Sunday, December 18, 2011
Wrap-up: Bengals 20, Rams 13
By Mike Sando
Thoughts on the St. Louis Rams following their performance against the Cincinnati Bengals at the Edward Jones Dome in Week 15:
What it means: The Rams fell to 2-12 and remained tied with Minnesota for second in the projected draft order for 2012. The strength-of-schedule tiebreaker would come into play if both teams finished 2-14. The Rams held the tiebreaker heading into Week 15, but the situation was fluid heading into the final three weeks. The team is now 10-36 in two-plus seasons under coach Steve Spagnuolo.
What I liked: The Rams' defense was on its game from the beginning and put St. Louis in position to stay competitive throughout. Cornerback Josh Gordy picked off an Andy Dalton pass and returned it 30 yards. Chris Long added to his career-high sack total. Darian Stewart, James Laurinaitis, Quintin Mikell and others made aggressive plays against the Bengals' running game. Kellen Clemens' mobility and overall health at quarterback gave the offense a boost after Sam Bradford, named inactive for this game, struggled to play through an ankle injury previously. Danario Alexander's leaping touchdown grab in the final minutes brought the Rams within striking distance. Clemens passed for 229 yards and finished with a 95.7 NFL passer rating. Rookie Robert Quinn got his hand on an opponent's punt for the third time this season.
What I didn't like: The offense struggled again, and there were additional opportunities to question play calling. The Rams lost yardage on a toss to Steven Jackson on third-and-long. A week earlier, they ran five plays in a row from the Seattle 1-yard line before giving Jackson the ball. More than anything, the Rams couldn't seem to get a break. A questionable pass-interference call gave the Bengals a long gain. The Rams forced fumbles, only to have the ball bounce back into the Bengals' possession. It's been that kind of year for the Rams. Despite a mostly strong showing on defense, the Rams let A.J. Green beat them for six receptions covering 115 yards.
What's next: The Rams visit the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 16.