come-from-ahead losses to Arizona, Oakland and Tampa Bay threatened to derail their turnaround bid.

    But circumstances have presented them a unique opportunity. The NFC West is terrible this season, worse than any NFL division has ever been.

    So the Rams will have an opportunity to earn a playoff berth Sunday night in Seattle. In a winner-take-all showdown, the Rams have a chance to erase all the negativity of recent seasons and gain a home playoff game.

    “It’s going to be awesome,” Rams middle linebacker James Laurinaitis told reporters after the Rams dispatched the hapless ***** 25-17. “A win-and-you’re-in kind of situation is what you play for and I’m excited about it. I’m looking forward to it.”

    After staggering through their previous three seasons 6-42, the rebuilding Rams can climb back to respectability. They are just one victory away.

    “We’re playing another tough divisional foe that matches up with us well,” running back Steven Jackson said. “But I think guys showed today that we’re hungry. We’re hungry to be successful.”

    (The NFL, which moved the game to prime time for national TV, must be pulling for the Rams. The league would rather have a mediocre team reach the playoff bracket than a truly dreadful one. The Seahawks are atrocious. Their presence in the postseason would be a travesty.)

    This is the biggest week in Steve Spagnuolo’s coaching career. He has the better team. It’s up to him and his staff to prepare the Rams to succeed.

    They are relatively healthy. They got through the San Francisco game without taking any more major injury hits.

    They did enough good things to shake off a terrible second quarter and finish out the game in control.

    The defensive front four applied steady pressure Sunday, chasing around quarterbacks Troy and Alex Smith and forcing turnovers. This allowed defensive coordinator Ken Flajole to dial back his reliance on blitzing to disrupt the passing game.

    A similar push next week could cause similar havoc, since veteran Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck has grown skittish in his twilight years and alternate Charlie Whitehurst is raw.

    Rookie quarterback Sam Bradford regrouped Sunday and delivered a clutch performance, reassuring everybody in and around the organization. He snapped to after a couple of rough outings and picked the ***** apart, completing 28 of 37 passes for 292 yards, one TD and a 107.0 passer rating.

    Rookie receiver Danario Alexander continued his development...
    -12-27-2010, 03:12 PM
  • eldfan
    Rams team report
    by eldfan

    Starting Sunday, the Rams' season could very well be defined in a short period of time. In a span of five days, the Rams will play two home games against division rivals Seattle and Arizona, currently two of the better defensive teams in the NFL.
    No, that is not a misprint. The Seahawks and Cardinals, after three games, are two of the better defensive teams in football. Lost in the chaos of Monday's night's officiating debacle was just how good Seattle's defense was against Green Bay. The Seahawks sacked Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers eight times ... in the first half.

    In three games, the teams ranked first and second in points allowed in the league are Seattle (39) and Arizona (40). As a point of reference, the Bears, who beat the Rams Sunday, are fifth, having allowed just 50 points. Overall, the Seahawks are ranked fourth in the NFL in yards allowed, while the Cardinals are 10th.

    Also, in a variety of 10 defensive categories, Seattle is in the top nine in seven, while Arizona is there five times. Only six other teams are ranked in the top nine in at least five categories.

    It's not exactly a revelation to say that the Rams have to find a way offensively to move the ball on those two teams a lot better than they did in Chicago on Sunday.

    Are the Rams capable? That's the question. A shuffled offensive line doesn't help, and coach Jeff Fisher knows that playing well by that group is imperative if the Rams are to have a chance at success.

    Asked what can be done on the line, Fisher said, "We're going to continue to work with them. As I said yesterday, we're going to have another week to work together. We'll continue to do the same things that we've been doing with these guys. You coach them up, you put them in positions where you think they can be successful, and then you've got to adjust. We did make some adjustments at times yesterday that we thought were the correct ones, but that's a very talented defense. At times, we were just put in positions where we were just outmatched up front."

    Being outmatched certainly has a chance of happening in these quick turnaround games. The saving grace could be that they are at home. The Rams put up 452 yards against Washington in Week 2, but the Redskins are currently ranked 30th in the league in yards allowed.

