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Rams choke seachickens 33-31; The Good, Bad and Ugly

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  • Rams choke seachickens 33-31; The Good, Bad and Ugly

    Apologies to everyone for the delay in writing my weekly summary. I was on a plane during the game and was finally able to watch the replay between midnight and 3am last night.

    The Rams battled through some severe adversity on Sunday to choke the seachickens 33-31 in a brutally hard fought division road game to push their record to 5-0 and their division lead to a full three games. Championship caliber teams win games when they are not at their best and the Rams simply found a way to win this one in part by saving their best defense for when it mattered most and in part due to some extremely bold decisions by Coach McVay. The Rams lost Cooks and Kupp in the first half, suffered through some horrific officiating, saw their stud young quarterback come back to earth a bit after his perfect performance last week against Minnesota, scored three points total on two trips to the one yard line, missed an extra point, threw an interception in the end zone, lost the turnover battle two to zero, allowed 7 conversions in 12 tries on third down, had two key sacks late in the game negated by penalties in the secondary, watched Peters get torched all game (including for two td's), gave up 190 yards rushing, allowed Wilson a passer rating of over 132, could not kick off deep, self destructed out of scoring range at the end of the first half, and still found a way to emerge victorious in just about the most hostile road environment in the NFL. This game is really a high quality win and something the squad and coaching staff should feel good about, despite all the obvious areas for improvement.

    The Good

    Overall, Goff played well, albeit not close to the vikings game. He was 23-32-321 with one td, 2 int's, 2 fumbles and a passer rating of 88.2. He also had one nice scramble for 12 yards and a big first down. A couple of drops kept the numbers from being better and the interception in the end zone to Gurley certainly hurt. The second interception was a hail mary at the end of the first half. Kupp dropped a ball at the three yard line on a low throw that could have been a td and cooks failed to hold onto the throw where he got his bell rung (more on that later). The interception in the end zone was a clear hold on Gurley, the defender had his arm completely draped around Gurley's torso, and the deflection was unlucky, but the throw could have been a lot better. He missed Woods at around the five yard line as well. His mystery fumble in the last 30 seconds of the first half effectively knocked us out of field goal range, coupled with the false start and the negative run. At the end of the day, he drove the team when he needed to and got the big go ahead field goal and let's not forget that we did score 33 points, many of which we directly related to some very nice throws. He certainly was not helped by playing the second half without kupp and cooks, although Hodge made a huge catch for 14 yards on the last drive and Reynolds had three nice plays in a row (2 catches and a run). Goff can play better, and i am sure he would be the first one to tell you that, but if he never plays any worse than this, we will be in pretty good shape. I loved his emotion after the game clinching qb sneak which he converted with plenty of room to spare and i also liked that in the post game news conference, when asked if he had anything special to say to the guys in the huddle before the fourth down sneak, he said yes and then when asked what he said, his response was something like "....I am not telling what i said, it was huddle talk." Every week he is starting to look more and more like a real leader and seems unflappable. Sure, the offensive line is giving him time and playing great, but he was under pressure a number of times and kept his poise. His checkdowns to gurley improved this week as well.

    Gurley was excellent with 22-77 3 td's and 4 catches for 36 yards. He got some terrible spots on the second and third down plays at the end, i thought both were first downs. It was hard running out there Sunday and Gurley was more than solid.

    I thought that Suh and Littleton both played very well. Suh had 7 tackles a sack, had another sack negated by penalty, and caused the big holding penalty on fluker at the end, which was a 100% clear hold notwithstanding the whining by fluker and pete carroll after the game. Littleton had 7 tackles, two passes defended including a huge knock down on the last seattle drive, and another blocked punt. He now leads all active nfl players with 4 blocked punts. Barron had 9 tackles in his return performance. Credit to hodge and reynolds for stepping in. Troy Hill and Shields each had nice pass breackups (Hill's was really beautiful, Shields was a few inches from a pick six). Longacre had a sack called back by penalty. Donald had one sack and was held all game long (more on that later in my comments on the officiating).

    Santos made the huge 39 yard field goal that proved to be the game winner. Have to give him kudos for that kick. I doubt Ficken hits that one.

