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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
    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
    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
  • 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
  • RamDez
    Variety Show
    by RamDez
    Variety Show


    By Jim Thomas
    Of the Post-Dispatch

    08/28/2005


    Based on last season's records, the Rams have the easiest schedule in the NFL.

    The Rams face only four teams that had winning records in 2004: Philadelphia (13-3), Indianapolis (12-4), Seattle (9-7) and Jacksonville (9-7).

    They face only four teams that made the playoffs: Philly, Indy, the Seahawks and Minnesota (8-8).




    But given the current parity-driven state of the NFL, the Rams should take nothing for granted. Teams can change from the "Same Old Sorry (Bleep) Rams" into the "Greatest Show on Turf" in an instant.


    The 2005 schedule features familiar rivals New Orleans and Philadelphia. And, of course, NFC West opponents Arizona, San Francisco and Seattle. But it's really characterized more by the unfamiliar than the familiar:

    On Thanksgiving weekend, the Rams play the Houston Texans - a 2002 expansion team - for the first time.

    The day before Halloween, they play former St. Louis expansion rival Jacksonville for just the second time, and for the first time since 1996.

    In a Sunday night affair on New Year's Day, the Rams play a regular-season game in Dallas for the first time since the move to St. Louis in '95.

    The home opener on Sept. 25 marks the first visit of the Tennessee Titans to St. Louis for a regular-season contest, and the first meeting of the teams other than the preseason since Super Bowl XXXIV.

    Perhaps the marquee game of the season occurs Oct. 17 when the Rams make their first visit to Indianapolis since '95. As such, it will be running back Marshall Faulk's first game against his old club since the memorable trade that sent him to St. Louis in 1999. It's also the Rams' only Monday night appearance of this season.

    There will be some new faces to go along with the new places. The Rams get their first look at young quarterbacks David Carr of Houston, Byron Leftwich of Jacksonville, Eli Manning of the New York Giants and, quite possibly, No. 1 overall draft pick Alex Smith of San Francisco.

    At the other end of the QB spectrum, they'll face some of the top QBs in the league, including Eli's older brother Peyton, Philadelphia's Donovan McNabb and Minnesota's Daunte Culpepper.

    Obviously, no opposing quarterback will draw as much interest as the one who now calls Arizona home - Kurt Warner. A two-time NFL MVP with the Rams, Warner faces his former team twice in the NFC West. As long as Bill Bidwill owns the Big Red, playing Arizona will always be a big game for any St. Louis football fan over age 30. Putting Warner in a Cardinals uniform turns up the rivalry several notches.

    We won't have to wait long for the first meeting. It figures to be 100 degrees-plus in the Valley of the Sun on Sept.
    ...
    -08-28-2005, 03:47 AM
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