In week two last season, the Rams very nearly beat Washington. That game was decided by some poor receiving performances by the Rams, most notably Donnie Avery who had 1 catch in 6 attempts. Avery fumbled the ball on the 5-yard line, and the resulting turnover prevented the Rams from kicking what would have been a deciding field goal.
Though I doubt it would have reversed fortunes for the Rams significantly, a win over Washington last year would definitely have changed the overall feel of the 2009 season. Dropping the first two games of the season has put the Rams in a similar place.
Of course, this is a ostensibly a much better Washington team, one that features Donovan McNabb at QB and Mike Shanahan as head coach. The Rams should be a better team this season as well, but their first two games have done little to reaffirm that. A loss this week could very well dash any momentum the Rams had this year, not to mention whatever bit of fan enthusiasm remains.
A few tidbits worth sharing about this week's opponent...
Washington was supposed to have solved their offensive line issues with the first round selection of Trent Williams, who protected Sam Bradford during their playing days at Oklahoma. He left this week's game with a bruised knee and sprained toe, and his status for this week is uncertain. Tomorrow's practice will reveal more about his availability. If Williams is out this week, Shanahan could slide Jammal Brown to the left side and put Stephon Heyer on the right. Heyer replaced Williams last week and promptly got flagged for holding, negating a big play that Washington really could have used before eventually losing to Houston in OT.
Brown missed last season, and is said to still be finding his form. Mario Williams dominated Washington's line last week with 3 sacks, though McNabb still manged to throw for 426 yards.
The Rams didn't do a great job taking advantage of a weakened Oakland offensive line last week. If they intend to win this game, it will mean getting pressure on Donovan McNabb whose performance dropped off considerably after Williams left the game last week.
Washington has relied heavily on the passing game (small sample size warning), averaging 282 yards per game, but with just one receiving TD to show for their effort. They're averaging just 53.5 yards per game on the ground, with 2 rushing TDs, both of which came last week. Cowboys OT Alex Barron played the role of midwife in Washington's week 1 victory, getting flagged for holding on a play that would have resulted in a score.
Speaking of adjustments, maybe the Rams game plan this week will get some information from Pat Shurmur, McNabb's former QB coach with the Eagles, where he started working in 1999, McNabb's rookie year.