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  • Rams are one bad team in loss to Packers - and that's not good

    By Bryan Burwell
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    11/30/2004

    With an entire football nation serving as witnesses, the Rams showed us on "Monday Night Football" that they are playing like a team that doesn't want to be in the playoffs, and now clearly doesn't deserve the privilege, either.

    What else can you conclude after watching the Rams turn their primetime showdown against the Green Bay Packers into a painful and embarrassing comedy of errors that led to a 45-17 loss in storied Lambeau Field? The Rams came into this game with a chance to not only reclaim the division lead in the sorry NFC West but also to re-establish themselves as a good football team.

    By the end of the night, they had failed miserably at both tasks.

    The 5-6 Rams are a bad football team. Getting bludgeoned on national television by 28 points is proof enough on its own. But over six weeks, the Rams have lost four of their past five games by scores of 31-14, 40-22, 37-17 and 45-17. That's proof beyond a reasonable doubt. That is evidence so damning that the Rams brass ought to be busy making plans for the NFL draft and stop wasting their time trying to figure out what sort of miracles must be conjured up to reach the NFL playoffs.

    The Rams are so bad at this point that in a division where the sorry, fraudulent and incredibly inconsistent Seattle Seahawks treat the division lead with all the respect of dirt under their fingernails, the Rams still can't lead this weak NFC West.

    All the old familiar patterns of self-inflicted abuse were in full effect Monday night. Don't blame it on any mystical Lambeau magic or the remarkable will of Packers living legend Brett Favre, who certainly lit up the Rams defense. Don't blame it on the cold weather or playing on the road, or any other convenient excuse.

    This was not about any of that. This was about the Rams and their absolute inability to win games that matter. This was the sort of game they used to win with startling regularity. These were the sort of games the old championship-tested Rams used to win in their sleep. They were 8-0 in prime time since the 2002 season, but things have changed a lot since then, haven't they? This 2004 Rams team is filled with players who don't understand how to win anymore. The championship roster has dwindled down to a precious too few seasoned veterans who know what it takes to seize championship opportunity.

    It's been a while since we've seen stuff like this in Rams Nation, so let us refresh your memories in these dying days of a dynasty on the decline. This was a game that perfectly illustrates how bad teams play against good ones. Bad teams allow good teams to beat them.

    Another pedestrian running back had a career game against this porous and clueless defense. Add the not-so-legendary Najeh Davenport to the list of opposing tailbacks who have romped through the Rams as if they were Jim Brown. Davenport, a career backup who never rushed for more than 100 yards in a game in his undistinguished three-year NFL career, gained 178 of the Packers' 231 rushing yards.

    Is there something in Larry Marmie's defensive schemes that prohibits safeties and linebackers from going anywhere near tight ends whenever they get near the end zone? For some reason, 6-foot-6, 285-pound Bubba Franks, who is roughly the size of a beachfront condominium, was WIDE OPEN on a 7-yard TD in the second quarter that put the Packers ahead 14-3. This, of course, is a disturbing pattern that was seen against Buffalo, Miami, San Francisco and Seattle, when tight ends seemed to always go uncovered.

    On a night when the Rams gained more than 400 yards of total offense, and Marc Bulger passed for more than 400 yards, the Rams had too many drive-killing breakdowns. By the end of the night, the Rams had committed three fumbles (two lost), a missed field goal, an interception in the end zone, a botched fake field goal, four sacks and seven penalties.

    And when the offense wasn't busy teasing us, the defense was just flat out annoying us. It's tough enough for the Rams offense to overcome its mistakes and those of the ineffective special teams (which, by the way, were relatively harmless Monday night). But Bulger and company cannot be expected to constantly battle back from the holes that Marmie's awful defense keeps putting them in.

    This is just a bad defense. There are no qualifications, no explanations, no more rationalizations. This defense stinks. It can no longer stop even the most modest running game. How do you explain how the Packers could end up churning out 446 yards of total offense and 231 yards rushing with starting tailback Ahman Green on the inactive list? How do you explain how a marginal, career backup like Davenport could stomp his way through the Rams for a career day on a bad hammy?

