– In the immediate aftermath of a disappointing 36-22 loss in which the Rams didn’t seem to get much of anything going until the second half, coach Jeff Fisher addressed his team in the locker room. Part of that address, per QB Sam Bradford, was the news that any remaining hopes the Rams had of making the playoffs in 2012 had essentially come to an end.
– It was painful to hear, according to Bradford, especially considering it was a home game in which the Rams seemed to have a glorious opportunity to extend their win streak to four and go over .500 for the first time this late in the season in a long time.
“It’s pretty disheartening,” Bradford said. “Obviously we knew that we had a shot. If we wanted to get there, we’d probably have to win the remainder of our games and this being our last home game, it was probably one of our best opportunities for a victory so to not be able to win this game at home is extremely frustrating.”
– The loss drops the Rams to 6-7-1 on the season and though it does nothing to diminish the fact that this team, only a year removed from 2-14, was playing in a meaningful December game one year later, it was a frustrating way to have any postseason hopes dashed.
– More on the game in a moment but let’s get to the injury front where there’s one worth reporting.
– Fisher said after the game that RG Harvey Dahl suffered a significant arm injury, believed to be a torn biceps that will almost certainly end his season. More will be known on Dahl on Monday but Shelley Smith replaced him when the injury happened late and finished the game.
– WR Danny Amendola made his return after two weeks and finished with six catches for 58 yards and a touchdown with a 2-point conversion. And for those wondering, Amendola spiked the ball and inadvertently hit an usher in the face with the ball. He didn’t do it on purpose but said he felt bad after it happened. He made it up to him by signing a ball and giving it to him later on.
– As for the game, the Rams have had a bad habit of late of starting slowly. It’s the opposite of what they did in the first quarter of the season or so and though they’ve been able to overcome it of late, they dug the hole too deep in the first half Sunday, falling behind by the insurmountable margin of 30-7.
– The culprit for the tough first half? What else, turnovers? They are always going to come back to hurt you, especially in your own territory and it killed the Rams Sunday. A fumble and a pick-6 resulted in 10 points and that was essentially all she wrote.
– Well, that and another super human performance by RB Adrian Peterson. What a player he is. It’s frustrating to watch him gash your team for huge runs but it’s hard to deny that his talent is something to behold. The Rams defense did a fine job on him for 22 of his 24 carries but those other two killed the Rams and they came at the most inopportune times.
– Fisher put the blame on himself and his staff for a bad call on the 82-yard TD run and the Rams simply didn’t make a tackle on the 52-yarder that helped Minnesota ice it. Big plays like that lead to victories. Two takeaways and two long runs accounted for 20 of Minnesota’s points, safe to say those four plays were the difference in the game.
– A rough day at the office in the first half for the Rams offense and everyone was struggling according to Fisher. He mentioned dropped ball, protection issues and missed throws by Bradford. It was no coincidence that when the protection got better, the Rams made a spirited comeback in the second half.
– Speaking of which, it says a lot about this team that it battled back and was within 12 yards of a one score game inside the two-minute warning. It was too little, too late of course but it still shows the spirit of this team.
– Bradford struggled in the first half but came to life in the second. He finished with 377 yards on 35-of-55 passing with three touchdowns and one interception for a rating of 94.3. He was sacked four times and harrassed many others but – and he was the first to say it after the game – the interception he threw to Minnesota DE Everson Griffen is inexcusable. As he said, he has to see that defender there.
– A big congratulations to RB Steven Jackson for going over 10,000 yards. He’s the 27th player in league history to do it and he’s now inside 100 yards from another 1,000-yard season. It’s a shame the Rams fell so far behind because the running game was working and the Rams could have kept it rolling had the game been closer. Jackson finished with 146 yards of total offense. Strong performance from him again.
– Nice catch by rookie WR Brian Quick for a 4-yard TD. Here’s hoping that’s one of many just like that he’ll get in his career.
