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  • Rams' first win elusive

    Rams' first win elusive

    BY JIM THOMAS
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    10/11/2009

    The resolve belied the scoreboard in the cramped visitors locker room at Candlestick Park last Sunday afternoon.

    "I have confidence that things are going to turn around," running back Steven Jackson said, mere minutes after the Rams' 35-0 loss to San Francisco.

    "We're going to win games, I'm telling you," defensive end Leonard Little added.

    But when? It has been 357 days now since the gods of gridiron fortune last smiled on the Rams. On Oct. 19, 2008, the Rams pummeled Dallas 34-14 for their second consecutive victory under interim head coach Jim Haslett.

    Since then? Nothing but gloom, despair and agony ... the agony of defeat. The Rams have lost a franchise record 14 in a row, the longest current losing streak in the National Football League. The losses keep mounting in 2009 despite sweeping offseason changes, changes that permeated every level of the organization.

    One month into the season, the Rams are 0-4 and have been outscored 108 to 24. They have led for only 12 minutes 29 seconds all season, taking a 7-6 lead in Washington late in the first half on a touchdown pass from Marc Bulger to Laurent Robinson, capped by Josh Brown's extra point.

    That period of prosperity ended with 6:27 to go in the third quarter when Washington took a 9-7 lead on a Shaun Suisham field goal.

    As KSDK-TV news anchor Mike Bush used to say back in the days when he did sports: "End highlight reel."

    So when does it end? If you believe the sports wagering industry, it won't happen this season. The Rams will be an underdog in all 12 of their remaining games.

    "Depending on what transpires in the next few weeks and barring any significant injuries, the closest the St. Louis Rams will be to a favorite all season will be in Detroit on November 1st," said Richard Gardner, sportsbook manager for Bodog. "As it stands right now, the Lions would be a three-, four-point favorite."

    Three of the Rams' first four games have been on the road, where it's generally tougher to win. But those opponents were hardly NFL heavyweights. Washington and Seattle (with a healthy Matt Hasselbeck at quarterback) are average at best. Green Bay and San Francisco are good, but don't have the look of NFC title contenders.

    But the Rams step up in class Sunday, with the unbeaten Minnesota Vikings visiting the Edward Jones Dome in a noon kickoff.

    "That franchise is really put together," Rams defensive tackle Clifton Ryan said. "They've got a couple of all-Pros on the defensive line in Kevin and Pat Williams. They've got a Hall of Fame quarterback (Brett Favre).

    "They've got some young guns at receiver in Percy Harvin and Bernard Berrian. That o-line is gelling, with three veterans and a borderline Hall of Famer in Steve Hutchinson. And I haven't even mentioned (running back) Adrian Peterson, the face of our league right now."

    Favre and the Vikings represent just the beginning of a tortuous stretch of home games. On Oct. 25, Peyton Manning and the currently unbeaten Indianapolis Colts come to town. After a Rams bye week in early November, Drew Brees and the currently unbeaten New Orleans Saints visit the Gateway to the West on Nov. 15.

    "That's at least two Hall of Famers," Little said, referring to Favre and Manning.

    And Brees could be headed down that path as well, if he keeps completing passes and winning football games.

    Sandwiched between that parade of titans are road games at Jacksonville (Oct. 18) and the aforementioned Lions game (Nov. 1). If those games were at home, you might like the Rams' chances. On the road? Not so much.

    So that could make the Rams 0-9 and take us to Nov. 22 when another borderline Hall of Famer and one of St. Louis' most cherished athletes quarterback Kurt Warner comes to town with the Arizona Cardinals. The Big Red, by the way, have won their last five games against St. Louis.

    Just six games remain after Warner's visit: road games at Chicago, surprisingly winless Tennessee, and Arizona. And home games against Seattle, Houston, and San Francisco. If the Rams don't leave the Motor City with a victory over the Lions, their best remaining hopes for victory probably come in those home games against the Seahawks, Texans, and *****.

    Even with the losing, team morale seems good. Rookie head coach Steve Spagnuolo isn't giving in.

    "I don't let four (losses) get the better part of me ... ," he said. "We despise losing. What I said (to the players) was despise it, but just be determined to change it. It's in the determination that's going to turn it around."

    But what if 0-4 slips into 0-5, and 0-6, and 0-and-whatever? Will spirits start to sag? Will the losing culture that first-year general manager Billy Devaney has tried to stamp out only deepen?