    The Rams will still cling to the notion that this season is not a dead issue because of the parity of the weak NFC. But we all know better. This is a team on a rapid slide going in the wrong direction. This is a team that repeatedly has wasted so many chances to prove it's a good team. It was another annoying microcosm of this mediocre season. They do just enough to tease you, just enough to give you false hope. Then the second your hope is restored, they drop a stinker on you like this one to remind you why they are such an obviously flawed team.

    The only question that remains now is just how much faster and how much further this team will descend before the season ends.

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  • DJRamFan
    [Packers] Packers timing it just right
    by DJRamFan
    Green Bay has won five straight since it flopped in its last appearance on 'Monday Night Football'


    By Todd McMahon
    News-Chronicle
    There was a time, not long ago, when a general consensus had formed that the Green Bay Packers' time was all but up in the 2004 season.

    They left a national TV audience equal parts flabbergasted and appalled the evening of Oct. 11. The Tennessee Titans stormed Lambeau Field and battered the Packers into submission by way of a 48-27 defeat, the most points ever surrendered by the home team at its sacred stadium.

    Like that, the two-time reigning NFC North champions had sunk to the unfathomable low of being at the bottom of the division with a 1-4 record spun out of a four-game losing streak.

    That was the last time the Packers had a co-starring role on ABC's "Monday Night Football." My, how the times have changed in the seven weeks leading up to their return engagement - and there's more to it than the network's catching flak for one of its desperate housewives baring herself to Philadelphia star receiver Terrell Owens in a recent pregame locker-room spoof.

    At 8 tonight, the coast-to-coast TV audience will be introduced to a Green Bay team that has taken on a new, albeit familiar identity. All the Packers have been doing since bombing in their last "MNF" episode is win.

    They put a five-game winning streak on the line against St. Louis (5-5) at Lambeau Field. At stake for the 6-4 Packers is maintaining a hold on the NFC North lead, a concept that seemed a pipe dream in the wake of the debacle against the Titans.

    "We know how it feels to be 1-4. That feels pretty bad. We've been through that, and we don't want to go back there," said right guard Marco Rivera.

    No turning, or looking, back is precisely the outlook head coach Mike Sherman drilled into his players' heads Wednesday morning. It was his first meeting with the team since addressing it late last Sunday night, following its gritty 16-13 comeback win at Houston in another prime-time game.

    He paralleled what transpired in those four quarters to how the Packers' season has unfolded to date.

    A 13-3 deficit through a dismal three quarters mirrored their 1-4 start in the win-loss ledger. "In that game, things weren't looking very good," Sherman reflected.

    Lo and behold, the Packers caught fire in the final 15 minutes to score 13 unanswered points, pulling out the victory on Ryan Longwell's 46-yard field goal as time expired. A microcosm of how they've rallied in the past month and a half to string together the five wins.

    "The guys hung together throughout the game; they believed in themselves," Sherman continued with the analogy. "You're down 13-3 going into the fourth quarter, and guys battled back. I thought...
    -11-29-2004, 01:21 PM
  • RamWraith
    Despite their 5-5 record, Rams can make playoffs
    by RamWraith
    By Jim Thomas
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Sunday, Nov. 28 2004

    GREEN BAY, Wis. - They manhandled San Francisco in the first half on Oct. 3.
    Staged a fourth-quarter comeback of historic proportions in Seattle on Oct. 10.
    Two weeks ago in the Seattle rematch, the Rams put on a first-quarter offensive
    display reminiscent of the Greatest Show on Turf.

    But in terms of dominance in 2004, that's about it for the Rams. It's been a
    season of one step forward, one backward, adding up to a well-deserved 5-5
    record.

    "We've been like a roller coaster this year," defensive tackle Ryan Pickett
    said. "We haven't had much consistency, and that's what we're trying to do now.
    We're trying to find our identity. We can't be up and down. We can't play when
    we feel like it."

    With six games remaining and a lot left to play for, can the Rams finally kick
    it in gear? Are they even capable of finding that gear?

    "I'm hoping it starts Monday night," wide receiver Torry Holt said Saturday.
    "I'm really tired of the talking, because it's the same thing each week. We're
    preparing well. We're doing this well. We're doing that well.

    "Then we get out in the game and we start well, and then we have some mishaps.
    Now is the time to shut up and put up. So I'm going to see how we respond on
    Monday."

    Despite all of the pratfalls and setbacks, the Rams would qualify as a
    wild-card team if the playoffs started today.

