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  • Rams extend their bye week - PD

    Rams extend their bye week
    By Jim Thomas
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    11/07/2004

    The Rams couldn't pass block. They couldn't get a break from officials. And their field goal "block" unit couldn't find Troy Brown. As a result, they couldn't defeat New England on Sunday at Edward Jones Dome.

    The Patriots' 40-22 victory represented the worst margin of defeat, and the most points allowed, by the Rams at home in Mike Martz's 4 1/2 seasons as head coach.

    Refreshed from the bye week, and catching New England's secondary in an injury-depleted state, the Rams were supposed to be at the starting point of a second-half run. A bit of revenge for that Super Bowl XXXVI loss three years ago, and a statement that the Rams could hang with the best in the NFL. Instead, the Rams (4-4) looked very much like just another team.

    Afterward, the frustration was obvious everywhere you went in the Rams' locker room. Defensive captain Tyoka Jackson, normally a positive-thinking, even-tempered spokesman for the team, lost his cool when asked by a reporter to rate the loss.

    "Every loss is (bleeped), that's what every loss is," Jackson said, using a form of profanity he had never been heard to utter previously. "So I characterize every (bleeping) loss the same way."

    More frustration. Running back Marshall Faulk grated at reporters looking for some kind of analysis on what went wrong Sunday.

    "I'm not here to degrade anybody on my team or my coach," Faulk said. "Or say anything out of the ordinary. I'm here to play football. When my number's called I try to produce, and when it's not, I try to help the other guy produce."

    Thanks in part to Leonard Little's first NFL touchdown, on a recovery of a Tom Brady fumble in the end zone, the Rams hung with the Patriots in the first half.

    But three calls by Ed Hochuli's crew drew the ire of Martz, several Rams, and the 81st consecutive sellout crowd in St. Louis:

    -A hit on Bulger by Patriots linebacker Mike Vrabel with 8 1/2 minutes left in the first half appeared to be flagrant.

    -A fumble by Bulger appeared to be out of bounds before being recovered by Jarvis Green with 1:02 to play in the first half.

    -And a hit by Little on Brady appeared to be legal, on the play after the Green "recovery."

    The Rams went 0-for-three on those calls. The combination of the Green fumble recovery and the roughing the passer penalty on Little proved to be a six-point swing. It ended a field-goal opportunity by St. Louis and jump-started a New England field goal drive that left the Patriots with a 19-14 lead at intermission.

    The no-call on Vrabel and the call on Little left Martz particularly frustrated.

    "So I will call Mike Pereira and find out what is a tackle," Martz said sarcastically.

    Pereira is the NFL's supervisor of officials.

    But even with those questionable calls, there are no excuses for what happened in the third quarter, when the Patriots put up 14 points to take an insurmountable 33-14 lead.

    First came the special teams meltdown. A Rams holding penalty on the second-half kickoff pushed St. Louis back to its 10. Next, a wobbly punt by Sean Landeta was returned to the New England 46. The Patriots marched to the Rams' 4, but then "prepared" to kick a field goal on fourth and goal from the 4.

    Prepared, but never kicked. Patriots kicker Adam Vinatieri took a direct snap and launched a TD pass to wide receiver Brown, who was all by his lonesome in the left corner of the end zone.

    Brown ambled toward what was supposed to be the Patriots' huddle, but then ambled over to the left slot, and then moved farther out to the left. Plenty of people saw him - on the Rams sideline, in the press box, and, undoubtedly, in the stands. Just no one on the Rams' field goal block unit.

    "I could see it from the sideline," said Martz, who was seething. "I don't think that was the trickiest thing in the world. I mean, where was he going? To the 'john?'

    "He's running out there to the corner of the end zone. I'm standing way back there (on the sideline) and I can see it. I'm running down there yelling for a time out. ... I mean that's ridiculous, guys. We've got to pay more attention than that, I would think. But I blame myself. Those things you've got to constantly go over."

    Actually, the Rams did go over it - and still were bamboozled.

    "We went over it in practice on Friday," Little said. "We were aware of it as a team. We went over the same situation."

    Jackson WAS on the field, and he was disgusted by what transpired.

    "The coaches can coach their butts off all they want, but when it comes down to playing on the field - once you get on the field, it's on us," Jackson said. "It's on us to see somebody out there, and you've got to get out there and cover the guy. If you don't, he's wide open. Touchdown.

    "That's the turning point of the ballgame. That's the play of the game."