    "It's been tough," cornerback Ron Bartell said. "It's been a tough year. We had a lot of expectations of ourselves and we haven't met those yet. We're just trying to get our first win."
    :ramlogo:

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  • MauiRam
    Rams have shot at rare three-peat ..
    by MauiRam
    BY JIM THOMAS Wednesday, December 8, 2010 12:25 am

    For more than a calendar year, the Rams had no success on the road. Zero. Zilch. Couldn't buy a road victory. That all changed in Denver two Sundays ago, and again at Arizona this past Sunday.

    "Two weeks ago, at that point, we were winless on the road," running back Steven Jackson said. "So for us to get two wins on the road back-to-back weeks, it shows that this team responds to challenge."

    The challenge this week is about as big as it gets, with yet another road game against the New Orleans Saints, 9-3 this season and defending Super Bowl champs.

    "We have another huge game, and it's going to be rowdier in New Orleans," Jackson said following the Rams' 19-6 victory over the Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. "We have to get ready for this. As games approach, and each and every week as we continue to be successful, games are going to get bigger. And I think this team is starting to understand that. We've just got to continue to execute and play together."

    If the Rams can pull off an upset in the Louisiana Superdome and that's a huge "if" they also would pull off a "3-peat" of historic proportions. They would become only the third team in the 73-year history of the Rams' franchise to win road games in three consecutive weeks.

    The Rams have had some successful road teams, most notably the 2001 NFC championship squad that went 8-0 on the road that season. But that team never played away games in three successive weeks. The best they did was back-to-back road victories twice.

    The current league policy, according to Rams executive vice president of football operations Kevin Demoff, is to have teams play as many as three consecutive road games only about once every eight years.

    And the Rams last played three in a row on the road exactly eight years ago, losing at Washington 20-17 on Nov. 24, 2002, then losing 10-3 at Philadelphia on Dec. 1 and 49-10 at Kansas City on Dec. 8.

    Quarterback Kurt Warner suffered what turned out to be a broken hand in that Washington game, insisted he could play against Philadelphia but was very ineffective. That led to the first "Brenda-Gate" controversy, in which Brenda Warner Kurt's wife called a local all-sports radio station to complain about coach Mike Martz's handling of the injury.

    So far, this year's three-game road swing has gone much more smoothly, with the Rams surviving a fourth-quarter meltdown to hold off Denver 36-33 and then recording the workmanlike victory in Arizona.

    So have the Rams finally figured out how to handle this road thing?

    "I've said this from the beginning, I never thought there was really anything to figure out except you go play football between the white lines," coach...
    -12-08-2010, 10:58 AM
  • r8rh8rmike
    Schedule Sends St. Louis Rams Another Strong Opponent
    by r8rh8rmike
    Schedule sends St. Louis Rams another strong opponent

    BY JIM THOMAS
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    11/17/2009

    At least the Rams don't play an unbeaten team this week. Then again, the visiting Arizona Cardinals are unbeaten on the road this season.

    "Thanks," coach Steve Spagnuolo said, with mock sarcasm.

    The news of Arizona's road success wasn't exactly the pick-me-up he was looking for after Sunday's 28-23 near miss against New Orleans.

    But that's the way things have gone this season for the Rams one hurdle after another. The Rams' first four home opponents in 2009 Green Bay, Minnesota, Indianapolis and New Orleans are a combined 31-5. In comparison, the NFC West-leading Cardinals are a "modest" 6-3.

    "We've got a division game, a rival," defensive tackle Clifton Ryan said. "High-powered offensive attack with a great quarterback in Kurt Warner. I know the fans are going to be happy to see him. Every time he comes back, he gets a warm reception."

    Warner obviously has some help in the passing game.

    "Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin, Steve Breaston," Ryan said, listing the Big Red's top three receivers. "The list goes on and on. The high-powered offenses keep on rolling into St. Louis. And we've got to be up to the challenge to stop 'em."

    In order, the Rams have faced the No. 8 (Green Bay), No. 7 (Minnesota), No. 3 (Indianapolis) and No. 1 (New Orleans) offenses in the NFL at home. Arizona isn't far off the pace, bringing the league's 12th-ranked offense to the dome for a 3:05 p.m. kickoff Sunday.

    "A lot of good quarterbacks," defensive end Chris Long said. "Already getting to play Peyton Manning, Drew (Brees), now Kurt."

    And some guy named Brett Favre.

