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  • Last whimper for Rams

    Last whimper for Rams
    AP)BY JIM THOMAS
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    01/04/2010

    Like so many other Sundays this season, the Rams came out scrappy, hung around and threatened to make a game of it.

    Like so many other Sundays, they went out quietly another day, another defeat. When things go south with these guys, they go w-a-y south. And so it was Sunday on Fan Appreciation Day at the Edward Jones Dome.

    Trailing only 7-6 against San Francisco with 7 minutes to play in the fourth quarter, the Rams picked the worst time possible to give up their longest pass play of the season. On third and 1 from the San Francisco 27, quarterback Alex Smith threw deep to Pro Bowl tight end Vernon Davis. Davis got behind Rams safety James Butler, and once Davis got the ball nobody was going to catch him.

    The 73-yard touchdown catch gave San Francisco a 14-6 lead with 7:29 to play. Before all was said and done, the 'Niners left town with a 28-6 victory, and the Rams left the stadium red-faced as usual.

    "It's a hard way to finish," Steve Spagnuolo said of his 1-15 debut as an NFL head coach. "For 3 quarters, it was toe to toe with a good football team ... and then to have it kind of get away like that at the end. We were hoping to finish on a high note and weren't able to do that."

    Not even close. Just about any way you slice it, this was the worst season in Rams football history. Over the course of the campaign the Rams set franchise marks for:

    Most consecutive losses (17, going back to last season).

    Most consecutive home losses (13).

    Most losses in one season (15).

    The 1-15 debacle is definitely something no player, coach or anyone else in the organization ever wants to go through again.

    "That's kind of like asking a boxer who just got knocked out, 'Do you want to get knocked out again?' " offensive lineman Adam Goldberg said. "No, you don't want to get knocked out again."

    The Rams were pummeled on several levels Sunday, particularly on offense.

    They managed a mere 109 yards, a single-game low since the franchise moved to St. Louis in 1995.

    For the 13th time in 16 games, the Rams scored one or fewer TDs.

    The Rams managed only one first down in the entire second half, and just six for the game.

    Add it all up, and their season total of 175 points scored was the sixth-lowest total in the NFL since the league went to the 16-game schedule in 1978.

    On Sunday, rookie quarterback Keith Null was knocked woozy by a relentless San Francisco pass rush. His replacement midway through the third quarter, Kyle Boller, was under siege not only from the ***** but also from teammate Steven Jackson.

    Early in the fourth quarter, Jackson was stuffed behind the line for a 5-yard loss. He got up barking at Boller, an exchange that continued on the sideline.

    "That's between me and Steven," Boller said. "I'm not going to get into that."

    "That was just in the heat of the game, that's all," Jackson said.

    Later in the game, defensive end Chris Long also got overheated. Long gave a retaliatory shove to a ***** player after the whistle and was ejected from the game with 2:27 to play.

    "I was very frustrated," Long said. "I'm just frustrated with the way I feel like we finished, I finished. I take full responsibility for my actions. I play the game hard, and I'm not going to apologize for playing the game hard. But I do regret letting my emotions get the best of me."

    When undrafted rookie Roger Allen III left late in the second quarter with a knee injury, the Rams basically were out of offensive guards. Starting right tackle Goldberg was moved over to Allen's left guard spot. Another undrafted rookie, Phil Trautwein, came off the bench at right tackle to play his first NFL snaps from scrimmage.

    No matter who was up front, the Rams couldn't block the *****, especially defensive end Justin Smith, the nine-year NFL veteran from Jefferson City High via the University of Missouri. Although never known as a sack artist, Justin Smith looked like Bruce Smith on Sunday, recording a career-high 3. Overall, the Rams yielded a season-high eight sacks.

    "It was a tough day for our group," Goldberg said, speaking of the offensive line. "We've lost a lot of good players in this second part of the season. They're all really tough guys and good players. So with good medical attention and good rehab, they'll come back strong next year."

    Guard Jacob Bell (hamstring), guard/center Mark Setterstrom (triceps), tackle Jason Smith (concussion) and now Allen (knee) all were unable to finish out the season because of injuries.

    As usual, the Rams were unable to finish out drives on offense. With the game still in the balance in the fourth quarter, Spagnuolo once again went conservative. On fourth and 2 from the San Francisco 11, trailing 7-3, Spagnuolo opted for a Josh Brown field goal instead of trying for a first down and possible go-ahead touchdown with 9:18 to play.

