Would I love to lay the blame for the Rams’ loss in San Francisco at the feet of the officials, who apparently don’t understand that the pass interference rule contains a provision for an uncatchable ball? Yes. The 49ers basically were put into position to kick the winning field goal when O.J. Atogwe was called for pass interference against Delaney Walker in overtime.
However, we also have to remember that the Rams controlled their own destiny. They had a 17-13 lead when San Francisco took over at their own 24 with 4:12 left. The Rams proceeded to allow a six play, 76 yard drive…and simply couldn’t get off the field…even when San Francisco faced a 4th and 18.
This has been a common theme for the Rams, who, in the last eight minutes of their four road games, have allowed opposing offenses to complete 17 of 26 passes for 172 yards and two touchdowns. Particularly alarming are the last two road games, where the opposition has had touchdown drives of 81 yards over 16 plays and 76 yards over six plays. In last eight minutes of their last two games, the Ram defense has allowed 15-20 passing for 146 yards and two scores, an opponent passer rating of 128.3.
When more than half the games in the NFL are decided by eight points or less, no team can afford to be giving up that sort of yardage and those late scores. While Steve Spagnuolo has coordinated a championship defense with the Giants, he had guys making plays on a relatively consistent basis. When you have Tampa Bay backed up 4th and 3, you have someone make a play to get a stop. When you have San Francisco 3rd and 32 and 4th and 18, you have someone step up to get a stop.
With what this team has on offense, 20 points is about as good as you’re going to get on the road. Aside from the Detroit blowout, the Rams have scored 14, 17 and now 20 points in their road games. With that being the case, the defense has to play all four quarters. On Sunday, like in Tampa, the Rams didn’t do that. And that’s why they don’t lead the NFC West.