Spagnuolo upbeat as usual after latest loss -

Spagnuolo upbeat as usual after latest loss

ST. LOUIS (AP) -- The St. Louis Rams put a scare into one of the NFL's top teams for a second straight week. Oh boy, another moral victory.

If the strain of a 1-9 record and 10 consecutive losses at home is wearing on first-year coach Steve Spagnuolo, he's doing an excellent job of hiding it. He puts on a happy face every Monday and keeps it upbeat, non-specific and never critical while often trotting out his pet phrase: "I'm not going to go there."

"When you're a rookie coach they always talk about a wall you hit," Spagnuolo said a day after a second-half rally fizzled in a 21-13 loss to the Arizona Cardinals. "I don't hit those walls, because I believe in the people I'm working with and I love what I'm doing.

"I might have a moment here or there, but I'm all right."

Of course, this was before an MRI exam revealed quarterback Marc Bulger had a fractured left leg and would be sidelined 3-6 weeks. Backup Kyle Boller will get his third start of the season Sunday at home against the Seahawks, although the Rams don't plan to place Bulger on injured reserve.

The Rams had a chance to force overtime before a late drive fizzled at the Arizona 7. A week earlier, their upset bid ran out of time at the New Orleans 32.

So they're doing some things right. Just not enough.

"We're taking steps in the right direction," center Jason Brown said. "I know it's tough and we're going through adversity. We just have to focus on the positives and improve week to week."

The first half against Arizona was a big step back and the Rams were unable to overcome poor, listless play that put them hopelessly behind.

"We've got to make sure, and by we I mean the veterans, that we're ready to play," running back Steven Jackson said. "We can't just turn the switch on."

The Cardinals gained 327 yards and a 21-3 halftime cushion, then sat on the lead after Kurt Warner was taken out as a precaution due to concussion-related symptoms. Arizona was shut out the second half with Matt Leinart at quarterback, but the damage had been done.

Arizona had a season-best 183 yards rushing, about two-thirds of that total coming in the first half. Tim Hightower had Arizona's first 100-yard game of the season with four carries of 10 or more yards before the break, including a season-best 50-yard ramble. Beanie Wells added gains of 16 and 18 yards.

"There were some things where guys just got tripped up," rookie linebacker James Laurinaitis said. "You can't put yourself behind like that."

Spagnuolo built his reputation as a defensive coordinator and has been stung by failures against the run the last two weeks, with the Cardinals and Saints totaling 385 yards. Spagnuolo said it's been a combination of shortcomings.

"It kills me, kills me," Spagnuolo said. "In a number of those occasions we had ourselves in what we would have thought would have been the right defense, and that can't happen."

Spagnuolo doesn't think personnel is the problem.

"I like the guys we have, I believe in the guys we have, I believe we can get it done with the guys we have," he said.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)


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