    "I thought that was the right thing to do," Spagnuolo said. "The prior play on third and 1 did not have very much success. So that kind of played into it. If it was fourth and half a yard, we would have thought about it. But I thought it was the right decision to make."

    But next to nothing went right for the Rams this season, did it?
    :ramlogo:

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  • eldfan
    Rams Team Report
    by eldfan
    Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo always has a single-minded purpose like most coaches as another game approaches. No matter what the record, he is intent on trying to figure out a way to win.
    It's no different this week as the Rams enter the season finale at home against the ***** with a 1-14 record. Spagnuolo had another message this week for the fans he hopes show up.

    The last two home games have had announced attendances under 50,000, the two lowest since the team moved to St. Louis in 1995.

    "Sunday is a special day," Spagnuolo said. "Not only is it the last game, but it is fan appreciation day. We do appreciate the fans that are behind us and that have hung in there in a tough, tough year. It's tough for us, tough for the players, and tough for the fans. Just know that we'll continue to work to try to get this thing straightened out. We're going to do everything we can to win this football game."

    Asked about fans that boo when the team doesn't play well, Spagnuolo said he understands.

    "Absolutely," he said. "I love to have them there. When I was in Philadelphia, of course the Philadelphia fan is a passionate fan. I've always felt good, better, and indifferent. When the fans are there and they're passionate and care, I'm OK with that, I really am. That means they care. I'm OK with that."

    While some fans hope the Rams lose so they will be assured of the first overall pick in the draft, the fans that were there for the Dec. 20 Houston game were cheering for a victory in what turned out to be a 16-13 loss. They weren't thinking about draft picks.

    Worrying about draft picks is nowhere near Spagnuolo's thinking.

    Asked this week if he had given any thought to the draft, Spagnuolo said chuckling, "No. You're way ahead of me there. Way, way ahead of me. No. Absolutely not."

    When it was pointed out that the Rams currently have the first pick in the draft with one less win than Detroit and are "neck and neck" with the Lions, Spagnuolo said, "I'll worry about that in a couple of weeks. We're 'neck and neck' in trying to win a football game this Sunday. I'm knee-deep, or whatever you want to say, in trying to win a game. It's the last one, and we're going to play it to win it."

    The Rams have played a large number of young players this season, and in recent weeks. Rookie guard Roger Allen III will start his first game of his career Sunday, on the left side, in place of the injured Mark Setterstrom. When asked about playing other young players that haven't seen action, he said, "We're going to make all the decisions based on winning the game. Should it head that way for guys like that, that's what we'll do. If not, we won't. It'll still be about winning the game."

    SERIES HISTORY: 120th regular-season meeting. Rams lead, 60-57-2. The...
    -12-31-2009, 11:56 AM
  • r8rh8rmike
    Rams Are Off To Faster Start
    by r8rh8rmike
    Rams are off to faster starts

    BY JIM THOMAS
    Thursday, October 21, 2010


    It wasn't long ago that the Rams began games like the tortoise against the hare. Only in this football fable, the tortoise didn't rally at the end.

    In five of the previous six seasons, the Rams were outscored overall in the first quarter. Playing from behind became a way of life, and on more than one occasion quarterback Marc Bulger talked about needing a few possessions on offense to figure things out.

    Trouble was, by that time the Rams might be down by seven, 10 or 14 points. Things were at their lopsided worst last season under rookie head coach Steve Spagnuolo.

    The Rams were outscored 87-16 in the opening quarter in 2009. They didn't even score a first-quarter point until Game 6 in Jacksonville and by season's end had only one touchdown and three field goals to show for 16 opening quarters.

    Things have changed in a big way this season. Instead of false starts, the Rams are now specializing in fast starts. Center Jason Brown says it's all a matter of "coming out and hitting our opponents square in the face and letting them know that we're here to play."

    Through six games in 2010, the Rams have outscored their opponents 34-3 in the first quarter, and the quick starts are a major reason for the team's early season return to respectability.

    "Playing from behind is tough," right guard Adam Goldberg said. "This game's a lot easier when you play with the lead. Your defense can be more aggressive. Was it a point of emphasis? No. But our playmakers are explosive. They come out and they make plays early. And there's the lead."

