With a -5.7% DVOA, the Bengals aren't the easiest team in the league to run against. In fact, out of four of their last five games, the Bengals kept opponents' rushing games from collecting 100 yards. Not bad, but it doesn't change the fact that the Rams should have been leaning on their runners more than they did in this game.
The biggest problem our running game faced, besides under utilization, came from Bengals safety Dexter Jackson. He was, as they say, a "beast." Throughout the game, the Bengals used Dexter Jackson in blitzes to target Rams runners. On Steven Jackson's first carry of the game, on the first play of the second possession, Dexter Jackson came in on the left side and tackled Jackson for a loss of 4 yards. On six of the Rams first half possessions, Dexter Jackson's name shows up on the official play-by-play chart as having a hand in thwarting four of those six first half drives. On the second to the last Rams drive of the half, Dexter Jackson forced a fumble as Berlin handed off to Steven Jackson, and on the last drive he tackled Steven Jackson for a loss of one yard.
Alas, I didn't come here to praise Dexter Jackson. No, Dexter Jackson's is just a narrative instrument, one that I'm using to make the point that the Rams offense failed again and again to pick him up, part of the overall failre that the Rams offense has become. Better lead blocking - something the team lacks anyway - on some of the running plays would have helped open up the run game. Maybe I'm reaching here, but it also shows a failure to adapt during the game...and even in the game preparations in spotting Dexter Jackson's role in supplementing the Bengals rushing defense. The Bengals used Jackson in a similar role against the Steelers last week, but the Steelers o-line and Willie Parker were still able to put together a decent enough ground game (101 yards rushing). Bringing up the safety on running plays is hardly new anyway. It wasn't just Dexter Jackson either. The Bengals DEs and DTs didn't have much of a problem stuffing the few runs the Rams used in the second half either, not that Cincy's defense had to do much work at all in the second half.
I won't discount the effect the o-line's injuries have had on the running game. With Romberg, Incognito and Setterstrom in the middle, the Rams could again have that solid middle of the line running game that was so successful for them last season. Still, I've had enough excuses.