– 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 »