Sunday, October 23, 2011
Wrap-up: Cowboys 34, Rams 7
By Mike Sando
Thoughts on the St. Louis Rams' 34-7 loss to the Dallas Cowboys in Week 7:
What it means: The Rams fell to 0-6 and could be headed for 0-7 with New Orleans visiting St. Louis in Week 8. They need to step down in class. They need to welcome back Sam Bradford from injury and get him synced up with new receiver Brandon Lloyd. And they need to figure out an alternative to the way they're playing run defense. The Rams are now within two defeats of their total for the 2010 season.
What I liked: The Rams hung tough early and trailed only 14-7 late in the first half. Steven Jackson had a 40-yard run. James Hall and Gary Gibson had sacks. Rookie Robert Quinn hit Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo on an incomplete pass in the red zone. This game could have gotten out of hand earlier if the Rams didn't hold the Cowboys to a field goal on a drive that began at the St. Louis 30. The Rams allowed only one sack. Cornerback Al Harris seemed to bounce back from a rough game at Green Bay. Backup quarterback A.J. Feeley completed 20 of 33 passes for 196 yards, reasonable stats for a player without a victory as a starter since 2004. Feeley wasn't the primary reason the Rams lost the game. Lloyd caught six passes for 74 yards.
What I didn't like: The run defense was generally abysmal again, allowing the Cowboys' DeMarco Murray to set a franchise single-game rushing record thanks to a 91-yard run. Murray rushed for 253 yards. The Cowboys rushed for more yards in this game (294) than any NFL team has gained in a game this season, even though they entered the game ranked 27th in rushing yards per game. The Rams ranked last in rushing yards allowed per game before Sunday, and that certainly will not change following this performance. This was the most rushing yards a Rams team has allowed in a game since 1981. It was the seventh-most rushing yards a Rams team has allowed since at least 1940 (the team dates to 1937). That historical context shows the current Rams cannot blame their deficiencies against the run to their inability to sustain drives on offense. The Rams were often worse on offense while posting a 6-42 record from 2007-09, but they never gave up this many yards on the ground. Just about every move the team made on defense this offseason was supposed to upgrade the run defense. The secondary has fallen apart through injuries, putting additional pressure on the front seven, but the Rams tackled horribly in this game.
Injury scare: The Rams lost right tackle Jason Smith to an apparent neck injury after Smith was injured making a tackle following a turnover. Smith left on a stretcher. His status was not immediately known, but coach Steve Spagnuolo said Smith suffered a strained neck and a blow to the head. Smith has had concussion problems in the past.
What's next: The Rams are home against the Saints.