First of all, think what a different experience watching this game was than the last time the Rams lost a game. Night and day. They fought hard, driving their way back, coming up with a sack or a tackle or a big play when they needed it, mostly. There was no folding, there was no second half deflation. Rooney rule or not, I've seen enough to be on board with Haslett as the head coach next season.
Some quick thoughts...
This team needs Steven Jackson. Not to make excuses (Haslett's Rams don't do that), but I think they could have converted more than 5 of their 16 third downs. Still, I'm impressed with what we saw from Antonio Pittman. Running against New England is never an easy thing and he broke off some nice runs and 83 yards on 18 carries is nothing to be ashamed of.
Bulger is starting to look like the Bulger we remember. He made better, quicker throws, and had his best game of the season so far. He's still has some rust to shake off, and one sack, for sure, was the result of him hanging on to the ball too long. That went along with a few plays, mostly late in the game, where he seemed to be waiting for a/the target that wasn't there. Donnie Avery is a stud. What else can you say? Other than he looks like the best WR from the draft this spring.
The blocking could be better, and not a game goes by that doesn't leave me convinced we need to make the o-line a priority in the upcoming draft. The right side again did a nice job opening lanes, but they still had some trouble picking up blitzes. The penalties though...oh the penalties. Barron had two false starts, and Jacob Bell's that put them at 1st and 20 helped contribute to a sack and a loss of 13 on the next play. Incognito's false start on the last drive might not have been a difference maker, but it was easily the most frustrating. As Colbert would say, "Incognito, you're on notice." Glad to see the fire in the belly, but too many bad penalties, especially in a close game.
The defense was again solid. Chris Long is looking more and more like the player we thought he could be. Can you imagine what a beast he'll be next season? Without Carriker and after losing Little so early, the front seven never put enough consistent pressure on Cassel, and as well as they did controlling the run, that could have been huge. The 3-4-ish formation that worked well last year, didn't do much today...hasn't all season. The linebackers played well, but Pisa Tinoisamoa was held in check some compared to last week...wonder if that has anything to do with the injury from last week? Another game, another INT for OJ Atogwe. Brown added one for good measure. Randy Moss is hard to contain, and losing Bartell as well as pressure up front likely forced the defensive backs to carry more water. I thought Jason Craft looked solid. Man, I hope Bartell's can make a quick comeback. Tye Hill should be back next week, and if he can play as well as he did down the stretch last year - and not like he did to open the season - the backfield will be solid and ready to rack up some turnovers against the Jets next week.
Still, it was a damn good game, exciting to the end. And it's been a long time since you could say that about the Rams.