NFL@L.A.: Chris Long

Wrap-up: Ravens 37, Rams 7

September, 25, 2011
Thoughts on the St. Louis Rams' Week 3 defeat to the Baltimore Ravens in the Edward Jones Dome:

What it means: The Rams are 0-3 and falling far short of reasonable expectations, even when taking into account significant injury issues. They are 0-2 at home and already two games behind in the NFC West race. Their late-season schedule is packed with division games, so there's no sense in writing off the Rams at this early stage. But there have been too few signs the Rams are close to getting things going. They are floundering. This was a big step backward for a team already heading in the wrong direction to open the season.

What I liked: Steven Jackson was active for the first time since suffering a quadriceps strain early in the season opener. Rookie first-round pick Robert Quinn had two quarterback hits, as did Chris Long. Long now has three sacks in three games. Sam Bradford found Brandon Gibson for a 34-yard scoring reception.

What I didn't like: The Rams looked like a lost cause on both sides of the ball. This was the third consecutive game a Rams' opponent has returned a Bradford fumble for a touchdown. The Rams' 32nd-ranked run defense continued giving up far too many yards, including runs of 53 and 28 yards. Their pass defense was worse, making Ravens rookie Torrey Smith look more like retired Rams legend Torry Holt. Smith's three first-quarter scoring receptions from Joe Flacco covered 74, 41 and 18 yards, blowing open the game. Smith had never caught a pass in the regular season before Sunday. He caught four passes for 20 yards during the preseason. Sure, the Rams have injury-related issues in their secondary. The occasional breakdown is going to happen. This performance was inexcusable.

Playing from behind: The Rams' offense has yet to take a snap this season while the team led its opponent on the scoreboard.

Disappearing Danario: Rams receiver Danario Alexander made big plays downfield against the New York Giants on Monday night. The Rams targeted him frequently in this game, with disappointing results.

What's next: The Rams face the Washington Redskins at the Edward Jones Dome in Week 3.

Rapid Reaction: Giants 28, Rams 16

September, 19, 2011
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Thoughts on the St. Louis Rams' loss to the New York Giants on "Monday Night Football" at MetLife Stadium:

What it means: The Rams fell to 0-2 for the fourth consecutive season thanks to sloppy play that prevented them from finishing drives. But with every other NFC West team also losing in Week 2, the Rams did not lose ground in the division standings. They should be able to build on some of the strides they made in the passing game, particularly in their ability to get the ball deep to Danario Alexander. Then again, the Rams' success in that area also reflected the weakened state of the Giants' secondary. That won't be repeatable against every opponent.

What I liked: The Rams followed through on their stated intent to throw the ball deep. Sam Bradford’s 68-yard completion to Alexander on the Rams’ first drive moved St. Louis into position for a field goal. Later in the quarter, Bradford’s sideline strike to Lance Kendricks from the no-huddle offense showed Bradford’s accuracy and Kendricks’ ability to get beat coverage. Alexander set up another field goal with a 35-yard reception. Alexander can be a difference-maker for the Rams if he can overcome knee troubles the way he did Monday night. On defense, Quintin Mikell picked off a pass and pressured Eli Manning. Chris Long collected his second sack of the season.

What I didn’t like: The Rams were sloppy in their execution and flawed in some of their offensive play selection, in my view. Rookie receiver Greg Salas, returning punts while veteran Danny Amendola recovers from a dislocated elbow, muffed one in the first quarter. The Giants recovered. The Rams threw a backward pass to Cadillac Williams on third-and-8, handing a touchdown to the Giants when Williams misplayed the ball and wasn’t aware the play remained live. Michael Boley returned it for the Giants. Even the usually reliable Donnie Jones shanked a punt for the Rams. Bradford was under pressure frequently and the Giants were wise to his bootleg tactics, repeatedly forcing Bradford to throw away the ball hastily. There were also too many tipped passes, including one that otherwise would have found Alexander for a touchdown. On defense, the Rams again weren't consistently strong against the run. The Giants probably should have run it more.

Bradford under duress: Bradford failed to complete any of his seven first-half passes when put under duress by the Giants. He become more productive in this area after halftime, completing six of his first eight attempts against added pressure, including a 19-yard touchdown pass to Alexander. Amendola was one receiver Bradford could trust to be in the right place, on time, and with sure hands. But with Alexander emerging, Bradford has found a more physically dynamic target.

No star power: Steven Jackson was inactive with a strained quadriceps. The Rams missed his physical running.

First-round debut: Rams rookie defensive end Robert Quinn got extensive playing time, even on early downs, and sacked Manning in the third quarter.

What's next: The Rams return home for games against Baltimore and Washington over the next two weeks. They are the only team in the league without a division game before Week 9.



Philip Rivers
536 359 3995 31
B. Oliver 146 511 3.5 2
R. Mathews 74 330 4.5 3
M. Floyd 49 827 16.9 6
K. Allen 77 783 10.2 4