    Asked about Seattle's defense, quarterback Sam Bradford said, "They've done a very good job of shutting people down. They're big and physical up front. They've got a lot of speed in the back end. It's definitely going to be probably one of our biggest challenges of the year. We need to have a great week of preparation, get prepared for all of the looks that they're going to throw at us and make sure that we're able to handle it and execute on Sunday."

    What is abundantly clear is that if the Rams are...
    -09-27-2012, 08:14 AM
  • r8rh8rmike
    'Rivalry' Resumes For *****, Rams
    by r8rh8rmike
    'Rivalry' resumes for *****, Rams

    R.B. FALLSTROM (AP Sports Writer) 2 hours ago AP - Sports

    ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Though the St. Louis Rams were among the few teams enjoying the upper hand against the San Francisco ***** last year, coach Jeff Fisher says it's far from a rivalry.

    Counting one playoff game, the series that used to be a battle of California is tied 62-62-3, with both teams at .500 at home and on the road entering Thursday night's matchup. Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson showed up for Rams practice during the short-week buildup and fondly recalled any ***** matchup as a big game.

    ''We hate the Niners,'' said the 53-year-old Dickerson, who starred for the Los Angeles Rams in the 1980s. ''That hasn't changed. Anytime you face the ***** I like their chances, even if the Rams were 0-5.

    ''There's something about that game, the level of play steps up.''

    San Francisco dominated for a long stretch before 2012, going 11-3 the previous seven seasons.

    ''Last year we got our feet back on the map,'' Fisher said. ''But I don't think there's a rivalry yet. Hopefully, it will become one.''

    Since beating the Packers in the opener, the ***** have been outscored 36-10 in losses to Seattle and Indianapolis. Sam Bradford absorbed his first six sacks of the year and the Rams (also 1-2) fell behind early for the third straight time - way behind - in a 31-7 setback at Dallas.

    ''We're facing adversity. It gives us the opportunity to stare it in the face and respond,'' ***** coach Jim Harbaugh said. ''That's a relentless quest for improvement, that's where we're at.''

    Five things to watch for in *****-Rams:

    FAMILIAR FOES: Besides meeting twice a year, last season they played nearly 10 quarters, with the first NFL tie in four seasons and a Rams victory late in overtime in the rematch. While both sides bemoaned missed opportunities, they loved what Fisher called ''knock-down, drag-out'' games that Harbaugh noted were ''hotly contested.''

    ''That's football in the good old days, the good old Big Ten football - you feel like you're playing Wisconsin or Michigan State again,'' Rams linebacker James Laurinaitis said.

    S-L-O-W STARTS: The Rams have trailed by double digits all three games, overcoming an 11-point deficit against Arizona, falling a TD shy after Atlanta built a 21-point bulge, and coming up empty against the Cowboys.

    The last two games, the *****' offense also has been a non-starter. Colin Kaepernick was 13 for 27 for 150 yards with an interception and three sacks.

    ''The effort's been extremely good and the precision needs to be better,'' Harbaugh said.

    OFF AND RUNNING: Kaepernick hasn't hurt defenses much with his legs thus far, and the Rams will do their best to keep it that way by making him pay for any forays....
    -09-25-2013, 04:16 PM
  • MauiRam
    Can Rams' success against ***** continue?
    by MauiRam
    By Nick Wagoner

    EARTH CITY, Mo. -- The only things missing from last season's meetings between the San Francisco ***** and St. Louis Rams were black and white television broadcasts and the booming voice of NFL Films' John Facenda.

    In two games spanning almost 10 full quarters, the Rams and Niners stood toe to toe and exchanged haymakers, neither side willing to stay down on the mat until Rams kicker Greg Zuerlein booted a winning field goal with 26 seconds left in overtime of the second meeting.

    “I think we were both right at home playing a slugfest and one team came out on top, but they were both awesome games to be a part of,” Rams defensive end Chris Long said. “They really were. They were a lot of fun. It was good, old-fashioned football. You don't see as much of it these days.”

    In a survey of the Rams' locker room, the word "fun" has come up a lot this week when discussing last year's games against the *****. Of course, the Rams got a tie and a win out of those meetings.