    Woods was tremendous, especially after cooks and kupp went out. Finished with 5-92 and a 60 yard run as well. Was open on other routes, one of which goff missed. Had a key block on one of the Gurley td runs. Kupp was 6-90 with a TD before going out at half. Kupp did miss a catchable td late in the second quarter. Higbee (interesting catch on a deflected ball) and Everett showed a collective pulse with five combined catches for 50 yards, including a really tough grab by Everett down at the 1 yard line.

    The offensive line played very well yet again, allowing only one sack (whitworth got beat early be frank clark). We rushed 30-155 and generally gave Goff time to throw, although we did fail to convert on some short yardage plays that could have cost us the game. At this point. the OLINE remains the key to our team. Our skill position players are awesome, but it's the big guys up front that are making it all possible for the weapons to assert their skills. Saffold and Sullivan just paved the road on one of Gurley's td's and Sullivan got the big push with the game on the line for the critical fourth down and inches conversion on the Goff qb sneak.

    McVay deserves credit for boldness in addition to the Balls of Steel award. He went for it on fourth and 2 in the fourth quarter and we converted via a pass interference penalty against woods. With the game on the line, after Pete Carroll called a time out giving McVay and the coaches a chance to think about it and be lobbied by some of the players, McVay called the qb sneak from his own 43 yard line which ended the game. I think given all the circumstances, that was absolutely the right call, but most coaches punt the ball away in that situation. I will take my chances up 2 points on the road with wilson killing us with play action and peters getting torched all day with Goff sneaking six inches every time, given our offensive line. I was so glad that he went for the sneak rather than the handoff to gurley which would have given the chickens a better chance of getting penetration as they had done on other short yardage plays during the game.

    We scored 33 points, had 30 first downs, averaged 7.4 yards per play, ran 30 times for 155 yards, only punted once (our first possession of the game) and had 468 total yards. If we dont screw up twice on the one yard line, this game is over earlier. We outscored the chickens 9-0 in the fourth quarter and while the defense obviously struggled all game long, it played its best once again with the game on the line in the fourth quarter and stopped the chickens when they had to.

    I thought countess looked good on special teams (4 kickoff returns for 98 yards, caught the blocked punt and had a nice tackle on a kickoff return)


    The Bad

    7 penalties for 45 yards, including some really dumb ones (ie the personal foul on troy hill) and a couple of false starts.
    The Pass Rush was not good today, we had 2 sacks (two more called back by penalty). We really need to continue to improve on the pass rush, notwithstanding the uncalled holding.
    The two Goff fumbles, Kupp drop, and ineffective red zone play on two possessions were bad. We got no points after the early blocked punt when Goff threw the INT in the end zone despite having a first and goal at the five yard line and after the third quarter gurley td run was reversed on replay, we failed to convert on third and goal at the one when gurley ran into a brick wall, leading to the 19 yard field goal in a very conservative move by McVay.

    Going minus 2 on the turnover ratio is usually a very bad thing that can often cost you the game. Fortunately, that was not the case today.

    Third down defense was really bad again and could easily go into the ugly category. Chickens converted 7-12 after going 0-10 against arizona the week before. So many of our defensive problems in my view are being caused by our inability to get off the field on third down, both conversions and stupid penalties.

    I didn't like the sight of Gurley and Littleton jawing at each other on the sideline, although i appreciate the emotion of the moment.
    Lousy job all day covering Lockett.
    Joyner went for a big hit and missed what i thought was an interception he should have made.
    The Defense gave up 31 points, 20 first downs, 373 yards and allowed wilson to go 13-21-198 with 3 td's and a rating of a little over 132 (more on the defense in the ugly section)

    We were 3-9 on third down which is bad for our offense. We did of course convert on two fourth downs which make the numbers look better, 5-11 is good if you want to look at it that way.

    Bad use of timeouts in the second half, which was partially bad luck because the head set was not working correctly for Goff. Out of time outs at the end almost cost us the game.


    The Ugly

    Plenty to talk about in this section, unlike the last couple of weeks.

    First, the hit on Cooks was ugly and the fact that it wasn't a penalty was a disgrace (more on that in a minute). We are very lucky he appears to be ok. Concussions to both Kupp and Cooks in the same game is obviously an ugly thing for the Rams.

