With just three weeks remaining in the 2012 season, the Rams are just outside and looking in at the playoff picture. Losses to the Miami Dolphins and New York Jets earlier in the season have really hurt and were easily avoidable. This Jeff Fisher coached football team is working hard to take care of their business and winning the remaining games on the 2012 schedule.
Finding a way to win is the key for this young team that is growing up fast. When Fisher was asked about the persona of his team, “We’re playing hard and we’ve got a lot of people in the frame on every play and that’s important. That would include linemen downfield. That would include defensive players around the ball. Consistently from the start to the end of the game and that’s what’s important. Of course, we’re doing the same thing on special teams and when you do that you’ve got a chance to win games. It’s not an easy thing to do, but it’s the way of life. It’s the way around here. You have to get to the football and you have to get there the right way and when you get there you have to be a little on the angry side defensively. That’s kind of our philosophy.”
The Rams will host the Minnesota Vikings (7-6) at the Edward Jones Dome on Sunday, then travel to Tampa Bay to take on the Buccaneers (6-7), and their final game of the season will be in Seattle to battle the Seahawks (8-5). The NFL just might allow the flex schedule programming and make this game the Sunday night prime time game, depending on what happens within the NFC.
The Rams must focus on the task at hand, and it starts this weekend with the Adrian Peterson and the Vikings, who rushed for 154 yards, 2 TDs in a 21-14 win over the Chicago Bears this past week. The Rams will need to be well balanced and play well in all three phases (offense, defense, special teams).
On offense, Steven Jackson again will have to set the tone by running the ball against a very stout Viking defense that is led by linebacker Chad Greenway and Jared Allen. Jackson’s ground game will set up play action fakes allowing Bradford to throw the ball down the field and outside the numbers. In Sunday’s win against the Buffalo Bills, it took the offense a full half to get rolling. It wasn’t until the opening drive of the second half that the Rams put together a complete drive and put up points after making halftime adjustments.
But again it will come down to the Rams’ defense that will face another run dominating offense, with the NFL’s leading rusher Adrian Peterson carrying the flag. AD, short for All Day, has 265 carries for a staggering 1,600 yards and 10 touchdowns with a 6 yard average. The Rams’ defense has slowed down and stopped top tier runners the past few weeks in San Francisco’s Frank Gore, Arizona’s Bennie Wells and Buffalo’s Fred Jackson and CJ Spiller.
When Fisher was asked about Peterson he replied, “It’s a huge challenge. We talked about the 49ers being second in rushing, in rushing average and then yesterday, playing Buffalo, being third and now we’re playing the team that’s first. He’s a different type of back. He was possessed yesterday against the Bears. Very, very explosive. It’s not an easy task to get him down one-on-one or any place on the field. We’ll find out. I would like to say that I think our defense, against the run, is good enough to win with. But, with Adrian Peterson and that offense, they do that to everybody week-in and week-out. We’re going to have to play well.”
This young Rams team is growing up fast and is up for the challenge of competing for a Wild Card spot. While still missing several pieces that will make them a championship team, they are competitive, aggressive, and tough. They are a gritty team that continues to battle until the final zeros are on the clock. Sunday’s game will be another big test.