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  • Rams' hopes are on ropes

    By Jim Thomas
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Sunday, Dec. 26 2004

    In the immediate aftermath of the Debacle in the Desert, veteran Isaac Bruce
    put things into immediate perspective.

    "There was a lot at stake today," Bruce said as he rummaged through a stack of
    wrapped sandwiches in the visitors' locker room at Sun Devil Stadium. "And next
    week there's going to be a lot at stake as well. We're still in the division,
    and that's the biggest thing that we have to go on right now. Our biggest thing
    is we're still alive. So that's what we have to feed off of."

    But that 31-7 pratfall against Arizona left the Rams with a 6-8 record and
    little margin for error. In fact, following victories Sunday by Seattle (8-7),
    Carolina (7-8) and New Orleans (7-8), there is no margin for error.

    Plain and simple, a loss tonight against Philadelphia eliminates the Rams from
    playoff contention. They could not win the NFC West title. Nor could they claim
    a wild-card berth. Here's why:

    A loss tonight means the best the Rams could finish is 7-9, giving Seattle -
    which can finish no worse than 8-8 - the West division title.

    In the wild-card race, a Rams loss gives Minnesota and the winner of next
    Sunday's Carolina-New Orleans game the NFC's two-wild-card berths.

    Even if the Rams win tonight, they need a victory over the New York Jets next
    Sunday - plus help - to earn their fifth playoff berth in six seasons. But
    there are only two scenarios that work:

    Even at 8-8, the Rams would need a Seattle loss next Sunday against Atlanta to
    win the division title. With both teams at 8-8, the Rams have the tiebreaker
    edge because they swept two division games against the Seahawks.

    If Seattle wins the West by beating Atlanta to finish 9-7, an 8-8 Rams team
    could still make the playoffs as a wild card if Minnesota loses at Washington.
    And that's regardless of who wins the Carolina-New Orleans game.

    "We have to win on Monday to have a chance to get in the playoffs. Period,"
    defensive lineman Tyoka Jackson said. "I can't remember what it's like to win a
    good game around here. I'm glad we're home the last two weeks. But we've
    probably got the best team in football coming into our spot."

    The Rams have won only two games since a Monday night triumph over Tampa Bay on
    Oct. 18, defeating Seattle on Nov. 14 and San Francisco on Dec. 5. Given that
    track record, what reason is there to believe the Rams can win their final two

    "I can give you a lot of reasons," Jackson said. "I've got No. 10 (Marc
    Bulger). I've got 81 (Torry Holt). I've got 80 (Bruce). I've got 76 (Orlando
    Pace). That's a few of them right there. I've got 91 (Leonard Little), 28
    (Marshall Faulk). They'll all be coming on the field."

    Playoff scenarios or not, Bruce has been around St. Louis long enough to know
    that losing to the Cardinals is a no-no to denizens of the Gateway City.

    "It's a big letdown for us," Bruce said. "Big disappointment. But I can assure
    you that next Monday we'll come out and we'll play well. And that's what I
    expect. As a unit, we'll play well."

    Well, "next Monday" is upon us. The Philadelphia Eagles are in town with a 13-1
    record and home-field advantage already assured in the NFC playoffs.

    The Eagles will be without the injured Terrell Owens, their star wide receiver.
    Philly coach Andy Reid has indicated broadly that many of his starters will not
    finish tonight's game at the Edward Jones Dome.

    Why? Because the Eagles have absolutely nothing to gain in terms of playoff
    position in their final two regular-season games. But with an injury list that
    numbered 15 this week, they have everything to lose in terms of banged-up

    But enough about what kind of team the Eagles will line up with tonight. What
    kind of Rams team will show up tonight?

    "We haven't played consistent," Bulger said. "When we have played well on
    offense, we haven't on defense, and vice versa."

    Last week in Arizona, neither side of the ball played well. The Rams' offense
    didn't score a touchdown for the first time in two years.

    "We have too many weapons across the board," Bruce said. "I never thought I'd
    see it. But hopefully, it's the last time I see it."

    All told, the Rams have scored only two offensive touchdowns since Bulger went
    down with a bruised throwing shoulder late in the first quarter against San
    Francisco on Dec. 5. Bulger returns to the starting lineup tonight, as does
    veteran left guard Tom Nutten on a struggling offensive line.

    But points don't figure to come easily against the Philadelphia defense.
    Entering the weekend, the Eagles had allowed only 202 points, the lowest total
    in the NFL this season.

