– After a difficult loss last weekend in Tampa, the Rams had an even more difficult week this week. To wit, they lost three players (including a practice squad receiver) to injury. And coach Steve Spagnuolo’s high school coach from Massachusetts passed away. With the emotion of Isaac Bruce’s jersey retirement added to the mix, it was certainly an emotional week for the Rams.
– And still, the Rams were able to find a way to overcome all of that and come away with an impressive and thorough 20-10 victory against Carolina on Sunday at the Edward Jones Dome. The Rams are now 4-4 going into the bye week and squarely in the middle of the race for the NFC West Division. More on the game in a moment.
– On the injury front, the Rams came through the game relatively healthy though they entered the game with plenty of ailments to deal with.
– DE James Hall had perhaps the most serious injury with a broken hand but he played through it and should be able to heal well enough over the bye to be fine when he returns. He’s not likely to miss any meaningful game time.
– TE Michael Hoomanawanui injured his ribs but none were broken and he returned to the game.
– FB Mike Karney got poked in the eye but finished the game.
– S James Butler played through his knee injury in a bit of a surprise but banged up his ankle during the game. He’s also expected to be fine.
– CB Bradley Fletcher injured his finger but is expected to be fine as well.
– As for the game, it was another total team effort to yield the Rams” fourth consecutive home win and leave them at the bye with everything still on the table.
– The defense was at its absolute best, allowing just 201 yards of total offense with about 96 of those yards coming late in the game with the win well in the Rams’ hands. The Panthers gained just 25 yards on 17 carries, the best performance by a Rams run defense in St. Louis since it allowed 21 yards against Detroit on Nov. 7, 1999.
– Most important, that group squeezed the ball today and came up with four takeaways.
– Outstanding performance from MLB James Laurinaitis who finished with 8 tackles, three for loss, a sack and an interception. It’s not news but that kid’s a stud.
– Heck of an effort from a banged up secondary as well. CB Kevin Dockery played his best game as a Ram and Ron Bartell continues to be a warrior that plays through pain much like RB Steven Jackson.
– Chris Long now has a sack in three consecutive games. He’s starting to get the stats that match the way he plays every week. And his sack came on a play when the guy blocking him was flagged for holding. No. 72 is playing very, very well in 2010.
– Offensively, it might have been Sam Bradford’s best performance. He finished 25-of-32 for 191 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions for his best rating of his young career, 112.4.
– Try these numbers on for size: Bradford was 9-of-11 for 73 yards with two scores on third down today. For the season, he now has a rating of 101.1 on third down. You want poise from a young quarterback? Wow.
– Jackson was a warrior again on a day that holes were hard to come by as the Panthers made it abundantly clear they didn’t want Jackson beating them. He finished with 59 yards on 23 carries but said he made it out of the game fine in terms of his broken finger. He paid his respects to Eric Dickerson before the game by wearing the jheri curl look with goggles.
– Nice job by Renardo Foster, filling in for Jason Smith at right tackle. Spagnuolo had this to say about Foster’s performance.
“It’s hard for me to tell. But my guess is he probably did an admirable job. I did ask Adam in there how he was right in front of Renardo and he gave me the thumbs up so that’s a good thing.”
– A nice game by all of the Rams’ receivers, coming up with timely catches and conversions for first downs. Brandon Gibson, in particular, had a strong performance with 67 yards on six catches.
– Donnie Jones and the special teams came through a few times in swinging field position, including pinning the Panthers at the 2 late when they were trying to mount a comeback.
– Spagnuolo’s coach at Grafton (Mass.) High was Dick Egsegian, or as they called him “Coach E.” Spagnuolo didn’t tell the team that one of his mentors passed away but he shared it with them after the game. They gave him the blessing to give Sunday’s game ball to the family when he goes to visit during the bye week.
– I’d be remiss not to mention the terrific pregame ceremony for Bruce before the game. Great job putting it all together by the Rams and kudos to the fans for showing up early and paying their respects. Just a great day all the way around for the Rams.
– That’ll do it for tonight. Back to wrap this one up tomorrow and then off to a much-needed bye week. Enjoy this one, Rams fans.
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– On third-and-5 at the 46, Moore hit Smith for a gain but Smith kept his feet, ran backward and was hit by safety Craig Dahl. Chris Long scooped it up at Carolina’s 43 to give the Rams field position and an opportunity to extend the lead to two possessions.
– On second-and-16 at Carolina’s 49, Bradford fired a 34-yard strike to Gibson to the Panthers’ 15.