    As he reviewed what took place in 2009 at the start of last offseason, Spagnuolo said he did not make it a specific goal to do better in the opening quarter. After all, based on what happened during a 1-15 campaign, the first, second, third and fourth quarters all needed fixing.

    "I can honestly say that wasn't an emphasis," Spagnuolo said. "We do always talk about starting fast and having a mind-set coming out of the locker room. I just hope it continues."

    The 34 points scored in the first quarter is sixth best in the NFL this season. The Rams' three points allowed is second best in the league, trailing only the New York Jets, who have yet to allow a first-quarter point. And the Rams' point differential of plus-31 in the opening quarter is third best in the league, exceeded only by New Orleans (plus-40) and Green Bay (plus-34).

    "I know from the defensive standpoint, it's certainly easier to call a game when you're ahead," Spagnuolo said. "And you take a few more chances on offense, I know, when you're ahead. I think it makes everybody feel a little more confident."

    Were it not for an...
    -10-21-2010, 10:41 PM
  • eldfan
    Rams still trying to get over hump
    by eldfan
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    11/24/2009 By Jim Thomas

    The Rams lost in overtime at Jacksonville, won at Detroit and had the ball at the end against New Orleans and Arizona with a chance to win or force overtime. The only blowout over the last six Sundays has been the 42-6 loss Oct. 25 against an Indianapolis team that remains unbeaten four weeks later.

    But on a weekend when two of the NFL's lesser lights, Kansas City and Oakland, sprung upsets over playoff contenders, the Rams could only come close once again in a 21-13 loss Sunday to Arizona.

    "There's going to be a point when this team is going to get over that (hump)," defensive end Leonard Little said. "It's going to happen."
    But when?

    "We've got to pick up our learning curve because there's only six weeks left in the season," defensive tackle Clifton Ryan said. "We don't want to be sitting here at Week 15, Week 16, talking about turning the corner. We've got to turn it now. From top to bottom, from 1 down to 53 (on the roster), we've got to turn the corner."

    On paper, there may be no better opportunity than this Sunday's game against Seattle. Yes, the Seahawks have won nine straight against the Rams, including a 28-0 whitewash on opening day of this season. But they've lost seven of nine since that contest and come to town with a 3-7 record.

    "There's a silver lining to everything," coach Steve Spagnuolo said. "I think the team is getting to the point where we're in those games."

    After a horrendous first half Sunday, the Rams were able to make it a one-possession game. Apparently there was more to their second-half revival than just the absence of Kurt Warner in the Arizona lineup.

    "I liked the way the team was a halftime," Spagnuolo said. "I liked the way we came out, the fact that we got ourselves back in the football game. ... All that's good. We need to continue to do that, and like I told the team (Monday) morning, we've got to get the football right. We've got to get the football things, the details, so that all these little things that keep coming up that lead to us not being ahead, or not winning the game, are erased."

    Things got intense in the Rams' locker room at halftime, with the team trailing 21-3. Little and safety Oshiomogho Atogwe got vocal, challenging the team and each other to pick up their play.

    "It was an intense thing because we're not playing like we're capable of playing and everybody knows that," Little said. "It was like a sense of urgency that went on at that time. It happens that way in football because guys want to win. And guys want to be able to compete with the upper-echelon teams. In the second quarter, we really didn't. They had their way with us a little bit."

    At least two Rams,...
    -11-24-2009, 08:59 AM
  • Nick
    Rams fall to San Francisco *****
    by Nick
    Rams fall to San Francisco *****
    By Jim Thomas
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    Monday, Oct. 05 2009

    SAN FRANCISCO — The formula for victory couldn't have been more clear-cut for
    the Rams entering Sunday's game at Candlestick Park. Against a San Francisco
    squad that featured a snarling defense, but a pedestrian offense, the surest
    path to an upset victory was to minimize mistakes, take care of the football
    and don't give up anything cheap.

    Alas, the Rams did just the opposite. On a day when the defense played spirited
    football and Steven Jackson ran as hard as humanly possible, the Rams
    gift-wrapped three touchdowns for the ***** and seemingly made more mistakes
    than humanly possible.