    "I've mentioned that to them," coach Mike Martz said. "That's the reality of
    the situation, and they have to appreciate that. We have control of our own
    destiny at this point. And that has to mean something to them."

    Granted, this probably isn't the year the Rams make it to the Super Bowl. But
    given all they've gone through - including several left guards, a few right
    tackles, too many safeties to count, and some disastrous special-teams play -
    simply making the playoffs for the fifth time in six seasons would be an
    accomplishment. And once you get in Paul Tagliabue's postseason pageant, who
    knows?

    "We're not happy with where we're at," quarterback Marc Bulger said. "That's
    pretty obvious."

    But, Bulger added, "We're not sitting here at 2-8. We're not where we need to
    be, but as bad as we've played, we're still in a position to make the
    playoffs."

    The NFL games on Thursday and Sunday only helped the Rams' postseason hopes.
    The New York Giants fell to 5-6 with a loss to Philadelphia. Tampa Bay, New
    Orleans, Arizona, Chicago and Detroit all fell to 4-7 with defeats.

    Most...
    -11-29-2004, 04:15 AM
  • Guest's Avatar
    Despite their 5-5 record, Rams can make playoffs
    by Guest
    Despite their 5-5 record, Rams can make playoffs
    By Jim Thomas
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    11/28/2004

    GREEN BAY, Wis. - They manhandled San Francisco in the first half on Oct. 3. Staged a fourth-quarter comeback of historic proportions in Seattle on Oct. 10. Two weeks ago in the Seattle rematch, the Rams put on a first-quarter offensive display reminiscent of the Greatest Show on Turf.

    But in terms of dominance in 2004, that's about it for the Rams. It's been a season of one step forward, one backward, adding up to a well-deserved 5-5 record.

    "We've been like a roller coaster this year," defensive tackle Ryan Pickett said. "We haven't had much consistency, and that's what we're trying to do now. We're trying to find our identity. We can't be up and down. We can't play when we feel like it."

    With six games remaining and a lot left to play for, can the Rams finally kick it in gear? Are they even capable of finding that gear?

    "I'm hoping it starts Monday night," wide receiver Torry Holt said Saturday. "I'm really tired of the talking, because it's the same thing each week. We're preparing well. We're doing this well. We're doing that well.

    "Then we get out in the game and we start well, and then we have some mishaps. Now is the time to shut up and put up. So I'm going to see how we respond on Monday."

    Despite all of the pratfalls and setbacks, the Rams would qualify as a wild-card team if the playoffs started today.

    "I've mentioned that to them," coach Mike Martz said. "That's the reality of the situation, and they have to appreciate that. We have control of our own destiny at this point. And that has to mean something to them."

    Granted, this probably isn't the year the Rams make it to the Super Bowl. But given all they've gone through - including several left guards, a few right tackles, too many safeties to count, and some disastrous special-teams play - simply making the playoffs for the fifth time in six seasons would be an accomplishment. And once you get in Paul Tagliabue's postseason pageant, who knows?

    "We're not happy with where we're at," quarterback Marc Bulger said. "That's pretty obvious."

    But, Bulger added, "We're not sitting here at 2-8. We're not where we need to be, but as bad as we've played, we're still in a position to make the playoffs."

    The NFL games on Thursday and Sunday only helped the Rams' postseason hopes. The New York Giants fell to 5-6 with a loss to Philadelphia. Tampa Bay, New Orleans, Arizona, Chicago and Detroit all fell to 4-7 with defeats.

    Most important, NFC West-leading Seattle fell to 6-5 after getting spanked by visiting Buffalo 38-9. So if the Rams can stretch their prime-time winning streak to nine...
    -11-28-2004, 10:22 PM
  • Nick
    Burwell: Young Rams weren't ready for spotlight
    by Nick
    Burwell: Young Rams weren't ready for spotlight
    BY BRYAN BURWELL, Post-Dispatch Sports Columnist | Posted: Monday, January 3, 2011 11:10 am

    SEATTLE Of all the noise that they expected to hear on Sunday night at Qwest Field, this was the one the young Rams never imagined.

    It was the morgue-like silence of a season coming to a sudden end. In the visitors' locker room under the southern end of the stadium, here's what the end sounded like. There was a distant hiss of the showers, not the joyful sound of players laughing. It was the sound of crates of equipment being slammed, with shoulder pads and helmets, dirty laundry bags and dog-eared game plans being tucked away until next year.

