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Third-down mismatch awaits the Rams

9/29/2011

The Washington Redskins rank tied for first among NFL teams in third-down defense.

The St. Louis Rams rank 31st in third-down offense.

Count this among the mismatched areas when the Rams faces the Redskins at the Edward Jones Dome in Week 4.

"They create a lot of third-and-longs, which is why they’re first in the league in third-down defense," Rams offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels told reporters Thursday. "We’re going to have to do a good job of staying ahead on the down-and-distance, making some positive plays on first and second down so that we don’t get in those third-and-10s and third-and-9s."

The Rams are converting only 25.6 percent of their third-down chances this season, down from 33.2 percent and a No. 26 ranking to finish last season. The Redskins are allowing conversions 21.9 percent of the time.

Getting running back Steven Jackson more involved following injury rehab could, in theory, create more favorable third-down situations for the Rams. But the team's struggles transcend down-and-distance.

The Rams have actually converted a higher percentage of first downs when passing on third-and-7 or longer than when passing on third-and-6 or shorter. Go figure.

The chart shows which Rams players have made third-down receptions for first downs, ranked by success rate. The team was trailing by an average of 15 points on the 10 successful conversions. It's tough keeping teams honest when trailing so badly on the scoreboard, particularly with 2010 receiving leader Danny Amendola expected to miss another game.

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2011 Rams Third-Down Receiving Stats