Another week, another State of the Rams, and what have we learnt this week Rams Nation?
Well, that the Bears came to the dome, then ran away again following a 42-21 clobbering. They brought with them several extra Chicago fans dressed in zebra stripes. We learnt that that Courtland Finnegan can’t see properly. That Tavon Austin is the guy we thought he was when he was drafted. We learnt that the media love a fight, especially if you ‘can’ members of the same family on opposing sides. We learnt that there are still huge problems in our defensive set-up and that Happy Days missed a Cunningham.
Coming into this game several people were talking about Bears QB Josh McCown and asking if there will be a QB issue in Chicago when Jay Cutler is fit. Well to borrow a sentiment I heard on the NFL ‘Around the League’ podcast, if McCown is the answer then I am not sure what the question is. To be fair to McCown his stats alone were not bad, but he was so close to being swallowed up by Robert Quinn and Chris Long that the eventual strip sack was coming from very early on. Several of us called that one!
Jeff Fisher announced that Courtland Finnegan and Brady Quinn were placed on IR, (yes Brady Quinn was still on the Roster, who knew!) The initial statement was that Finnegan had an eye problem; interviews after the game indicate that he could hardly see out of one eye from an early season injury. I don’t mean to speak badly of an injured player, but there are several opposing receivers who must have known this already, and most of us would have strong suspicions based on what we have seen this year.
Now let’s get to the Elephant in the room following this game, the standard of the officials. Having decided to let the Bears have what felt like an entire quarter in a ‘goal to go’ situation, and to watch the Bears do their very best to screw it up, the officials then decided that if the Bears QB is as much as looked at it is a penalty! Now if we were to dare to hit him with a clean hit in a somewhat crucial setting, say for the Bears to close to within 6 pts or so, (following the period of the Bears screwing up all their other chances) then naturally this should draw multiple flags… what should a mere Rams fan expect? Can you imagine Tom Brady and Bill Bellicheck’s reaction if that had been called on the Patriots defence? Listeners to the Rich Eisen podcast will have heard him tell a story about Chuck Noll, the legendary Steelers coach, who used to tell his players to play better than the Referee’s ref! This is something the Rams managed to achieve.
In recent seasons the Rams might have crumpled in this adversity, but not this team, hell no! They took it the length of the field and punched it in for another TD of their own, behind Benny Cunningham’s rushing. Yes, that was Benny Cunningham who racked up his first career 100 yard game coming in for the concussed Zac Stacy. This touchdown led to the rarest of rare events, an Isaiah Pead sighting, who made a two point conversion. Then to put the exclamation point on this game, the strip sack, scoop recovery and TD for Robert Quinn. (Please vote him to the Pro-Bowl and get him in the reckoning for Defensive Player of the Year).
I would like a quick moment for a special mention for Chris Long and the role he played in the first half fracas. Seeing that his brother was looking like he was losing his cool to the extent of a possible ejection from the game, Chris pulled his brother out of it. The media wanted to paint it as a fight featuring the Long’s, but the reality showed that even in the heat of the battle, blood is stronger!
Ok, Tavon Austin TD time, this time from just 65 yards out. Run one way, misdirect everyone, then turn around and run away from everyone like Usain Bolt in an Olympic final. This guy is fantastic, the TD a rush on the Rams third play of the game, if you thought the Colts performance was a one off, think again, just think again. The recent rushing of Zac Stacy has been huge in creating space for Austin, as it did today both for Austin and Jared Cook and so close to some big plays to Chris Givens. The injury to Stacy is not good, but Cunningham stepped in and to be fair, the Bears rush D made him out to be more the Fonz than a Cunningham.
In the build up to this game, it felt like a tangible belief was beginning to rise up in Rams Nation. Quite often in Sport this can be a false dawn but Sunday’s events showed it was well founded. We know we need help in the secondary and at Defensive Tackle if we’re honest, maybe a 3rd down back too. But the heart this team showed, perhaps inspired by the injustice of the officiating, was immense and they overcame the adversity.
The Rams went on a Bear hunt and they caught a big one, (in the end they laid a 40 burger on them). Next week we go panning for gold in San Francisco, who take on the Redskins on Monday night, (not played at time of writing). A ‘Niners win makes our first round pick from Washington worth more, a Redskins win and we are in the mix of a potential play-off push. Tough call for us Rams fans to decide what we want there.
I’ll finish with this thought, when we had the ball at our 43 with 16 seconds to go before the half, did anyone else want to see if Legatron would have a chance of an NFL record?
Ok, till next time, let’s dream of Quinn taking down Kaepernick and knocking them out of the play-offs.
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