Sunday, December 16, 2012
Wrap-up: Vikings 36, Rams 22
By Mike Sando
Thoughts on the St. Louis Rams' performance during a 36-22 home defeat to the Minnesota Vikings in Week 15:
What it means: The Rams lost ground in the NFC West and NFC playoff picture while falling to 6-7-1. This was only the Rams' second defeat since Oct. 28, but it was a costly one. Home defeats against Christian Ponder (Vikings) and Mark Sanchez (New York Jets) could wind up keeping the Rams from the postseason in Jeff Fisher's first year as head coach.
What I liked: Fans gave Steven Jackson a standing ovation after the running back passed 10,000 rushing yards for his career. Fans had every right to be cranky at that point. The Rams trailed 33-7 late in the third quarter when Jackson achieved the milestone. It was good to see fans set aside their disappointment to honor one of the top players in franchise history. Rookie receiver Brian Quick caught a scoring pass for the second time in his career, both in the past six games. The 4-yard reception tied the score early in the second quarter. Sam Bradford threw a second touchdown pass early in the fourth quarter, an impressive throw to the back of the end zone through traffic for Danny Amendola. He made it three touchdowns with a 6-yarder to Lance Kendricks in the final eight minutes.
What I didn't like: The Rams were not competitive at home against a flawed team and with playoff positioning on the line. Yes, they rallied in the fourth quarter, but only after the Vikings had built a 33-7 lead. The Rams could not sufficiently protect Bradford. They could not stop Ponder from making plays on third-and-long, fourth-and-short and third-and-goal during the Vikings' opening touchdown drive. They could not stop Adrian Peterson from breaking off an 82-yard touchdown run right after Quick's tying touchdown reception. They could not protect the football, turning it over with a bad center exchange and with an interception Minnesota's Everson Griffen returned for a touchdown. The pick-six made the score 24-7 midway through the second quarter. Game over.
Playoff picture: The Rams could still earn a wild-card berth if they finished 8-7-1 while second-place teams from the other NFC divisions finished 8-8 or worse. They'll need to win road games against Tampa Bay and Seattle to have a chance. The New York Giants' defeat Sunday helped. The Chicago Bears' defeat also helped. Washington won comfortably and that was not good for the Rams.
No stopping Peterson: Peterson carried 24 times for a season-high 212 yards and a touchdown. The Rams went into the game determined to contain him, largely by keeping him on the sideline while their offense controlled the ball. They gave up too many long runs. Peterson now has 1,812 yards heading into the final two regular-season games.
What's next: The Rams visit the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in Week 16.