Rams win the turnover battle, lose the game

The Rams won the battle of the turnovers against the Falcons, finishing with a +3 margin thanks to some beautiful work by our no-names in the secondary and Ron Bartell's forced fumble.That was the same turnover margin as the San Francisco game the week before.

It's too bad because the Rams played a good game, maybe their best of the season considering the quality of the opponent. I hate when turnovers get the blame for a team's shortcomings, because teams don't lose just because of turnovers though that's been cited several times throughout the season as part of the Rams failings.

Several areas where the Rams need to improve were on display yesterday, and had the necessary parts been in place for those gaps the Falcons would not have been able to overcome their three turnovers...thus allowing them to wrongly blame turnovers for their loss.

And what were those parts? As if Atlanta's 263 yards rushing weren't enough of a clue... Atlanta was perfect in the red zone and goal to go situations, and two second quarter TDs exposed the weak middle of the Rams run defense. On first and goal at the 9-yard line, the Michael Turner punched it in for a TD with a run through the right end. Later, after a bout with botched punt coverage, Jerious Norwood had an 8-yard TD run through the left tackle hole.

Atlanta's running backs continually broke through the front line and ofter danced beyond  the second tier, the linebackers' territory. When (note I'm not "saying" if) the Rams add a big run stuffing DT that won't happen as much. When (again not "if") they upgrade to a true middle linebacker, it'll happen even less. And there's one other part in the middle we need to mention, strong safety. Todd Johnson's done a fine job filling in for the over-the-hill Corey Chavous, but a real tackling machine in that spot would end the regular 200-yard rushing days for the Rams opponents.

And that's this morning's edition of "what we learned."

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