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  • Futility flashback

    Futility flashback
    By Jim Thomas

    SEATTLE — The foundation for Rams football under rookie head coach Steve Spagnuolo is supposed to be built on intensity, focus and attention to detail. Suffice it to say, the foundation still contains plenty of cracks, and it's going to take more than a little spackle to seal them.

    Oh, the intensity was there in Sunday's 28-0 drubbing by the Seahawks at Qwest Field. Trouble was, it frequently got out of control. (See: Richie Incognito.)

    But the focus and attention to detail? Apparently, those two qualities didn't make the trip to the Pacific Northwest.

    Granted, for 1½ quarters, the Rams showed the kind of resiliency necessary to dig out of the franchise's recent doldrums. But one mistake after another eventually took its toll. When a blocked field goal for a touchdown by St. Louis was reversed by a penalty for too many men on the field the floodgates opened.

    Seattle broke open what had been a 7-0 game before the blocked field goal play, scoring on three of its next four possessions. By game's end it looked like just another rout — complete with 10 penalties against St. Louis, 446 yards offense by Seattle and next to no production by the Rams' inept offense on third down and in the red zone.

    Despite an offseason replete with change at every level of the organization, it looked very much like, you know, the same old sorry (bleep) Rams.

    "I'm not going there," Spagnuolo said afterward. "This was the first game of the 2009 season. That's what it is. We didn't win. We're going to play the second game of the 2009 season next week."

    Spagnuolo took the blame for all the penalties. "That's a discipline thing and that falls on the head coach," he said.

    Similarly, he fell on the sword when it came to the blocked field goal, a play in which the Rams added new meaning to the mystique of Seattle's 12th Man. (When he wasn't in the stands cheering on the Seahawks, the 12th Man apparently was lining up with the Rams' field goal block unit.)

    C.J. Ah You, playing in his first NFL regular-season game, blocked Olindo Mare's 49-yard field goal attempt, with Quincy Butler scooping up the football and racing 51 yards for a touchdown to tie the score 7-7 with 49 seconds left in the first half.

    But there was a booth review on the play, which can happen when there is under 2 minutes to play in either half.

    "In replay, under 2 minutes, the replay booth takes over the game," referee Pete Morelli told a pool reporter. "One of the categories they have the ability to review is 12 men on the field. ... They count every play."

    They counted 12, with Ah You being the extra man on the field. A terrible play, to be sure, but the Rams had several chances to seize control of the game before that.

    — On their second possession of the day, the Rams were near midfield trying to put a drive together when Incognito was flagged for unnecessary roughness. He shoved a Seattle player after the whistle.

    "I just lost my cool," Incognito said. "A classic case of it. ... (There) was pushing, shoving back and forth, and I shoved him harder than he shoved me."

    — A fumble recovery by rookie linebacker James Laurinaitis gave St. Louis possession on the Seattle 38 midway through the first quarter. But a holding penalty on Donnie Avery wiped out most of an 18-yard gain by Steven Jackson, resulting in a 20-yard loss of field position. The Rams ended up punting.

    — At the start of the second quarter, a third-and-1 at the Seattle 9 turned into a fourth-and-11 at the 19 after a false start penalty on Randy McMichael and a delay of game penalty. Josh Brown then sent a 37-yard field goal attempt wide right. It was Brown's first miss inside 40 yards since 2006, and only his sixth miss in 92 career attempts inside 40.

    Since the start of the 2005 season, there have been more false starts committed by the visiting team at Qwest Field than at any venue in the NFL. The Rams were generous contributors to that total with four on Sunday. (Besides McMichael, Incognito, Jacob Bell, and Jason Smith also were guilty of false starts.)

    "It's definitely not acceptable," quarterback Marc Bulger said of the offensive miscues. "The defense getting the ball for us like they were, we've got to get points when they do that for us. It's on us. Whether it was penalties, or not executing. We have to get that corrected quick."

    Continuing a trend established in the preseason, the St. Louis defense came up with three takeaways Sunday — all in the opening quarter. Besides the Laurinaitis fumble recovery, the Rams also got interceptions from safeties Oshiomogho Atogwe and Butler.

    But the run defense gradually wore down, most tellingly on a 62-yard TD run late in the third quarter in which Seahawks running back Julius Jones was barely touched. And young linebackers Laurinaitis and David Vobora had coverage troubles, particularly when it came to shadowing tight end John Carlson, who scored Seattle's third TD on a 33-yard pass.