    And which Rams defense will show up? After good outings against Carolina and
    San Francisco, the Rams yielded 31 points and 402 yards to the
    less-than-stellar Arizona offense.

    "They scored 31 points, and I don't know where all those points came from,"
    defensive end Little said. "We can't give up 31 points. All the great defenses,
    they don't give up 31 points no matter what the offense is doing."

    At this point in time, the Rams are several steps short of great - on offense,
    defense or special teams.

  • #2
    Re: Rams' hopes are on ropes

    just to dream for a second...

    wouldn't it be crazy if the Rams win out and the Seahawks lose next week...and the Rams have a home playoff game and win and go on to...

    OK, I'm back now. umm, who are they playing tonight again?

    GO RAMS!


    • #3
      Re: Rams' hopes are on ropes

      It could happen. Remember in 2000, the last week of the season we needed to beat the Saints, and Chicago needed to beat Detroit? Well it happened and we backed into the playoffs!

      Keep the Faith!

      We can beat Philly’s second string, can’t we?


      • #4
        Re: Rams' hopes are on ropes

        Since you asked....

        I'm not sure if we can beat Philly's practice squad.


        • #5
          Re: Rams' hopes are on ropes

          Hope on a Rope, by Old Spice.


          • #6
            Re: Rams' hopes are on ropes

            The Jets have a playoff spot on the line against the Rams. They aren't going to be "resting" anyone. The rope-a-dope only worked for Ali.


            • #7
              Re: Rams' hopes are on ropes

              Whatever, bring it on. It's actually better that the Jets are coming to play.

              If the Rams win this Monday Nighter, I would much prefer looking forward to a home game, against a good team that has something to play for, and let's go toe to toe for a shot at the playoffs in the final game of the year. Most seasons, that is what you would ask for at least...still in the hunt going into the final game.

              Just pull off this game tonight, and make a good showing next week (win or lose, because even with a win they need a Seattle or Min loss), and I would be happy.

              Anything less would make for a long off-season.


              • #8
                Re: Rams' hopes are on ropes

                Originally posted by sbramfan
                Just pull off this game tonight, and make a good showing next week (win or lose, because even with a win they need a Seattle or Min loss), and I would be happy.
                I'm not going to get over my unhappiness at the fact that the Rams have to go around with their hands out begging someone else to do them another favor all that easily. If that's what it takes, I'm game to grease Seattle's palm however to get them to lose their last one.


                • #9
                  Re: Rams' hopes are on ropes

                  Regardless of what happens at home the next two weeks, Seattle will be playing at home against a Falcons team that will be resting Vick. Schaub will start and their offense looked dreadful with him in there yesterday. With two wins, a Minnesota loss is our only hope... :upset:


                  • #10
                    Re: Rams' hopes are on ropes

                    Actually, the Falcons are playing all of their starters.


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                    • RamWraith
                      Rams need a magic ride to add up to playoff berth
                      by RamWraith
                      By Bryan Burwell
                      ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
                      Monday, Nov. 14 2005

                      This was not how it was supposed to be. All around the visitor's locker room in
                      Seattle, the Rams quietly sorted through their belongings and began stuffing
                      them and their regrets into garment bags and shoulder sacks for the long ride
                      home. The game was over, the race for the NFC West was reduced to a pipe dream,
                      and the Rams were suddenly staring at a second-half itinerary full of

                      "I'm mad right now, but I can tell you one thing for sure, this season is far
                      from over," Tyoka Jackson said. "We blew a chance to get back in this playoff
                      hunt, but we got some help because several teams lost games, too. We know we're
                      not out of it. I may not know very much, but I do know that."

                      The Rams are 4-5 with seven games to play, and all we have to go with is the
                      evidence in front of us. Right now, the Rams look like an 8-8 team, tempting
                      you with promise one game (beating Jacksonville), only to frustrate you with
                      maddening failures (Seattle) the next. This loss to Seattle - just like the
                      opening-season loss to the woeful ***** - probably are going to be the ones
                      that will keep them out of the playoffs.

                      Yet even with those wasted opportunities, the Rams still have a chance to alter
                      our beliefs that they've already defined themselves as a frustrating
                      middle-of-the-road pretenders. The opportunity is still there for a little old
                      championship magic to resurface and produce an improbable late-season surge to
                      the postseason.