– Just when it seemed the Rams would settle for a field goal, Bradford rolled to his right and hit Fells, who broke a tackle and willed his way into the end zone for a 23-yard touchdown to give the Rams a 17-3 lead with 10:52 to play.
– The Panthers started their next drive from the 20.
– James Butler intercepted Moore on second down and returned it to Carolina’s 28 for a first down and a chance to extend the lead further.
– The Rams benefited from an offsides penalty and got in the red zone but a holding penalty on third down nullified a first down run from Jackson.
– The offense settled for a 41-yard field goal attemped from Brown. He converted to make it 20-3 Rams with 6:35 to go.
– In hurry up mode, the Panthers moved quickly into Rams territory and Brandon LaFell made Jerome Murphy miss and went in for a 16-yard touchdown to make it 20-10 with 3:37 to go.
– Britt Miller recovered Carolina’s onside kick attempt to give the Rams possession at their 49 with 3:34 to go.
– Jackson gained 5 yards on first down to the Panthers’ 46.
– The Rams came up 1 yard short of picking up a first down but Jones pinned Carolina at the 2 with about three minutes to go.
– At the two minute warning, the Panthers have a third-and-1 at their 11.
– Atogwe came up with an interception and the Rams hit the victory formation. They win 20-10 and improve to 4-4 heading into bye.
– Carolina opened the second half at its 24.
– The Panthers picked up a couple first downs and got into Rams territory before the defense tightened up.
– Oshiomogho Atogwe came up with a sack on second down and a third down incompletion got the Rams’ their first possession of the third quarter beginning at their 20.
– The Rams had one of their more productive possessions to open the second half by moving into Carolina territory and picking up a couple of first downs, including a 15-yard completion to Gibson.
– The drive ended at Carolina’s 44 as Bradford misfired on third down.
– But Donnie Jones pinned the Panthers at their 7 to open their second possession of the half.
– The Panthers managed a pair of first downs but no more as Laurinaitis picked up a sack on third-and-12 to end any hopes of a drive. The Rams take over at their 28.
– The offense went three and out as a mishandled snap lost 2 yards and ended the drive.
– The Panthers started again from their 41 after a 31-yard return from Captain Munnerlynn.
– That ended the third quarter with the Rams leading 10-3.
– Bradford hit Hoomanawanui for 15 yards and a first down to Carolina’s 40.
– Jackson ripped off an 7-yard run and Bradford hit Daniel Fells for 7 yards two plays later for another first down.
– Jackson burst 14 yards off the left side for another first down to Carolina’s 11 for a first down.
– A holding penalty halted progress and the Rams settled for a 33-yard field goal from Brown for a 3-0 Rams lead with 10:08 to go in the half.
– The defense got it done again, with yet another three and out.
– The Rams start again, this time from their 45.
– Bradford converted a third down by hitting Amendola again for 9 yards on third-and-4.
– An 8-yard completion to Gibson converted another third down and Bradford followed two plays later with a bullet to Robinson for a gain of 15.
– On third-and-goal, Bradford hit Amendola for 2 yards and a touchdown to give the Rams a 10-0 lead with 2:07 to go in the half.
– With two minutes to go, Carolina began at its 31.
– The Panthers quickly put together their best drive of the day, gaining yards in chunks through the air with gains of 12, 7 and 20 through the air to get to the Rams’ 30.
– A quick pass to Mike Goodson gave them a second-and-7 at the Rams’ 27.
– The Panthers got 1 more yard before settling for a 44-yard field goal attempt for Jon Kasay. He converted to make it 10-3 with 37 seconds to go in the half.
– That’s where we stand at the half as the Panthers will get the ball first coming out of the locker room.
– The Rams won the toss and elected to receive.
– The offense got nothing going though as three passes warranted a three and out.
– But the Rams got it right back as James Laurinaitis intercepted a Matt Moore flea flicker attempt and returned it to Carolina’s 37.
– Again, the offense couldn’t generate any yards and went three and out to set up a 51-yard field goal attempt for kicker Josh Brown. Brown left the kick wide left to keep the score tied at 0 with 10:42 to go in the first.
– The defense responded with a three-and-out of its own to get the ball back for the Rams at their 20.
– A 5-yard defensive holding gave the Rams their first first down of the game and gave the Rams a first down at Carolina’s 32.
– The Rams got another first down as Bradford hit Amendola for a gain of 7 on second down. But that was it for the drive as Bradford was sacked on third down.
