Things looked so good in the second quarter. The Rams were up 21-0 with less than 5 minutes to play in half. Austin Davis had two touchdown passes. Zac Stacy was running all over the Dallas Cowboys defense. The Rams defense had already picked off Tony Romo and returned it for a touchdown. The Ed Dome was pumping and getting loud. What Rams team were we seeing? What was going on? This was the most promising football the city has seen in years(Sorry Sam Bradford). And then, things started to unravel.
-Jeff Fisher went for a second 4th down conversion. The first one worked and was only for a yard. The second one didn’t work. Stacy was stuffed. That took away a potential field goal. I liked the guts shown to go for it once but the second time was a risk and slowly helped the Cowboys regain control.
-The Cowboys converted two big running plays from DeMarco Murray after that and used a pass interference call on the Rams to convert a touchdown and make it 21-7.
-A very poor roughing the passer call with Tony Romo helped the Cowboys get a field goal and cut it to 21-10 before the half. When a hand barely touches the helmet of a quarterback and it’s a 15 yard penalty, something is wrong.
In four minutes, the Cowboys swung the momentum back in their direction before the half. After the Rams put up those 21 points, the Cowboys outscored the home team 34-10 the rest of the way.
In a nutshell, the Rams loss on Sunday was a team collapse. In character and in on the field performance. Overall, the Rams were 8-13 on third down and generated 122 yards rushing on 30 carries and Davis threw for 327. When the Rams score 31 points, one would think that is enough to win a ballgame. That wasn’t the case Sunday and here are few reasons why.
*The Rams committed 8 penalties that totaled 119 yards. When there is that much error and a lack of discipline on both sides of the ball, bad things happen. This has been a problem in St. Louis for 7 years. Bad penalties.
*Jared Cook didn’t just drop a sure touchdown pass in the fourth quarter. He also showed a huge lack of veteran leadership on the sidelines by slapping away Davis’ hand when the young QB tried to perk him up with a “get it next time” hand shake. The young quarterback threaded a perfect pass to Cook in the end zone and Cook juggled it three times before dropping it. That could have put the Rams ahead and been the difference in the game. Instead, it was dropped and the Rams settled on a field goal. Cook messed up and he took out his anger on the quarterback. If it wasn’t Davis and someone like Peyton Manning or Kurt Warner, Cook would be running laps around the dome last night. Instead, William Hayes grabbed him and put him in his place and Shaun Hill tried to defuse the situation. It was horrible to see for a young team trying to find unity in a tough season. I understand football is a tough game and Cook knew how much that touchdown impacted the score. The loss of Sam Bradford, Hill and Chris Long will ruffle the feathers of players and put them on edge. The fact was Cook and the offense were having a good game and it was a simple dropped pass. I understand walking by Davis and not wanting to talk or converse but slapping the second year quarterback’s hand away that rudely shows something could be off with this team’s chemistry and overall makeup. Let’s hope Cook was simply being a big baby.
*The defense was less than stellar. After a strong first quarter where they held Dallas to 40 yards and stopped the run while grabbing the one , they were torched by Murray late and Romo made some big plays. A blown coverage play on Dez Bryant allowed a 68 yard momentum shifting touchdown pass in the 3rd quarter to occur. Romo and company did just enough to take the game back. The defense hasn’t been the same in the first three games. Something is missing. Long is out but Hayes can provide a good pass rush. Robert Quinn has been held without a sack so far, but that is more due to double teams from the missing force on the other side of the defensive line. The secondary and linebacker crew seem to be improved and playing well bu they allow the big play. It’s hard to diagnose a defensive malfunction when a few little things cause a blowup. The defense took over and won games the past 2 seasons. The 2014 unit isn’t as dominating. Whether that falls on Gregg Williams’ scheme, the injuries or a lack of execution is yet to be seen.
The bye week comes at an awkward time. The schedule toughens up in Week 5. The Rams had to win 2 of the first 3 to have a chance of a playoff spot and seemed to be heading there Sunday before becoming the Rams. It’s amazing that there can be so much complaining about a team looking dead or bland only to see them suddenly produce outstanding play and the expectations raising with it. In an instance, the Rams let us down on Sunday when most didn’t give them a chance to begin with. They took advantage of the Cowboys rough defense and scored 24 points but showed old vulnerabilities in the end.
The bright side is a lot of points were scored and The Rams moved the ball well most of the game. A couple of bad interceptions late from Davis wasn’t surprising. He is a young QB who can’t be perfect all the time. The Cowboys started to play better and were mixing up their coverage in the second half. The defense did score a pick 6 and that propelled the team forward. The coaching showed a little much confidence early on in going for two fourth down conversions. Brian Schottenheimer’s offense seems to have found a rhythm and isn’t the boring show anymore. That is the clear positive takeaway. The Rams may score some points this season and create some electricity.
The bad part is they will continue to shoot themselves in the foot, show their immaturity and let the fans down. After 25 minutes of seeing a different team on the field, the old sad Rams showed up Sunday and wrecked the party. The Cowboys took advantage and righted their ship but the Rams opened the door for it to happen.
With three games and 1 win, the Rams have promised fans another season of heartbreaking yet possibly entertaining football. What this means for their future can be left to the suits in the suites. Fans in St. Louis should ignore that white noise and simply appreciate football, as bad it has been, for as long as they have it.