    "Yeah, Favre," Long said. "How could I forget that guy? Yeah, we've played some good quarterbacks. But when you play a good quarterback like that, like these guys, the margin for error becomes so small. They truly manage the game to perfection. You really have to make no mistakes."

    In order, Favre, Brees, Manning and Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers are ranked 1-2-3-4 in the NFL in passer rating. Warner isn't far off the pace with the 11th-best passer rating in the league (91.5).

    If only for one Sunday, the Rams showed they can play with the big boys of the NFL by going toe-to-toe with the Saints for 60 minutes.

    "I feel that this team's only going to get better," wide receiver Brandon Gibson said. "We showed that we are capable of playing with one of the better teams. We've just got to always play at a high level."

    Games like that have been few and far between for the Rams lately. The Rams have lost 22 games since the start of the 2008 season,...
    -11-17-2009, 03:52 PM
  • r8rh8rmike
    Believe It Or Not: Rams In A Big Game
    by r8rh8rmike
    Believe it or not: Rams in a big game

    BY JIM THOMAS
    Friday, November 12, 2010

    At 2-2, the Rams headed north to Ford Field and suffered a humiliating 44-6 defeat in Detroit.

    At 3-3, the Rams headed south to Raymond James Stadium and squandered a 17-3 lead en route to a last-second 18-17 setback to Tampa Bay.

    Here we go again.

    At 4-4, the Rams head west to Candlestick Park to take on the San Francisco *****. For the third time this season the Rams will try climb above the .500 mark, a place they haven't been at any point in a season since midway through the 2006 campaign.

    Only this time, the stakes are higher because it's mid November and the Rams are leading the NFC West standings. A victory over San Francisco keeps the Rams in first place and just about puts a dagger into the ***** (2-6) who were consensus preseason favorites to win the West. A loss keeps the Rams on their nearly-season long treadmill of winning at home and losing on the road.

    "Division rival, a defense that I highly respect," running back Steven Jackson said of the *****. "I think they go about business the right way. It's one of those measuring sticks for us to see where we're at in our conference and our division. It's going to be a meaningful game. A lot of people who look at it from a point of view of (won-loss) records don't really appreciate the intensity that this game's going to bring Sunday."

    So yes, for the first time in a long time, the St. Louis Rams are playing in a big game. How long has it been? Consider Jackson's answer when asked about teaching the younger players how to win big games.

    "Well, it's something that I'm looking forward to learning," Jackson said. "I'm being honest right now."

    In seven NFL seasons, Jackson has yet to play on a team that finished the season with a winning record. And he has been part of only one playoff squad: the 2004 Rams squeaked in at 8-8 with a wild-card berth in Jackson's rookie season.

    "To have a big game, to learn how to win as the stakes get higher, as the season goes by, it's going to be fun," Jackson said. "I'm looking forward to the challenge. Hopefully we can keep ourselves in this position but everything goes back to what we've always been taught around here _ one week at a time, one game at a time. But if you continue to win, the stakes get bigger."

    Nine victories probably wins the NFC West this season, maybe eight. But you can't get to eight or nine until you first reach five. And that's the task at hand in Sunday's 3:15 p.m. (St. Louis time) kickoff.

    The Rams haven't won a road game in more than a calendar year, 378 days to be exact since winning 17-10 at Detroit on Nov. 1, 2009. As the road losses accumulate this season, the Rams have all but run out of words...
    -11-12-2010, 12:05 PM
  • r8rh8rmike
    Scoping Out The Rams Schedule
    by r8rh8rmike
    Scoping out the Rams schedule

    08/30/2009

    Post-Dispatch football writer Jim Thomas takes us through the '09 schedule, and what might happen week by week. Rams Bye Week is Nov. 8


    Mike Holmgren is gone. And some of the Seahawks' best players are getting creaky (QB Matt Hasselbeck, LT Walter Jones, DE Patrick Kerney). But Qwest Field remains one of the league's toughest venues on visitors. The 12th Man is tough to beat. SEAHAWKS 23, RAMS 16

    Here comes Clinton Portis. An early test to be sure for the run defense of new coach Steve Spagnuolo. But the Rams have had success in this building before, including their first win last year. And Spags knows the NFC East like the back of his hand. RAMS 27, REDSKINS 23

    Brace yourself for the invasion of the Cheeseheads. The Pack is back in St. Louis for the fourth time in nine years. Deacon Jones' number is retired as part of game-day festivities. Too bad the Deacon won't be out there rushing Aaron Rodgers. PACKERS 34, RAMS 17