– Carolina gets its third possession of the day at its 20.
– The defense again came up with a stop after just one first down.
– The offense took over at its 30 and picked up a first down as Bradford and Amendola connected for 5 yards on third down.
– At the end of the first quarter, the Rams and Panthers are tied at 0 and the Rams have the ball at their 45 with a second-and-6.
– Greetings from the Edward Jones Dome where the Rams and Panthers are preparing for a noon kickoff.
– Of course, before we get into any game business, there’s the matter of retiring legendary Ram Isaac Bruce’s No. 80. I’ve written it many times but a more deserving and classy player you will not find. He’s accomplished everything there is to accomplish and his number will now hang forever in the rafters where it belongs next to Marshall Faulk’s 28 and Deacon Jones’ 75.
– The Bruce ceremony will begin at 11:30 and he’ll be introduced by former coach and mentor Mike Martz and then say a few words to the fans in St. Louis. Should be a great start to a hopefully great day.
– In honor of Bruce, the Rams are wearing the 1999 throwback blue and yellow uniforms.
– As expected, RB Steven Jackson is active and starting. And in honor of Eric Dickerson, the man he passed last week to become the team’s all time leading rusher, Jackson wore the Dickerson spectacles in pregame.
– The Rams have been hit by injuries this week though and the players on the inactive list are there mostly from those ailments.
– Tackle Jason Smith is inactive with a concussion suffered in Thursday’s practice. Renardo Foster will start for him on the right side.
– Receiver Danario Alexander (knee), cornerback Justin King (hamstring) and safety Darian Stewart (hamstring) are inactive from injuries.
– The rest of the list includes TE Fendi Onobun, S Michael Lewis, DT Darell Scott and DE Eugene Sims. Onobun had back issues this week and Scott is still fighting ankle problems.
– Because CB Ron Bartell is still nursing shoulder and thigh injuries, Kevin Dockery will start in his place.
– Bryan Kehl will start at LB in place of Larry Grant.
– Inactives of note for the Panthers include RB DeAngelo Williams and OT Jeff Otah.
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– Rams WR Danario Alexander is having surgery on his left knee today after suffering torn meniscus during the workout.
– The surgery and injury is expected to keep Alexander out two to four weeks. With a bye coming next week, it could cost him as little as one game depending on how quickly he recovers.
– Alexander injured the knee on a pass play during team drills as he turned to catch a pass thrown behind him. He landed awkwardly and hobbled off the field.
– With Alexander out, the Rams have Laurent Robinson, Brandon Gibson, Danny Amendola and Mardy Gilyard as available wideouts this weekend.
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– The following is the official release from the team about the game meeting requirements for the blackout to be lifted.
ST. LOUIS, Mo. – The St. Louis Rams Week 8 contest against the Carolina Panthers will be televised locally, the team announced today. The Rams and Panthers will kick off at the Edward Jones Dome on Sunday, October 31 at noon.
The Rams would like to thank Charter Communications for helping to televise the game locally.
Limited tickets remain available for purchase. Fans may purchase tickets by visiting Ticketmaster.com, by calling (314) RAMS-TIX or by logging on to the newly-redeveloped StLouisRams.com.
The game will air on Fox, KTVI-TV, Channel 2 in St. Louis. Dick Stockton and Charles Davis will call the game for Fox’s broadcast. Prior to the game, former Rams wide receiver Isaac Bruce will have his number 80 jersey retired. The retirement ceremony, however, will not be televised.
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– The Rams just wrapped up their Friday practice and another day with an injury during the workout.
– On Thursday, it wa s tackle Jason Smith taking a blow to the head. He has concussion symptoms and sat out Friday’s practice. He’s questionable but it’s unlikely he’ll be able to play against Carolina. That leaves Renardo Foster as the likely starter in his place though the Rams could also opt to kick Adam Goldberg out to right tackle with John Greco at right guard.
– Smith has enough time to get cleared but coach Steve Spagnuolo emphasized that the Rams would be cautious with him.
– Meanwhile, at Friday’s workout, WR Danario Alexander suffered a knee injury attempting to catch a ball thrown behind him during a team drill. He landed awkwardly on his left (surgically repaired) knee and hobbled off the field. There was nothing available right away on the seriousness of the injury but Spagnuolo said he’d be evaluated after practice.
