To begin let me share the statistic that 22 of the 177 teams that have started a season 0-2 have made the playoffs. It is not out of the realm of possibilities but the math leads us to believe making it to the post season is easier when you are 1-1. For the Rams to avoid their fifth consecutive 0-2 start a lot of good decisions and even bigger plays would have to be made.
The Rams jumped right in. Making four big decisions before the game was underway. Spagnuolo decided to sit Jackson. Which I completely am on board with. Even after seeing the outcome of the game. See Arian Foster, trying to come back too soon and aggravating his injury even further. As nice and helpful as it would have been to start 1-1, losing your Pro Bowl running back for the bulk of the year would hurt a lot worse than starting 0-2.
Activating Danario Alexander and Robert Quinn and inserting Greg Salas into the slot to start for injured Danny Amendola were the other pre-game moves. All of which would have an impact in one way or another in the Rams first Monday Night Football game since 2006. Some almost immediately.
It was evident from play 1 that the Rams were deviating away from the fan favorite (sarcasm) dink & dunk approach that has done so well for them (again sarcasm). One has to wonder if as Will pointed out, not having Amendola available, opened up Bradford to the possibility that other receivers are out there as well. Some even down field. Last night we got to see a bit of McDaniels playbook and in true New England fashion Bradford found seven different receivers.
That is pretty much where the good decisions ended. Sure there were some big plays made and they are all included below. But aside from DX breaking out (really makes one questions Spags decision last week not to use him) in front of a National audience and Mikell and Laurinaitis making plays all over the field there was far too little of the good to make up for the bad. As Roger Saffold said in his post game interview, “we shot ourselves in the foot so much there was no foot left.”
Salas could not have done worse. In a pre game twitter conversation with myself and other bloggers and fans I lauded the starting of Salas. Crow does not taste good. These rookies are making far too many mistakes and they are costing the Rams games. With his muffed punt and drop on 3rd and short inside the 5 yard line the case can be made that Salas took was responsible for a 14 pt swing last night.
That about sums it up. Eight penalties for 85 yards, four 1st downs given as a result of penalties and a drive or two killed because of them. The Rams were undisciplined and lack apparent focus throughout the game. This falls on both the players and the coaches. The Red Zone offense was embarrassing and as well as Bradford played he has to do a better job with the blitz and reading the coverage inside the 20.
It wasn’t all bad, just most of it. And there were positives to take away from the game. I have sprinkled them in with the bad below. How the Rams learn from it and use it against the Ravens after a short week will surely play into this column next Monday.
1st and 10 for NY. Q. Mikell with the INT as the Giants moved the ball well on the ground. Bradshaw having his way with Rams run D and Eli’s 2nd pass of the night goes for naught.
Decision to come out passing set the tone immediately. Rams letting it be know they would not dink and dunk their way down the field tonight.
Sims-Walker on 2nd and 15 big first down for a gain of 23. Sims biggest contribution of the year. Surpasses his week 1 total all together. Play came after a bad 1st down screen for -5 yards.
3rd and 10 – Helluva pass and catch for 68 yards. Even better play by DX to get up and keep going. Horrible goal line offense however only leads to a Rams FG. Points off of turnover is always good though. Josh Brown FG.
3rd and 10 for Giants at their own 21 yard line goes incomplete. Rams get a quick 3 and out with a chance to take control and Salas fumbles on punt return. Terrible…just terrible. Gives Giants short field to work with. Turnover battle is key to game.
Huge 4th down conversion for Giants. 4th and 4 and PI call on Fletcher. Catch looked good as well. Rams and Bradley Fletcher cannot let that play happen. Two plays later Fletcher burned again on the TD pass to Nicks. Back to the ball.
*Points off turnovers: Rams: 3, Giants: 7*
Rams come out slinging again with no huddle. 3rd and 5 completion to Kendricks for 26 yards puts the Rams back into the RZ. Bradford already showing No huddle can be effective.
Shady “fake injury” by Giants Grant to slow down the no huddle.
3rd and goal (again) pass to Salas for the 1st down but he cannot hold on. Rams again fail to put up 7 and twice having the ball inside the 10 yard line can manage only 6 points. Moving the ball much better this week but no when and where it matters…so far. Josh Brown FG
Spags and McDaniels deciding to air it out and go no huddle was the biggest decision in the 1st quarter. Bradford 7-13 for 142 yards with three passes of more than 20+ yards. Some big misses in the RZ.
