The St. Louis Rams fell to 2-12 on the season with a 20-13 loss to the Bengals on Sunday. It was a typical Rams game in most ways. The offense was unproductive. Steven Jackson ran hard. Sam Bradford did not play. All these factors have been common in 2011.
On Sunday, however, the defense was sensational. That observation, along with some other tidbits, make up the six things we learned in the Rams’ 20-13 loss on Sunday.
The Rams need some help at receiver. That is not a shocking view or hard to see when watching the Rams offense. They don't have enough weapons.
The Bengals offered a great example for what an explosive, young receiver can do for an offense. Rookie AJ Green out of Georgia caught six passes for 115 yards. His elite speed and ball skills caused problems for the Rams throughout most of the first half until Green hurt his shoulder.
The Rams offense would be significantly better if they add a premiere pass catching threat to go alongside Brandon Lloyd. The proof was on the other sideline Sunday.
Sometimes plays don't go as planned in football. Even in the NFL, some plays are a total failure. That was the case with the second-quarter double pass play from the St. Louis offense. In a year where the unit has failed to move ball normally, the trick play pretty much summed up the season. It was a microcosm of a bad year.
Quarterback Kellen Clemens gave the ball to Steven Jackson, who then threw the ball back to Clemens. Clemens felt pressure and threw the ball 15 yards downfield for an incompletion.
The trick play, and the season, held promise, but turned out to be a failure.
Robert Quinn played well again. It's as simple as that. It's a good sign for Quinn and the Rams going forward.
Quinn sustained pressure on Bengal QB Andy Dalton for much of the game. He also blocked a punt in the second quarter. It was his second blocked punt of the year.
Quinn is becoming a good compliment to fellow defensive end Chris Long. The pair should be a lethal combo in 2012 and beyond.
The Rams defense played extremely well against the Bengals. They kept the team and its mediocre offense in the contest for nearly four quarters. They limited the Bengals to a measly 173 total yards in the game.
It's probably a really tough year to truly evaluate the Rams defense. The unit has been been poor against the run for much of the season (ranked 32nd in the NFL). That being said, it's very difficult to clearly determine how bad or good the Ram defense is. The offense is so bad that it puts the defense in bad situations over and over.
Upgrades need to be made on defense, especially at linebacker and corner. That's for sure. However, the unit has played hard all year and is much better than people think. They were instrumental on keeping the team in the game Sunday. Hopefully, the offense will improve. It that happens, the Rams might be on the winning track sooner rather than later.
The special teams let the rest of the Rams team down again Sunday. In a year with numerous punt coverage gaffes (see Patrick Peterson's runs for the Cardinals), the Bengals hurt the Rams on Sunday with a momentum building 56-yard return by Brandon Tate in the third quarter.
The return set up a touchdown for Cincinnati and gave the Bengals a lead they never gave away.
Special teams mistakes can't happen in a close game. They also can't be committed by an under-manned team. These mistakes have happened far too often this year and have probably cost the team at least one win.
Danario Alexander's 25-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter offers some hope for Rams fans. Alexander showed all of his unique skills on the play and showed why he's considered a dangerous red zone threat.
Alexander leaped high in the air and pulled down a touchdown catch in between two Bengal defenders. It was a great play and one highlight that won't be his last in a Rams uniform.
Alexander, Lloyd, Amendola and a draft pick would be a great quartet in 2012. Here's hoping it happens.