It was an interesting Sunday for the St. Louis teams, both of whom lost to teams from bay areas, the Rams to Green Bay, and the Cardinals to San Francisco.
For the Rams, it was simply too much Aaron Rodgers. He was an amazing 30-37 for 342 yards and three touchdowns. It was a performance reminiscent of his MVP season of last year. We can try to break down Rams failures all we want, but the Rams got beat by a better team and a better player.
For his three touchdowns, Rodgers victimized Bradley Fletcher, Janoris Jenkins and Trumaine Johnson. He spread he ball around to seven different receivers, and was able to turn in a great day even without his top target, Greg Jennings. Add in the fact that the Packers adjusted to the Rams pass rush, and it make for a long second half. The Rams had three sacks in the first half, and three for the game. Clearly the Rams wanted to keep the ball out of Green Bay’s hands, but the Packers had a time of possession edge of 21:04-8:56 in the second half.
This game is a primary example of why I don’t have playoff hopes for this edition of the Rams. It’s foolish to have those hopes because it’s too early in the Jeff Fisher regime. The Packers, as an example, have a lot more talent and a lot more polish. Sure, it was a game in the fourth quarter at 20-13, but there’s a reason that the Packers pulled away and won. The reason is that the Packers are just a lot better.
A couple of notes from the game. Number one, when Chris Givens traveled 60 yards after his catch of a Sam Bradford pass in the third quarter, he surpassed the YAC totals of the first six games of Steve Smith, Brandon Gibson, Austin Pettis and Brian Quick. The only Ram wide receiver with more YAC on the SEASON than Givens had on that play is Danny Amendola, who was 17th in the league with 146 yards after catch. Smith was next with 37, good for 169th in the league, and was 194th, with 31 YAC. Bradford will need more help from his wideouts than that.
The Rams have now allowed just 151 yards rushing in their last three games. That’s plenty good to win with. Their pass defense should be good enough too, and will be as this season unfolds. Rodgers average start was at his own 30, and Bradford’s was at his own 21. The Rams simply aren’t explosive enough in the return games at the moment. Austin Pettis didn’t have a punt return, putting his arm up for three fair catches, and Givens returned two kickoffs for a 25 yard average. Isiah Pead, who should handle kick return duties, had one for 32 yards.
As far as the Cardinals are concerned, they apparently had no chance against Ryan Vogelsong. Vogie had virtually the same line in game six that he had Monday night in game two, going seven innings and allowing just one run. So Monday night we’ll have two teams that just don’t lose elimination games, and one of those teams must lose. I had a bad feeling before Friday’s game that if the Cardinals didn’t get to Barry Zito, facing Vogelsong and Matt Cain would be too tall of a task. I hope I’m wrong.
The Cardinal defense obviously has been a disappointment in this series, but I don’t think David Freese could have gotten the runner at home on his misplay in the first, and I thought the error on Pete Kozma was tough. Not defending the defense because the players are supposed to make routine major league plays. I think that is a routine play for a healthy Rafael Furcal or Brandon Crawford, but not for Kozma.
If Kyle Lohse struggles in game seven, I hope Mike Matheny has a quick hook. Don’t let the lead get to 5-0 before you take him out. If there’s danger, get that bullpen going. That’s what all those guys are down there for.
Enjoy game seven. There’s nothing better in sports.