    All in all, Spagnuolo called his debut as Rams head coach a tough pill to swallow.

    "The reason it's a tough pill to swallow is because we think we're better than that," he said.

    Seeing will be believing, starting next Sunday in Washington.

  • #2
    Re: Futility flashback

    "the same old sorry (bleep) Rams."

    I hate Steve Young more than words can describe for coining that phrase.


    • #3
      Re: Futility flashback

      Besides McMichael, Incognito, Jacob Bell, and Jason Smith also were guilty of false starts.)
      Guards committing false starts. That's horrible. You're standing next to the dude with the ball! Why would you jump?!
      The more things change, the more they stay the same.


      Related Topics


      • RamFan_Til_I_Die
        'You can't let passion turn into anger': Rams pay for penalties in loss to Seattle
        by RamFan_Til_I_Die
        'You can't let passion turn into anger': Rams pay for penalties in loss to Seattle

        SEATTLE -- The St. Louis Rams paid for their penalties, especially a too-many-men-on-the-field infraction that negated a touchdown off a blocked field goal late in the first half, during a 28-0 season-opening loss to the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday.

        The Rams had 10 penalties for 85 yards. They had four false start penalties and three unnecessary roughness penalties.

        "I just got done saying to the guys that I love the fact that we have a lot of passionate football players, but you can't let passion turn into anger or get you off your game,'' Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo said.

        The Rams got a quick start on the penalties as right guard Richie Incognito was flagged for a false start on the team's first offensive play from scrimmage.

        "There's a stat in this league that I think says if you get a penalty on any offensive series, then your chances of scoring a touchdown goes down to like 14 percent,'' Spagnuolo said.

        The volatile Incognito also was flagged for two 15-yard unnecessary roughness penalties.

        The first penalty was for shoving a Seattle player after a 2-yard run by Steven Jackson in the first quarter.

        "The first one was just me losing my cool,'' Incognito said. "It was chippy. It was an exciting atmosphere. This is a great place to play in. I'm really disappointed in myself. I lost my cool on that one.''

        Spagnuolo pulled Incognito out of the game and replaced him with Adam Goldberg after he got charged with the second unnecessary roughness penalty in the third quarter.

        "When that happens to anybody, they get wrapped up in the moment,'' Spagnuolo said. "I talked with Richie. We have a lot more games to go, and we'll go from here. I told him that I still had confidence in him. I don't lose confidence in a guy on one game. I think Richie is one of our passionate guys, I really do. I think he plays his butt off. Sometimes you have to temper that a little bit, that's all.''

        Incognito was back in the game in the fourth quarter.

        "I am really disappointed in letting my teammates down, I let my coaches down,'' Incognito said. "I feel really bad about letting Spags down. But, we're professionals. We pick ourselves up and move forward.''

        The most devastating penalty came after C.J. Ah You blocked a field goal, and Quincy Butler picked up the loose ball and ran 51 yards for a touchdown with 59 seconds left in the first half.

        The replay assistant called for a review, and the play was reversed because the Rams had 12 men on the field.

        "That's me,'' Spagnuolo said of the penalty. "Somehow that has to get ironed out, I'll take the blame for that. I'm sure guys will be accountable in there,...
        -09-14-2009, 08:47 AM
      • RamFan_Til_I_Die
        Scoreless in Seattle: Spagnuolo era opens with a thud
        by RamFan_Til_I_Die
        Scoreless in Seattle: Spagnuolo era opens with a thud
        Associated Press

        SEATTLE -- The feisty, new-look Seahawks of coach Jim Mora attacked on defense during plays -- and scrapped after them.

        On offense, they showed balance between run and pass, and did a good job of protecting quarterback Matt Hasselbeck.

        It was as if 2008 never happened.

        St. Louis resembled the same old Rams, who hired Steve Spagnuolo as their head coach after going 2-14 last year.

        Hasselbeck, playing his first game since Thanksgiving Day, overcame two interceptions in his first three throws Sunday to connect with John Carlson for two touchdowns in Seattle's 28-0 romp past the Rams.

        Hasselbeck, who missed nine games last season with a bad back, finished 25 of 36 for 279 yards passing, his most for an opener.

        Seattle's first shutout in almost two years was its ninth consecutive win over its division rivals. It was also Seattle's biggest win to begin a season since a 38-0 victory over Philadelphia in 1998.

        "The whole offseason, they said our team was soft," said rookie outside linebacker Aaron Curry, the fourth overall pick who scuffled repeatedly with Rams running back Steven Jackson. "We've got to change our image."

