First of all, before I get to the gory details, I have to apologize to anyone on Twitter who was around when I said this:
Not to blow sunshine up your ass, but there’s a real chance that the Rams win tonight. Doesn’t change the big picture, but would be nice.
Now, before you all stampede to the “unfollow” button, I offer these caveats: I was assuming that the Rams (a) played up to their potential, (b) didn’t make any stupid mistakes to give Seattle easy points, (c) didn’t lose any more cornerbacks to injury, and (d) had a Sam Bradford that had the eye of the tiger, or something like that.
Going 0-4 on my pre-game assumptions reminds me not to make any post-game assumptions. So for the time being, this will not be a forum on Spagnuolo’s job security, how many quarterbacks the Rams should have on their draft board, or where the team will be playing in 2015.
However, it’s worth saying this. We, as a fan base, are a sorry, shell-shocked bunch. We’ve been visually force-fed more misery and horror this season than Malcolm McDowell in A Clockwork Orange. It got so bad for the Rams in the red zone that the referees had to stop play on numerous occasions, call a foul on someone or other (penalty on … that guy, the one closest to me), and nudge the offense back to the goal line. It took the Rams six plays to get one yard to score their one alloted touchdown of the game.
Being a fan of this team is like being a fan of senile dementia. Or Alzheimer’s Disease. There’s no happiness at the end of the day, there’s only the release that comes in the knowledge that soon it will be over.
The box score is embarrassingly slim this week, as Sam Bradford did his usual thing of picking a receiver and locking on to him for the entire game. 12 targets for Brandon Lloyd (you’re welcome, Brandon Lloyd’s agent) and 9 total for all other WRs on the team.
For his part, Lloyd did make some plays to work himself into open space, throwing moves and jukes on the field as if they were Skittles. The Rams changed things up by lining him up on the right side for much of the game, and targeting Richard Sherman instead of Brandon Browner, who essentially played the whale to Lloyd’s Jonah in these teams’ last matchup.
But there were a few bright, shining moments when Bradford looked off his primary receiver, or looked off the apparent direction of the play, and was able to catch the defense flat-footed. One was a 26-yard pass to Lance Kendricks (terrible idea, I can see why they never went his way again). Another was an eye-popping 50-yard ramble on a screen pass to Steven Jackson that pretty much bent space and time.
76 yards on two pass plays. Throw in a 37-yarder to Lloyd late in the 4th, and you have the makings of a dynamic, explosive offense. Too bad the other 29 pass plays (counting sacks) totaled 54 yards of offense.
On defense, we saw pretty much the same five guys making plays over and over. James Laurinaitis. Darian Stewart. Chris Long. James Hall. Robert Quinn (who looked especially good off the snap tonight). With the exception of Hall, who is nearly as gray-bearded as I am, these are four talented young players that we can build around.
But by the end of the night, another cornerback (Josh Gordy) was lost to the trainer’s room, and you had Quintin Mikell lined up in man coverage out beyond the numbers, with James Butler backfilling in the safety spot. (I swear Butler was so confused by all the activity he actually tried to tackle Darian Stewart on one play.) After taking Tarvaris Jackson out of his comfort zone for an extended portion of the game, the injury-ravaged Rams gave up another allotment of cheap fourth-quarter yards and a blowout loss got even more blown out.
Skittles, and such. You know the rest.