NFC West: Packers-Rams

Silver linings: Rams vs. Packers

September, 28, 2009
9/28/09
10:15
AM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando


The facts: The Rams fell to 0-3 with a with a 36-17 home defeat to the Packers in Week 3.

The upside: Even the worst defeats tend to feature a bright spot or two.
  • Leonard Little sacked Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers twice in the first quarter.
  • Steven Jackson topped 100 yards rushing for the second game in a row. The Rams made sure the offense ran through Jackson, with generally positive results.
  • New return specialist Danny Amendola averaged 11.5 yards on two punt returns. His long kickoff return to open the game gave the Rams an early spark.
  • Kyle Boller gave the offense life after replacing injured starting quarterback Marc Bulger. His two touchdown passes doubled the Rams' season total through Week 2. The block Boller threw downfield before his first touchdown pass wasn't the smartest play under the circumstances, but Boller showed good leadership and heart.
  • Tight end Daniel Fells caught two touchdown passes. The Rams aren't very good at wide receiver, so they need their tight ends to produce. Adding Fells as a second tight end gave the Rams another option in the passing game, and it paid off.
  • Punter Donnie Jones posted a 46.3-yard net average on four punts, with three downed inside the 20.
  • Backup safety Craig Dahl made a positive impact at times. He batted down a pass near the goal line early in the game.
  • The Rams increased their point total again. They scored no points in Week 1, seven points in Week 2 and 17 this time.
Looking ahead: The Rams visit the 49ers in Week 4.

Wrap-up: Packers 36, Rams 17

September, 27, 2009
9/27/09
4:10
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando




The Rams should not be too disappointed following their third defeat to open the season.

They lost starting quarterback Marc Bulger to injury, but Bulger was already hurting and his replacement, Kyle Boller, was better.

Steven Jackson went over 100 yards for the second week in a row, another welcome sign.

And the staff smartly got second tight end Daniel Fells onto the field as a receiver to help cover for the Rams' most glaring weakness. This team simply lacks playmakers at wide receiver and it's preventing the team from winning.

Second-year receiver Donnie Avery was a non-factor once again. He has either regressed in his second season or he's still feeling the effects of that broken foot he suffered during the preseason. Either way, something needs to change or the Rams will continue to struggle making plays down the field.

The Rams play the 49ers (road) and Vikings (home) over the next two weeks. It's tough to see them avoiding an 0-5 start.

Quick halftime thoughts on NFC West games

September, 27, 2009
9/27/09
2:43
PM ET

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando


MINNEAPOLIS -- The 49ers have shocked the Vikings by taking a 14-13 halftime lead on Nate Clements' return of a blocked field goal attempt.

The Rams have found new life with Kyle Boller at quarterback.

A few thoughts:
  • This 49ers-Vikings game has lived up to expectations as a tough, physical game featuring borderline dirty tactics. The 49ers have punished Brett Favre, whose toughness simply amazes. The hit Justin Smith put on Favre's knee looked like the sort of shot that knocks normal quarterbacks from games.
  • Marc Bulger took a pounding in Week 2 and he was already trying to play with a broken pinky finger. It was no surprise when the Packers knocked him from the game in the first half. Boller's success in relief gives the Rams a needed jump start. I do not know how long Bulger will be out after suffering a shoulder injury, but the better Boller plays, the longer Bulger probably gets to make sure he's feeling right.
  • The 49ers are one tough, resilient team. Losing Frank Gore early gave them an easy excuse. They could have played the injury card and lamented how they had lost the one guy they could least afford to lose. Instead, they fought back. There's a lot to like about this team and it's clear the 49ers will not underachieve with Mike Singletary as head coach.
  • Steven Jackson hasn't gotten much going for the Rams in the first half. That could change if Boller keeps making plays through the air.
Halftime in the Metrodome runs another 8 minutes. The 49ers have to be feeling very good about their current position.

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