– Tough day at the office for P Johnny Hekker and K Greg Zuerlein. Hekker had a couple of poor punts including a 25-yard shank and Zuerlein badly missed a 57-yard FG attempt.
– Overall, the defense actually did a pretty good job all things considered. They were backed up a number of times and held Minnesota to field goals. But they also knew coming in they couldn’t allow Peterson to break the big one. Obviously, the first one they got caught in a bad look defensively but the second one was important too. At that point, it’s an 11 point game and a quick stop with about 6 minutes to go in the game would have given the offense a fighting chance to truly get back in it.
– So now there are two games left to play, games that don’t mean much in the big picture of the playoff chase but they mean a lot to the Rams. Fisher has preached improvement for his team from day one to the last day of the season. He will have this team ready to play and look to close 2012 strong with two tough road games to play. There’s a lot to build on from this season already but the Rams want to put some more blocks in place for next season.
– Thanks for reading. Good night.
Posted in From the Sidelines | 1 Comment »
– Bradford finds Amendola for a 6-yard touchdown pass. Rams trim Minnesota’s lead to 33-14 with 13:39 to go.
– A long way to go to get back in this one but points always welcome at this point in the game.
– A defensive stop and a 15-yard penalty got it back for the offense.
– Bradford finds Kendricks for another 6-yard touchdown and a 2-point conversion makes it 33-22 Minnesota.
– Peterson strikes again, breaking two tackles and darting 52 yards to Rams territory.
– Walsh hits again from 51 yards this time. Impressive kid.
– Vikings lead 36-22 with 5:31 to go.
– Rams got to midfield on a long completion to Pettis but that was the end of that drive as four straight incompletions ended the drive. Minnesota takes over at the Rams’ 49.
– Rams got a stop and got it back at their 12.
– The Rams got Minnesota’s 12 but couldn’t convert on fourth-and-3.
– Vikings take over and will run it out.
– Minnesota wins it 36-22.
– The Vikings started the second half with the ball and went three and out.
– Needing a score, the Rams offense got a 13-yard run by Jackson but that was about it and they couldn’t move the chains again.
– Minnesota takes over at its 40 after a 25-yard punt by Hekker.
– Walsh hits from 53 yards out to make it 33-7 with 5:56 to go in the third quarter.
– A little history for the Rams here as Jackson rips off a 9-yard run that pushes him past the 10,000-yard mark for his career. He’s the 27th player in league history to reach that number.
– At the end of the third quarter, Minnesota leads 33-7.
– After an incompletion, the Rams converted on third down with a 7-yard completion to Amendola.
– On the next play, Bradford hit Chris Givens for a gain of 22 to Minnesota’s 20.
– Jackson ran for 4 on first down there to make it second and 6.
– A 12-yard strike to Gibson made it first and goal at the 4.
– On the next play, Bradford floated a jump ball to rookie WR Brian Quick, who made a spectacular leaping catch for an apparent touchdown.
– After a review, the play stands and the Rams tie it at 7 with 12:39 to go in the second quarter.
– Minnesota started from its 18 and wasted no time getting it back.
– And who else but Peterson to make it happen. He took a draw handoff and raced 82 yards right down the middle for a touchdown.
– Minnesota back in front 14-7 with 12:21 to go in the half.
– On third and 2 from their 28, Bradford and Wells missed on a snap and Chad Greenway recovered at the Rams’ 28.
– The defense did the job in holding Minnesota to a 50-yard field goal, which K Blair Walsh converted to make it 17-7 Minnesota with 9:11 to go in the first half.
– Could have been worse for the Rams but still a costly turnover after Peterson’s big run.
– It did just get worse as Bradford telegraphed a pass intended for TE Lance Kendricks. Minnesota DE Everson Griffen jumped in front and returned it 29 yards for a touchdown.
– Minnesota leads 24-7 with 8:25 to go. Just a devastating 5 minutes for the Rams here.
– They start again at their 20.
