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Thursday, October 14, 2010
Rams' blowout loss beginning of slide?

By Mike Sando
ESPN.com

The St. Louis Rams' 2010 season has played out pretty much as expected, except for that 38-point defeat at Detroit in Week 5.

Was the 44-6 margin an aberration? Might it have been an indicator the Rams have peaked in October?

"It's a little overwhelming and surprising," Matt Williamson of Scouts Inc. said when we spoke Wednesday. "It wasn’t against the Colts or Patriots or a powerhouse. I know Detroit is playing better than its record and going on the road is tough, but that was an embarrassing performance."

The Rams had not allowed more than 17 points in a game this season. Even though the Rams struggled in their only other road game this season, they still held down Oakland's scoring in a 16-14 defeat.

"I was high on the Rams' defense before that Detroit game," Williamson said. "They had new life. They were playing above their heads in a way, but that defense was in a position where they wouldn’t get embarrassed, they would keep games close, you add a player in the offseason and maybe become a good defense."

That could still be the case. But with the Rams losing their best receiver, Mark Clayton, for the season, quarterback Sam Bradford didn't look as good as he had in the past, either. Rookie quarterbacks are going to have rough games, of course.

"That Detroit loss is still pretty concerning," Williamson said. "I had the Rams 23 or 24 in my power rankings with thoughts of, 'Hey, they could win this division.' Now, looking back, that is probably the highest they will be all year. It’s almost like the first quarter of the season is going to get the fan base excited, but you know they are going to lose a lot of games."

We'll have a much better idea what to expect from the Rams after their home game against San Diego in Week 6. My preseason feel had the Rams getting to 4-4 on their way to 5-11. They would have to win two of their next three -- against San Diego, at Tampa Bay and against Carolina -- to reach 4-4. After that, four of their next five games are on the road.

"I think Steve Spagnuolo has done a fine job and Bradford is the guy," Williamson said. "But they need another strong offseason."