– The final injury report for the Rams looks like this:
Out: CB Justin King, S Darian Stewart, TE Fendi Onobun
Questionable: RB Steven Jackson, DT Fred Robbins, DT Darell Scott, CB Ron Bartell, Alexander
Probable: MLB James Laurinaitis, S James Butler, LB David Vobora, WR Mardy Gilyard
– Of note for the Panthers, RB DeAngelo Williams (foot) is doubtful. T Jeff Otah (knee) is out.
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– The Rams finished up Thursday’s workout without much of consequence save for one potential injury.
– Right tackle Jason Smith took a blow to the head courtesy of end Chris Long. He was unable to finish the practice and coach Steve Spagnuolo said Smith was “a bit fuzzy.” It remains to be seen whether Smith will be OK to play this weekend or if he’ll return to practice tomorrow. Smith has a history with concussions from last season and the Rams can ill afford to lose him after its line has started to get some continuity starting the season’s first seven games.
– Smith will be monitored the rest of today and tomorrow before any determination is made on his status.
– Meanwhile, and this will come as no surprise, running back Steven Jackson says he will play Sunday against the Panthers. At this point, you might have to amuputate a leg to keep him off the field so having surgery on his left ring finger seems like a small hurdle to get past. Jackson declared that he’ll play this week and should be able to take on his full work load. According to experts, the surgery and injury Jackson has would be more likely to hamper his pass protection than carrying the ball.
– Jackson is still figuring out a type of soft cast or wrap to use in Sunday’s game.
– On the injury report, the rest of the list only had a couple of minor tweaks. DT Darell Scott (ankle), DT Fred Robbins (toe), CB Justin King (hamstring), S Darian Stewart (hamstring), TE Fendi Onobun (back) and Jackson did not participate.
– Limited participants included CB Ron Bartell (shoulder, thigh), MLB James Laurinaitis (knee) and LB David Vobora (hamstring).
– Spagnuolo expressed his admiration for Isaac Bruce as he returns to St. Louis this week for his jersey retirement ceremony. Spagnuolo shared that he requested and kept a DVD of Bruce’s retirement presentation in St. Louis from June and even showed it to the team during camp because he thought the message was so powerful.
– Bruce is scheduled to be at the Russell Training Center tomorrow for media availability as well as to have lunch with members of the Rams organization. His event takes place Friday night and there’s a reception and dinner scheduled for Saturday night.
– The ceremony is set for 11:30 a.m. Sunday before the game. The Rams have asked for an extension to sell the less than 800 tickets remanining to have the blackout lifted. Tickets are still available here at stlouisrams.com or by calling 314-RAMS-TIX.
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– The Rams got back to work Wednesday afternoon as they begin preparations for this weekend’s game against Carolina. And it was a busy day around the Russell Training Center as bets were paid off and roster tweaks were made.
– On the injury front, the Rams had a number of players not participating in workouts because of injury. RB Steven Jackson (finger), DT Fred Robbins (toe), S James Butler (knee), CB Justin King (hamstring), S Darian Stewart (hamstring) and DT Darell Scott (ankle) all sat out the workout.
– The Rams remain optimistic that Jackson and Robbins will be able to play this week. Jackson’s injury shouldn’t limit his ability to carry the ball so much as hamper his pass protection. Robbins’ toe injury isn’t too severe but he’ll be monitored closely this week.
– Coach Steve Spagnuolo said James Butler actually felt pretty good when he arrived on Wednesday. He’s still likely to be out this week but it could bode well for him to return after the bye week.
– CB Ron Bartell’s shoulder ailment wasn’t serious enough to require an MRI and he participated on a limited basis Wednesday. Bradley Fletcher made it through OK despite his hamstring issue.
– With so many injuries in the secondary, the Rams made some moves to bolster the depth back there. On Monday night, the team claimed CB Quincy Butler off waivers and released LB Curtis Johnson. Butler was with the Rams last year and in the preseason. On Wednesday morning, the team signed veteran S Michael Lewis and placed DT Clifton Ryan on injured reserve because of his recurring migraine issues. Lewis is close with Spagnuolo from their time together in Philadelphia. In fact, Lewis went to the Pro Bowl after the 2004 season.
– With Lewis in the fold, the Rams have five safeties on the roster but Lewis is the only healthy reserve as it stands.
– As the Rams retired to the locker room on Wednesday afternoon, QB Sam Bradford had to face the music on his bet with WR Danario Alexander from last weekend’s Mizzou-Oklahoma game. Mizzou, of course, pulled off the victory meaning Bradford had to wear Mizzou gear for his weekly Wednesday meeting with the media. Waiting for Bradford was a personalized Mizzou jersey with his name and the No. 14 stitched on the back.