Sam to Sims-Walker for 33 yards on 1st down takes the Rams across mid-field. Bradford so far has targeted 6 different WR’s including Cadillac. Rams continuing to move the ball well and two plays later the Rams are on the NY 25.
Another HUGE mistake by the Rams goes for 6 the other way. On 2nd and 8 a lateral pass to Cadillac is dropped and picked up by NY the other way 65 yards for a TD. Rams were within FG range and even a FG would have put them on top. 10 point swing.
*Points off of Turnovers: Rams: 3, Giants :14*
Rams muff a return again giving themselves horrible field position and in return giving NY great field position with a quick 3 and out. Disaster is averted however as Rams force a 3 and out of their own. 3rd and 13 for Giants. Good stop by the Rams who needed a stop here to stay in the game. Rams D keeping St. Louis in this game.
First 8 minutes of 2nd quarter have been a battle of field position. Both Defenses forcing 3rd and longs and Rams offense is beginning to check down a bit more.
Nice 29 yard return for Greg Salas. As much for the Rams as for his confidence. Tack on a 15 penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct and Rams have the ball at mid-field.
Mistakes again hurt the rams when 3rd and short goes to 3rd and long on a False Start by Saffold. And a drive that began with great field position ends with a punt.
Giants drive before half, finally complete a 3rd down and Rams secondary is burned big downfield on the next play. Mikell and Harris nowhere near the play for a gain of 31. Very next play 21 yard TD pass were Dahl completely shits the bed. Manning goes 6/6 on the drive.
Rams dominated both on offense and defense nearly the entire first half yet came into half down 21-6. Mistakes, penalties, breakdowns and of course drops have doomed them once again.
Rams come out slinging it again. Big pass to Gibson for 18 yards and one DX for 35 yards gets Rams into RZ for 3rd time today.. Again failure. Salas catches and hesitates getting tackles short of a 1st down. Alexander wide open for the TD but Bradford cannot get it to him. Josh Brown with a chip shot FG.
Penalty after penalty after penalty. On 3 straight plays Rams penalties for 15, then 5, then 17 yards give the Giants the ball on the 25 yard line. This falls on the coaching as well. Need to be more disciplined.
Robert Quinn with his first NFL sack on a big 2nd down play. Bringing up 3rd and 18. And a great chance for Rams to hold NY to a FG. A 3rd and 18 screen pass to Bradshaw goes for 23 yards and a 1st and goal. Very next play Quinn over pursued and Brandon Jacobs ran in for the TD.
Bradford to Sims-Walker for 15 yards and a much needed 3rd down conversion on 3rd and 7. Then on first down Kendricks misses the call into motion and Bradford is sacked for a 15 yard loss.
Going for it on 4th and 5. Bradford to Sims-Walker. Bradford changed protection and the line, got the blitz picked up and the 1st down to Sims-Walker for 11 yards. Into the dreaded red zone but then on 3rd and 10.YES YES YES! DX with the 19 yard TD reception.
The decision to kick the extra point. Going for the 2 pt conversion, and or course converting would have made it a one TD one FG game. Rather than needing two TD’s.
Bradford 20-39 for 321 and a TD
Good coverage by Fletcher on Nicks and on next play sack by James Hall on 3rd and 7 to force Giants punt. Give the Rams the ball with 12 minutes to go. Not going for 2 might come into play.
3rd and 7…off of Bajema’s facemask. Punt. Another catchable ball hits the ground incomplete and stalls the Rams comeback.
8 minutes to go 3rd and 2 for NY. And perhaps the biggest defensive play of the game for the Rams. Sack by Chris Long to force the punt. Rams will get the ball with a lot of time still to go.
Great kick pins the Rams inside their own 5 but personal foul on Giants give the Rams another 15 yards. Now starting at the 20.
3rd and 7 Bradford looks deep for Salas has him open..and…drop. Pass was low but catchable. Have to make that play. Gave the ball back to the Giants who began trying to run out as much clock as they could.
3rd and 2 Giants hand it to DJ Ware who runs for the first down. Rams do stop on next series as Giants go for it on 4th and 1 to get it back but with only 2 minutes to go and still needing 2 scores this pretty much does it for the Rams.
The Rams 8th penalty of the night negates a first down and brings up a 3rd and 38. Fitting that a ball off the hands would end the night for the Rams.