    Peters was ugly all game, and he says it has nothing to do with any kind of injury. Got torched twice for td's when he got caught with his eyes in the backfield. Had two key penalties. Need major improvement from Peters, especially with Talib out for a while.

    Santos missed an extra point that he hooked badly in the fourth quarter and his kickoffs were just putrid all game, leading to some big returns. Obviously, we need The Leg back in action.

    We allowed 190 yards rushing on 32 carries for a 5.9 yard average, including long runs of 37 and 21 yards. Most of that didnt look like missed tackles to me, we generally just got blocked, but either way, its ugly and we have to do better. Our offense is great, but not great enough to score from the bench and more and more teams are going to try and run the ball right down our throats and then kill us with play action as wilson did today. The Rams are now dead last in the NFL against play action allowing a qb rating of over 150!!!! Coupled with our terrible third down defense, there was some real ugliness on the defensive side of the ball today.

    Self destruct sequence at the end of the first half. Goff drives us into field goal range to the 30 and we still have 40 seconds left to try and score a td or at least get closer. False start, negative running play or incomplete pass and phantom fumble by Goff on a play where no one touched him left us with nothing but a hail mary to end the half, which appears to be the play that concussed Kupp.

    The officiating today was just ugly. The Rams almost got the game taken away from them. If the hit on cooks is not targeting and a 15 yard personal foul, i have no idea what is. The chickens player launched himself directly at Cooks, led with his head, and made contact with his head. A blatant and obvious call that drew NO FLAG. Gurley converted at least one if not TWO first downs on second and third down with the game on the line and the refs not only missed both calls, but they didnt even bother with a replay. On one of the chicken td catches, the post game photos clearly showed the receiver stepping out of bounds and then coming back in to make the catch. Right in front of the ref and he misses it despite the replay review. As bad as anyo of them,, and the play that could easily have cost us the game if the chickens dont false start and then hold onto Kong Suh, on the 40 yard pass to Lockettt that gave the chickens a first down at our 32 yard line in clear field goal range, Donald was hooked and held so badly that Helen Keller, Ray Charles and Jose Feliciano could all have made the call.

    Pete Carroll's whining is such lousy sportsmanship and so ugly. His postgame comments that the Rams got lucky to win, criticizing the fluker holding call were a joke. He actually said that the chickens lost because of that call. He neglects to point out that the only reason the chickens were in field goal range in the first place was the fact that the refs didnt make the obvious holding call on Donald on the long pass. He doesnt mention the terrible spots on the two gurley runs that would have clinched the game. He doesnt mention that fluker pulled suh out of the way as suh is about to make the the tackle. Most importantly, he doesnt mention that if he doesnt call time out once the Rams sent Hekker onto the field at the end of the game, the Rams punt the ball and the chickens have the chance to drive and kick the winning field goal. How many coaches in professional sport have gotten the finger publicly from their own player? What a jerk. All i know is that if i was a chickens fan, i would forever hold Carroll in contempt for not running Lynch from the one yard line three times to win the super bowl.


    Summary

    A great win that really separates the Rams in the division, which is a key step towards a bye and will help in the chase for home field. We are a more talented team at this point than the chickens, but this was a tough road game and the injuries to cooks and kupp really change our offense. Let's remember that we have a brutal schedule ahead, with Green Bay, New Orleans, Denver on the road, Chicago on the road in December, Philadelphia and Kansas City still to go. Of course, in the NFL, none of the games are gimmes and its up to McVay and Phillips to keep the team ready to play, improving and focused every week. We can not afford any kind of let down and let's hope that we are lucky and don't suffer additional injuries and get our guys back asap, especially Talib, The Leg and the two receivers. We really need Phillips to find a way to improve the defense and Peters reverting to his prior all pro form and an improved pass rush would surely help a lot, as would better performance on third down. Consistency is an important component of championship teams and that is what the Rams need to show at this point in the season. We have won NOTHING yet, but we are course for a run at the title if we can stay healthy, improve on defense, and keep our offense humming along.