– Bradford begrudgingly wore the jersey and was a good sport about it as the local media peppered him with questions. Bradford did get off one good zinger when a reporter asked him if he ever considered going to a “better academic institution” like Mizzou. Bradford’s response: “I wanted to win Big 12 championships.”
– The Rams will get back to practice Thursday afternoon.
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– Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo just wrapped up his Monday news conference discussing Sunday’s heart wrenching 18-17 loss to Tampa Bay at Raymond James Stadium. The biggest news came on the injury front where RB Steven Jackson had surgery on his left ring finger after it was fractured in Sunday’s game. Jackson had two pins inserted into the finger.
– Jackson’s surgery wasn’t major and he tweeted this afternoon (@sj39) that he “shouldn’t miss a beat.” He might be limited in practice but I think it’s fair to not question whether he’ll play this week against Carolina. The guy pretty much plays through everything.
– S James Butler, however, does have a knee sprain. It’s unclear how long he will be out but he’s definitely going to miss this week’s contest.
– CB Ron Bartell had the other injury of the most note. His shoulder is sore and the extent of that injury is unknown right now. Spagnuolo said Bartell would give it another day to see how he feels Tuesday. If he’s still not feeling right, then the Rams and Bartell will likely take a closer look at it with an MRI.
– DT Darell Scott suffered another ankle injury though it’s not as severe as the one he just returned from. He’ll be monitored day to day.
– DT Fred Robbins will have his toe looked at. He played through that injury Sunday and is expected to be OK.
– CB Bradley Fletcher (hamstring) and LB James Laurinaitis (knee) will be monitored day to day but should be fine.
– As for the game, Spagnuolo again expressed disappointment about the outcome. And I have to say, in my nearly six and a half years of covering this team, that was probably the most dejected locker room I’ve entered. Just a brutal loss in a game the Rams could certainly have won. Spagnuolo did mention that he thought it was a good thing his team was so upset. It means they care and will do everything possible to ensure a loss like that never happens again.
“We should still have the same confidence we had 48 hours ago. That doesn’t change. We are the same team. so go out there and practice with confidence this week to go win a game. That’s what we will be focused on.”
– On the topic of the missed opportunities that continue to plague the Rams defense, specifically the easy interceptions they continue to drop, Spagnuolo suggested that it might be more of a mental thing at this point and maybe they should just stop talking about it and let it happen organically.
– Spagnuolo also continued to stand by the decision to take timeouts at the end of the first half in hopes of getting the ball back for his offense. The theory is simple, too, that the Rams could have gone up three scores and really made things hard on the Bucs coming out of the locker room at the half.
“No. No. No. I just felt like 17-3, I felt good about our offense getting the ball back,” Spagnuolo said. “Again, this is confidence in the defense now, I never expected that third and (16) that they would get that third and (16). I wanted to leave as much time on the clock as we could for the offense. They got the first down and they were off and running.”
– After a scintillating debut, Rams WR Danario Alexander was mostly quiet against Tampa. In fact, his reps were a bit limited overall. But Spagnuolo said that had nothing to do with a sore knee and everything to do with the game plan.
“There was nothing there. The way the offense works with the receivers is they are in there for certain plays. When those are dialed up, he goes in. It’s not you have this series, you have that series. It doesn’t work that way. It just worked out that way.”
– For the record, the Rams clearly had the intent to run the ball and used a lot of multiple tight end sets to try to make sure that happened. Spagnuolo did say he’d like to see more of Alexander in the future.
“Yeah, I would like to get him more involved. No question.”
– About 975 tickets remain for Sunday’s game against the Panthers and the pre-game Isaac Bruce jersey retirement ceremony. If you want to be there, you can get tickets here at stlouisrams.com or by calling 314-RAMS-TIX.
– The Rams get back to work with practice on Wednesday as they begin preparation for this week’s game against Carolina and the Isaac Bruce retirement ceremony. With all of the hoopla surrounding the event, it should be a fun week. Stay tuned to stlouisrams.com for plenty of Bruce-related features throughout the week.
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– Sunday’s 18-17 loss to the Bucs is the type that can linger and sting for a while for all involved. Nevermind the fact that the Rams jumped out to a 17-3 lead with 17 unanswered points in the first half in a 30-minute segment of the game the team absolutely dominated.
– But the amount of missed opportunities and mistakes that the Rams piled up once again kept them from surpassing the .500 mark and taking the next step toward contender status.
