Feldman: With playoffs on the line, Rams crumble

Feldman: With playoffs on the line, Rams crumble

ST. LOUIS, MO - DECEMBER 16: Sam Bradford #8 of the St. Louis Rams looks on from the sideline against the Minnesota Vikings at the Edward Jones Dome on December 16, 2012 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by Dilip Vishwanat/Getty Images)

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by Brian Feldman / News 4 Sports

KMOV.com

Posted on December 16, 2012 at 9:58 PM

Updated Monday, Dec 17 at 7:29 AM

ST. LOUIS (FootballStL) -- Anyone who has watched this Rams team play over the course of this season knows that, compared to the best, they're not terribly good.  Whenever they've won, they've won ugly.
 
Not that there's anything wrong with winning ugly.  But if you're going to contend for a championship, well, a lot of your wins have to be easy.  And this Rams squad does absolutely nothing easy.
 
If they were going to somehow do the unthinkable and make the postseason in Jeff Fisher's first year as head coach they were going to have to win three straight games (probably all of them ugly) and receive a little bit of help.
 
So what do they do?  They played ugly.  And didn't get the cooperation from their opposition this week to allow them to squeeze out a win.
 
Take these numbers for instance.  The Rams actually ran 18 more plays than the Vikings today (77-59) and outgained them on offense (432 yards to 322).  The Rams converted 11 more 1st downs and were practically dead even on the time of possession battle.
 
So how did they lose so easily against Minnesota?
 
Simple.  Turnovers and penalties.
 
It's the oldest trick in the book.  If you want to lose, that is.  Been around for decades.  If you want to win an NFL game, win the turnover battle and don't commit penalties.  You want to lose?  Do the opposite.
 
Well, the Rams turned it over twice (once when Sam Bradford dropped a snap from Scott Wells and another when Bradford gift-wrapped an interception to Vikings DE Everson Griffen).  Minnesota, meanwhile, did not turn the ball over once.
 
Penalties?  Plenty of those.  Try eight of them for the Rams compared to just three for the Vikings.
 
There was clean football in the Edward Jones Dome and there was sloppy football in the Edward Jones Dome.  It shouldn't come as a surprise the "clean" team won and the "sloppy" team lost.
 
Football's been that way in the NFL since the 60s.  And it'll be that way until the day the NFL closes its doors.
 
Overall, this game showed that the Rams just aren't ready to compete for a spot in the postseason.  They're well on their way.  For sure.  But this entire week, the entire talk of the city was how the Rams had won three straight for the first time since 2006.  The whole talk was them maybe making the playoffs.  The whole talk was how they should beat a solid-to-average Vikings team at home.
 
When push came to shove, however?  It was not pretty.  Turnovers.  Penalties.  Dropped passes.  Just not doing the little things necessary to win a big game.
 
That's okay.  It won't happen this year obviously.  The future is bright with the Rams.
 
But the future, clearly, is not now.

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