    The result was another sobering dose of humiliation, a 35-0 shellacking that
    left the Rams at 0-4 this season and extended their franchise-record losing
    streak to 14 games. The Rams have been outscored by an astounding 108-24 this
    season. They are as painful to watch as ever. Yes, the defense is more
    competitive, but that's more than negated by an offense that isn't — Jackson's
    work notwithstanding.

    There was no fire and brimstone from coach Steve Spagnuolo after the loss. No
    calling out of players. Just lots of disappointment.

    "I am disappointed in the loss," Spagnuolo said. "I'm disappointed in how it
    happened. I'm disappointed that we weren't able to play a better football game
    — that the score was what it was. I'm not discouraged, just disappointed in the
    way it went."

    Defensive tackle Clifton Ryan, who has played some of his best football the
    past two weeks, made an unusual postgame plea.

    "I'm asking our fans to be patient," Ryan said. "I'm asking you guys in the
    media to be patient. We can't turn it around overnight. It's going to be a work
    in progress.

    "When the Rams first got here they won the Super Bowl and went to two Super
    Bowls — a lot of success in their first 10 years. I think our fans and the
    media got real spoiled.

    "But we're going to get it back because we've got a lot of young guys dedicated
    to getting this show back on the road, and getting this franchise back to being
    one of the top franchises in this league."

    As sincere as Ryan's comments were, patience is in short supply in Rams Nation.
    This franchise has lost 31 of its past 36 games, and despite an offseason in
    which the mantra seemingly was blow it all up, things don't seem to be getting
    any better at the quarter pole of the 2009 season.

    "It hurts me, and it hurts all these guys to lose 14 straight," Ryan said.
    "Because...
    -10-05-2009, 09:35 AM
  • Nick
    ***** burn Rams repeatedly
    by Nick
    ***** burn Rams repeatedly
    BY BILL COATS Posted: Monday, November 15, 2010 12:10 am

    SAN FRANCISCO In a game as big as any the Rams have played in several years, big plays rained down all around them Sunday at Candlestick Park. Ultimately, the Rams were done in by their inability to keep San Francisco from gobbling up major chunks of real estate at inopportune times.

    "We had more big plays we gave up today than we did all year," defensive end Chris Long said. "That's the difference. Really, that game falls squarely on our shoulders defensively."

    The ***** came into the NFC West showdown ranked just 22nd in the NFL in total offense. But they got a major jolt from nimble quarterback Troy Smith, an early-season free-agent pickup, in a 23-20 overtime victory that booted the Rams (4-5) out of a first-place tie with Seattle.

    A former Heisman Trophy winner from Ohio State, Smith made just his fourth start in 3 NFL seasons. He subbed for sore-shouldered Alex Smith.

    Dodging and darting, Smith extended plays with his elusiveness and showed no fear flinging the ball downfield. He averaged 20.9 yards per completion, connecting of 17 of 28 passes for 356 yards and a touchdown, with no interceptions. His passer rating was a sterling 116.7.

    "Troy's a good player; we knew that going in," said linebacker James Laurinaitis, a former Buckeyes teammate. "We knew he had the ability to scramble and throw it up. ... He definitely hurt us today."

    It was the highest passing total of the season against the Rams, by far. It also easily outdistanced Smith's best previous outing: He threw for 199 yards in his first career start, as a rookie with Baltimore in 2007.

    The Rams faced Smith and the Ravens in September in the final preseason game. He passed for 237 yards but had a woeful 47.3 percent completion rate and was intercepted three times in a 27-21 Rams win.

    Smith was waived a few days later, and the ***** grabbed him. On Sunday, he helped shove San Francisco (3-6) back into contention in a tight division race.

    "We knew he had real good scrambling ability," said defensive end C.J. Ah You, who had one of five Rams sacks. "It's real frustrating, especially when you think you've got him and he makes a good play down the field."

    The ***** generated 11 plays of more than 20 yards, including two pass-interference penalties vs. the Rams. Also, touchdown passes of 19 and 43 yards were nullified by Niners penalties.

    Ten of those big gainers came via the pass. The ***** made an early statement, striking for a 32-yard toss on their first play from scrimmage, then topping that with a 65-yard bomb on the first snap of their second series.

    Cornerback Kevin Dockery was victimized on both plays. "The first one, I (was) being...
    -11-14-2010, 09:26 PM
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