– What’s more, on a day when RB Steven Jackson should have the chance to exult in his performance and his new franchise rushing record, it’s a shame he was unable to do it with a win. More on that in a moment but let’s hit the injuries first.
– Jackson came out with a slight neck injury for a few plays in the second half. He returned in the fourth quarter but his absence clearly hurt the Rams when they were trying to generate offense in the third quarter. Coach Steve Spagnuolo said he figured Jackson would be sore but was hopeful it was nothing serious.
– Injuries didn’t hit anywhere as hard as the secondary. Already without pregame inactives Justin King and Darian Stewart, the Rams had a limited Ron Bartell playing through a bruised thigh and later a stinger in his shoulder. Kevin Dockery suffered a rib injury but was able to return. Safety James Butler suffered perhaps the most serious injury of the day; a sprained MCL. The severity of that won’t be known until Monday morning when he can get it looked at closer. And finally, CB Bradley Fletcher had a hamstring injury and cramping near the end of the game that cost him playing time.
– It was no coincidence that the Bucs had passing success down the stretch with a tired defense and a banged up secondary.
– RB Keith Toston had a groin injury but played through it.
– DT Darell Scott, coming off a high ankle sprain, was sore and had to come out of the game.
– Clearly, Sunday’s loss was extremely disappointing for everyone but before we delve further into it, let’s take a moment to recognize Jackson. He’s an unbelievable teammates, leader, player and person. His growth into the team’s all time leading rusher has truly been amazing. And Rams fans should cherish every game he gets to wear the colors.
– As for the game, it was the same old song and dance with the disparity between the first half and second half. It killed the Rams on the road against Oakland in week 2, it nearly did last week against San Diego and it definitely did in Tampa.
– So, that leaves the simple question…why does it continue to happen? The answer is apparently not so simple but here’s one way to keep it from happening: stop getting flagged for silly penalties like jumping offsides. The Rams have more false start penalties than any team in the league at this point in the season. Two of those absolutely stalled two key late drives.
– One flag came midway through the fourth quarter. The Rams had just put together a pair of first downs and a false start pushed them back 5 yards to change a third-and-6 to a third-and-11. Jackson gained 7 yards on the next play. That’s the difference between keeping a drive going and scoring points and not.
– The overall team effect that not getting first downs has is the part that makes it most difficult to overcome. With the offense coming off the field and not regularly picking up first downs, the defense has to spend long stretches of time on the field. That can wear them down and hurt when teams are driving for the winning points.
– Of course, the defense can also help the offense by making plays that are there to be made. The Rams missed a pair of golden opportunities for interceptions against Tampa, either of which could have sealed a victory. They also forced a pair of fumbles they were unable to come up with. Those things can, at the very least, swing field position.
– QB Sam Bradford said after the game that his performance was not good enough. “I was just off today. That’s really inexcusable. A game like this, your team needs you to put points on the board and I can’t go out and execute. It’s tough. I have got to get better.”
– Bradford finished 13-of-26 for 126 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions. That gave him one of his best quarterback ratings of the year but he missed throws he makes regularly and it was clear he was a bit off.
– WR Danario Alexander didn’t play much. Spagnuolo said there were certain packages and personnel groupings he’s in but the way the game was going and factors such as penalties dictated his limited role.
– Another point Spagnuolo and his players pointed to for the loss: poor tackling. The Rams gave up some crucial yards after contact on plays where had they been able to get the runner down; it might have given them the second necessary to come up with a win.
– The pass rush was good early but wilted in the heat.
– Tip of the cap to Tampa Bay QB Josh Freeman. He made plays when he had to and got the job done.
– The Rams didn’t have a major turnover issue but the one that hit early was enough to make a difference and provide the Bucs with the points needed to win.
– Tampa Bay K Connor Barth deserves credit for doing his job well, also. He hit four field goals, including a monster from 53 yards away.
– The Rams will review the film tomorrow and then move on to preparation for Carolina in the final contest before the bye week. That’s all for this evening.
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TAMPA BAY –
– The Rams opened up the fourth from their 27, needing a drive. They had just one first down in the third quarter.
– The Rams moved quickly behind Jackson, getting into Tampa territory but on third-and-8, Bradford had no open receivers and ran for 3 yards, forcing Jones to punt again.
– Tampa takes over at its 18.
– A block in the back penalty wiped out a huge run by Blount and the defense was then able to get a three and out to get it back at the Rams’ 32.
