The St. Louis Rams took a trip to London. They would like to forget that trip.
There's not a lot of positives to take away from this one, folks. Against the Patriots in London, the Rams were thrown down to a rain-soaked, slippery field, walked all over and unceremoniously kicked for good measure. For the second straight week, an elite offense captained by an All-Pro quarterback picked apart what fans had been led to believe is a top-notch defense.
Well, is it? Are the Rams the team that recaptured a fan base with an unforeseen 3-2 start? Or are they still a struggling squad without an identity - the kind that caps off a three game losing streak with a negative 38 point differential?
Oh, bloody hell - let's get on with it.
Rams rocked by Patriots - When a former Super Bowl MVP, future first ballot Hall of Fame quarterback gets to watch the fourth quarter unfold from the sideline, it typically translates disaster for the team on the opposite end. That was equally true Sunday at Wembley when Tom Brady triumphantly vacated the field following a 304 yard, 4 touchdown performance to derail the vacationing St. Louis Rams. The good news? The Rams now get a full two weeks to stew on their abysmal showing in London, facing a bye week. The bad? Next on the schedule is an equally - if not more - impressive opponent in the San Francisco 49ers.
Post-game report card - Position by position - coaches included - the Rams make their trip back to the States with a perfect ‘D' grade point average, salvaged only by a decent showing by the running back group. Most notably of whom, Steven Jackson, saw less than double digit touches for the first time since injury sidelined him in the beginning of 2011. Rookies Daryl Richardson and even Isaiah Pead - long after garbage time began - impressed in their limited supply. Yes, Pead's 32 yards on the ground trumped his preceding total on the year of one.
Sam Bradford started the way a former No. 1 overall pick should be expected, hitting Chris Givens for yet another 50 yard catch that was the game's first score. After that, neither Sam nor the receivers did anything worthy of note. On Bradford's lone interception, Brian Quick could be seen walking towards the sideline before his opposing defender had even been touched down.
As for the defense, well, what defense? It was as if the entire unit hadn't made the trip. The foundation of what was supposed to be an emerging violent defense - the front four - got destroyed. Tom Brady went largely untouched and New England's stable of small name running backs combined for 154 yards on only 24 carries.
Bernie's quick hits - Bernie Miklasz of the Post-Dispatch hits on all of the hit key points from yesterday's disaster. Many thought the Rams' decision to make the trip to London several days before the Patriots would give them an edge in preparation. For whatever reason, they were wrong. Let's face it - regardless of the venue, the Rams were not going to win this game, but depriving St. Louis of eight real "home" games hurts. After all, that's the only place they win.
Brandon Lloyd showed the latest of his former teams no mercy, catching two balls which were both touchdowns. Rob Gronkowski, for whom conventional wisdom implies the Rams would have been better prepared, had his best game on the year. Several positions on offense take a lot of flak for need of upgrade, but the safeties are as bad as any position on the team.
This was supposed to be a game of brand expansion and growth for the franchise. Well, Europe, here are the St. Louis Rams.
Sando's wrap-up - Remember that staggering secondary that forced 8 interceptions in the first 4 games? Well they haven't caused a turnover since. Kevin Kolb, Ryan Tannehill Aaron Rodgers and now Tom Brady have escaped a contest with the Rams without such a blemish on the stat sheet. It's no coincidence that 3 out of 4 of those quarterbacks left those games with a victory. The defense as a whole hasn't forced a takeaway since Robert Quinn's sack/forced fumble of Kolb 12 quarters ago.
Steven Jackson trade rumors heat up - The burning question on the minds of all Ram fans is just what does the future hold for long-time face of the franchise, Steven Jackson. No one wants to see him leave, but everyone wants to see him win. Therein lies the problem. It's now all but a foregone conclusion that the Rams and Jackson will part ways after the season; however, recent reports suggest it could happen much sooner.
What is SJ39 worth on the trade block, particularly to a running back-starved playoff contender - looking at you, Green Bay - and what value does he hold to the Rams? At best, he'd probably fetch a mid-round pick, but another player is a possibility. I'd just hope that he'd fall into a good situation - not a Brandon Lloyd to St. Louis type of situation.