When the St. Louis Rams returned to the field after half time, they faced a seven point deficit. Take away a fumble return for a score, and it might have been a tie game at the half. Either way, the odds were hardly insurmountable. Then the third quarter started and the Rams picked up where they left off from last season.
You can be forgiven if you though it was the 2010 version of the Rams offense that took the field for the opening possession of the final thirty minutes. Though a breakdown in blocking was the real culprit here. The dink and dunk passing actually worked since they had a real running game going. But on third-and-11, that run blocking fell apart, and it might have been one of the costlier breakdowns for the Rams offense all day, at least up until this point.
Once this drive stalled out, on a missed FG, the Eagles broke it wide open with another quick touchdown that buried the Rams.
Join me for a breakdown of a breakdown after the jump.
1-10-SL 14 (14:52) S.Bradford pass short left to B.Bajema to SL 16 for 2 yards (J.Chaney).
2-8-SL 16 (14:14) S.Bradford pass short right to M.Sims-Walker to SL 21 for 5 yards (A.Samuel).
Return of the dink and dunk! Still, the Rams lacked many other options for passing the ball. The first play was a play action fake that didn't exactly catch the Eagles off their guard as a linebacker and safety latched on to Bajema as he cut over from the strong side. The second play was another fake, a well-executed one too. Sims-Walker caught the ball too far from the first down line to prevent Asante Samuel from blowing him up before making any yards after the catch.
The Eagles high-flying cornerbacks put the clampdown on the Rams receivers, taking away a big chuck of the field and most of Bradford's route tree. Those corners were brutal on the Rams receivers through the whole game. It also allowed for the pass rushers to be far more aggressive. The Rams best way of combating that was with the run...so where was the run to open the half?
3-3-SL21 (13:39) S.Bradford pass short left to D.Amendola to SL 37 for 16 yards (K.Coleman) [C.Jenkins]. Handoff to J.Norwood and back pass to S. Bradford
Trick plays are fun to watch, no doubt about it. This was basically a screen pass with the juggling between Norwood and Bradford. And it worked, but it is worth noting that the Eagles defense still had a player on Bradford.
1-10-SL 37 (12:59) C.Williams left end pushed ob at SL 39 for 2 yards (C.Matthews).
2-8-SL 39 (12:32) (Shotgun) S.Bradford pass incomplete short middle to M.Sims-Walker (M.Fokou).
All week we talked about the Eagles' linebackers as a weakness to exploit. Not so. Their LBs played a really good game, in coverage at least. Sims-Walker probably could have caught that ball, but he wouldn't have made any YAC on it. Still, it would have put the Rams at third-and-two and opened up some options.
3-8-SL 39 (12:27) (Shotgun) S.Bradford pass incomplete short middle to D.Amendola. PENALTY on PHI-T.Cole, Roughing the Passer, 15 yards, enforced at SL 39 - No Play.
A gift, the second third-down conversion the Rams got in this game because of an Eagles penalty. For the Eagles, it didn't really matter. It was probably a gift from the refs. An Eagles' DL hit Bradford low, going down as Bradford was getting the ball into his throwing motion. Cole was coming in right behind him and tripped over his fallen teammate, kicking Bradford in the head. It really looked like a genuine accident, a case of a player unable to halt his momentum. If the Rams had been flagged for the same call on defense, we would be complaining about the refs.
1-10-PHI 46 (12:20) C.Williams up the middle to PHI 37 for 9 yards (J.Chaney).
2-1-PHI 37 (11:50) C.Williams left tackle to PHI 35 for 2 yards (D.Tapp).
Then they get back to what they were doing well, running the ball. Dahl made a sweet block pulling on first down. The Rams ran well out of single-back formations on both these plays. The had some good runs out of the shotgun in the game too.
1-10-PHI 35 (11:10) J.Norwood right tackle to PHI 32 for 3 yards (J.Page).
2-7-PHI 32 (10:31) S.Bradford sacked at PHI 36 for -4 yards (D.Tapp).
The OL held up pretty well on second down, but Tapp beat Bajema with ease to make the sack.
3-11-PHI 36 (9:59) J.Norwood up the middle to PHI 29 for 7 yards (B.Rolle).
I don't know why they ran Norwood up the middle so much, but he had a huge hole to run through here. The OL got into trouble at the second level. Jason Brown came out to block Rolle, the WLB. Rolle gave him a tremendous hand punch to knock him over and raced over to make the tackle. Chaney, #51, got off Rodger Saffold with ease and come to help make the stop. He might have made it himself had Rolle not moved so fast.
4-4-PHI 29 (9:19) Josh.Brown 47 yard field goal is No Good, Wide Right, Center-J.McQuaide, Holder-D.Jones
I wonder if they shouldn't have gone for it here. Probably not. A 47-yard field goal is not easy, but Josh Brown has a pretty good leg, especially inside the Dome.
The real fourth down where they should have gone for it was on the next possession. The Eagles scored after this play, thanks to the quick feet of Michael Vick and three Rams penalties, one was declined.