NFL Team Report - St. Louis Rams - INSIDE SLANT
Rams coach Jeff Fisher believes his team bounced back at a high level after experiencing the loss of quarterback Sam Bradford in their Week 7 game against Carolina.
Now, after losing to Seattle 14-9 on Monday Night Football, a game in which they were a yard away from winning, Fisher expects them to bounce back again Sunday against Tennessee.
Talking about the disheartening loss to the Seahawks, Fisher said, "I feel bad for them, but they will bounce back because I'm often asked will they bounce back and they do every week. If we tell them we need to bounce back, they will. We've got a short week and we've got another big challenge on our hands."
Said tackle Rodger Saffold, "That's the type of team this team is. They're always willing to come back and go to work, and nothing changed last week. Sam has been helping us the entire time, so it's almost like he's never gone. It's just someone else that you're protecting back there.
"The way we were able to move the ball, those types of things, just even the time of possession that we had the ball, those are things that are just crucial, and those are what's going to help us in the future. But I think if we can keep this physicality, this is a really, really good defense, and we've got to remember that. We're not the type of team that takes more victories. We're going to keep on pushing."
Running back Zac Stacy, who rushed for 134 yards on 26 carries against Seattle, said, "We've got a lot of heart and we improved tremendously. Obviously, we played a great team and we made plays all around -- special teams, offense, defense. The defense played a heck of a game tonight; just came up short, so we've just got to put this behind us. We've got a lot of football left, so we've just got to keep improving."
The Rams' defense knows it has to step up again after limiting Seattle to 135 yards on Monday. After that game, linebacker Jo-Lonn Dunbar said, "There is a really good defense here, a top-10 defense. We kind of set the standard for it today and playing like that against that team, that's the way you have got to play each and every week now."
SERIES HISTORY: 11th regular-season meeting. Rams lead series, 6-4. The teams have played just twice since the Rams beat the Titans 23-16 in Super Bowl XXXIV. Rams coach Jeff Fisher was then the coach of the Titans, and the Rams will wear their throwback uniforms from that season in this game. The two teams split the previous two games with the Rams winning in St. Louis in 2005 and the Titans winning at home in 2009.
NFL Team Report - St. Louis Rams - NOTES, QUOTES
--Defensive end Robert Quinn is making a push for the Pro Bowl. After getting three sacks against Seattle, he has 10 sacks at the season's halfway point, fourth in the NFL and first in the NFC. Of course, the latter doesn't matter anymore for the Pro Bowl because the top players will be selected at each position regardless of conference affiliation.
Quinn has also played well against the run and has tackles for loss.
Said coach Jeff Fisher, "The pass-rush stuff is one thing. His defense against the run is where he's really standing out. He's playing great and the reason he's having the production along with Chris (Long) is because we've got guys behind them."
That would be backups William Hayes and Eugene Sims, who are playing well in the rotation at end.
--After the Rams won successive games over Houston and Jacksonville, they were ranked as one of the best red-zone teams in the NFL, scoring touchdowns 66.7 percent of the time (12-for-18) and ranked third.
However, the pendulum has swung the opposite way the last two weeks, and the result has been losses to Carolina and Seattle. Two failures in the first half against the Panthers, including one where a fourth-down play came up short, led to the Rams trailing 17-5 at halftime and eventually losing 30-15.
Monday night against the Seahawks, the Rams reached the red zone four times, settling for three field goals and then being unable to score the winning touchdown on two plays from the Seattle 1-yard line.
The Rams dropped to 17th in the NFL, converting 52 percent.
"It's frustrating," said quarterback Kellen Clemens, who started in place of the injured Sam Bradford. "That's the difference in the game. They scored two touchdowns, we got three field goals. We'll have to be better. I thought we had a good plan going into the game. I just think we need to execute a little better when we're down there."
The Rams ran 13 plays from the red zone, gaining 13 yards. Clemens was 4-for-8 for 11 yards and was sacked for a 6-yard loss. The running game totaled eight yards on four attempts.
In the final drive, which started at the 3-yard line, the Rams were stopped twice in the last few seconds from the 1-yard line.
Said Clemens of the final drive, "There was such a great sense of resolve in the huddle as soon as I walked in there. Everybody knew, nobody really had to say anything, everybody just knew, 'Hey this is it, this is go time, let's go make the plays.' We gave ourselves the chance to win at the end, unfortunately didn't make the plays ... "We needed 97 yards and got 96."
--Of Seattle's 135 yards, 80 came on a touchdown pass from quarterback Russell Wilson to wide receiver Golden Tate that Rams cornerback Janoris Jenkins appeared to misjudge.
The Rams sacked Wilson seven times, with defensive end Robert Quinn and Chris Long getting three each. They also limited running back Marshawn Lynch to 23 yards on eight carries. The Seahawks converted just two of their 11 third-down opportunities.
BY THE NUMBERS: 0-9-1 - The Rams' record under coach Jeff Fisher when they don't have a takeaway in. That was the case in the last two losses against Carolina and Seattle. Before those last two games, the Rams were tied for fifth in the league with a plus-6 turnover ratio. They are now tied for 12th with two other teams at plus-1. In games under Fisher where have a takeaway, they are 10-4.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "He's a little sore. I don't know if he'll do much (Wednesday), but he'll be fine. I think he only stands to improve. I thought he managed the game well; he handled things. I think he settled down; 5:42 left to go in the game and he took it 96 yards. I thought that was a pretty impressive job."
NFL Team Report - St. Louis Rams - STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
--G Shelley Smith will start on the right side with Harvey Dahl expected to miss at elast two games because of a knee injury.
--QB Kellen Clemens (right shoulder), who was limited in practice Thursday, fully participated Thursday.
--DE Robert Quinn was added to the injury report with an illness Thursday and did not practice.
--RB Zac Stacy (ankle), who did not practice Wednesday, fully participated Thursday.
--C Scott Wells (thight), who did not practice Wednesday, fully participated Thursday.
--WR Austin Pettis (thigh), who did not practice Wednesday, fully participated Thursday.
--RG Harvey Dahl will likely miss two games with an MCL injury to his left knee. The Rams have their bye after the Nov. 10 game against Indianapolis, so it's hoped Dahl will erturn to play on Nov. 24 against the Bears.
--T Jake Long did not practice Wednesday because of a knee injury, but is expected to be back at practice Thursday or Friday.
--RB Daryl Richardson did not practice Wednesday because of a foot injury, but is expected to practice Thursday or Friday.
--S Darian Stewart (foot) was limited in practice Wednesday, but is expected to be a full participant Thursday.
--RB Benny Cunningham (ankle), who missed the last two games, returned to practice Wednesday and was a full participant.
GAME PLAN: The Rams would love to replicate the plan they worked Monday night against Seattle: Run the ball well, stop the run, which means running back Chris Johnson, and pressure quarterback Jake Locker. The one necessity though would be simply scoring touchdowns, which they weren't able to do against the Seahawks.
MATCHUPS TO WATCH: Rams DRE Robert Quinn vs. Titans LT Michael Roos - Quinn has been outstanding, and has 10 sacks after eight game. But, he'll be going against a veteran tackle in Roos, who has experience against the best pass rushers.
--Rams RB Zac Stacy vs. Titans front seven - The Titans have allowed 117.1 yards rushing per game and 4.2 per attempt. It appears the Rams have found their back, with the rookie Stacy steadily improving and pounding Seattle for 134 yards on 26 carries.