    The blueprint for beating the Rams is not complicated. I think you have to run the ball on use, which wears us down, makes us really vulnerable to play action and keeps the offense off the field. In addition, you have to get pressure on Goff because if you let him sit back there in the pocket, our receivers are simply too good to cover down the field and you will inevitably give up big plays. Finally, you need to keep us from converting in the red zone because you know we are going to find a way to move the ball. At this point, given our talent, we really need to avoid self destruction because some of the mistakes we made today (especially the minus two turnovers and the failure to score td's twice from the one yard line) may well bite us against a playoff caliber team.

    Next up is Denver on the road. Denver got blown out by the Jets last week, but we all know that this is another tough road game as Denver is both desperate and a different team at home. Run defense is going to be important. Keenum is solid, but vulnerable if he has to throw the ball 40 plus times. We can hurt them if we can keep denver out of 3rd and shorts which we can do by controlling their running game. Offensively, we need to stay away from turnovers and convert in the red zone. Obviously, the cold, crowd and potential snow are concerns, it's never easy for the California teams to play in the bitter cold, as all of us old Rams fans remember from those playoff horror stories in Minnesota in the late 60's and into the 1970's. Let's hope that we can correct the defensive problems and keep lighting it up on offense, leading to another win.

    For this week, let's all enjoy the 5-0 start and bask in the victory over the seachickens.

    Ramming speed to all

    general counsel


  • #2
    Great write-up, GC. I did not see the game, but did the announcers say anything about poor officiating?
    “Oh, 100 percent,” Donald said. “I feel like the words, ‘Thank you,’ ain’t enough. You’ve got to show it... Instead of saying thank you — show it.”

    Comment


    • #3
      Well, i was giving Peters a bit of a hall pass due to (my assumption) his horrible effort was due to lingering issues with his injury. Seems he just plain sucked. All Pro? Not even close. He needs to step it up and be a leader with his performance in Denver. Sometimes the team that trades a player knows something others don't. hmmmmm

      Comment


      • #4
        The announcers did not say all that much about the officiating. I was stunned that Rhonde Barber who i think very highly of was not definitive on the hit on cooks regarding a penalty or worse. Sam Rosen is an idiot. He is the second worst announcer i know of, the only one who is even worse is Dick Stockton.

        Another shot at Pete Carroll. On the third and very long (i think it was 23 yards) at the end of the 4th quarter, the chickens were 10-12 yards out of field goal range. The play call in that situation was awful. He should have run a screen or quick slant to lockett rather than dropping wilson back deep which gave littleton the chance to make the great play that forced Wilson out of the pocket. All he had to do was get into field goal range and he didn't need a deep drop from Wilson to accomplish that, taking the risk that Donald or someone else sacks Wilson.

        Ramming speed to all

        general counsel

        Comment


        • #5
          Hey its in the Squawks own roost...one of the true home field advantage teams there are in the NFL...and they played 100% full throttle for all 4 quarters. The Rams won based on the fact they are much better the Squawks. To walk into that mad house, rack up over 30points of offense--that's damn GOOD

          Now we have had several posts about the officials, but yes I am going to beat a dead horse here. In todays NFL its hard to get a QB injured--with all the rules protecting WRs its hard to injure a WR--but for the Rams to lose 2 WR and to concussion. SERIOUSLY? And yes the hit on Gurley's last run yah what about helmet to helmet--still prior to that his second run looked like he got the 1st down and got a bad spot--no booth review. REALLY?

          Ugly is this vaunted Rams defense....at this moment the Rams defense is ranked 10th in the NFL. Suh, Donald, Brokers all first round picks couldn't shut down the Squawks ground game or ate up blockers for the LBs to punish the Squawks RBs. Wilson was able to make those deep throws because he had time to make them--normally the Rams defense never afforded him that time.

          This week its Denver in yet another stadium where there really is home field advantage. Going against 12th best offense and 27th best defense if my memory is correct. The Rams will likely be without 2 of its best WR so my thoughts are the Rams and Broncos are equal in terms of offense. But considering how many points the Rams defense is allowing near top 15 offenses--this is a real game coming up and if the Rams are to walk way with game 6 under their belt, the Rams defense better wake up--its time for Wade Phillips to start calling out names and putting the spot light on some under achievers

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