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Rams racked in New Orleans

December 12, 2010

It was an afternoon filled with opportunities for the St. Louis Rams. They could come into the Superdome and defeat the defending world champion New Orleans Saints and cement themselves as a deserving division leader.

But when the defending world champion has a distinct advantage at nearly every position, that’s pretty hard to do. And when you have more turnovers than a Betty Crocker cookbook, then it’s nearly impossible.

The Rams gave up a six and a half minute, 13-play, 72-yard opening drive that was capped off by a Marques Colston touchdown reception. Then at the end of a 20-yard Steven Jackson run on the Rams’ opening possession Jackson fumbled and the Saints recovered. They then proceeded on another six-plus minute touchdown drive ending with another Colston touchdown.

The Jackson fumble was an eerie sign for the rest of the game for the Rams. After two second-quarter Josh Brown field goals that cut the Saints’ lead to 14-6, the Rams recovered a fumble on the ensuing kickoff and tookover at the New Orleans’ 21. After a Jackson six-yard run Sam Bradford dropped back, looked left and found an open receiver but underthrew the pass and it was picked off and returned for a touchdown by Malcom Jenkins, which made the score 21-6 when it could’ve easily been 13-14 going into halftime.

Another Bradford red zone interception practically sealed the Rams’ fate for the day.

I know the Rams lost and it wasn’t pretty, but if the Rams can score on one of the red-zone interceptions and Josh Brown makes his missed field goal then it’s a totally different game. The Rams have either been in every game this year, save the Lions defeat, or have defeated themselves via poor playcalling or poor turnovers.

Even though they were down throughout the game the Rams didn’t look too bad. They picked off two Drew Brees passes, but the secondary did look silly on a couple of the touchdown passes. The Rams outgained the Saints on a per play basis and outrushed the Saints on a per-carry basis by more than a yard. The Rams showed some life in the second half and, really, all throughout the game, even though the score doesn’t show it.

The good:

  • Steven Jackson had his best yards per carry on the year, gaining six yards a tote for 96 total rushing yards. He also added four catches for 38 yards. One of his best efforts of the year.
  • Bradford’s hustle: Sam made two bad throws, but his 7.2 yards per attempt was his second-best of the year. But the outstanding thing Sam did today didn’t involve a football in his hands. After a Jackson goal-line carry in which he, according to the refs, fumbled Bradford chased down defensive back Roman Harper almost the entire length of the football field. The fumble was eventually overturned, but Bradford’s hustle should clearly win him more respect in the locker room and around the league.

The bad:

  • Turnovers: Jackson hadn’t fumbled in his last 562 touches before today. But his first-quarter fumble was a huge momentum changer and set the tone for the day. Bradford’s two red-zone interceptions took what should’ve been at least six points off the board, and gave seven points to the Saints right before halftime.
  • Third down: The Rams were 1-11….and The Saints were 11-16 on third-down conversions.

The ugly:

  • The Rams got into a big hole again and weren’t able to climb out of it this time, which is something they can’t afford to do anymore. They don’t face another offense as potent as the Saints, so if they do fall behind again it shouldn’t be as hard as it was today to mount a comeback. But the Rams need to be able to put points on the board early, and not settle for field goals when they’re in the red zone, which is something they did today.
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