I hope your legs aren't broken from crashing back down to earth. And I hope that I don't hurt too many feelings when I say that the St. Louis Rams just aren't a playoff contender.
The good news is they're closer than many fans thought before the start of the season. The bad news ... they're much further away than many wishfully believed following the first two games, largely due to an inept and anemic offense.
So, against the Bears in Chicago, the results were as expected.
Defense controlled the game, defense dominated the game and defense ultimately won the game. Unfortunately for the Rams, theirs did only the first two. When it came time to capitalize, make a play and take over, the Bears were more prepared. For the first time in 2012, St. Louis met a defense that fought harder and punched back.
Game report card - The Rams are who we thought they were ... and a little bit worse. To the surprise of no one, every position on the roster received chastisement from Professor Jeff Gordon, most notably the (lack of) offensive line. The unit which so pleased fans with its unanticipated impressive play against Washington was thrashed and humiliated at will by Chicago's front-7, opening no lanes for the run game and allowing Sam Bradford to be sacked 6 times. Subsequently - but not limited to these reasons - the receivers struggled. Danny Amendola was his usual self; however, none of the others could create adequate separation and/or make a play when it mattered most. Brandon Gibson returned to his usual form, as well.
The defense posted vastly better marks, yet failed in the end. As was all too often the case in 2011, they could not stay off of the field, eventually breaking as the playing time piled on their shoulders. Some will belittle the defensive line play for their struggles in formulating a pass rush, but they were actually superb against the run. Aside from Jay Cutler's scamper into the red zone late in the game, the Bears ran the ball 33 times for 82 yards. James Laurinaitis played decently. Cortland Finnegan, who intercepted his third pass in as many games, continues to be the best free agent acquisition in years.
Mike Sando's wrap-up - Boy, was Sando let down. Normally on the "it's alright - I have three other teams to look forward to"-side of the NFC West blog, he was riding high on St. Louis and drinking the Kool-Aid. Sando predicted the Rams to win this week.
Forcing a 58.9 passer rating from Cutler was a huge step for the Rams; however, assisting in Bradford's 39.2 - the worst of his career - was not. Were it not for his two interceptions during desperation time, Sam's rating would not be nearly so low, but his performance falls on the entire offense, including Sam himself.
Two costly and downright dumb penalties on third down allowed a couple of Bears drives to continue, both resulting in points. In hindsight, Steven Jackson should have just taken the day off. He was not back to full speed, and that spelled sheer ineffectiveness against Chicago's elite front.
Fans should have a much better idea of where the team stands very soon. Divisional rivals, the Seattle Seahawks and the Arizona Cardinals, will be visiting for Ram home games in the next two weeks, respectively.
**My own opinion: The Cardinals have a home game next against the Miami Dolphins. They WILL NOT win five games in a row.
More of what you already know:
Nick Wagoner's game blog - Have a look back at all the decisive, game-altering plays from throughout the matchup, all five of them. I kid, but, obviously, there weren't too many. Here are Wagoner's notes.
49ers fall to Vikings in mega-upset - Heading into this weekend, ESPN's week 3 power rankings designated the San Francisco 49ers as the NFC's - and league's - strongest team. That will undoubtedly change after the team traveled to Minnesota and got knocked around by the NFC's worst ranked team: the Vikings. Take a look at the post-game reaction thread over at Niners Nation.
Cardinals dismantle Eagles - It's probably redundant by this point, but I'm still in disbelief. The Arizona Cardinals are one of three remaining undefeated teams. The other two - Atlanta Falcons and Houston Texans - are widely accepted as among the league's elite. Are the Cards really in their company? Are they better than the Niners? Is Kevin Kolb really beating good football teams? I just don't understand football anymore.
If you missed yesterday's drubbing, or just plain love the Da Bears, here's the
high lowlights from the game.
And, finally, above all else, I'll leave you with this to brighten your day. Have a Mustachey Monday, Ram fans!