Well, that was rough. In all too familiar fashion, the game clock reached doubled zeros with the Rams falling in yet another gut-wrenching defeat.
Against the Detroit Lions, St. Louis played the most inspired football of which fans have seen in years, bringing a stellar offense and playoff team to the brink of defeat.
Unfortunately, it wasn't enough. What was essentially 3 quarters and 13 minutes of shutdown defense (ignoring yardage) was squandered when Matthew Stafford finally achieved the touchdown throw which had so long previously eluded him. The Rams begin the 2012 regular season with a 0-1 record, falling 27-23 in Detroit.
It may not have been a win, but it was an impressive loss. The S. Louis Rams showed that they belong and could soon compete with the best of them. The team, already showing more explosiveness and intrigue in all fazes of the game, is sure to warrant more attention in coming weeks. It should be an interesting year - and era - for Rams football, but all that matters when the clock stops is winning.
Now, after the overreactions and angry rants have since subsided, let's more on to the links...
Post Dispatch Rams report card - The Rams have not posted a respectable GPA since their gigantic upset victory over the New Orleans Saints in week seven of 2011. That changed yesterday afternoon when they exited Ford Field. Jeff Gordon gives much of the offense a solid ‘B' average and the special teams a perfect ‘A'; however, the defense did not earn such a reputable mark. While they forced key turnovers which allowed the team to enter the second half with the lead, the unit was unable to capitalize when it mattered most. Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford was largely unpressured all game and lapses in coverage led to Detroit's game-winning touchdown.
Bradford shows signs of career revival - Don't panic yet, folks. The Rams don't need to enter the Matt Barkley sweepstakes. Sam Bradford does in fact appear capable of reaffirming the franchise signal-caller status that he was designated only two years ago. He wasn't perfect - no one of the offense was - but he showed poise, touch and decisiveness in important situations. His touchdown throw to Brandon Gibson was a thing of beauty - reminiscent of the type of plays that he made during his rookie campaign. It's obvious that Sam is still coming into his own, and his action within a collapsing pocket is far from courageous, but he should continue to progress from week to week.
Sando's Rams v. Lions wrap-up - Mike Sando of ESPN actually has more positive views from the outcome than negative. He was particularly impressed with the aggressive play on defense and players' willingness to jump routes, forcing three early turnovers and keeping the game in close proximity. The pass protection, while likely not yet up to the standards of fans and Sam Bradford alike, was another bright spot of note. Sando's dislikes are obvious to everybody. Drive-killing penalties were in excess supply on the Rams' side of the field. It got to the point where one almost expected a false start to occur, but much of that fault can be placed on Detroit's roaring fanbase, who echoed the stadium all afternoon.
Fisher, Rams make early statement - Make no mistake - the St. Louis Rams of 2011 and 2012 are two vastly different franchises. Prior to this season, the team would have had no chance to compete with a team that is as talented as the Lions. Yesterday, they did just that until the very end, in every facet of the game - physically, mentally and schematically. Jeff Fisher has proven to be every bit as good as advertised, taking over a downtrodden, undisciplined team and instantly instilling confidence.
49ers beat Packers in wild opener - As many had expected, the San Francisco 49ers are set to not only decimate their division in 2012, but also the entire NFC. They're just that good, and I know that you're just so happy for them. Aaron Rodgers and the high-flying Green Bay Packers offense were held to just 7 points well into the fourth quarter, and, yes, Randy Moss is back. Here is the stat sheet. Also, if you were wondering, Jim Harbaugh continues to show his displeasure towards the replacement officials. Which reminds me...
Refs botch timeout in Cardinals-Seahawks game - If you caught the end of this matchup like I did, then you undoubtedly had an "Are you kidding me?" moment with less than a minute remaining. As it turned out, the Seattle Seahawks were the only team to be allocated 4 timeouts in one half on Sunday. Aiming for a late game-winning touchdown, Pete Carroll called for the last of these four inside of Arizona's red zone. Chaos ensued. Cardinals' players and coaches erupted. No one knew what to do next. In the end, the Arizona Cardinals held on for the win, but what if they didn't?