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Monday, December 21, 2009
Around the NFC West: Null's strides

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch expects Keith Null to start the Rams' final two games after showing improvement in Week 15. Thomas: "Null completed 18-of-27 for 173 yards, throwing a 2-yard touchdown pass to Danny Amendola late in the second quarter to give the Rams a 10-6 halftime lead. Other than a short-lived 3-0 lead Nov. 22 against Arizona, it marked the Rams' first lead in a game since their one and only victory of the year, seven weeks ago in Detroit."

Also from Thomas: Amendola catches a touchdown pass for the first time in his NFL career.

Bill Coats of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch quotes Rams cornerback Ron Bartell as saying Andre Johnson is the NFL's best wide receiver. Bartell: "He can do it all: size, speed, run after the catch, blocking ... everything. There's nobody that compares to him. He's by far the best in the league." Bartell gets a look at Larry Fitzgerald in Week 15.

Also from Coats: Steven Jackson plans to continue playing through a herniated disc in his back. Jackson: "I love football and I love this team. I only have two more games to play in this season. So, I'm just going to gut it out."

More from Coats: a Rams report card questioning Steve Spagnuolo's decision to punt in the final minutes.

Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch likes the Rams' fight. Miklasz: "On Sunday we saw Steven Jackson -- he of the herniated disc, 1,352 yards rushing and at least that many bruises -- get the helmet ripped from his head by Texans safety Bernard Pollard. Pollard threw a forearm across Jackson's chin for good measure. With the blood filling Jackson's mouth and covering his lips, SJ39 went Pacquiao and threw a right-hand cross. Then he grabbed hold of Pollard and wrestled him to the ground. That scene may have been a keeper from an otherwise hideous 2009 season: the bloodied Jackson, refusing to back down, skirmishing for a lost cause."

Tom Timmermann of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch says the Rams' slide has hurt ticket scalpers.

Howard Balzer of the St. Louis Globe-Democrat says Jackson deserved a spot on the NFC's Pro Bowl roster.

Jim Rodenbush of the St. Louis Globe-Democrat sizes up personnel changes on the Rams. Spagnuolo: "Guys bounced back that were ill. I'd have to ask them how they feel now because you put in 60 minutes of a game. I’m sure they’re pretty weak. But guys fought through it."

Also from Rodenbush: This Rams defeat hurt. Spagnuolo: "Tough one. Tough, tough, tough. The guys battled. It’s a three-point game. Doesn’t matter, they had one more point than we did, and we end up with a loss. Very disappointed, but very, very proud. After everything we went through this week and being a little short-handed with injuries and whatnot, the guys were out there battling."

Rod Kloeckner of the Belleville News-Democrat says the Rams are pleased with Null. Offensive lineman Adam Goldberg: "Keith's doing a great job for us. He's directing the huddle and doing everything that a quarterback should do. I think everybody in here believes in him. It's just up to us to make the plays around him and make this offense work and put up more points."

Steve Korte of the Belleville News-Democrat says the Rams lost by eight or fewer points for the sixth time this season.