Credit the St. Louis Rams for playing a good game, despite losing their 13th contest of the season. The results were especially encouraging given the team's extensive list of players on injured reserve or the sidelines.
The offense did a much better job moving the ball than they did against the Titans last week. Nevertheless, they just don't have the talent to overcome the slightest mistake, say a rookie QB under pressure and throwing the ball blindly down the field for an easy INT. The worst part of it was that the Texans scored on the ensuing drive, giving them a lead the Rams could not overcome. You can go line by line through the play-by-play and find those difference makers that better teams can play through and keep driving the ball for results.
On the other side of the ball, the Rams defense had a good day, except for getting burned again and again by the deep ball. Oshiomogho Atogwe and Bradley Fletcher are greatly missed by this Rams secondary, which is not to say that Craig Dahl, filling in for Atogwe, didn't play well; I just the chances for the Rams to play the ball more with Togs in the lineup. Still, despite Andre Johnson's 200-yard day (196 actually) the Rams kept him out of the end zone and limited Houston to just one touchdown. They really did a good a job as a unit missing so many starters.
I know we have the "Draft Suh" contingent here, but I would still have liked to see the Rams get the win. The close ones are the toughest to take, no matter how much you expect it. It would have been a huge stride forward for the organization. Nevertheless, Spagnuolo's group showed lots of promise and made it easier to see what GM Billy Devaney was talking about in his Friday chat with fans when he said the team has fewer holes to fill.
Once again the rookie from West Texas A&M showed real moxie. He was poised and bounced back from mistakes. Null even showed showed some emotion, something fans were pleasantly surprised to see from their QBs. Two fumbles resulting from bad snaps reminded us that the spread offense and DII football remained a part of Null, and the INT was the definition of a rookie move. Experience should cure that. Maybe I was a bit premature in dubbing it the best performance from a Rams QB this season, very premature, but it is clear who should start the next two games, the last two games of the season.
The Offensive Line
This group had become such a team strength until injuries started to take their toll. Jacob Bell went to IR and Richie Incognito got himself released, leaving the Rams without both starting guards this week. Mark Setterstrom, on the left, and John Greco, on the right, did well for themselves today. It was a little rough in the running game in the early going and at times throughout the game. It's important to remember, however, that the Texans have a strong front seven on defense. It's clear this unit is better with Jason Smith, but this group had a decent outing today, certainly better than they did last week. I still like out depth at guard.
Once again Alex Barron weakened the unit as a whole. He let Mario Williams get around him to recover a fumble. The troubled tackle's most egregious offense came on the last drive of the fourth quarter when he got beat and Null got sacked for a loss of 8 yards. That made it 3rd-and-19. Game over. I don't see how the Rams can bring back Barron in 2010.
Hats off the special teams once again. Not only have the Rams found a solid return man with good vision to match his speed in Danny Amendola, who averaged 31 yards on kickoff returns, they've got a good group of blockers and coverage guys assembled. Josh Brown was nails on the distance shots today, hitting a 52-yarder to make him 5 for 6 on FG attempts of 50 or more yards. Donnie Jones is really getting jobbed by the fact that he's not even in contention for a Pro Bowl nod.