MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. –
– It was the type of game you’re used to seeing the Rams win so far in 2012: a knock down, drag out fight on the scoreboard where a defensive struggle eventually swings the Rams way on a turnover or a big play offensively that just comes at the right time.
– But Sunday’s 17-14 loss saw Miami actually use the Rams’ recipe to find its way to a win and leave the Rams with a disappointing and frustrating loss on the road.
– From the standpoint of the numbers, if you just looked at the stat sheet, you’d think the Rams not only won but won comfortably. They dominated in every category except the only one that matters: the scoreboard.
– In some sense, that might be more maddening than the type of slugfest games the Rams have won each of the past two weeks.
– On the injury front, the Rams came through relatively clean. Only CB Bradley Fletcher even came out of the game and his shoulder injury wasn’t enough to keep him from returning.
– As for the game, this seems like one of those games that the Rams youth worked against them. They outgained Miami by an astounding 462-192. They averaged 6.7 yards per play to the Dolphins 3.9.
– So how does such a discrepancy turn into a loss instead of a win? That’s the question that will haunt the Rams but the answers are fairly simple. As QB Sam Bradford says it’s the “little things.”
– A poorly timed penalty here, a missed connection on a pass there, a missed blitz pickup, those types of things left the Rams settling for field goals instead of scoring touchdowns. It’s a problem that’s plagued them in the first five weeks and reared its ugly head again Sunday. Quite simply, as every Ram in the locker room said after the game: yards aren’t good enough, it’s about points.
– Obviously, it was a bit of a shock to see rookie K Greg Zuerlein miss three field goals, including one from 37 yards, an easy chip shot for him in the first half. Yes, if he makes any of those attempts, the Rams at least go to overtime. But let’s be realistic here: Zuerlein wasn’t going to make every kick his whole career. It was going to happen. The real issue is the Rams offense not finishing drives. One touchdown in lieu of any of the field goal attempts and the Rams are 4-2.
– Tip of the cap to Zuerlein who stood and answered every question after the game. That’s not easy for anyone to do but the rookie is as stand up a guy as you’ll find. And he’ll be just fine moving forward.
– Elsewhere on the special teams, not a good day in general. Miami scored its points on the heels of special teams miscues. Zuerlein’s missed field ended in the touchdown to WR Marlon Moore, a fumble by FB Brit Miller ended with a field goal from Miami’s Dan Carpenter and a long kick return set up the final touchdown drive.
– For a unit that’s been nearly spotless so far this season, it was absolutely a disappointing outing.
– Miller blamed himself for not letting the ball go on the kickoff return he fumbled. He was trying to make something happen and really should have let the ball go.
– Some scary moments for CB Janoris Jenkins on punt returns as well. He coughed up a fumble that went out of bounds.
– Speaking of Jenkins, I wrote about him developing earlier this week but also mentioned that he has a habit of getting caught with what he calls “bad eye,” where he gets stuck looking in the backfield and gets beat over the top. That’s exactly what happened on Moore’s touchdown and something Jenkins knows he needs to fix.
– As a whole, though, it was another strong performance by the Rams defense, especially against the run. Miami had 18 yards on 17 carries. Combined with the performance against Arizona last week, the Rams have allowed 63 yards the past two weeks. Their rank in that category figures to skyrocket.
– Strong work from the defensive tackles and linebackers today against the run. Worth tipping the cap to DTs Kendall Langford, Michael Brockers and Jermelle Cudjo, amongst others.
– As for the offense, it was really a strong performance for a group missing its best wide receiver in Danny Amendola.
– Bradford was spinnin’ it about as well as ever, throwing for 315 yards and hitting 10 different receivers. I don’t buy the theory that Amendola’s absence is a “blessing in disguise” as some say but Bradford did do a terrific job of spreading it around.
– How about WR Brandon Gibson today? Seven catches for 91 yards including an absolutely jaw dropping one-handed grab for 22 yards on the final drive. Nice way to bounce back after a costly bobble on the opening drive.
– Rookie WR Chris Givens continues to hit home runs every week, this time for 65 yards. Strange that he was caught from behind on the play and he said as much when I asked him about it after the game. He didn’t think he had to slow down to make that catch but vowed that he won’t get caught from behind again. He continues to develop.
– Would have been nice to see fellow rookie WR Brian Quick get in the end zone near the end of the game.
– Oh, forgot to mention Bradford did a nice job of feeling pressure most of the day as he scrambled for 34 yards. That’s always a plus to give defenses more to think about.
– Have to like the job done by the O-line for the most part; especially blowing holes open on the ground. The Rams averaged 6 yards per carry on 27 attempts against Miami’s No. 1 ranked run defense which had been giving up just over 61 yards per game.
– RBs Steven Jackson and Daryl Richardson are doing an excellent job of feeding off each other. Jackson had 12 carries, Richardson had 11. Jackson brings the thunder and Richardson brings the lightning.
– Much like Givens, Richardson was surprised he was caught on his 44-yard scamper in the first half. Both have big time speed, have to wonder if the slow track from the rain and the heat kept them from getting up to full speed quicker.
– That’ll do it for this one. A tough loss but another performance for the Rams to build on heading into a tough one next week against a talented Green Bay squad. Thanks for reading.
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