Sunday afternoon in the ED the fans were rocking while the Rams had a complete team effort in defeating the San Francisco 49ers. The fans entered the doors of the ED with a purpose; they were chirpy, and had a great attitude.
As the trio of Cliff Saunders, Rick Venturi and I delivered the pre-game radio show on the floor of the ED San Francisco players entered and exited near our seating area. They had the look of champions, a cocky swagger that as a former personnel man I love to see on players during warm-ups. But, the Rams had that same look as well. The tension in the dome was mounting.
Sam Bradford led the team on the opening drive and it was very obvious that the excitement was building like a tea pot on the stove that was about to whistle and scream loudly. As the Rams started on their own 29-yard line, the Big Easy tossed his first pass from shotgun to Danario Alexander for a nine yard gain. That play kicked off the party and SJ39 Steven Jackson finished it off with a one yard touchdown run.
The Niners started the game with a punt, fumble for safety, punt, punt, punt. Until Ted Ginn split the Rams defenders and returned a Donnie Jones Punt for a Touchdown 78 yards, San Francisco was on life support, but the Rams struggled to pull the plug. Troy Smith flashed spotty accuracy with a pass to Michael Crabtree for a 60 yard touchdown and the go ahead score as the 49ers led at halftime.
Like two sides to a coin the Rams had deferred the opening kickoff to the Niners, and started the second half on defense. OJ Atogwe better known as Juice by his peers, made a beautiful interception with a nice run after catch.
With the Rams offense stalling, they gave Josh Brown opportunities to contribute with a couple field goals. San Francisco’s defense let Bradford outside the pocket in the red zone, which is a no-no, and the result was a touchdown to Robinson that gave the Rams a 22-14 lead in the fourth quarter. The Rams defense was having their way with Troy Smith. Coach Mike Singletary had a meltdown with T Smith on the sideline and after that inserted Alex Smith to try and pull this game out.
With the Rams defense in playoff mode and running around with a fever pitch, the results for Alex Smith were the same as they were for Troy Smith. Alex brought calmness to the field for the Niners. He threw several passes and moved the team down the field, but the results were the same; a sack, force fumble and punts.
As the Rams won this NFC West divisional game, they should enjoy the evening before setting their sights on the trip to the Northwest. The Seattle Seahawks are limping to the finish line, (Matt Hasselbeck has a strain of the oblique, Brandon Stokley a concussion and the Rookie offensive tackle Russell Okung another high ankle sprain). Charlie Whitehurst looked discombobulated and lacked command of the offense. He will probably start against the Rams next Sunday night in Seattle at Quest field, were they will also battle the 12th man.
Coach Steve Spagnuolo deserves Coach of the Year, taking a 1-15 team to the division title game, even if it is the NFC West. He and his staff are doing it with mirrors because of the lack of top talent. But the mind is a powerful thing, and when a coach gets all 53 men believing in each other and playing as one heart beat it is extremely special and powerful.