In what looks like a season changing game, the St. Louis Rams found themselves playing from behind due to offensive mistakes, untimely penalties, and overall lack of discipline. The Carolina Panthers retaliated after their quarterback took a big hit at the beginning of the second half and sparked off a war of words and flared tempers. Both sides are guilty of escalating the conflict, but the Rams surely got the short end of the stick and wound up losing a game that they could have won.
While the Rams trailed at halftime, the score didn’t reflect the play on the field. The Ram’s offense was effective at moving the ball down the field against the Carolina defense using a balanced scheme. Zac Stacy had room to run and it seemed that the successful running game was opening up the passing game. Sam hit all three of his tight ends and would have had a few more completions if it weren’t for receivers dropping the ball. There was hope and bit of confidence here as it looked like the Rams were handling the opposition.
But the offense only managed 5 points in the first half. Sam Bradford and his receivers couldn’t find the end zone when it mattered. But there was a whole ‘nother half of football to play and the Rams were only down by 12. The defense stepped up and frustrated Cam Newton and the Panthers running corps. And the beginning of the second half indicated that we would see more of the same. Could our offense find a way to put a couple TD’s on the board? Some deep throws by Sam suggested that we might get lucky.
And then Robert Quinn clobbered Cam Newton.
Initially, there wasn’t much of a fuss. But soon after Quinn’s hit, the Panthers started pushing and shoving members of the Ram’s defense. And that’s when all hell broke loose. There were some serious acts of unprofessionalism from both teams, but the Panthers were clearly the aggressors here. Sadly the referee’s were only able to pinpoint an aggressive hold from Chris Long and he was ejected within minutes.
The rest of the game was marred by fighting, yelling, and penalty flags. The stout but young St. Louis defense was seeing red but didn’t see Steve Smith take the ball into the end zone. Consequently, Carolina extended their lead to 23 and the game got farther out reach for the Rams. There were moments of hope after a short TD pass to Zac Stacy, but Brian Quick dropped the next TD pass and then it was clear that the Ram’s youth and inexperience would prevent them from engineering a comeback against the Panthers.
And then Sam Bradford injured his left knee.
While running out of bounds, Bradford fell awkwardly and writhed in pain clutching his knee. And with Bradford carted off the sidelines, the Ram’s season hopes were called into serious question. It didn’t take long for Kellen Clemens to demonstrate his poor QB play by fumbling the ball on a strip sack furthering fan’s doubts in the team’s season. This was, by far, the most devastating loss in the Jeff Fisher era for the Rams. While a 3-4 record is generally salvageable, replacing Sam Bradford is impossible and his presence will be sorely missed. Without him, the rest of this season is lost.
The Rams experienced some serious adversity today (as well as some serious bullshit). It will be mighty interesting to see how this young team responds.
Wishing Sam a speedy recovery so he can get back to kicking ass for St. Louis.