Momentum is one of those indefinable quantities in professional sports that can quickly alter the direction - and outcome - of a game. And though it’s often times absurd to place blame, point fingers or ridicule one play or player, there are times where you wonder where momentum may have been thwarted.
Down 20-6 at the time - and just a couple of minutes into the fourth quarter - the Rams began to exhilarate fans and pump life back into an offense that was almost non-existent in the third quarter of the game as the Packers chewed up the precious clock. Consider it a flash or whatever, but the Rams offense once again gained life.
Starting at their own 20, the Rams embarked on what would be a six-play, 80-yard touchdown scoring drive. In just over three minutes, the Rams burst down the field capping off the scoring drive with a six-yard touchdown run by Steven Jackson. Enter momentum…
Despite the fact that the Rams just scored their first ‘real’ rushing touchdown of the 2012 season (sorry Sam), there were just over seven minutes remaining for them to open the door - and welcome in - Mr. Mo Mentum. After a first down pass to Randall Cobb, the Rams found themselves facing a 1st and 10 against the Packers offense at the 31 yard line. Knock, knock, knock!
|Green Bay Packers at 07:30|
|1-10-GB31||(7:30) J.Kuhn up the middle to GB 34 for 3 yards (J.Laurinaitis).|
|2-7-GB34||(6:52) A.Rodgers pass incomplete deep right to J.Nelson.|
|3-7-GB34||(6:45) (Shotgun) A.Rodgers pass short left to R.Cobb to GB 42…|
A first down was the result of an 8 yard pass play, in which the elusive Randall Cobb catches the ball, makes one shifty move - and in doing so - kills the momentum standing at the Rams doorstep.
Left to wrangle the aforementioned elusive receiver, Jo-Lonn Dunbar bites on the shiftiness of Cobb’s first move, and therefore allows the University of Kentucky grad [2nd in all-purpose yardage in 2012] to dive forward for an eight yard gain. The extra three feet earned the Packers a fresh set of downs. Approximately 4 minutes and 30 seconds later, Aaron Rodgers would again find Cobb…on a 39-yard, perfectly thrown, bullet in the end zone.
Dunbar’s missed tackle isn't to blame. Let’s face it, there are very few defensive players in the NFL that tackle Cobb in the open field. But did it kill the momentum for the Rams? Having been able to watch the game [a day late, unfortunately] I’d have to say it did. The Packers would have undoubtedly punted the ball had he fallen short, and given the Rams the ball back with plenty of time to even the score.
Optimistic? Maybe. The Rams receivers appeared to be have stick-um on their hands for the entirety of the first half, and even though the Rams were almost devoid of trotting the offense onto the field in the 3rd quarter, both Steven Jackson and Daryl Richardson were moving the ball well on the ground (both above 4.5 yards for the game).
It’s not a shoulda, coulda, or woulda, but the Rams were in this game, and had a chance to keep this game alive. This particular play - with 7:30 minutes left - was the end of it as far as I’m concerned. This is just an observation and personal opinion. There aren't many linebackers in the NFL who are going to prohibit Randall Cobb from getting three more feet. I will, however, continue to ponder what might’ve happened if Jo-Lonn Dunbar had made the play.