For the second straight week, the St. Louis Rams fell behind early on the road. This time however, there was no comeback to make things interesting. The Cowboys were men and the Rams were boys. Dallas was bigger, faster, stronger, smarter and just plain better then the Rams in all facets of the game.
Jeff Fisher said it best in his post game press conference. "We didn't do anything good"
Offensive line - Apparently, the fact that the Rams were the only team in the NFL not to allow a sack through 2 weeks didn't impress the Cowboys. DeMarcus Ware and company spent most of the day in the Rams backfield, registering 6 sacks and hitting Sam Bradford a whopping 16 times. It was so bad that Jeff Fisher benched former All-Pro Jake Long for most of the 2nd half after he was beaten on consecutive plays. If the Rams want to have success, they have to keep Sam Bradford upright.
Offense - Anytime you have 2 yards in the first quarter and 18 yards total in the first half, you have a problem. Instead of incorporating bits and pieces of the no huddle offense that the Rams have used successfully so far, Jeff Fisher chooses to start each game in conservative mode and so far, it has yet to yield any type of positive results. The Rams have no running game so they chose to use the short passing game as a rushing attack. However, they never seem to want to throw the ball down the field. I know the Cowboys were attacking Bradford at will but at some point, you have to at least entertain the thought of throwing the ball downfield, it anything to put the notion in the Cowboys head that you do have that in your arsenal. The Rams have the weapons. They just need to use them better.
Receivers - The Rams receiving corp is young so you expect mistakes. However, you have to catch the ball when it is thrown to you. When Bradford did have the time to throw, the Rams receivers didn't help their quarterback.
Defense - When your offense isn't sustaining drives, your defense spends a whole lot of time on the field. That said, the Rams defense showed very little ability to slow down the Cowboys at any point in this game. The rush defense allowed DeMarco Murray to run for the 2nd highest single game rush total in his career, a number that trails Murray's first game against the Rams a few years back. The Rams pass defense made Tony Romo look like Peyton Manning, as Romo was able to hit wide open receivers all over the field. Last season, the Rams were able to bend but not break and they always seemed to make a play when it mattered most. So far in 2013, the damn is broke and water is leaking through at alarming rates.
Penalties - A recurring theme once again for the Rams, especially on special teams. Tavon Austin had a punt return for a touchdown called back by a penalty and like last week, the Rams found themselves starting drives deep inside their territory. The Rams don't have an explosive offense so it's unrealistic to think they can continue to start drives inside their own 15 yard line and put up points. The Rams are in that funk right now where it seems like you expect a flag to fly anytime their is a positive yard gain.
Road Games - The Rams haven't beaten a team over .500 on the road since 2003. I've never seen a team so Jekyl and Hyde like this team is when it comes to road and home games. The difference is night and day. When they are at home, you always feel like they have a chance to come back. When they are on the road, it's almost like if they get down early, the game is lost. If the Rams want to take the next step and be a "playoff" caliber team, they have to learn how to compete and play better on the road against teams that are at that next level.
Prior to the season, I had the Rams losing this game as well. Like I said above, road games against average to above average NFL teams brings out the worst in this organization. With a short week and a divisional game against the 49ers on Thursday night though, the Rams need to turn the page quickly. The 49ers come to St. Louis beaten, battered and pissed off after being embarrassed last week by the Indianapolis Colts. They may be vulnerable but the 49ers are still a dangerous team. This will be a street fight and the Rams are going to have to be better in all facets of the game if they want to spring the upset. This game is huge for San Francisco because should they lose, they could find themselves 3 games behind the Seattle Seahawks in the NFC West should the Hawks beat the Texans in week 4. The pressure is mounting in San Francisco so I expect the 49ers to come out ready to make a statement that the last two weeks were a fluke and they are still a major player in the NFC.
Can the Rams stand up to the challenge or will Jeff Fisher's young team wilt under the spotlight?