    The hole got deeper when Bulger's pass over the middle was tipped by Willie McGinest and intercepted by Roman Phifer on the Rams' next possession.

    "The throw was a little behind him," Bulger said. "And if you don't put the ball where you want to, things like that happen. It's my fault. If it's another two-feet left, it's a good ball."

    The Patriots took over on the Rams' 21 and were in the end zone four plays later, when cornerback DeJuan Groce whiffed on an attempt to tackle running back Corey Dillon, who scored on a 5-yard TD run.

    The Patriots entered the game not having blown a fourth-quarter lead in 32 straight victories - a league high. It became 33 Sunday.

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  • r8rh8rmike
    Thomas: Rams Rocked By Patriots 45-7
    by r8rh8rmike
    Rams rocked by Patriots 45-7

    8 hours ago • BY JIM THOMAS

    LONDON • As Rams cornerback Cortland Finnegan so aptly put it: "Sometimes you're the bug, and sometimes you're the windshield."

    It wasn't difficult to tell which was which Sunday night in Wembley Stadium.

    The Rams got some sightseeing in during their weeklong stay in the England. Among other things, they saw the Tower of London, and the crown jewels, and Trafalgar Square. What they didn't see was that red, white, and blue truck - complete with windshield - otherwise known as the New England Patriots.

    After a promising start, the Rams were outscored, outplayed and humiliated by the Patriots in a 45-7 loss before a sellout crowd of 84,004

    It was a long way to go to play so poorly. The Rams, now losers of three in a row, fell to 3-5 and have an extra week to stew about it as they enter their bye before returning to action Nov. 11 at San Francisco.

    "There's just days where you're going" to stink, defensive end Chris Long said. "And ... we were terrible. We were also playing a Hall of Famer. So it was a bad day to come out and be below average."

    The Patriots, who pulled the future Hall of Famer - quarterback Tom Brady - with 8 minutes, 20 seconds to go in the fourth quarter, improved to 5-3. Adding insult to injury, they topped 350 yards of offense for the 17th consecutive game, breaking a record they had shared with the Greatest Show on Turf - more precisely, the 2001 Rams team they defeated in Super Bowl XXXVI.

    "They got off to a good start" with the early touchdown, Brady said. "We countered and never looked back."

    Things started promisingly enough for the Rams, who came out in the no-huddle after taking the opening kickoff. Just five plays into the game, quarterback Sam Bradford found wide receiver Chris Givens deep for a 50-yard touchdown pass. It marked the fifth consecutive game Givens had caught a pass of 50 yards or more, setting an NFL rookie record.

    "First time we touch the ball, we go down and score - exactly what we planned to do," Bradford said. "And then it just all felt apart from there."

    The lead lasted as long as fish and chips do at lunchtime around here. Before you could say "Spygate," it was 28-7 Patriots at halftime.

    "I don't know what happened," linebacker James Laurinaitis said. "A lot of things steamrolled against us. We had plays where we just dropped coverages, missed communications. At the end of the day, we're a better defense than this - than what showed."

    En route to a 473-yard day on offense, Brady, tight end Rob Gronkowski and the Patriots' underrated running game couldn't be stopped, or even slowed. The Patriots scored TDs on their first five possessions,...
    -10-28-2012, 09:09 PM
  • RamWraith
    Rams Compete Hard, But Too Many Missed Opportunities
    by RamWraith
    By Howard Balzer
    Monday, October 27, 2008

    It might have been the first loss with Jim Haslett as head coach, but the Rams' 23-16 loss at New England Sunday was one where, to a man, the team knew they had opportunities to win and are now in a different place mentally than they were four weeks ago when 25-point losses were the norm.

    For a while, the Rams were just concerned with keeping games close. Now, they expect to win and are disappointed when they don't. Even without running back Steven Jackson.

    Said rookie defensive end Chris Long, who had two sacks in the loss to the Patriots, “This was a team that a year ago was 18-0 at one point, a great team. I certainly respect the way they do things. For us to come in here and play a tough ball game, you can take some consolation. But we wanted to win the game. It’s disappointing, but we lost to a good team. These guys in the locker room had a lot of good energy and we will be back next week to play hard.”

    Added linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa, “This is a great team we played, and we knew we had to play perfect, and we didn’t play perfect. We were still in it to the end so that attitude’s not going to change throughout the year.”

    What disappointed Haslett and had players shaking their heads were two trips to the red zone inside the 10-yard line that netted only field goals, plus a recovered onside kick, two interceptions and a fourth-and-1 stop that led to just six points.

