New England Patriots vs. St. Louis Rams: Winners and Losers for the Rams
The Rams lost.
The Rams lost bad.
The Rams were completely embarrassed by the New England Patriots on Sunday in a 45-7 blowout loss. It was the first time this Rams team, under Jeff Fisher's leadership, simply did not arrive ready to play.
The Rams won the first 155 seconds of the game, taking a quick 7-0 lead. From there, the Patriots beat the Rams in every aspect of the game.
You'll see a steady theme throughout this piece describing the winners and losers for the Rams. Like the action on the field, this will be a mostly one-sided affair.
Winner: Chris Givens
It's official, the Rams offense is completely different when Chris Givens is not on the field.
In today's NFL, you have to be able to attack down field. Defenses must be kept honest. If a defense can play man-to-man with little or no safety help over the top, you will get smothered in both the running and short-to-intermediate passing games.
Givens gave the Rams another breathtaking play, this time grabbing a 50-yard touchdown pass for the Rams' only score of the game.
The Rams were smart to use Givens to attack the Patriots secondary early in the game. It was one of the few good decisions made this entire week for the Rams.
Givens now has five consecutive games with a 50-yard reception, the longest streak in NFL history.
Givens finished the day with three catches for 63 yards and the one touchdown. He temporarily left the game with a foot injury, although he was able to return.
The bye week comes at a perfect time for Givens and the Rams offense, because without Givens, the Rams are a dink-and-dunk offense.
Loser: The Rest of the Wide Receivers
Don't get me wrong, each of the Rams' wide receivers had their moments. Brian Quick, Austin Pettis and Brandon Gibson each had one nice reception, but that was really it for this group.
Those three combined for seven catches and 100 yards. When the opposing team is putting up 45 points, you need more production from your wideouts.
Steve Smith fumbled away a ball after making a reception in the first quarter, but officials overturned the call on replay.
This game offered the Rams wide receiving corps a chance to shine on national television for an international audience.
The Patriots defense is ranked third-worst in the NFL in passing yards allowed (290 yards per game) and tied for allowing the most passing touchdowns (16) among all teams. And the Patriots were missing two of their starting safeties, Patrick Chung and Steve Gregory, who were both out with injuries.
The Rams wideouts failed this relatively easy assignment.
Loser: Offensive Line
After a couple of relatively sharp performances, the Rams offensive line fell apart against New England.
Sam Bradford was sacked twice and hit several times after throws. The offensive line had multiple false start penalties and put Bradford in positions where he had to take an intentional grounding and illegal forward pass penalties.
The Rams have played with house money long enough on this makeshift offensive line.
Paging Rodger Saffold and Scott Wells: you are needed on the front line, stat.
Who is most to blame for the Rams loss to the Patriots?
Winner: Sam Bradford
I want to follow up on the failures of the offensive line with this statement: It is a win that Bradford finished this game.
Bradford's numbers looked okay, completing 22 of 30 passes for the one touchdown to Givens and one meaningless interception late in the blowout.
Bradford ran the no-huddle offense very well to start the game and his pass to Givens was right on the money, as it hit him in stride for the team's first and only score of the game.
Bradford is a good quarterback. Not a great one, especially after watching the performances of Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady, but he is a good one. He needs to get better, and that's hard to do when he keeps getting pounded into the turf.
Loser: The Game Plan
I'm always proud to tout the offense's efficiency, but they simply did not have it today.
The Rams won the time of possession battle (31:06 to 28:54), but ran far fewer plays than the Patriots (28-23 on rushing plays; 38-32 on passing plays).
The Rams coaches should have continued with the aggression they displayed in the team's opening drive. They should have continued to attack the depleted Patriots secondary.
Maybe the mistakes by the offensive line, coupled with too many penalties, made the Rams dial it back a bit.
Loser: The Defense (Everyone)
I don't have the time or the space to mention all of the defense's failures in this game.
But I'll try.
No sacks on Brady.
152 rushing yards allowed on 25 carries (6.1 yards per rush).
Rob Gronkowski caught every ball he wanted to (finishing with 146 yards on eight catches, including two touchdowns).
Janoris Jenkins was burned again. And again. And again.
Bradley Fletcher was flagged for three pass interference penalties.
Six touchdowns allowed (four passing, two rushing).
This game was over at halftime, when the Patriots led 28-7.
Winner: Running Game
I'm reaching here, but it seemed the Rams were able to move the ball ever so much on the ground.
Daryl Richardson, Steven Jackson and Isaiah Pead combined for 108 rushing yards on 17 carries (6.4 yard average). But again, with the running theme of the day, no touchdowns.
It was curious to see Jackson get only nine touches (seven rushes, two receptions) while Richardson got 11. Chalk it up to the early blowout, or maybe Jackson is getting phased out for the trading block?
Loser: Jeff Fisher and Staff
This really is the biggest loser of the game. It seemed like every decision Fisher and his staff made, when compared to Bill Belichick, was wrong.
The Rams arrived on Monday and spent the week in London chumming it up at the swanky Arsenal facility owned by Stan Kroenke. The Patriots waited until Friday to arrive, coming to London only after their game plan had been designed and installed in practice.
The Rams did some charity work with children in London, helping to spread the team's brand throughout the United Kingdom. The Patriots arrived ready for work and took it to the tired, restless legs of the Rams defense.
The Rams were not sharp in any facet of the game. From bobbling the snap on the team's lone field goal attempt to the many mental mistakes that led to penalties, this Rams team was not ready to play today, and that falls on Fisher.
This is the first time this season that the team did not put forth a respectable effort. We'll see how Fisher's staff responds to that over the bye week.
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