– Sunday’s 16-14 loss to Oakland was the second excruciating defeat for the Rams in as many weeks as they open the 2010 NFL season. But this time, it wasn’t just missed opportunities (though those were present again too) that kept the Rams from a victory.
– Two weeks in, the Rams are eight points away from being 2-0. But where last week, they simply couldn’t find ways to make plays that were there to be made, this week they struggled with the mental discipline and detail required to get a win.
– Before we dive further into the game, let’s run down the injury list.
– In the aftermath of the game, the most serious ailment appeared to be the concussion to safety Craig Dahl. That injury brought him out of the game near the end and James Butler replaced him.
– Tight ends Daniel Fells and Billy Bajema suffered knee injuries. Neither appeared serious but both will be evaluated further on Monday.
– Mardy Gilyard had the wind knocked out of him on a kick return but he returned to the game.
– Tackle Rodger Saffold had some back stiffness and missed a little time in the second half but he returned to the game.
– Defensive tackle Darell scott twisted his ankle. It didn’t appear to be more serious than that but coach Steve Spagnuolo said he’d be looked at further on Monday as well.
– Cornerbacks Justin King and Kevin Dockery were both inactive because of hamstring injuries. Chris Chamberlain and Michael Hoomanawanui were kept out of the game because of their previous ailments.
– Back to the happenings on the field, it was a series of bad penalties, two in particular, that drew Spagnuolo’s ire after the game.
– The Rams finished with eight panelties for 92 yards. That’s less than Oakland’s 12 penalties but more in yardage. In other words, when the Rams were flagged, they were flagged for serious infractions.
– All told, the Rams had five 15-yard infractions, including four personal fouls and a chop block. On drives where those penalties occurred, Oakland generated nine points and kept the final, clock killing drive alive. That was more than enough to make up the difference in the final score.
– Perhaps the most glaring because it happened so late was the personal foul on DT Fred Robbins. Robbins chased Oakland QB Bruce Gradkowski out of the pocket and appeared to be close enough to him for contact upon release of the pass. But considering the amount of personal fouls and chippiness of the game, it was little surprise when the flag came out. Disappointing to be sure but in a game like that, that call is likely to be made.
– Speaking of Gradkowski, what a boost he gave the Raiders in the second half. He made some things happen with his legs and threw some nice balls to help keep the Rams off balance. Hard to believe it’s the same guy who decisively lost a battle with Brock Berlin for the No. 3 job in St. Louis in 2008.
– DE James Hall had a big day for the Rams, regularly beating his man and coming up with a sack and a pair of forced fumbles. Unfortunately for the Rams they couldn’t recover either ball that hit the ground.
– Spagnuolo expressed his disappointment that the Rams’ running game vanished in the second half. They mixed it up well in the first half as Oakland did not stack to box to stop Steven Jackson. When the Raiders came out in the second half with eight up front, the run game went away and the Rams offense stagnated to the point that it mustered just 8 yards of offense in the third quarter.
– Rookie QB Sam Bradford had, as expected, another up and down day in his first NFL road start in the regular season. He and the Rams took advantage of Oakland’s aggressiveness in the first half with screens and quick shots to the tight ends but Bradford called himself “bad” in the second half and said it wasn’t enough to get the job done despite his late rally. He finished 14-of-25 for 167 yards with two touchdowns and an interception.
– After his hot start in which he posted more than 100 yards from scrimmage in the first half, Jackson was severely limited in the second. He finished with 19 carries for 75 yards and four catches for 50 yards receiving.
– Mark Clayton wasn’t too involved in the offense most of the day but came through when it mattered, putting up both touchdowns for the Rams, including an excellent grab to cut Oakland’s lead late.
– Rookie CB Jerome Murphy was clearly the target of Oakland’s passing game on a number of third down opportunities and he had some bumps along the way but he did a nice job to be in the right place at the right time to get his first career interception to keep the Rams alive late.
– Nice catch, James Butler.
– Good to see the Rams snatch those two interceptions but they still continue to miss out on golden opportunities of balls that are there for the taking.
– Oakland RB Darren McFadden looked like the genuine article Sunday. He ran hard and finished with a legitimate 145 yards on 30 carries.
– That’s all for this one. Back tomorrow to wrap it all up with more thoughts and news from Spagnuolo.
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