    In addition, normally outstanding punter Donnie Jones had two poor punts in the fourth quarter that gave the Patriots excellent field position and led to a field goal and touchdown that turned a Rams 16-13 lead into the 23-16 loss.

    Asked if anything is gained by the loss, Haslett said, "I thought we battled them. I thought we played them toe to toe. Again, I think it boiled down to the field position in the fourth quarter. We just lost it and couldn’t get it back. But, I don’t know. What do you gain from it? Guys fought hard. They played hard. They did everything we like. We have to cut out the penalties and we have to somehow get field position back.

    "They do have very good special teams and they probably outplayed our special teams today. (But) there is a lot of good that happened in this game."

    The missed opportunities had to have this team kicking itself Sunday night.

    *On the first possession of the game, after a 75-yard kickoff return was brought back to the 32-yard line because of holding on linebacker Chris Draft, the Rams proceeded to march down the field. Haslett went for a first down on fourth-and-1 from the 41-yard line and Antonio Pittman gained two yards.

    A subsequent 35-yard pass from quarterback Marc Bulger to wide receiver Donnie Avery set the Rams up at the 9-yard line, but on third-and-goal from the 2-yard line, Bulger overthrew wide receiver...
    -10-27-2008, 04:13 PM
  • DJRamFan
    [Patriots] The breakdown? A system failure
    by DJRamFan
    By Ron Borges | November 1, 2004

    PITTSBURGH -- Whatever the Patriots practiced last Friday isn't likely to be the topic of Bill Belichick's news conference today.

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    Belichick went to some lengths to offer up unsolicited last Monday how the Patriots had practiced two days earlier "exactly the situation" his team faced the previous day against the Jets just before halftime, when it marched downfield for what proved to be the winning touchdown. This was not the first time Belichick had talked after a victory of some prescient moment he'd had during one of the team's closed practices a day or two before a game. Always, it seemed, whatever they'd practiced miraculously came to fruition when it counted.

    Well, unless they practiced picking their quarterback up off the ground last Friday, there couldn't have been much they worked on last week that had anything to do with what occurred yesterday at Heinz Field, where the Steelers manhandled the previously undefeated Patriots, 34-20.

    Poor Tom Brady was pummeled all afternoon and so was New England's run defense. So, too, was the prevailing theory that rookie quarterback Ben Roethlisberger would be so mentally taxed by Belichick's schemes and mind-numbing defensive game plan that he would be reduced to a rubber room by halftime. That latter idea went up in smoke when by that point his quarterback rating was 141.7 and his team was leading, 24-10.

    One loss does not a season break, however, and it should be noted this one came with Belichick's troops depleted with running back Corey Dillon, tackle Tom Ashworth, wide receiver Deion Branch, and cornerback Tyrone Poole out before the game began, and cornerback Ty Law and tackle Matt Light joining them on the sideline by halftime. What this may lead to, though, is a shocking lesson for some of the Patriots' more rabid followers.

    Simply put, systems without their best players executing them are considerably less baffling to their opponents than systems with their best players executing them. Asking Law to demonstrate your genius is one thing. Ask Randall Gay to do it and you better have something around to put out the flames.

    Gay, an undrafted rookie free agent, had played well in limited roles the past few weeks but when Law went down with Poole already out Gay was forced to play cornerback for real, which is to say actually on the corner. Just two plays after Gay entered the game, Steelers wide receiver Plaxico Burress entered the end zone with a 47-yard touchdown catch that made it 7-3. Pittsburgh never trailed again.

    "We know when a player like Ty Law goes out of a game," Roethlisberger said. "It's one of those things where we have to keep an eye on who's over there. I said `Let's get the ball to Plaxico.'

    Remarkable though it may seem to some, although not to Brady, he could...
    -11-01-2004, 09:50 AM
  • DJRamFan
    [Patriots] Struggling Brady lives to fight another day
    by DJRamFan
    By Joe Burris, Globe Staff | November 1, 2004

    PITTSBURGH -- Tom Brady got the Patriots off to their usual start yesterday. The quarterback advanced New England steadily downfield on its first drive of the game, and though the drive ended with an Adam Vinatieri 43-yard field goal with 11:39 left in the first quarter, it marked the 15th straight game in which the Patriots scored first.

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    Yet the Patriots repeatedly have insisted that you can't base many conclusions on who scores first, and yesterday proved them correct.

