For some, it was over for the St. Louis Rams before they even took the field against New Orleans. And it looked like that might very well have been an accurate prediction after the Saints scored on their first two drives while eating up an overwhelming amount of time. After settling for a couple of field goals, the Rams had the chance to make it a 13-14 game with less than 2 minutes left to play.
And Bradford threw and interception. He threw the ball low and too far to the inside for an easy pick that Michael Jenkins returned for a touchdown. That pretty much did it for the Rams.
Here are the meta-themes for the Rams from this game.
Turnovers - The Rams didn't technically lose the turnover battle. But they did. First, the Rams turnovers proved to be costly ones. Steven Jackson's fumble ended the Rams' first possession, a drive in which they were moving the football well, a must against a high scoring Saints team. Also, Bradford's INTs both came in the red zone. Killer. New Orleans capitalized on turnovers. The Rams did not, until a fourth quarter INT resulted, after some consternation, in the Rams' first TD.
Pass rush - Or lack thereof. The Rams failed to get a pass rush going, mostly relying on their front four to pester the QB. Spagnuolo's Giants won the Super Bowl because they blitzed the living Hell out of the Patriots. Nine of the Rams 35 sacks this season have come from players other than the front four. There were no safety blitzes this week, as the Rams opted to leave as many as they could in coverage. They still got beat. Badly. For all the talk of taking chances on offense, the same goes for defense against a team like this. A QB like Drew Brees can pick you apart no matter how many guys you have in coverage, sort of like Tom Brady. Without real, consistent, disruptive pressure, he will make plays. I wonder if the Rams coaches forgot that this week. Also, it's clear that if the Rams are going to rely solely on their front four for pressure, they need a speed rusher, a talented guy with burners who can get to quick release passers like Brees.
Coaching - I hate to be too critical of the coaches because they fought to the bitter end, but some of the Rams problems on the field today came from some very questionable judgement calls. Why aren't they blitzing more? Why are they using a cover-2 type defense to leave an open Colston in the end zone with 15 yards between the LOS and a score? And why are they running the ball on third-and-10? I know the Rams are trying to accomplish something without exactly being loaded up on talent, but at times you get the sense that they're just outsmarting themselves. Of course, the offense did find a new affinity for the deep ball, and it worked at times too.
Shaking it off - The Rams have rebounded well, and nobody seems more capable of rebounding from adversity than rookie QB Sam Bradford. Give him credit for not allowing some costly mistakes to take away one ounce of confidence or focus. SJ39 did the same thing after his fumble. Really, the whole team, though limited by talent, rebounds well from tough circumstances. I look forward to seeing what they can do at home next week.
- I wonder what kind of difference Bartell would have made. You have to think he would have been all over Colston who scored twice. Still, the Rams were just plain overmatched this week, regardless of the Xs and Os.
- I'll say it again. I love the fight in this team. Well out of the mix, they played like it was a one-point game in the fourth quarter. That's what winners do.
- People were beating up on the Rams safeties before and during the game, but give them credit for solid play. Atogwe made a big mistake biting on the play fake on Colston's first TD, but he's been pretty good in coverage lately. And let's face it, good QBs beat good coverage enough to come out ahead in the end. Credit Craig Dahl, whose INT led to the Rams only TD of the game. That's two weeks in a row for Dahl to have an INT.
- I know first and second downs are where you make your money, but you don't win many games converting just once on 11 third down tries.
- Laurent Robinson made a nice catch on that 32-yarder, but he mostly had an awful game. He's a free agent after this season, anyone think he'll be back?
- Danario Alexander was targeted just once.
- Is John Greco really that bad in pass protection?
- The Saints had the ball for 13 minutes in the first quarter.
- Seattle lost big to San Francisco to keep the Rams on top of the NFC West, but watch out for San Fran. That week 16 game will have more to say about the playoffs than the week 17 game, in my opinion.