Both Anthony Stalter and I thought that, with the quality of the Steeler offense and the lack of quality in their secondary, that the Rams would have a chance to score some points and play a shootout with Pittsburgh.
Lo and behold, the Ram defense stepped up, but their offense impotent for the second straight week, and they fell 12-6 Sunday at the Dome.
Lots to cover. Here are ten takeaways:
1) The game was delayed a half hour because the Rams pregame pyrotechnic display during introductions caused a small fire on the field. I’m guessing the league didn’t think it was funny, but for a franchise that has had such difficulty succeeding, it just seemed to fit. As a fellow fan in the stands said to me, “only the Rams.” I got a chuckle out of it.
2) Guess which team has the fewest offensive touchdowns after three weeks of the 2015 NFL season? Yep, it’s your St. Louis Rams. After crossing the goal line three times in their opener against Seattle, the Rams have scored just one TD…the Nick Foles-to-Kenny Britt 40-yarder in Washington…in their last two games. If you throw in Tavon Austin’s punt return in the opener, the Rams five touchdowns scored in three games leads only Chicago. In Fisher’s seasons, the Rams have finished 24th, 22nd, and 19th in touchdowns scored.
The Fisher regime has used three top-three picks on receivers, spent $35 million and $18 million, respectively, on tight ends Jared Cook and Lance Kendricks, and spent millions of dollars and numerous draft picks on offensive linemen. Yet they can’t catch up with the rest of the NFL’s two-decade scoring explosion. It makes for really unattractive football.
3) As a fan of the old Football Cardinals, I prefer a 27-20 loss to a 12-6 loss. Just my opinion. I find it more entertaining. If given the choice, I’d rather have a good offense and a bad defense rather than the alternative, which is what the Rams have.
4) Even though they still might not have been able to get the ball into the end zone, the Rams would have had a much better chance at the end of the game had Lance Kendricks made the grab on the third quarter pass from Nick Foles that he dropped at the 15 yard line with just over 12 minutes left. Foles was sacked on the next play, and rather than getting three points on the first possession of the second half, the Rams got nothing.
5) The Rams defense knocked out Steeler quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, allowed just one touchdown, and held a team averaging more than 450 yards a game to 259. It was a nice comeback after their bad day in Washington a week earlier.
6) Fisher may defend the running game, but it has been abysmal so far. On Sunday the Rams ran eighteen times for 79 yards, a 3.9 average; but running backs ran sixteen times for 37, a 2.3 average. Through three games, the team has 214 yards and average 3.8 per carry, but running backs are 42-111, a 2.6 yard per carry average. This “run first” offense is 28th in rushing offense with receivers and the quarterback picking up 103 of their 214 yards. Once again, in their fourth year, should the early season absence of Todd Gurley hurt THAT much?
7) Speaking of Gurley, I’m willing to give him the benefit of the doubt for his six carry, nine yard performance.
He’s not exactly running behind the Hogs here. Heck, when the Cardinals’ Ottis Anderson ran for 193 yards against Dallas in HIS debut in 1979, he was behind a line of Hall-of-Famer Dan Dierdorf, Terry Stieve, Tom Banks, Bob Young and Keith Wortman. That group, right to left, had nine, three, eight, thirteen and seven years in the NFL.
Gurley’s Rams group, right to left, had a rookie, five years, three years (six starts), rookie and 2ndyear player. I’m not going to blame Gurley for his day.
8) Think about rooting for a team that has been to the playoffs in 27 of the last 42 years, and in that time has been to a Super Bowl about every five years, winning one every seven seasons. That’s the Steelers. Perhaps that explains why all that black and gold was in the stands on Sunday. If there’s an NFL comparison to the Cardinals, it’s the Steelers. Congratulations to them for building such a great fan base. Winning does that.
9) With five sacks, the Rams have thirteen on the season, on pace for 69. The NFL record is 72, held by the 1984 Chicago Bears, of which Fisher was a member.
10) The way things are going, it’s hard to imagine the Rams going in to Arizona and Green Bay the next two weeks and coming out with a win. But then after their bye they get six-of-nine at home. Eight of those will be games the Rams could conceivably have a chance in, once they get their offensive line working together and Gurley entrenched.
If they can stay healthy, they could get on a hot streak. Would I predict it? No way, but Cleveland, Minnesota, Chicago, Baltimore, Arizona at the Edward Jones Dome, Detroit and Tampa Bay are far from world beaters. You never know.