    The ***** don't recall those games quite as fondly.

    “When you don't have the result -- the winning result -- that's what you're striving for,” San Francisco coach Jim Harbaugh said. “That's the goal every week. How can you win your next game, that game being the most important game of the season, and that's every single week.”

    For whatever reason, the Rams emerged in 2012 as the one team ready and capable to stand up to the NFC West bully that was the *****.

    It seems like it's been ages since the Rams went to San Francisco. Alex Smith left that Week 10 game with a concussion and Colin Kaepernick took over. From there, the Niners went 5-1 in regular-season games against teams not from St. Louis. They came within a single completion of winning the Super Bowl with Kaepernick in the lineup.

    That success was there against every opponent, except the Rams, who were 1-0-1 against the Kaepernick-led Niners.

    Over the course of 10 quarters, you'd be hard-pressed to find two more evenly matched teams. The Rams outscored San Francisco 40-37 and outgained them 751-680 in total yards. The teams were even in the turnover battle and the Rams held the ball for just 1 minute, 35 seconds more.

    So, why did it seem as if the Rams had the Niners' number? Why was Rams coach Jeff Fisher able to outmaneuver Harbaugh?

    Attitude, for starters. The Rams openly admit that although they get up for every game, they treated both games against the reigning kings of the division a little differently.

    “When you look at it on film, it was surprising the way they were moving people around, but when they played us they weren't able to get that accomplished,” Rams defensive tackle Kendall Langford said. “I think that speaks volumes about the guys we have here in our locker room and on our defense. It was not today,...
    -09-25-2013, 05:24 PM
  • MauiRam
    Rams to face focused Seahawks
    by MauiRam
    By Jeff Gordon

    The Seattle Seahawks had an opportunity to ease into the playoffs with the top NFC seed. They had a chance to rest starters Sunday against the Rams.

    But they somehow lost at home to Arizona in Week 16, despite intercepting Cardinals quarterback Carson Palmer four times. With the San Francisco ***** just a step behind them in the NFC West, they must play to win against the Rams.

    The Seahawks will redouble their efforts to improve offensively this week. They suffered a complete breakdown against the Gridbirds on their own field.

    Here are some of those telling statistics:

    The Seahawks exited with three-and-out series on seven of their 14 possessions. They failed to convert all nine of their third-down plays after the first quarter.
    They built just four drives longer than nine yards. Overall, they converted just 2 of 13 third-down plays against Arizona and just 5 of 26 during their past two games.
    They mustered just 89 net yards passing. Quarterback Russell Wilson completed just 11 of 27 and earned a passer rating of 49.6.

    “We were just trying to be really critical of all aspects and understand what happened,” coach Pete Carroll told reporters during his Monday briefing. “We didn’t convert on third down again, which is the common theme when things don’t go right and we don’t feel good about the game.

    “Our expectations are very high and our standards are very high. And we are disappointed when we don’t meet up with that, and that was an opportunity that got away that we really wanted to take home with us, and we didn’t get it done.’’

    Arizona moved its safeties up tight to the line of scrimmage and dared the Seahawks to throw deep. They couldn’t.

    “It was one thing or another,” Carroll said. “We missed some throws and maybe a route got adjusted a little bit more than we wanted it to and just got our timing off. We just weren’t sharp the way we would like to have been. And we really feel like a lot of that was us. We had chances. We had good one-on-one opportunities and we just didn’t get it done for a number of reasons.”

    Seattle’s offensive line should be healthier for this game, but the team has already ruled receiver Percy Harvin out of the game with his lingering hip injury.

    This game will still be a mammoth challenge for the Rams. To avoid another losing season and top last year’s victory total, they will have to do it the hard way – by beating a talented squad focused on delivering a huge bounce-back performance.

    Should be a good game. The Rams have shown in the past they are capable of giving Stumpy fits. The Rams will be playing with house money, with the Hawks having more on the line. I am hoping our defense can add to that pressure. If anything, the Rams should be loose and let it all hang out. Too bad we won't have J. Long at left tackle,
    -12-25-2013, 11:50 AM