I learned two things while watching the Rams at a Dave & Busters with my family and a group of Rams fans. 1: The amount of time it takes for the D&B sensory overload to reduce my four-year-old son to a quivering puddle of nerves and tears is approximately two hours. 2: The amount of time it takes for Tom Brady and the Patriots to do the same to the Rams defense is a lot less.
The first five drives engineered by Brady and former Rams offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels ended in touchdowns. The sixth in a field goal. At that point, the Patriots were up 38-7 and the drama had been sucked out of a packed Wembley Stadium.
The game didn't have to get to this point. The Rams opened the game with a confident drive, moving the chains to midfield and then taking advantage of the weak Patriots secondary with a beautiful designed rollout and deep throw to Chris Givens for the game's opening score.
It was to be the last highlight of the day for the "home" team, and the hundreds of true-blue Rams fans among them seeing their team in person for the first time.
Pass Defense Exposed
The Rams surprised many – including their own fans – by fielding one of the NFL's best pass defenses through the season's first six weeks. However, that defense has regressed badly lately.
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Elite quarterbacks have a way of exposing holes in even the best defenses, especially when they aren't pressured. The Rams registered exactly 0 sacks and 0 knockdowns of Brady on the day, as Chris Long and Robert Quinn were completely bottled up by the well-coached line and Brady's rapid recognition of when and where the holes in the Rams' zone defense would open up.
Holes appeared to be open all over the field, particularly in the vulnerable middle patrolled by safeties Quintin MIkell and Craig Dahl. Even without Aaron Hernandez in tow to draw coverage away, Rob Gronkowski had a full day's work in the first half alone: 106 yards receiving and a touchdown. He tacked on an additional 40 yards and another score in the second half, to put the icing on the cake.
Former Ram Brandon Lloyd also caught touchdowns on his only two catches of the day, and applied himself well to his blocking assignments to spring multiple long gains via the run and the pass.
The Rams' pass defense was little better against the run, as Stevan Ridley and Shane Vereen took advantage of our nickel package to do damage on draw plays.
For those fans lucky enough to see their team in person for the first time, this whole week has been a geek-out lovefest. Unfortunately, the game didn't live up to the billing. But the Rams now have a bye week to lick their wounds, nail down some holes, and get some key players back from the trainer's room. They face a relatively friendly back half of the schedule, with only San Francisco (twice) looming as monster matchup problems. Fans looking for a happy story will have to look to the future, because it wasn't to be found this week.