    Three road games in the first four weeks. Yikes! Obviously, the Rams have no friends among the schedule-makers at NFL headquarters. The Niners can play decent defense, but it's still Frank Gore or bust for their less-than-stellar offense. RAMS 20, ***** 16

    Will Brett Favre supply the missing piece to a Vikings team that already includes one of the league's best runners in Adrian Peterson and one of the game's best run defenses? The Rams find out first-hand, and the answer might not be pretty. VIKINGS 34, RAMS 13

    J-ville beat out St. Louis for an expansion team in 1993. But it hasn't been able to beat St. Louis on the field yet. OK, there have been only two regular-season meetings since then. But Torry Holt and the Jaguars get their revenge in this one. JAGUARS 23, RAMS 6

    It's a different looking Colts team without Tony Dungy on the sidelines and Marvin Harrison catching passes. But in case you hadn't noticed, Peyton Manning is still playing quarterback, and that's more than enough to get Indy past the Rams. COLTS 30, RAMS 20

    Can deposed Rams coach Scott Linehan, the Lions' offensive coordinator, work his "magic" with No. 1 overall pick Matthew Stafford at quarterback? The Lions won't go winless in '09 as they did in '08, but they won't win this one as Spags claims his third road victory. RAMS 27, LIONS 20

    For the second time in three years, the Rams come off a bye to get the Saints. While the Saints slug it out with division rival Carolina on Nov. 8, the Rams freshen up. Once again, the bye helps the Rams spring an upset as Spags gets his first home win. RAMS 30, SAINTS 24

    Here comes Kurt. These are always bittersweet events for Rams fans, who love seeing Kurt Warner, one of the heroes of the Greatest Show on Turf. But they cringe at the thought of their squad losing to Bill...
    -08-31-2009, 11:17 PM
  • RamWraith
    Dome-ination:
    by RamWraith
    By Jim Thomas
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    11/25/2007

    Then: From 1999-2004, the Rams won 43 of 53 games at the Edward Jones Dome
    Now: Rams are winless at the dome this year and have lost 12 of their past 16

    Over a period of six seasons, from 1999 through their last playoff season 2004 the Rams won 43 of 53 home games.


    There was no tougher place to play in the National Football League. You could almost see defenders' knees buckle during pregame introductions as the Rams ran out to the guitar riffs of "Kashmir," the Led Zeppelin rock classic.

    They don't play that song any more at the Edward Jones Dome. The Rams don't win there any more either at least not lately. Since the middle of the 2005 season, the Rams have lost 12 of 16 home contests.

    They are winless at home this season losing to Carolina, San Francisco, Arizona, and Cleveland. A loss Sunday against visiting Seattle would match the longest home losing streak for the Rams since the move to St. Louis in 1995. (Dick Vermeil's squad lost its last five home games of the '97 campaign.)

    No wonder the Rams have had trouble selling out the stadium lately. Of course, the Rams can begin to change all that, starting with Sunday's game against NFC West rival Seattle. A loss would eliminate the Rams from NFC West title consideration (though they would remain mathematically alive for a wild-card berth.)

    A win would extend Rams winning streak to three, no mean feat considering the team's franchise-worst 0-8 start. Just as importantly, it would be the first home victory for Rams fans since last Christmas Eve against Washington.

    "We definitely want to give that to them," linebacker Chris Draft said.

    In return, Draft is asking for a little help from the stands.

    "I asked the other day. I asked the fans for three false-start penalties," Draft said. "That means they've got to get loud. Seattle, you know, they've got their 12th Man. Last time we went there, they had Ichiro with a pink scarf on what was it, purple? getting the crowd up."

    Ichiro Suzuki, the Seattle Mariners' star outfielder, raised the "12th Man" flag at Qwest Field in pregame ceremonies, getting the crowd fired up for a 33-6 drubbing of the visiting Rams on Oct. 21.

    Draft doesn't want a "12th man" helping the Rams from the stands Sunday he wants about 65,000 men, women, and children.

    "If all St. Louis gets in that stadium, it's going to be deafening," Draft said. "I want three (false) starts. It can be more than that. But I want three false starts."

    Three or so Rams touchdowns wouldn't hurt either in a game that has met NFL sellout requirements, and will be televised locally (KTVI-Channel 2).

    "Home field is...
    -11-25-2007, 07:53 AM
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