PITTSBURGH, PA - DECEMBER 24: A Pittsburgh Steelers holds up a sign during the game against the St. Louis Rams during the game on December 24, 2011 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
The St. Louis Rams lost their 13th game of the season, dropping to 2-13 for the year, the worst record since a 1-15 season in 2009, Steve Spagnuolo's debut season as head coach. Fitting, since today's results make it more likely than even that this will be Spagnuolo's last season as the Rams' head coach. Pittsburgh won by a final score of 27-0; it was the second time this season that the Rams have been shutout.
Every week Spagnuolo promises to stick to the plan, and his Rams team did exactly that today. An ineffective offense was aided by the usual tight-fisted game management of Steve Spagnuolo and Josh McDaniels. Despite a few gambles, including a fake punt that came up one yard short, the Rams mostly eschewed the kind of chances a desperate team should consider as they round out a lost season.
The specter of the Rams horrid run defense returned this week, giving up a 116-yard game to Rashard Mendenhall and a total of three rushing touchdowns in a losing effort. It doesn't get mentioned very often, but the front seven for the Rams defense has been healthy most of the season. They relapsed against a Pittsburgh offense without Ben Roethlisberger, starting center Maurkice Pouncey and backup tackles.
I can't say with any authority that the players have quit. They don't look like it. But it is fairly obvious that there just isn't any fight left in this team.
The Rams are now in a race with the Indianapolis Colts for the first pick in the 2012 NFL Draft, a commodity that one expert speculated could be worth at least a few first round picks. I don't think anyone is rooting for the Rams to lose - I'm not - it's just that the promise of having the first overall pick in a year when it could be traded for a bounty of other draft picks is one of the only bright spots in a disappointing season.
Another bright spot, Steven Jackson. He continued beast mode today, topping 100 yards and becoming just the seventh player in NFL history to accrue seven consecutive 1,000-yard rushing seasons. The guy deserves better than what this franchise has given him.
If Stan Kroenke wants to maintain any kind of fan interest in his team, he's going to have to make changes, big changes, to the leadership at Rams Park.