The last three weeks for the Rams [outside of the bye] have yielded a less-than-desired result; each in their own way. It doesn't seem all that long ago that Rams fans pondered obtaining their first road win. The focus now has shifted to simply chalking up another much needed win anywhere they can find one.
@ Detroit Lions (Week 1): There are sixty minutes in a game. The 2012 Rams - a team brought about by the winds of change - were being given their first opportunity to prove that they’d turned the page on recent seasons' of woe. They played extremely tough for the first 59min 50sec’s of that game. Dagger! The Lions lone passing touchdown with ten seconds remaining determined the outcome of a very promising start to the Rams season.
Matthew Stafford, in terms of yardage, looked to have a successful game through the air. The Rams defense, however, limited Calvin Johnson [minus one 51 yard catch…which by the way is still his season long], and were able to snag three INT’s during the game. There hasn't been a more disappointing ten seconds of Rams football…
@ Chicago Bears (Week 3): At this point, we know that the Bears have one of the fiercest defenses in the NFL. Some are even making comparisons to the great ‘85 Bears D. For the Rams, that meant a back-to-Earth defeat following their Week 2 victory against the Washington Redskins in the Edward Jones Dome. Their first chance at streaking, however, fell well short of fruition. The Rams struggled to move the ball in every facet of the offense. Sam Bradford finished the game with 152 passing yards, and the combined "rushing attack" of Steven Jackson and Daryl Richardson amassed only 45 rushing yards combined. Clearly, that lead to no TD’s. A game that appeared close going into the fourth quarter was busted open when two 4th quarter interceptions (one which went for six) sealed the deal for the Bears. It wasn’t really as close as the box score would suggest…
A couple of grueling, must watch [and watch again] NFC West Match-ups against the Seattle Seahawks and Arizona Cardinals respectively, and the Rams found themselves in a position to capitalize on their first opportunity at a three-game winning streak since 2006. Sitting at 3-2, having just dominated the undefeated Cardinals, the Rams had proven that a trip to St. Louis wouldn’t equate to an easy road win for any of their opponents. But would the Dolphins prove to be an easy road win for the Rams?
@ Miami Dolphins (Week 6): Lead by rookie Quarterback Ryan Tannehill, the resurgent running game of Reggie Bush, and league-leading WR Brian Hartline…the answer would ultimately be no. If foreshadowing could’ve told the tale, then the 2nd play of the game in which Daryl Richardson broke a 44-yard run to the Dolphins 31 would’ve been the time. Sadly, it wasn’t meant to be. Immediately after that run a 5-yard scamper, an incomplete pass, and a sack forced the Rams to call out their most reliable player… Greg Zuerlein. Suffering a 17-13 loss, it would’ve behooved the Rams to find the end zone early on in that game. They, however, relied on "Greg the Leg" twice in the first quarter. The end to their second drive may have been more disappointing than the first.
1st and 10 at MIA 11
(Shotgun) S.Bradford pass incomplete short right to S.Jackson
2nd and 10 at MIA 11
(Shotgun) S.Bradford pass short right to D.Richardson to MIA 14 for -3 yards
3rd and 13 at MIA 14
(Shotgun) S.Bradford pass incomplete short left to A.Pettis
4th and 13 at MIA 14
…and that brings us to present day, in regards to road games. The Rams have had a bye week to collect themselves. They haven’t won since Week 5 when they dominated the Arizona Cardinals at home. Since then, a win slipped away in Miami and they’ve suffered likely losses to the Packers and Patriots.
Regardless of the past, the Rams have had nothing but success against the NFC West in 2012. The 49ers, however, are undoubtedly their toughest divisional opponent of the season. It’s clear that the 49ers have talent - and possibly enough to win the NFC - but they’ve also proven vulnerable against a ‘lesser’ opponents.
The 49ers have shown they can dominate a team. Including their disappointing losses to the Vikings and Giants, the 49ers still have averaged 22 PPG…a figure that the Rams haven’t scored since Week 2’s win against the Redskins. The 49ers, through Week 9, boast some pretty impressive team statistics on both sides of the ball:
#1 Rushing Offense: 168.6 YPG
#2 Passing Defense : 184 YPG
#5 Rushing Defense : 87.4 YPG
#2 Overall Defense : 271.4 YPG
An intimidating opponent? Mm-hmm. The Rams have faced intimidating before, though. When the undefeated Cardinals came to town in Week 5, there weren't many ‘experts’ who gave the Rams a chance.
The Rams may not be facing their easiest road opponent of 2012 when they head to San Francisco this Sunday. As a matter of fact, they may be facing their most difficult opponent. But can their ability to prove triumphant against another NFC West opponent remain unimpeded? The 11 point odds would suggest they cannot. If the Rams are unable to remain undefeated in the West by snagging a win in San Francisco, just when do they get their first victory outside of the Dome?
Any divisional game on the road is going to be tough, even when you’ve dominated them at home initially. Buffalo, though inconsistent, is always prepared to play in 12 inches of Snow. Is the dome team from St. Louis? We’re only halfway through the season, but coming off of a historical rushing game by Doug Martin, does the Tampa Bay game still seem like another easy win to round out the Rams season? Seattle has proven, consistently, that winning in their house is no easy feat.
TST has the most loyal, well informed, fans. What say ye?