        Mora was smiling after his first game as a head coach since the end of the 2006 season for Atlanta. Nine months ago, the Seahawks were 4-12 for Mike Holmgren.

        The former visiting locker room attendant for the Seahawks at the old Kingdome returned to his hometown for a day he said he'd thought of "for a long, long time."

        "It was especially emotional for me, because there is some significance to it. I'd be lying if I told you there wasn't," the 47-year-old said. "It was kind of a surreal experience."

        His revived Seahawks took advantage of a rare use of instant replay to cruise over the sloppy, undisciplined Rams, who pushed and shoved their way to 10 penalties.

        Two of them were personal fouls after plays by offensive lineman Richie Incognito.

        "Would you rather us just get our tail kicked and walk back (to the huddle)?" Jackson said. "You saw some fight in this team."

        Yet, St. Louis gained just 247 yards in an effort similar to its 38-3 loss against Philadelphia that opened last season.

        "Yeah, I'm not going there,'' said Spagnuolo, who was the Giants' defensive coordinator at the time. "This was the first game of the 2009 season, that's what it is. We didn't win. We will play the second game of the 2009 season next week. ''

        The game's most decisive -- and weirdest -- play came late in the first half. Seattle's Olindo Mare struck a 49-yard field-goal attempt low. C.J. Ah You blocked it, and three other Rams could have.

        -09-14-2009, 08:53 AM
      • RamFan_Til_I_Die
        Sloppiness is still the Rams' trademark
        by RamFan_Til_I_Die
        Sloppiness is still the Rams' trademark

        By Jeff Gordon

        Sloppiness crept into Rams Park during the Mike Martz Era, during those exciting “Shoot, we’ll fix it” days.

        Those teams routinely wasted timeouts, drew untimely penalties and coughed up the football. Those teams had the firepower to score more points than they gave away, so life was still pretty good.

        But when the Rams lost some of that firepower, things turned ugly fast. Martz’s latter-day Rams were an undisciplined mess.

        His successor, Scott Linehan, never got things under control. Hiring him as head coach of the Rams was like sending a 12-year-old crossing guard to work Times Square. It was a total mismatch.

        Every week the hapless Linehan talked about the accountability in his program. And every week there was absolutely no accountability in his program. The same players made the same mistakes game after game after game.

        Colorful interim coach Jim Haslett got the team’s attention for a couple of weeks last season, before the team reverted to its unruly ways.

        Despite Steve Spagnuolo’s best efforts, we just saw more of the same in Week 1 of this season.

        The Rams have a new team president, a newly empowered general manager, a new coach and a mostly new coaching staff. Nearly half of the players are new this season, too.

        Yet the sloppiness remains in this organization, like a pesky virus or a mutant strain of cockroaches immune to bug spray. The Rams blundered their way to a 28-0 loss Sunday, continuing their futility against the NFC West in general and the Seahawks in particular.

        Sure, the Rams played with passion. Steven Jackson was as demonstrative as we’ve seen him and even Marc Bulger was feisty.

        Of course, when the other team pounds your face into the turf you ought to get mad. Rookie Seahawks linebacker Aaron Curry crushed Jackson and the Seattle defense did a tag-team number on Bulger, giving him another thorough physical beating.

        Jackson and Bulger pushed back, which is good for them.

        As for the overall game, though, it offered just more of the same:

        The Rams got the ball first, but Donnie Avery immediately fumbled it back to the Seahawks on the opening kickoff return. He did not protect the ball when he cut into traffic.

        On their first snap from scrimmage, Richie Incognito was flagged for a five-yard false start penalty. This gave Bulger a first-and-15 situation to start with, on his own 15. The Rams gained six yards on three plays and punted.

        On the Rams’ second possession, Jackson ground out a first down. But on a second-and-nine play, Incognito took a trademark 15-yard personal foul penalty. This gave Bulger a second-and-22 situation to deal with . . . and soon the Rams punted...
        -09-15-2009, 01:23 PM
      • RamWraith
        Rams flagged down
        by RamWraith
        By Jim Thomas
        Monday, Nov. 13 2006

        SEATTLE — There was running back Steven Jackson chugging for the end zone, and
        what shaped up as a victory-clinching touchdown. Seattle defenders were tugging
        and poking at him from every direction — some of it legal, some of it
        apparently illegal.

