Last year, Steven Jackson broke the 100-yard mark for rushing in a single game twice heading into week 5. Of course it was all for naught as the Rams lost those games. Against Detroit today, Jackson broke the century mark for the first time this season. Fitting that the St. Louis Rams lost in a fashion painfully reminiscent of their 2009 season, getting blown out 44-6 by the only team they managed to overcome last year.
The game had a strange vibe from the opening kick, an onside kick that the Lions recovered. You might have thought that the Rams' wins in the two weeks prior were flukes, the results of a lucky bound here and there. They weren't. The Rams won those game with a simple formula, a diversified offense and good coverage and a solid rush from the front four. I don't play poker, but I do know a needless gamble when I see one.
Talk about execution...the Rams outgained the Lions with 341 total yards, and managed just 2 field goals.
It was a systemic failure, from the special teams to the defense to the offense...and of course the injury report, since the Rams lost Mark Clayton, the only receiver they had who has any consistency to his game. Losing wasn't the worst thing to happen today. Like seasons past, the Rams just fell apart as soon as the going got tough. It was ugly, and that's really all there is to say about it.
But there are a few more words of wisdom after the jump.
Rage blindness prevents me from going on too long here. Besides, the real story isn't about an X here and an O there, a fateful decision that sealed the game. This was a breakdown, complete and total, by the Rams.
Let's talk about the red zone offense first. Coming into the game, the Rams had struggled in the red zone. After Clayton left the game, on the second series, it looked as though Bradford and Jackson were going to make things happen anyway. Jackson ran it twice for 17 yards and Brandon Gibson made a beautiful spin move for a 30-yard gain. Then a Danny Amendola fumble that went through a sports blooper reel set of bounces ended it, and the offense never recovered.
The Rams got the ball back with just over 6 minutes to play, down 17-3, and it looked as though they might make something happen. They needed to in order to make it a game. This was absolutely their last chance. A lovely series ensues, helped by a pass interference call against Detroit. The Rams start a new set of downs on Detroit's 12-yard line. Pass. Pass. Pass. Mysteriously, the Rams avoided Steven Jackson on the last three plays that mattered for them on a rotten day. Detroit had obviously done their homework, breaking up the screen pass every time, but the Rams didn't even try to give it to their best player in the red zone.
Again, that's nitpicking with more than enough failure to go around, coaches and players.
The lowlights, from each unit:
The offensive line, the entire unit, had a terrible game, that got worse as the minutes went by. Detroit managed just 1 sack and 2 QB hits, but they constantly had men in the backfield all day. Kyle Vanden Bosch demonstrated all the ways he could get around Rodger Saffold. The interior line might have been the worst of all though, letting pressure in and failing to get much push in the run game. Second level blocks? Ha!
It's also clear just how badly the Rams need Bajema and Hoomanawanui back for their blocking skills alone. I can't imagine that Darcy Johnson is really worth a roster spot once those guys return.
Mark Clayton is/was apparently the only Rams receiver with any ability to consistently use his talent. The rest of the bunch was terrible. Though Amendola gets some credit since he was the go to guy (19 targets...19!!) once Clayton left, which allowed Detroit to blanket him, sometimes with two defenders. Impressive that Danny drew two defenders, but it says more about the rest of the flotsam and jetsam the Rams have as receivers. Fells, Gibson and Gilyard were each targeted 6 times; Fells had three catches the others just two. They all struggled to get any separation. And why not try to use Fendi Onobun? His size and speed could have created some mismatches. Oh, is it that he's not ready? Well, then it needs to be asked of the coaches as to why he's not ready.
Covering slot receivers is the new problem matchup for the Rams defense. Are they just worried about sticking an OLB on them and putting themselves at risk to the outside run? Well, they got burned by both today.
They did limit the damage done by the run today, but Detroit chewed them up with big plays in the passing game, even though they did managed to limit Calvin Johnson to less than 60 yards and 1 TD. Backup QB Shaun Hill had too much time to make throws and found it too easy to find open receivers. Looking at the stat sheet, the defense didn't exactly get torched for yardage, but they were not effective in the red zone, where they had excelled through the first four games of the season.
They stunk across the board. From the coaching, the onside kick, to the players, slipping and sliding while letting a 105-yard touchdown go by.
Detroit's bad field turf or not, I don't understand how this unit was so effective against Seattle and so poor against Detroit.
Ok, that's enough. Try to salvage the rest of your Sunday.