    How decisively did fortune change for Brady & Co.? Consider that with 13 seconds left in the quarter, Brady had a pass intercepted by cornerback Deshea Townsend and returned 39 yards for a touchdown to put Pittsburgh ahead, 21-3, marking the first time the Patriots had allowed 21 points in a quarter since the third quarter against Chicago Nov. 10, 2002.

    The interception also marked the second time in as many drives that the Patriots lined up in an empty-backfield set, and the second time it resulted in a turnover that led to a touchdown.

    On the first play of the previous drive, Brady fumbled while being sacked by linebacker Joey Porter. Defensive end Kimo von Oelhoffen recovered. Five plays later, Pittsburgh scored on a 4-yard pass from Ben Roethlisberger to wide receiver Plaxico Burress to put the Steelers ahead, 14-3.

    "That was the last empty backfield you saw, 0 for 2," said Brady, who tried in vain to lead a team minus its leading rusher, Corey Dillon, who missed the game because of a thigh injury. Brady said, however, that even with Dillon in the lineup, the Patriots would have had their hands full.

    "I think we had a game plan . . . and we just didn't execute the game plan," he said. "No matter if Corey's in there or if Corey's not in there, we still expect to go out there and play. Corey didn't force me to fumble that ball. You have to go with the guys you've got, try to run the ball and take advantage of throwing the ball.

    "We just didn't play the way we're capable," added Brady. "When you don't play the way you're capable against a good team, you lose."

    Brady's performance underscores the point that as he goes, so does New England. Yesterday, he completed 25 of 43 passes for 271 yards and two touchdowns but was intercepted twice and sacked four times for 28 yards.

    The interception that was returned by Townsend marked the first time the Patriots had allowed a defensive touchdown since the 2003 season opener, when Buffalo's Sam Adams returned an interception 37 yards for a score in the Bills' 31-0 triumph. Those miscues, and a balanced Steelers offense, led to the Patriots' first defeat in 22 games.

    "I think the feeling is we have to get back to winning football, playing well and...
    -11-01-2004, 09:51 AM
  • RamWraith
    Rams can't grasp it
    by RamWraith
    By Jim Thomas
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    Monday, Oct. 27 2008
    FOXBOROUGH, MASS. — For the Rams, the game ended when Marc Bulger threw his
    first interception in 85 passing attempts with just over a minute to play.

    But opportunity was lost much earlier in a 23-16 loss to the defending AFC
    champions.

    New England had four possessions — or should have had four — in the third
    quarter Sunday at Gillette Stadium. Something bad happened each time for the
    Patriots:

    — The Rams opened the second half by successfully executing an onside kick,
    with Travis Minor recovering Josh Brown's boot.

    — The next two New England possessions resulted in Matt Cassell throwing
    interceptions; he was picked off first by Oshiomogho Atogwe and then by Fakhir
    Brown.

    — New England's final possession of the quarter ended in a failed fourth-down
    gamble, with

    defensive tackle Clifton Ryan tripping up Patriots running back BenJarvus
    Green-Ellis behind the line of scrimmage.

    As a result, the Rams' offense had excellent field position throughout the
    quarter, starting series on the St. Louis 41, New England 43, St. Louis 42 and
    St. Louis 36. But they got only six points out of all that, on two field goals
    by Brown.

    "We've got to put those in," right guard Richie Incognito said. "It's
    imperative. If we want to win our division, we've got to put those in the end
    zone."

    But instead of putting away the Pats, the Rams let them hang around. The result
    was New England's 13th straight regular-season victory over an NFC team.
    Instead of having a chance to play for first place in the NFC West next week at
    home against Arizona, the Rams are 2-5 and still trying to climb out of that
    0-4 hole that led to coach Scott Linehan's dismissal. Minus Tom Brady, assorted
    running backs and much of its secondary because of injuries, New England (5-2)
    was able to regroup and score the game's final 10 points to erase a 16-13 St.
    Louis lead.

    Playing without Steven Jackson and Adam Carriker, and losing Leonard Little for
    much of the game, the Rams were killed by faulty special teams and bad field
    position in the fourth quarter.

    After Brown's third field goal of the day snapped a 13-13 tie 2˝ minutes into
    the fourth quarter, New England's Ellis Hobbs had a 49-yard kickoff return —
    the longest of the year against the Rams. Donnie Jones, who entered the game as
    the NFL's leading punter, booted one only 29 yards out of bounds (with coach
    Jim Haslett complaining vehemently about the spot).

    A holding penalty by Eric Bassey, promoted to the active roster Tuesday because
    of Todd Johnson's bruised kidney, backed up the...
    -10-27-2008, 04:38 AM
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