The St Louis Rams are quite the storied franchise.
Established in 1935 as the Cleveland Rams, the franchise has experienced over seventy years of moderate success as a professional football team. They have seen elite players such as Jack Youngblood, Jackie Slater, Eric Dickerson, Deacon Jones, Merlin Olsen, and many others suit up in horns, compiling a record of 529-516 along the way.
While the Rams did capture two NFL Championships (one in 1945, the other in 1951), they have only managed a single championship since the 'Super Bowl' moniker was invented. That is one hoisted trophy over the past 48 seasons.
In the 47 non-Championship seasons, the Rams have fielded some pretty incredible teams. Which five of those teams were most deserving of a championship? Let's take a look.
Rams Attempt to Beat Staubach-led Cowboys in Staubach's Prime, Fail Miserably
Led by DE Jack Youngblood, the 1975 St Louis Rams' defense was absolutely terrifying. Ranking first in scoring defense and second in yards allowed, the Rams incredible ability to defend more than made up for their offensive struggles.
Led by James Harris and Lawrence McCutcheon, two names that didn't strike much fear into the opponents, the Rams still came out of the regular season with a 12-2 record and a shot at a Super Bowl title. The trick was that while their offense was incredible, they didn't make many mistakes, leading to a +15 takeaway/giveaway differential.
Why They Didn't Win
Roger Staubach was the incredible quarterback for an incredible Dallas Cowboy team. The Rams were a great team as well, but they didn't have the offensive firepower to keep up with the Cowboys. When the defense struggled for the first time all season (surrendered 37 points, shattering their previous high of 23 points), the offense wasn't there to pick up the slack. James Harris, returning from injury and playing for the first time in more than a month, was largely ineffective and was benched before the game was over.
As great of this team was, sometimes you just make the mistake of existing in a time where players like Roger Staubach was at his best. Four years later the Rams would get revenge against a much more washed up Staubach however.
Storybook season has sick ending: Rams fall in first ever Superbowl
To be honest, this team wasn't too impressive as a whole, limping to a 9-7 record in a season that saw them lose by a few ugly scores of 30-6, 40-16, 21-6, and 29-14. However, the rest of the division slumped through the season even worse than the LA Rams and they managed to capture first place with a record just over .500.
Led by Vince Ferragamo, Wendell Tyler, and Ray Malavasi, the Rams fought and scraped their way to the Super Bowl. After narrowly defeating the Roger Staubach-led Cowboys 21-19, they defensively dominated the Buccaneers en-route to a well earned 9-0 victory. They were off to the Superbowl to take on Terry Bradshaw and the Pittsburgh Steelers. And people were beginning to think: maybe, just maybe this team had enough left in the tank to capture a championship.
Why They Didn't Win
The Rams led for a large portion of the game and had a nerve-racking yet promising 19-17 lead heading into the fourth quarter. Despite being giant underdogs, the Rams were showing they could play with the powerhouse Steelers.
Then the fourth quarter happened.
Terry Bradshaw connected with WR John Stallworth for a 73-yard touchdown pass that gave the Steelers a 23-19 lead. On the Steelers' next possession, Bradshaw once again connected with Stallworth for 45 yards and a pass interference call later on in the drive gave the Steelers the ball on the Rams' one-yard line. Franco Harris punched it in from a yard out, and the Rams found themselves in an insurmountable 31-19 hole.
The magic failed to last fifteen more minutes, and the Rams' incredible run came to a sad end.
Heavily-Favored Rams Season Comes to Abrupt End In Double Overtime Shocker
With the Greatest Show on Turf still in full swing, 2003 had all the makings for a successful season for the St Louis Rams. Led by Kurt Warner, Marshall Faulk, Isaac Bruce, and Torry Holt, chances were that the offense would lead the team to a deep playoff run. Warner however was demoted to backup in favor of Marc Bulger, a young QB who had shown flashes of potential as an NFL quarterback.
Bulger proved to be a spark for the Rams' offense and guided them to a 12-4 record and the 2nd seed in the playoffs. While they awaited the winner of the Carolina-Dallas game, fans were ecstatic to see what this impressive team could accomplish.
Why They Didn't Win
The Rams made the mistake of being an early chapter in a Cinderella story. They couldn't play the role of midnight, instead just being a stepping stone in the Panthers' pursuit of a very unlikely Super Bowl victory.
Although it isn't like the Rams went down without a fight. Heavy favorites heading into the duel with Carolina, the Rams found themselves down 23-12 with a little more than six minutes left. After a Marshall Faulk touchdown and a Dane Looker two-point conversion put the Rams within a field goal at 23-20, they immediately stormed down the field in an attempt to grab the lead back. Down three with a timeout and a chunk of time left on the clock, Mike Martz elected to play it safe and go for the tie despite being inside the Panthers twenty-yard line. The kick was good and the teams began what would become two overtimes of heartbreaking, gut-wrenching football.
Both teams missed field goals and big opportunities for what felt like forever before Ricky Manning Jr. decided he had seen enough. The cornerback intercepted a lethargic Bulger pass and on the first play of the second overtime, Jake Delhomme found Steve Smith for a long touchdown, ending a promising season all to soon for the Rams.
Seemingly unbeatable Rams are beaten by Packers in playoffs: Fans disappointed
In 1967 the Los Angeles Rams were near perfect (11-1-2), with their lone loss coming to the San Francisco 49ers in week four. Led by Defensive Player of the Year Deacon Jones, Coach of the Year George Allen, and star QB Roman Gabriel, the Rams appeared to headed for a championship.
Why They Didn't Win
Some might call it destiny. The Rams loss to the Packers in the Conference Championship set up arguably the greatest football game ever played: The Ice Bowl. In the end the Packers' combination of Vince Lombardi, Bart Starr, and Boyd Dowler were too much to handle as the Rams fell 28-7.
While it was a very anti-climatic end to an incredible season, this was one of the better Ram teams to ever suit up.
Really, Vinateri? Really?
The 2001 Rams were an incredible team. Led by Kurt Warner, Marshall Faulk, Torry Holt, Isaac Bruce, and Trung Candidate (I kid), they boasted one of the better offenses the NFL has ever seen under the moniker 'The Greatest Show on Turf'.
TGSOF, mixed with a revamped defense, saw the Rams ease through the regular season with a 14-2 record. They scored 503 points and their opponents scored 273. Both of their two losses were by a single possession. This team was the epitome of incredible; they were destined to win their second Super Bowl in three seasons.
Why They Didn't Win
After blasting the Green Bay Packers 45-17 then barely sneaking by the Eagles 29-24, the fans were already preparing for a Super Bowl victory. A 14-point favorite, the Rams were shocked by the Patriots in the Louisiana Superdome. After the Patriots jumped out to a 17-3 lead the Rams stormed back in the fourth quarter to tie it up, setting up the establishment of the legend of Tom Brady.
It really hurts too much to type out the end of the game; we all know what happened. Brady drives, Vinateri kicks, Rams lose.