The 2008 St. Louis Rams just beat the 2008 Dallas Cowboys 34-14.
No, I wasn’t drunk or inebriated when I typed the above and I’m not completely delusional by bordering on complete hubris at the moment.
In 2007, the Dallas Cowboys spanked the injury-riddled Rams by tossing up 35 points on them, as the Rams only scored 14. This year, the Cowboys were the injury-riddled team, except the Rams put up 34 on the perch and allowed — in effect, if you don’t count the touchdown Brad Johnson tossed with under two minutes — only seven points, and that was in the first drive, when it looked like Dallas was Dallas and St. Louis was St. Louis.
But it was much more than that. The story prolongs. From then on it was total domination. A play-action fake to Steven Jackson had Marc Bulger stepping back and zoning in on a wide-open post pattern-executed Donnie Avery, the speed demon rookie out of the University of Houston.
The Rams scored two more times in the first quarter with two runs by Steven Jackson (1-yard, 8-yards).
The Cowboys continued to sputter. The Rams continued to augment the game’s deficit.
In the third quarter, Steven Jackson ripped off a 56-yard run for a touchdown that pretty much sealed the game. Jackson, being shied away from the media spotlight due to the likes of Adrian Peterson, came into the game with a chip on his shoulder, still needing to bust out a huge game. Who better to dominate than a team like Dallas, who was encompassed by media outlets the whole week while the Rams were utterly shunned.
These new guys in St. Louis (new guys not being Torry Holt or Orlando Pace) are not the Greatest Show on Turf. They have no identity. They’re still 2-4, working back from starting 0-4 under Scott Linehan. The team’s ambiance under Jim Haslett is mesmerizing to Rams fans alike.
But will it last?
I pose that question aloud because Chip Rosenbloom (Owner) told Haslett that if the Rams won six games this season, he [Haslett] would be handed the head coaching job. Haslett coached in New Orleans for six seasons, even winning coach of the year once and taking the Saints to the playoffs and giving them their first win in years (against, ironically, the Rams). He was fired following the 2005 season that saw the Saints play in several different arenas due to the effects of Hurricane Katrina. However, given the talent he had to work with there compared to the talent he’s working with in St. Louis, I’m sure he appreciates the personnel under the arch right now.
But will it last?
The question lingers heavily. Say the Rams do manage to win six games — does he carry the momentum into next season and the Rams become NFC West champions? Or does the team tank? I remember having lofty expectations coming into the 2007 season, after the Rams went 8-8 in 2006, winning their last three games that year, showing life and possibly a cue for an NFC West-champion type of season. However, as the team was faltered by injuries and bad coaching, the record for 2007 stood at 3-13.
Going in 2008, the Rams looked like the worst team in the NFL. I mean, think about it:
Killed by Philadelphia. . . looked good against New York until they put up 28 points in seven minutes in the fourth quarter. . . smashed by Seattle. . . looked good against the Bills, and had a lead until the first play of the fourth quarter when Trent Green threw a T.I.N.T (touchdown-interception — a new name for the ‘pick six,’ (dubbed by Bill Simmons) when a player returns an interception for a touchdown).
Then the Rams fire Scott Linehan. Linehan tearfully tells the team goodbye, telling them that they’re winners, even though they didn’t win under team. Fire to a week later, and the Rams bash the Washington Redskins (well, maybe not bash, but the ‘Skins ended up having a 3-turnover game and Josh Brown hit a game winning field goal).
People called the Rams overrated. Hell, maybe they still are. Maybe. Just maybe.
They said the Rams couldn’t score. Today, Sunday, they proved that they COULD score, with three rushing touchdowns (courtesy of Steven “Action” Jackson) and one 42-yard touchdown pass by Marc Bulger that saw a connection to rookie Donnie Avery.
The Cowboys were injured. But that doesn’t mean a lick right now. Sure, Tony Romo would have played a lot better than Brad Johnson, as Johnson was throwing inaccurate passes left and right, missing receivers over and over, with the rest of the Dallas offense incurring penalties. But what do you say about that Dallas defense? It’s no surprise that the secondary was bad before this week, but what about their run D? The Rams’ o-line is considered to be one of the worst in the league. They had a few stops on Steven Jackson, but the beast could not be contained no longer.
I’m still skeptical about the Rams. I’m going to keep my mouth shut for the rest of the season, but muse on this:
I told people over and over last year, you give the Rams these three things: 1.) a coach with experience who will produce a positive effect on the team and have them prepared, 2.) an at least MODERATELY healthy team, and 3.) Give Bulger an offensive line that will give him time to throw a football.
You give the Rams those three things, and they’re playoff contenders. Scott Linehan was a problem, injuries were a problem, the offensive line was a problem. The defense has been a problem, but they have stepped up immensely. I don’t know what the followings weeks will see for the Rams. They play against the Patriots in New England this weekend, and head to Arizona to play the divisional rival Cardinals next week. Will the Rams be 4-4, 2-6, or 3-5? That’s a solid question. After today’s game, I’m actually anticipating to know the answer to that question.
Finally, watching football is fun again.