St. Louis Rams: The 10 Bonehead Mistakes That Derailed Week 3
The Rams had several chances to win this football game.
Today I'm going to break it down for you and show you how the Rams made 10 stupid mistakes that cost them a win. Several of these mistakes came early in the game, as the Rams had chance after chance to take the lead in this football game.
1. Mario Haggan, Roughing the Kicker
Sorry about the Broncos picture, but to be honest, it's hard to find a picture of Haggan in a Rams uniform. Haggan made a huge mental mistake in this game, and maybe it's stupid plays like these that are keeping him off the field.
The Rams got a stop, stopping the Bears at the Rams' 44-yard line. After a holding call, the Bears got backed up 10 more yards to their own 44-yard line. So facing 4th-and-15, the Bears were going to punt, and then Haggan did them a huge favor.
He ran into the punter. Haggan, a veteran, committed a personal foul penalty that gave the Bears 15 yards and an automatic first down. The Bears would go ahead to kick a field goal and take a three-point lead.
2. Sack No. 1
The Rams got the ball on their first drive, were moving the ball, crossed midfield, and then it was like watching a replay of 2011.
Sam Bradford got sacked for a 13-yard loss. The offensive line was totally overmatched all day against the Chicago front four.
3. Brandon Gibson's Drop, Followed Back Sack No. 2
The Rams got the ball to start their second drive at their own 46, easily their best starting field position all day. On the second play of the drive, Bradford went deep to Brandon Gibson, who was open. It was a very well thrown football.
Gibson dropped it.
So instead of possibly taking a 7-3 lead—and possibly a 7-0 lead had Haggan not ran into the punter on the first drive of the game—the Rams were facing 3rd-and-long.
That's when Bradford got sacked.
Drive over, Chicago Ball, with the Rams trailing 3-0.
4. Sack No. 3
With the Rams still only trailing 3-0, and facing a 2nd-and-9 from their own 30-yard line, Bradford was sacked again. Now facing 3rd-and-14, Bradford had to get rid of the ball quickly for a short gain.
The Rams were forced to punt, trailing 3-0.
5. Roughing the Passer Penalty on Darian Stewart
Facing a 3rd-and-8 from the St. Louis 46, Cutler threw an incomplete pass. The Bears were about to punt, but not so fast...
Darian Stewart was flagged for helmet to helmet contact, a 15-yard penalty and another automatic first down. So instead of punting, the Bears continued their drive, where they scored a touchdown.
At this point in the game, the Bears led 10-0, thanks to two stupid penalties by the Rams. Without those penalties, and if Brandon Gibson caught a long pass, the Rams might be leading 7-0 instead.
6. Sack No. 4, Penalty, and Then Sack No. 5
After a field goal late in the second quarter, the Rams only trailed 10-3. The Rams defense came out and played inspired, holding the Chicago Bears to four total yards in the third quarter.
The Rams offense was absolutely pathetic in the third quarter. Credit the Chicago Bears, who played phenomenal defense, but it was frustrating how the Rams self-destructed.
On one drive, the Rams gave up a sack, followed by a false start penalty. Facing 3rd-and-long, they got a gift when Bears defensive end Julius Peppers was flagged for roughing the passer. The Rams were on the move again, only to give up another sack!
If you don't think the Rams are drafting a left tackle this April, you're crazy.
7. Sam Bradford's Pick-Six
After trading field goals, the Rams were still only down 13-6 early in the fourth quarter. This was still anybody's football game, when Sam Bradford threw an inexcusable pick-six.
After playing so well during the first two weeks of the season, Bradford got beat up in Chicago behind an offensive line that was overmatched.
8. Sack No. 6
Facing a 3rd-and-4, still only trailing 20-6, the Rams had a slight glimmer of hope remaining in this football game. Wouldn't you know it? Sam Bradford got sacked again.
The Rams' offensive line got absolutely killed in this game.
9. The Rams Abandoned the Running Game
The Rams attempted 43 passes. Bradford was sacked on six of those attempts, and he also scrambled for positive rushing yards on two other passing plays.
The Rams only ran the ball 15 times.
In my opinion, this is where the weakness of the Rams' offensive line really comes into play. They obviously struggle in pass protection—with Bradford having been sacked 11 times now through three games—but the fact that they get physically dominated at the point of attack also makes the Rams' offense one-dimensional.
The best way to protect Sam Bradford—and keep him from becoming the next David Carr—is to run the football. For the life of me, I can't understand why the Rams didn't run the football more. I mean, they only scored six points! Why not try to run it more? What could it possibly hurt?
If you don't think we're drafting an offensive tackle in April, you're crazy.
10. Not Dressing Brian Quick
The Rams receivers were awful a year ago. They went out and drafted Brian Quick with the No. 33 overall pick—the first pick of the second round. When you spend a premium draft pick on a guy like that—at a position of need—he has to make an impact, right?
Why can't Brian Quick get on the field?
Not dressing him is a huge mistake. The Rams either made a mistake by drafting Quick, or they're making a mistake by not letting him play?
Is Brandon Gibson really the long-term answer on the outside? Is Steve Smith the answer? If Quick is so far behind these guys that he can even dress for the game, we're in big trouble, Rams fans.
Because every receiver on the Rams' roster is 27 years or younger, and the Rams hold four first-round picks over the next two years. Quick is caught between a rock (the young receivers already on the roster) and a hard place (the young receivers the Rams will draft if this passing game doesn't take off).
I wonder if Sam Bradford ever looked across the field at Bears rookie wide receiver Alshon Jeffery—a starter who caught five passes for 45 yards today, and who was drafted after Brian Quick—and wondered "what if?"