Happy New Year, Ram fans!
Well, they didn't make the playoffs, they didn't record a winning record and they didn't pull a sweep in the NFC West. Still, none can say that they truly disappointed, either.
The St. Louis Rams entered 2012 with zero expectations, boasting a 15-65 record from the previous 5 seasons and an 0-6 divisional record from the year prior. All the team needed to do was be competitive, and they were from start to finish.
The Rams have the sixteenth overall pick in next year's draft, which is in the latter half of the first round. And they did not trade down to get there. Last time the Rams had such a selection was in 2005.
Revel in mild success with some Rams links...
Russell Wilson bests Rams with late touchdown - Heading into the most hostile environment on their schedule, the Rams had already been eliminated from playoff contention. They could have packed in and looked towards next fall as several other teams appeared to do. Instead, they played and battled for four quarters in a tough game in which few expected them to cover the spread (+12 points at kickoff). No one likes losing to a division rival, but falling once to a playoff team isn't a bad thing.
Tied at 13 with several minutes leave, Russell Wilson took the field to put one last mark on his Rookie of the Year resume. After slowly grinding out the clock to just after the two-minute warning, Wilson tucked the ball and ran into the corner of the end zone. Sam Bradford was given a chance for another late fourth-quarter comeback in 2012, but was able to make the final play in Seattle territory.
Jeff Gordon's report card - Sam Bradford played decently against a very stout defense, but neither he nor the receivers could make enough plays in crunch time. It leaves a bad taste in my mouth that Sam's last pass in 2012 was an interception in the end zone.
The running backs and line were the best units on the offense. Steven Jackson, Daryl Richardson and Isaiah Pead combined for 27 touches and 132 yards, while the big guys up front did not allow a sack for the second week in a row.
The defense did not allow 40+ points. In fact, allowing only half that total, they pestered and attacked Russell Wilson all day, recording six sacks. Defensive ends Chris Long and Robert Quinn both totaled more than ten on the year.
Jackson joins elite club - Steven "Action" Jackson, St. Louis' all-time leading rusher, has added yet another tremendous feat to his Hall of Fame worthy resume. Just two weeks after eclipsing the 10,000 yards rushing mark, Jackson became the sixth player in league history to rush for more than 1,000 yards in eight consecutive seasons.
Rams healthy in 2012 - If there is one positive to take away from this season, look no further than the injury report. The Rams, plagued by injuries year in, year out for nearly a decade, escape 2012 as one of the league's most fortunate on that front. Guard Harvey Dahl (torn bicep in week 15) was one of only four players to be lost to the injured reserve, save for Scott Wells who was designated for return. Coach Jeff Fisher can't recall such a season in his 17-year career.
Jackson quiets retirement rumors - The sports media world erupted several days ago when Steven Jackson subtly eluded to retirement during a press conference. At age 29, the tread on Jackson's tires is quickly wearing out; however, as he showed throughout 2012, he still has a lot left in the tank. Following yesterday's loss, he was quick to say that he fully intends to play next season, but what uniform he might be wearing still remains a mystery.
Sando's post-game wrap-up - Both teams in yesterday's contest suffered from sloppy play and mistakes, which ultimately led to penalties and yardage being left on the field. That's the type of thing to expect from a team who is unfortunate enough to be hosted by Seattle and the "12th Man"; nonetheless, penalties have been recurring problem for the Rams all year. That, along with occasionally recovering a loose ball, is something which they must work on during the off season.
Pat Shurmur likely out in Cleveland - By the time you read this, it could long be old news. That said, former Rams offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur's tenure with the Cleveland Browns will reportedly come to an end. After posting a 9-23 record over the past two seasons, he and general manager Tom Heckert will likely not be missed in the "Dog Pound."
Steve Spagnuolo, Saints make history - It was not a particularly kind year to fans of the New Orleans Saints, and it was only fitting that the end of 2012 added more insult. Drew Brees did as he always does, giving him team every opportunity to win, throwing for nearly 400 yards and 4 touchdowns. Unfortunately, he could not do enough as the Carolina Panthers shined in a 44-38 shootout. The defense, led by former Rams head coach Steve Spagnuolo, now holds the NFL's record for most yards allowed in one season.
And, with that, I bid adieu to a revitalizing 2012 and look to an even better 2013. Happy New Year, Ram fans! Let's get this party mockin'!
As always, Go Rams!