    But the worst of it was this, the sound of all these players who only a few hours earlier were convinced that their improbable season would stretch on for another week, now trying to explain why it was all over.

    "The biggest disappointment is to come into this game, that was a must-win, winner-takes-all and we come up short," said Steven Jackson, his voice as glum as a funeral sermon in the aftermath of a 16-6 loss to the Seattle Seahawks. "And now the season is over so abruptly."

    One season removed from being considered the worst team in football - a 1-15 mess that looked even worse than the record indicated - the Rams were sitting on an opportunity on Sunday night to complete one of the craziest one-season turnarounds you could have imagined.

    Beat the Seahawks on the road, finish with an 8-8 record then head home with the NFC West title in your hands and a home playoff game Saturday afternoon in the Edward Jones Dome.

    It could have been a turnaround for the ages, but instead they will have to settle for a more appropriate improvement for a franchise that had fallen down so far. Nothing shameful in a 7-9 finish. Nothing shameful about a team that now gives you hope and shows all sorts of promise for the future.

    But these young Rams walked out the stadium Sunday night knowing that it could have been so much better. They left knowing that the job was incomplete.

    There's no way they should have lost like this, scoring only six points against one of the worst defenses in football. There's no way it should have ended like this, with somebody named Charlie Whitehurst, a journeyman quarterback with no particular NFL pedigree, using his arm and legs to lead the staggering, stumbling, dead-men-walking Seahawks to this ugly victory.

    But the longer this night dragged on, the more puzzling it got, the more confusing and frustrating it felt. What happened to the steadily maturing young Rams who seemed primed to rise up to this modest championship moment? What happened to this nationally televised, prime-time coming-out party for a franchise that was aching to show the pro football world just how much better...
    -01-03-2011, 11:26 AM
  • RamWraith
    Packers give the Rams extra motivation
    by RamWraith
    By Jim Thomas
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    Sunday, Dec. 16 2007

    For the past couple of months, the Rams have been under the radar, out of sight
    and basically out of mind in NFL circles. That's what happens when you open the
    season with eight straight losses.

    On Sunday, the Rams play somebody from the other side of the tracks. For only
    the second time since October, the Rams play a team with a winning record. And
    it's not just any team. It's the Green Bay Packers, arguably the most storied
    franchise in NFL history.

    At 11-2, Green Bay can clinch a first-round bye with a victory, coupled with a
    Seattle loss (or tie) at Carolina. A Green Bay tie and a Seattle loss also does
    the trick.

    The incomparable Brett Favre, at age 38, can surpass one of the NFL's biggest
    passing milestones if he throws for 184 yards Sunday at the Edward Jones Dome.
    That total will allow Favre to break Dan Marino's record for career passing
    yards, set at 61,361.

    Even at age 33 and in his 12th NFL season, defensive tackle La'Roi Glover
    admits to being a bit more energized than usual because of the caliber of the
    opponent.

    "The motivation is there because of who Brett Favre is and the things he's been
    able to accomplish in the NFL," Glover said. "So it's going to be a little
    heightened excitement."

    But it's not as if the Rams are going to seek out Favre's autograph during TV
    timeouts.

    "He's a quarterback who is good at what he does," running back Steven Jackson
    said. "But you can't get caught up in that. We are playing the Green Bay
    Packers. If you are in awe of who you're playing, then that's a loss already.
    We have to go out and take care of business."

    As for Favre's pending record, which can be achieved at the Rams' expense with
    that modest total of 184 yards?

    "I'm not worried about Brett Favre setting any type of records," cornerback Ron
    Bartell said. "I'm worried about getting the win. He's set so many records in
    his career, who cares about if he passes for 180 yards? I just want to get a
    win."

    For the Rams, 3-10 and officially out of playoff consideration, getting a
    victory will be no mean feat. Not only are the Packers ranked No. 3 in the NFL
    in total offense, they come to St. Louis with the league's ninth-ranked
    defense. With a special teams unit that ranks in the top 10 in most major
    categories, the Packers have few soft spots.

    "They can run the ball. They've got, to me, the greatest passer that's ever
    played the game," defensive coordinator Jim Haslett said. "And they've got
    great receivers. So we have our work cut out...
    -12-16-2007, 08:54 AM
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