– Three and out with two sacks allowed. After a game-tying touchdown, things have really slipped away fast for the Rams here.
– Minnesota takes over at its 32.
– Methodically, the Vikings moved into Rams territory and scored another 3 on a 38-yard field goal from Walsh. Minnesota leads 27-7 with 3:11 to go in the half.
– Rams start from their 14 and get a first down on second and 6 as Bradford finds Gibson for 11 to the Rams 29.
– Rams moved as far as Minnesota’s 34 but costly penalties and missed connections led to a missed 57-yard FG by Zuerlein.
– Vikings take over at their 47.
– Minnesota moved to the Rams’ 24 to set up a 42-yard field goal for Walsh.
– Walsh converted and Minnesota carries a dominant 30-7 lead into the locker room. Vikings scored 23 points in the second quarter.
– The Vikings won the toss and deferred. The Rams will receive first.
– The Rams started from their 12.
– Bradford hits Jackson for 11 on first down to move the chains but that was all for the drive.
– A second down sack by Minnesota DE Brian Robison pushed the Rams back 8 and killed the drive.
– The Vikings get it at the Rams’ 45 with great field position for their first drive. Not the ideal start for the Rams here.
– Taking advantage of prime field positon, the Vikings surprisingly did most of their damage through the air as Ponder hit TE Kyle Rudolph for a gain of 14 on first down and Jerome Simpson for 11 two plays later.
– He followed with 13 more yards to WR Michael Jenkins to the Rams’ 7.
– The Vikings converted on fourth and 1 at the Rams 7 with a 5-yard defensive holding penalty.
– On third and goal at the Rams’ 5, Ponder appeared dead to rights but escaped a sack by DE Robert Quinn and ran it in for a touchdown and a 7-0 Minnesota lead with 7:07 to go in the first quarter.
– Big miss there for the Rams defense. Despite being backed up, had a chance to force a field goal and didn’t do it. That’s something they’ve done well this year in those situations.
– The Rams start again from their 20.
– Bradford hit Amendola for 8 on first down and two Jackson runs netted 28 yards to Minnesota’s 44.
– That drive died in Minnesota territory after a holding penalty on Rodger Saffold moved the Rams back 10 yards.
– A strong punt by Hekker pinned the Vikings at their 8.
– After a quick first down, the Rams defense got the job done as Janoris Jenkins dropped Peterson for a loss of 3 on first down at the 21.
– The Rams get it back at their 27.
– A 3-yard run by Richardson was followed by 15 yards to Brandon Gibson to the 45.
– On the final play of the first quarter, Jackson ran for 6 to move it to Minnesota’s 49.
– At the end of one, Minnesota leads 7-0.
– Greetings from the Edward Jones Dome where the Rams and the Vikings are getting ready to square off to stay alive in the NFC playoff picture.
– A lot to take in here today as both teams are battling for their playoff lives, it’s fan appreciation day, RB Steven Jackson is closing in on some historic milestones and so much more.
– Good news for the Rams on the injury front as WR Danny Amendola makes his return from a foot injury. Keep an eye on him as he stops and starts. He’s having no problem accelerating and getting up to speed but it’s “catching” himself that has bothered him in recent week.
– No surprise but after missing a couple practices earlier in the week, the Rams will have the services of CB Cortland Finnegan and LB James Laurinaitis.
– The Rams inactives: QB Austin Davis, DT Matt Conrath, T Joe Barksdale, OL Chris Williams, RB Terrance Ganaway, WR Steve Smith and TE Mike McNeill.
– Minnesota’s inactives: QB McLeod Bethel-Thompson, CB Brandon Burton, LB Audie Cole, T Troy Kropog, G Mark Asper, TE Allen Reisner and DE D’Aundre Reed.
– CB Antoine Winfield is active this week after sitting out practice with a knee injury.
– Rams are wearing all blue today, as usual at home.
– Stay tuned for updates throughout the day.
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