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Rams Improving, Still Lose to Vikings

Sunday afternoon the Rams outgained Minnesota in total yardage, they possessed the ball for longer than the Vikes, and generally moved the ball at will, racking up 400 yards of total offense against a defense that had held their first three opponents under 270 yards.

Final score: Vikings 38, Rams 10.

So how did the Rams manage to lose again, by a margin of 28 points?

Well, there were the seven penalties for 82 yards.

Still not enough to tip the scales?

The zero-for-four touchdown conversion rate on trips into the red zone (they did convert one of the three for a Josh Brown field goal) would be cause for concern enough, but the fact that three of those trips resulted in turnovers should be enough to paint a clearer picture of the 28-point defeat.

Two fumbles at the goal line, an interception in the end zone, and a third fumble outside the red zone that was returned for a touchdown helped a Minnesota defense that was otherwise surprisingly susceptible to the Rams offense.

Steven Jackson ran well (21 carries for 84 yards), but couldn’t get a handle on a handoff from Kyle Boller at the one-yard line in the second quarter after Minnesota had already gone up 14-0 following Jared Allen’s fumble recovery for a touchdown when the ball slipped out of Kyle Boller’s hand on a pass play.

Daniel Fells continued to push his way into the offense with five catches for 45 yards, but had a fumble near the goal line as well, as he tried to bully his way into the end zone after another long drive at the end of the first half.

Minnesota essentially put the game away with a 90-yard touchdown drive completed with a pass from newly 40-year old Brett Favre to his tight end Visanthe Shiancoe. For good measure, the Vikings added two more 80-yard TD drives in the fourth quarter, by that time salting the game away with their stout running game combo of Adrian Peterson and Chester Taylor.

Penalties and turnovers were ultimately the determining factor in this game, but it bears noting that there were some seemingly peculiar playcalling choices in the game as well. Fullback Mike Karney was called upon for a third and two carry in the third quarter, only Karney’s second carry of the season (his first was earlier in this game). Kyle Boller ran a quarterback draw on first and goal in the second quarter, and then threw two incomplete passes. With Jackson running strong yet again, and clearly the Rams’ best player, those seemed perfect times to be getting him the ball. Offensive coordinator Pat Shurmer appears to be getting a bit more into a groove as was obvious with the Rams’ yardage gained today, but until they start regularly putting the ball into the end zone, the team will continue to struggle.

Bright spots today included an interception by James Laurinaitis, who was generally all over the field, finishing with the pick and six tackles. With four yards per carry this week, Steven Jackson had a very solid game considering the defense he was facing, and he is still at 4.4 yards per carry for the season. Quarterback Marc Bulger entered the game in the fourth quarter following an apparent injury to Kyle Boller (and in garbage time anyway) and was seven-for-seven passing for 88 yards and a touchdown to Donnie Avery on a nifty back shoulder throw and catch.

The Rams were clearly outclassed this week with Favre, Peterson, and company coming into town undefeated, but they didn’t make their lives any easier with what has become their standard procedure of racking up penalties and turnovers. Until this team can get a handle on the giveaways, wins will continue to be hard to come by.

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4 Responses to “Rams Improving, Still Lose to Vikings”

  1. Clearly turnovers were the key to this game. Steven Jackson had a good game? How many touch downs did he score? How many did Adrian Peterson score? Jackson is the only “bona-fide” star on the Rams team and he is not getting it done.

  2. Nick says:

    He can only do what the coaches and playcalling will allow him to do, as I alluded to above.

    Why is Karney getting carries on 3rd and 2? That should be Jackson’s bread and butter. Why the QB draw and then two passes from the MIN 10 in the 2nd quarter? Give the ball to your “bona-fide” star.

    Regardless, Jackson put up the most yards of any running back so far this season against a stout Minnesota run defense. That qualifies as solid in my book. Let him run against the Rams’ front four, and I reckon he might put up 69 yards and 2 scores as well.

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