– St. Louis got a huge third down conversion as Bradford and Laurent Robinson hooked up for a gain of 7 on third-and-7.
– Bradford and Hoomanawanui hooked up again, this time for a gain of 10.
– Two Jackson runs netted 3 yards to make it third-and-7 from the 44 with 5:50 to go.
– A false start on the Rams pushed them back 5 to make it third-and-12 from the 50.
– Jackson gained 7 yards and the Rams had to punt again.
– Tampa takes over at its 19 with 4:45 to go.
– Freeman found Williams for 3 on first down and Winslow for 7 more for a first down at the Rams’ 29.
– Bartell went down on the play.
– A completion lost 1 yard on the next play.
– Freeman picked up 9 on the next play to set up a huge third-and-3 at Tampa’s 36.
– Williams gained 10 to Tampa’s 47.
– Freeman just missed on a deep shot to Winslow.
– Freeman connected with Mike Williams for a gain of 16 to the Rams’ 37.
– The Rams caught a break as a short pass ended with a killer late hit penalty on Tampa tackle James Lee. That set up a second-and-22 from the Rams’ 49.
– Freeman hit C. Williams again, this time for a gain of 8 to make it third-and-14.
– Freeman hit Stroughter for a gain of 11.
– That sets up fourth-and-3 from the Rams’ 30.
– Freeman hit Winslow for a gain of 9 to the Rams’ 21 and a first down.
– Freeman threw incomplete on first down.
– Freeman just missed Winslow in the end zone on second down.
– Freeman hit Williams for a gain of 20 to the Rams’ 1 with 20 seconds left.
– Freeman hit C. Williams for 1 yard and a touchdown to give the Bucs their first lead with 10 seconds left.
– The Rams trail 18-17 with 10 seconds left.
– That would do it as Tampa closed out an 18-17 win. A major missed opportunity for the Rams to get a road win with another poor second half performance.
– The Rams opened the second half with a big return from Amendola to their 40.
– A second down completion to Amendola picked up 6 yards to set up a third-and-4.
– Bradford fired incomplete on third down and Donnie Jones came on for his first punt of the day. He dropped it inside Tampa’s 10 and the Bucs started their first drive at their 5.
– The Bucs began a march by converting on third-and-8 at their 8 on a 10-yard completion to Winslow.
– The running game then got it going as Blount had runs of 9 and 12 yards. A 21-yard strike to Stoughter put the Bucs in Rams’ territory.
– On third-and-12 at the Rams’ 43, Freeman completed a 7-yard pass to Williams.
– Barth made a 53-yard field goal to trim the Rams’ lead to 17-9 with 7:13 to go in the third.
– The Rams started their drive from their 15 and got an 11-yard strike to Gibson for a first down on third down.
– Three incompletions ended the drive. Jackson came out and appeared to have an undisclosed injury.
– Jones punted again and the Bucs took over at their 31.
– Blount gained 17 on first down to the 48.
– On third-and-8, Freeman hit Stroughter for a gain of 8 and a first down at the Rams’ 42.
– A false start pushed Tampa back 5 yards.
– A completion to Williams combined with a 15-yard facemask penalty gave Tampa a first down at the Rams’ 27.
– The Rams again held Tampa to a field goal as Barth hit from 37 yards out to end the third quarter. The Rams lead 17-12 at the end of three.
– K Josh Brown came on for a 25-yard field goal attempt and converted to tie it at 3 as the second quarter opened.
– Tampa started its next possession at its 33 and a false start penalty pushed the Bucs back 5 yards. An incompletion and a run by Williams for 1 yard set up third-and-14.
– Rams got the three and out and started at their 20.
– A quick screen to Amendola went for 18 yards and Jackson picked up 10 yards on the next two carries.
– On the second of those, Jackson gained 2 yards and a first down and in the process, passed Eric Dickerson to become the Rams’ all time leading rusher.
– An end around to Amendola went for 21 yards and the Rams picked up another first on a Jackson run to Tampa’s 18.
– Jackson ripped off a gain of 12 to Tampa’s 6 to set up first and goal.
– Jackson gained 1 yard and Bradford missed Hoomanawanui on second down but responded with great throw to Amendola on third down for a touchdown. The extra point gives the Rams a 10-3 lead with 8:22 to go in the half.
– Tampa opens its next drive at its 19.
– The Bucs were called for a hold on first down to nullify a completion to Winslow for a big gain making it first-and-20 at the 9.
– Freeman hit Spurlock for a gain of 5 and Diggs broke up a pass on second down.
