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A Gut Wrencher

by Steve Savard

KMOV.com

Posted on September 16, 2007 at 6:14 PM

Updated Wednesday, Nov 4 at 3:26 PM

An excruciating loss. No other way to describe it. On a day when the Rams play well enough to overcome multiple injuries and suspensions, they still lose. On a day when they dominate the 49ers statistically, they still lose. And now they've dug themselves quite a hole. They'e 0-2 overall, 0-2 at home, 0-2 in the conference and 0-1 in the NFC West. Other than that....

A look at the stats tell you the Rams should have won by a touchdown or two. Consider:

--The 49ers gained 186 total yards(that's what Carolina gained on the ground last week.)

---Frank Gore gained 81 yards rushing with 43 coming on that touchdown run. In 19 other carries he gained 38 yards--2 yards per carry.

--The Rams totalled 20 first downs..the Niners got only 8.

---Marc Bulger threw for 368 yards.

But the Rams finished minus 1 in turnovers and that one was huge. Dante Hall's muff gave the Niners the go ahead field goal. Scott Linehan has preached ball security from day one but maybe the Rams need a reminder. They have turned the ball over five times in two games meaning they're on pace to commit 40 giveaways or more than double last year's total of 18.

The other area in which the Rams failed was the red zone. It's getting old watching this highly skilled offense settle for field goals inside the 20. SCORE A TOUCHDOWN FOR CRYING OUT LOUD. The Rams held the ball for 10 minutes and 34 seconds of the second quarter and managed to score only six points on two field goals. If they score a t-d on just one of those possessions, they win the game. For the second straight week, the Rams finished 1 for 3 inside the 20. That's not just execution. That's game planning and play calling as well. The problem is the Rams are having no success running the ball in the red zone. On those two red zone possessions, Jackson ran three times for a total of zero yards. Late last year, the Rams emerged as a very efficient red zone team because Jackson was so successful running inside the 20.

One other gripe about the finish today. Jackson could have been a bigger factor. On the final two drives, Jackson touched the ball only once. The second to last possession started at the 40 yard line and the Rams had 3 plus minutes on the clock. Plenty of time to get Steven involved and making a difference--even if its in the passing game. Especially with the pass protection breaking down late in the game. Here's hoping Marc Bulger is still in one piece when he wakes up tomorrow.

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