        There was guard Todd Steussie hustling in to "push the pile," and help Jackson
        into the end zone. Wide receiver Isaac Bruce coming in over the top. Throw into
        the mix what appeared to be a slow whistle to end the play by referee Gerry
        Austin's short-handed officiating crew.

        Some Rams players started celebrating. Center Richie Incognito came into the
        pile late. And then, into this organized chaos came a penalty flag.

        Incognito, known for his hothead ways in college, was whistled for a personal

        "I was surprised it was on me," Incognito said. "I thought it was on them."

        Nope. Incognito's penalty opened the door just a crack for Seattle, and the
        opportunistic Seahawks barged through once again. Incognito's penalty gave the
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        38-yard field goal by Josh Brown with 9 seconds remaining, giving the Seahawks
        a 24-22 victory over the beleaguered Rams.

        Just four weeks earlier, Brown's 54-yarder at the buzzer gave the Seahawks a
        30-28 victory over St. Louis in the Edward Jones Dome. It is now official.
        Brown is the worst thing to happen to the Rams in terms of kickers since Adam
        Viniateri of the Super Bowl XXXVI champion Patriots.

        If not a dagger to the heart of St. Louis, Brown's field goal Sunday was at
        least a staggering blow. At 4-5, the Rams have lost four in a row. Seattle
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        "It's pretty frustrating," coach Scott Linehan said. "You can't let it get to
        you. That's easier said than done. But my job as well as everybody else's on
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        get any easier when it starts mounting up."

        It's mounting up, all right. This was a game when the St. Louis defense was
        pummeled in the first half. When the offense couldn't get anything going
        downfield all day. When left tackle Orlando Pace was lost for the season with a
        triceps injury. When Seattle's Nate Burleson delivered a backbreaking 90-yard
        punt return for a score midway through the fourth quarter.

        Through all that, the Rams still had a chance to win on Jackson's 14-yard TD
        run with 2 minutes 30 seconds to play. The Rams were up 22-21 when Incognito
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        -11-13-2006, 04:49 AM
      • Nick
        Rams are a prime-time flop
        by Nick
        Rams are a prime-time flop
        BY JIM THOMAS | Posted: Monday, January 3, 2011 11:10 am

        SEATTLE • In their biggest game in years, the new Rams looked suspiciously like the old Rams. You know, the Rams of 6-42, the gang that couldn't shoot straight, etc., etc.

        With a playoff berth on the line, they gave up big plays at inopportune times, were guilty of costly penalties and couldn't move the ball to save their lives. On a night when Pro Bowl running back Steven Jackson vanished from the St. Louis offense, the Rams disappeared from postseason consideration, going quietly into the night at Qwest Field.

        Even so, it was a one-possession game throughout the night. Or at least until Olindo Mare's third field goal of the game late in the fourth quarter made it a 16-6 victory for the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday night.

        "I don't know if it's going to hit me until tomorrow or Tuesday when I'm not watching the film of the opponent for the next week," quarterback Sam Bradford said. "It's just frustrating to get this far and have an opportunity to make the playoffs. And to come up short."

        Simply stated, the Rams looked like they weren't ready for the big stage of Sunday night football and their first prime-time game since 2007. With the injured Matt Hasselbeck sitting this one out, the Rams were beaten by a quarterback, Charlie Whitehurst, making his second NFL start.

        "It just kind of makes you sick," linebacker James Laurinaitis said. "It's tough to take. We've got to use it as motivation to keep going (next season)."

        Laurinaitis disputed the notion that the moment may have been too big for the Rams.

        "No, no, this moment wasn't too big," he said. "We were ready for it, and we were ready for the noise and we embraced it. I love atmospheres like this - this is football right here."

        On the other side of the ball, the Rams were absolutely throttled, to the point of embarrassment, by the league's 30th-ranked defense. They finished with only 184 yards on offense and reached the red zone only twice, settling for field goals both times. And amazingly, Jackson had only 11 carries on the night.

        "I'd have to look at it," coach Steve Spagnuolo said when asked about Jackson's low carry total. "We're not counting 'em and that as we go."

        On this night the journeyman (Whitehurst) outplayed the No. 1 overall draft pick (Bradford), completing 22 of 36 passes for 192 yards, one touchdown and a passer rating of 84.5. Bradford threw for just 155 yards and threw a costly interception with 8 minutes, 42 seconds to play on the Rams' last real scoring chance of the game.

        So it's the Seahawks who enter the playoffs as the first team in NFL history to qualify for postseason play with a losing record. (Two 4-5 teams qualified for...
        -01-03-2011, 11:30 AM