– Tampa took a timeout on third-and-14 from Tampa’s 15.
– Ah You forced an incompletion on third down and the Rams took over at Tampa’s 45.
– Jackson ripped off gains of 7 and 18 to Tampa’s 20 for a first down.
Darby gained 3 on first down to make it second-and-7.
– Toston picked up 3 more on second down and Bradford fired incomplete on third to set up a fourth down. But Tampa jumped offsides to give the Rams a first down at its 9.
– Darby gained 7 on first down and incomplete on second down.
– Bradford nearly threw a pick on second down but hit TE Michael Hoomanawanui for 2 yards and a touchdown to make it 17-3 Rams with 2:59 to go in the half.
– Tampa began its next drive at its 36.
– Two completions put Tampa in St. Louis territory but Chris Long came up with a sack and forced fumble to drop Tampa back 14 yards.
– Tampa had a third-and-16 from its 45 with 1:42 to go in the half.
– Freeman broke contain and gained 16 yards for a first down conversion.
– On the next play, he hit Sammie Stroughter for a gain of 18 to the Rams’ 21.
– Freeman misfired on two throws to make it third-and-10 from the 21.
– The Rams missed a golden opportunity for an interception as Long hit Freeman on the throw. Barth converted from 38 yards out to make it 17-6 Rams with 24 seconds left.
– That’s where was stand at the half. The Rams will get it first to open the second.
– The Bucs won the toss and received.
– QB Josh Freeman ran for 10 yards and a first down on the opening play.
– After a 9-yard gain on second down, the Rams got a stop on third and short but the Bucs went for it on fourth and Freeman sneaked forward for 2 yards and a first down.
– With Ron Bartell battling a thigh injury, Kevin Dockery started for him but Dockery was hurt on the fifth play of the game and Bartell entered for him.
– After a 6 yard gain by LeGarrette Blount, the Rams defense came up with a stop as C.J. Ah You got a sack on third down and the Bucs punted. Rams take over for first time at their 13.
– The Rams got nothing going as an incompletion followed by Jackson’s run for no gain and a false start penalty set up third and 15 at the Rams’ 8. Bradford was hit by DE Stylez G. White and fumbled on the play. The Bucs recovered and took over at the Rams’ 6.
– Dockery is back in the game.
– An offensive pass interference and a holding pushed Tampa back to its 26.
– Jermelle Cudjo and Gary Gibson teamed up for a sack to push Tampa back 9 more yards and set up second-and-goal from its 35.
– Williams gained 1 yard on second down.
– Freeman hit Mike Williams for a gain of 18 on third down and the Bucs settled for a 35-yard field goal to make it 3-0 Tampa with 5:45 left in the quarter.
– The Rams opened the ensuing drive from their 21. Jackson gained 8 on the first play and 1 on the second to set up a third-and-1. Mike Karney handled the job and gained 2 for a first down.
– On third-and-2 at the Rams’ 40, Bradford hit Jackson for a gain of 14 to Tampa’s 46.
– A 12-yard run by Jackson and a 19-yard completion to Darby gave the Rams a first down at Tampa’s 15.
– Jackson needs 10 yards to pass Dickerson.
– A 1-yard run and an incompletion set up a third-and-9 at the 14.
– A false start on Jacob Bell made it third-and-14 at the 19.
– Bradford hit Jackson for a gain of 12, setting up a fourth-and-2 at the 7 at the end of the first quarter.
– Greetings from Raymond James Stadium where the Rams and the Bucs are preparing for a noon kickoff.
– A quick reminder that RB Steven Jackson needs just 32 yards to surpass Eric Dickerson and become the Rams’ all time leading rusher. That record should fall relatively early today and I’ll keep an updated, running log of where he is as he approaches it right here.
– On the inactive list, not much in the way of surprises. The Rams inactives are S Darian Stewart, CB Justin King, WR Mardy Gilyard, LB Curtis Johnson, T Renardo Foster, DT Clifton Ryan, TE Fendi Onobun and DE Eugene Sims.
– For the Bucs, inactives are third QB Rudy Carpenter, CB Elbert Mack, RB Earnest Graham, C Jeff Faine, G Keydrick Vincent, TE Jerramy Stevens, DT Brian Price and DE Alex Magee.
– James Butler will start at safety in place of Craig Dahl.
– Jeremy Zuttah starts at C for Faine for the Bucs. Ted Larsen starts for Vincent at left guard.
– Stay tuned for updates throughout the game.
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