8 - Total number of Rams' first downs
2 - Number of Rams' third down conversions
12 - Rams' thrid down conversion attempts
49 - Total Rams' offensive plays
111 - Net yards for Rams offense
7 - Number of times Bulger was sacked
62 - Yards lost to sacks by Rams
8 - Rams' rushing attempts
19-34 - Rams' pass completions/attempts
2.0 - Rams' avg yards per pass play
0 - Total points scored
On a day when the 49ers beat the Seahawks to claim a solid grasp on second place in the division, the Rams played the ugliest game of recent memeory.
There's plenty of fault to go around.
Offensive play calling - 8 running plays?! Ridiculous. I'm not one of the old school "establish the run first" guys, but when your Pro Bowl left tackle isn't there to protect the QB on passing plays, you have to run more, inside, outside, up the middle, tosses, hand-offs, all of it. What a waste. The whole first quarter, with the score notched at zed a piece, Linehan should have been working to establish the running game, and getting the defense softened up for the air attack. Mike Martz reserved more tolerance for the running game than this.
But there's more to fault here. As the blitzing got out of control in the first quarter, Linehan had EVERYONE go into protection. Nobody got downfield to give Bulger a target, causing him to hold on longer, and giving guys like Goldberg ample time to get beat. Jackson was awesome with the screen passes last week and could grab all that short stuff thrown in the middle while running. This was workign to Jackson's advantage because he didn't have to dance around to work up his speed. This week, there was none of that. No passes in the middle, and the Panthers' linebackers waltzed right in as the second nad third guys through the hole. Linehan's agent must be on the phone with every 1AA college in America today.
The Offensive Line - Goldberg was outmatched, and the rest of the line got tied up all too often by the Panthers defensive lineman allowing linebackers and d-backs to race through the holes for 7 sacks and a whole bunch of no gain plays. The lack of protection got Bulger more concerned with watching out for pass rushers than making key plays resulting in him cooking the ball a few secs too long throughout the afternoon. If it had been a hand grenade, the folks in the stands would have had their own little piece of Marc Bulger to take home with them.
Steven Jackson - Although you didn't get enough chances to do much, I can only offer you this advice: Stop dancing and RUN!
The Defense - I would say don't quit your day jobs, but in this case, you probably should. The Panthers gained 411 yards, even while converting third downs at a small time 40% rate. Still, the Rams' D was better than the O, and the turnovers would have normally been enough to give Bulger et al a chance to win this game.
A very, very discouraging loss. At this point, we're dogfighting for a distant second place in the division.