                      "I don't look at the standings, to be perfectly honest," Marc Bulger said after
                      the loss Sunday. "But our goal is still to win this division. It can still
                      happen. One thing I've learned is that crazy things can happen. Remember last
                      year when we were 6-8 and everyone thought we were dead? Well we ended up in
                      the playoffs, didn't we? So maybe history can repeat itself."

                      Maybe it can, but the Rams are running short on time. They have put themselves
                      in the demanding position of probably having to win six out of their last seven
                      games to even get a crack at one of those wild-card slots. The road to revival
                      begins Sunday at home against the Arizona Cardinals and The Man Whose Name Must
                      Never Be Spoken (my little Harry Potter homage to quarterback who used to play
                      here; I made a promise after the last Cardinal game that I would let this QB
                      rivalry thing go, so I will not stir the pot anymore on the MVP who used to
                      play here; I will not dredge up his name as a cheap trick to sell papers, stir
                      up controversy or re-open unhealed wounds ... well, at least not until Friday).

                      The simple math says...
                      -11-15-2005, 05:25 AM
                    • RamWraith
                      Rams Must Take Long Road to Playoffs
                      by RamWraith
                      Monday, November 14, 2005

                      By Nick Wagoner
                      Senior Writer

                      After Sunday’s loss in Seattle dropped the Rams to 4-5 on the season, it became clear that the Seahawks have finally staked their claim to the NFC West Division title.

                      With a strong possibility that Seattle will claim the division based on its three-game lead and tiebreaker advantages over St. Louis, the Rams must now find an alternate path to the postseason.

                      That path will probably consist of a similar trail to the one the Rams had to travel last season when they sneaked in as a wild card at 8-8 while Seattle won the division at 9-7.

                      Considering the level of competition and amount of teams competing for a spot in the NFC, that task will be much more difficult than last season.

                      But coach Joe Vitt said the Rams aren’t ready to pack it in after their 31-16 loss to the Seahawks.

                      “When these guys came in today we didn’t put candles in the room, have organ music playing and violins and the Grim Reaper around the corner,” Vitt said. “We lost a football game yesterday through our own mistakes, through needless penalties, (we’ll) discuss them, coach them, be accountable for them and then we have to move on. That’s what it is. There is nothing I can do about the past except learn from it and come back here Wednesday. We get to go to practice; we don’t have to do anything. We have been doing this job since we were in seventh and eighth grade playing football. Now we are getting paid for it. Why should that change our approach? We get to play a game this weekend, I am excited about that.”

                      Vitt expressed that message to the team Monday morning, though that address was probably slightly more, ahem, colorful. So long as the team embraces that attitude, there is still a realistic possibility for the Rams to get back into the playoff hunt.

                      St. Louis’ schedule shapes up favorably for the final seven games. Heading into Monday night’s game feature Philadelphia against Dallas, the Rams’ final seven opponents have a combined record of 23-38 with only Dallas having a winning record.

                      The Rams also benefit from having the chance to play four teams that are still in position to reach the postseason with games remaining against the Cowboys, Eagles, Washington and Minnesota. Of those games, the Rams get Philadelphia and Washington at home. Wins in those games would not only boost the Rams’ record, but also give them a decided advantage were it to come down to tiebreakers.

                      “I don’t think we are in trouble,” free safety Mike Furrey said. “We still have seven games left. There is a long way to go. We have four out of seven at home. We are all right.”

                      It’s probably safe to say that eight wins simply won’t get it done this year as it did last. It’s also possible that nine wins would also fall short.

                      As it stands, there are...
                      -11-15-2005, 05:25 AM
                    • RamWraith
                      Goals for Rams: Get to high side of .500, build momentum
                      by RamWraith
                      BY JEFF GORDON
                      Monday, Nov. 14 2005

                      The reinvigorated Rams played good enough to beat a lot of teams Sunday -– but
                      not the Seahawks, not in Seattle.

                      So where does this leave Team Vitt? Needing to win six of their last seven
                      games to outrun the massive pack of NFC wild-card contenders and reach
                      postseason play.

                      There is a chance the conference will beat it self up so thoroughly that a 9-7
                      team could earn a wild-card berth this season. That possibility was illustrated
                      Sunday, when the Vikings beat the Giants and the Packers handled the Falcons.

                      How many of you bet the NFC North teams to win those games?

                      Mix in the contender-on-contender action -– like NFC South hopeful Tampa Bay
                      edging NFC contender Washington on Sunday -– and you can see how the playoff
                      race could bog down.

