Ten games into the NFL season, it appears the St. Louis Rams aren’t making much progress from the start of the 2012 campaign.
After an encouraging result from last week’s tie at San Francisco, the Rams took a giant step back in their first home game in nearly a month with a 27-13 loss Sunday to the New York Jets (4-6).
The Rams (3-6-1) are 0-4-1 in their last five games and haven’t won since defeating Arizona at home Oct. 4.
“The Jets are also in the National Football League and you have to line up and play week in and week out against everybody, regardless of what’s happened to them in the past,” said Rams Head Coach Jeff Fisher. “We didn’t make the plays today, they did. They kept drives alive and took advantage of some things. We’ll give them credit and we just keep working.”
Not much went right for the Rams in any phase of the game.
Offensively, the Rams marched the ball down the field on their first possession and took a 7-0 lead on a one-yard touchdown pass from Sam Bradford to Brandon Gibson.
But things went wrong from there.
Bradford was 7-15 passing for 38 yards over the next eight possessions, which included an interception and a fumble in Rams’ territory.
“It’s pretty tough after that opening drive. I thought we came out, we executed, and we did a lot of things well that first drive,” Bradford said. “Then after that it seems like we lost all rhythm that we might have had. If you don’t have rhythm, it’s tough to get things going.”
Overall, Bradford was 23-44 for 170 yards with two touchdowns and one interception.
The Rams completed only two passes for over 10 yards.
“The problem was with blitz pickup, when they send extra guys, you’ve got to get rid of the football. The issue was they were fitting routes well and Sam was holding the ball. When the quarterback holds the ball with no place, that’s when the pocket collapses,” Fisher said. “I’m not faulting Sam. I’m complimenting the defense. That’s a tough defense to play against.”
Defensively, the Rams had success early, but couldn’t get off the field on a consistent basis.
“We didn’t force any turnovers on defense. We didn’t make any big plays to alter the outcome of the game here,” said Rams linebacker James Laurinaitis. “We knew that they were going to come out here and give us their best shot, give us a fight, because of all the stuff that’s been going on over there. Teams in the NFL don’t just fold, so we knew that they were going to come out and give us a fight. They forced turnovers. We didn’t. That was the tale of the ballgame.”
St. Louis’ defense hasn’t forced a turnover in five consecutive games, tying the NFL’s longest such slump since 1950, according to STATS LLC.
“It’s been too long since we’ve created turnovers. We’ve got to do our part,” said Rams defensive end Chris Long. “If the offense is struggling a little bit, you have to be able to try to negate that advantage for the other team. We didn’t do that today. We were close on a couple of plays, but it just didn’t happen.”
On special teams, the Rams had a kickoff return for a touchdown by Chris Givens called back due to a holding penalty.
If they play would have stood, it would have given the Rams a 14-13 lead late in the second quarter.
“I just saw the replay,” Fisher said after the game. “It looked like hands were inside. The player wouldn’t have made the play. When the player throws his arms up in the air like that sometimes it gets called. It didn’t look to me like it was an egregious hold. We’re not good enough to overcome those kinds of things. You don’t know what happens with the momentum change in that game if that works.”
Jets backup quarterback Tim Tebow didn’t have much impact in the game. He carried the ball two times for minus five yards. He also completed a shovel pass on a failed fake punt attempt that went for minus one yard.
“To be honest, it’s tough to know exactly how the game is going to go and what plays are going to be called, how much of a role you’re going to have. It’s trying to be ready at all times,” Tebow said. “I just think you take it one day at a time and constantly work on improving.”
Mark Sanchez was 15-20 passing for 178 yards and one touchdown.
“I don’t know if it was the stadium, the calls, whatever it was, we were clicking on offense and that felt great,” Sanchez said. “The defense got us the ball. I just thought we were great. There’s a penalty here or there we’d love to clean up, but other than that we made some plays and it was nice.”
The Rams try to snap their five-game winless streak Sunday at Arizona (4-6) at 3:25 p.m.
“We’ve got to keep chucking wood. You’ve just to keep chopping away. These young guys have to learn and I’m going to try my best to teach them,” said Rams running back Steven Jackson. “Each and every week is a new game. Each and every game is going to be a tough fight regardless of who the opponent is, regardless of what the record reflects. It’s tough to win in this league.”