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Ram View: Week 8 – Part IV

RamView, November 1, 2009
From The Couch
(Report and opinions on the game.)
Game #8: RAMS 17, Lions 10

* Offensive line: Jackson didn’t really win the game by himself, of course. The offensive line played its best game in perhaps three years. They paved the way for Jackson’s 147 yards. Bulger not only wasn’t sacked; he was rarely even touched and got forever to throw at times. Alex Barron may have had his best game as a Ram. Julian Peterson beat him a couple of times early, but Alex was solid otherwise. I can’t remember a game where so many successful runs came off of Barron blocks. Jason Smith played well, delivering some punishing run blocks and keeping speed rushes directed behind Bulger for the most part. There were plays where the Lions just quit rushing because the Rams had them stymied, with Barron and Smith looking around for guys to hit. It’s been a long time since the Ram offensive line so resembled a wall. Jackson got blocks from Barron, Jason Brown and all three WRs on his 26-yard run before halftime. Most of the tight end blocking was terrific. Fells dumped a Lion on his butt to give Bulger time on the 15-yard completion to Avery in the 1st, and he sealed the right edge but good on Jackson’s winning TD run. Right before that run, Jackson got good blocks from Brown, Adam Goldberg (RG for injured Richie Incognito) and Mark Setterstrom (LG for injured Jacob Bell) on a 17-yard blast up the middle. Bajema blocked two Lions to help Jackson get out of the end zone on the near-safety in the 4th. Setterstrom got beat on that play, but line breakdowns were few and far between. Larry Foote blitzed between Fells and Bell to drop Jackson for a 4-yard loss in the 2nd. But that was about it. The Lion d-line may not present the highest level of difficulty, but the Ram offensive line dominated the trenches today and have earned themselves at least a couple of nice steaks during their week off.

* Defensive line / LB: A win for the Ram defense today despite an ugly start. They didn’t really stop the run; Detroit ran for 127, and killed Ram blitzes with screen passes for at least another 68 yards. They put very little pressure on Matthew Stafford until late in the game despite Detroit’s bad offensive line. They couldn’t stop a cutback run to save their lives. The Lions ran through them like crap through a goose in the first half but killed every drive themselves with brutal dropped passes or penalties. Leger Douzable (!) may have been the star of the first half, with a couple of tackles for loss, but his linemates didn’t make them stand up. Aaron Brown ran around Chris Long for 11 late in the 1st as TE Will Heller dominated Long at the point of attack. Kevin Smith and Maurice Morris gashed Ram blitzes off screen passes, with NO ONE covering Morris on a 3rd-and-11 screen that gained 19. But that drive ended (sort of) in a Stafford interception, and Detroit’s ensuing drive was promising until ending in another dropped pass. The Rams forced their first 3-and-out late in the 2nd, with James Hall’s pressure forcing Stafford’s high, and dropped, pass. They got another in the 3rd, thanks to LaJuan (WHO?) Ramsey coming through unblocked to stuff Smith for a 4-yard loss. They followed with another 3-and-out. Stafford back-body-dropped Cliff Ryan to briefly avoid trouble, but Long cleaned up to get his first sack of the season and end an Andy-Stitzer-like streak of not getting some. The 4th quarter did not start well, though, as Detroit tied the game. Stafford beat them with a bomb, then a 4-yard TD run made possible by Leonard Little’s massive overpursuit. They tied the game with a 2-pointer that saw James Laurinaitis bite HARD on play-action and leave Morris wide open in the end zone. The Lions got the ball back with the game still tied and appeared to have unstoppable momentum. Morris took a pitch right for 13, with Little getting blocked by the TE and Ryan getting knocked down. Morris then cut back for 15 more, as Ramsey and Little got pancaked and David Vobora ran himself out of the play. At midfield, though, Ryan made the play of the day, defeating his man soundly and blowing up Morris’ attempted outside run. Morris tried to cut back, but right into Little for a 7-yard loss. Now the Rams had momentum, and kept it. With the Lions pinned at their 6 with 4:00 left, Ramsey stuffed a Morris run, then Little beat Gosder Cherilus with a sweet spin move for the Rams’ second sack, helped by pressure alongside from VICTOR ADEYANJU. The Rams got good field position after the punt and turned it into a TD lead, and the D-line got to pin its ears back with 1:30 to play. Hall nearly got Stafford a couple of times; I believe he was the one drawing the two holding penalties on Jon Jansen. Long got up in the rookie’s face. Little finished it off with good late pressure to force a wild pass on 3rd-and-20. Yep, it’s not how you start, it’s how you finish. The Lions had every opportunity to run the Rams right off the field early, but didn’t take advantage, and paid for it. It’s not how you’d script the defense’s performance for the first win of the season, but I’ll by-God take it.

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