                      Bur the Rams are 4-5. At this point, they must focus on the good things that
                      happened Sunday and build the mindset of a winner.

                      The Rams are a different team with Marc Bulger throwing to Torry Holt. Steven
                      Jackson is still a powerful weapon that balances the offense.

                      Wasn’t it nice to see Marshall Faulk finally used as a serious receiving
                      threat? He can still do some damage when he gets the ball in space.

                      We liked the use of the tight ends, too, right up to the point when Brandon
                      Manumaleuna fumbled the ball away.

                      So there is a lot there, despite the losing record. The defense still has
                      issues, but it should be good enough to earn a few key stops and force a
                      takeaway or two during the course of the game. From here on out, the defense
                      has to be just sturdy enough to allow the offense to win games.

                      Here is how the rest of the season plays out:

                      Arizona at home. The Cardinals are a mess. Old friend Kurt Warner threw the
                      ball around pretty good against the Lions on Sunday, but the Gridbirds
                      struggled to finish off their drives while the game was on the line. This team
                      doesn’t run the ball very well, either. So the Rams should bank this victory
                      and move back to .500.

                      At Houston. The Texans are truly dreadful. They cannot run or pass the ball
                      very well. The Dom Capers Death March is well underway. Fans in South Texas are
                      talking about which USC superstar to draft and which offensive genius to hire
                      as the next coach. The Rams should win this game and move over .500 at 6-5.

                      Washington at home. This will be a tough game. Coach Joe Gibbs got himself in
                      tune with today’s NFL. The Redskins are in the playoff hunt and quarterback
                      Mark Brunell is making some plays. But he will also make the big mistake when
                      pressured. If the Rams have all their weapons,...
                      -11-14-2005, 04:21 PM
                    • RamWraith
                      Rams switch focus to race for wild card
                      by RamWraith
                      By Jim Thomas
                      ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
                      Monday, Nov. 14 2005

                      The Rams lost any reasonable chance to win the NFC West on Sunday in Seattle.
                      But with seven games left to play, this is no time to pack it in and start
                      planning vacation trips in January and February.

                      Interim head coach Joe Vitt did everything in his power to stress that point
                      Monday, and he did so in vintage "Jersey Joe" style.

                      "When these guys came in the (meeting) room today, we didn't put candles in the
                      room, and have organ music playing, and violins, and the Grim Reaper around the
                      corner," Vitt said Monday.

                      Translation: Even at 4-5, all is not lost for the 2005 Rams.

                      On the one hand, the Rams' fourth division title in seven seasons appears out
                      of reach. At 7-2, Seattle could stumble down the stretch. But the Rams realize
                      that's a very long long shot.

                      "The way they're playing, that's going to be tough to see," wide receiver Torry
                      Holt said. "But I know one thing: what we can handle is our end of the deal."

                      On the other hand, even if the division title no longer is a realistic goal,
                      there are two wild-card playoff berths to be had in the NFC.

                      "We've got a whole lot to play for," defensive end Leonard Little said. "We
                      could win 11 games, go 11-5 or whatever."

                      The Rams would have to run the table over the rest of the regular season to
                      make that happen. Realistically speaking, the Rams probably must win six of
                      seven to earn their sixth playoff berth in seven seasons.

                      As quarterback Marc Bulger put it: "We don't have much margin for error
                      anymore. We've got to start winning games. If we don't win the division for
                      some reason, we've got to put ourselves in a position to get a (wild-card)
                      playoff spot."

                      Entering the Dallas-Philadelphia Monday night game, nine teams had better
                      records than St. Louis. Four of those nine probably will end up winning
                      division titles, leaving St. Louis the task of somehow moving ahead of four
                      other teams to earn a wild-card berth.

                      The task is daunting, but not impossible. For one, there are a whopping 17
                      head-to-head matches remaining among those nine teams currently ahead of St.
                      Louis. Somebody has to lose those games, which gives the Rams a chance to make
                      up ground if they can start stringing together victories.

                      But this year, it will take more than eight victories to grab a wild-card. Last
                      season, both Minnesota and the Rams claimed wild-card berths at 8-8 in what was
                      a very weak NFC. Records were deflated in the NFC because of a near-record
                      dominance by the AFC in inter-conference play. The AFC...
                      -11-15-2005, 05:26 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

                      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, 11:22 PM