For the second week in a row, the Rams faced another struggling team on the road, this time in the form of the Cleveland Browns. But, this week, a field goal was messed up by the opposition instead of the Rams and they escaped with a victory.
The Rams got off to a rough start on offense, struggling to gain consistency in all phases of the game. When the offensive line held and Sam Bradford threw accurately, Brandon Lloyd dropped a ball that hit him right in the hands. Lloyd more than made up with that drop with an acrobatic catch on the next drive and a touchdown pass early in the 2nd quarter. The Rams actually got a touchdown in the red zone this week, which was the difference at the half.
The Rams actually had a perfect playcall at 3rd and 2 at the 7 yard line. (As a twitter follower noticed, that play would have looked nice last week when they failed at 3rd and 1 and 4th and 1 with generic runs to the left.) They lined up with 1 receiver and 4 tight ends. They ran a play action to the left, away from Brandon Lloyd, the only receiver. Lloyd faked the slant, which the corner jumped and was open in the corner of the end zone.
The Rams defense did a good job in the 1st half of allowing only field goals from Pat Shurmur’s Cleveland offense. Their only main breakdown was on a long throw by Colt McCoy in which Craig Dahl got sucked up on a double move and Josh Gordy has already passed him to Dahl. That long throw lead to a field goal at the end of the half to cut the Rams lead to 10-9 at half time.
Neither offense really got the ball moving in the 3rd quarter except for one drive each. The Browns drove for a field goal as time ran out on the 3rd quarter to take the lead 12-10. The Rams best drive was stopped by a fumble by Steven Jackson after a reception at the Browns 30 yard line.
The real problem for the Rams in this game was the injuries. Cadillac Williams got hurt running on to the field for a play. Darian Stewart, Al Harris were both lost for the game with injuries in the Rams already depleted secondary. The Rams lost left tackle Rodger Saffold for the game with a head injury. Tight end Michael Hoomanawanui was lost for the game at the end of the 3rd quarter with a knee injury
The Rams response to the Browns taking the lead in the game was pathetic to say the least. After getting a quick first down on their first play of the drive, the Rams had two penalties in the next 3 plays to kill the drive. The only way the Rams got the lead back in the game, was ironically through the punt, a “weapon” that they deploy far too often. Josh Cribbs was battling for extra yardage and new signee David Nixon ripped the ball away from him and the Rams recovered deep in Browns territory. The Rams drove down to inside the 10 yard line and the drive stalled. The Rams however, were able to get a field goal to take the a slim lead in the 4th quarter.
The Rams miscues continued with the kickoff out of bounds and the Browns got the ball at their own 40 yard line just needing a field goal to win the game. They drove the ball down the field on the Rams defense, getting the ball down inside the 10 yard line with just over 3 minutes left. The Browns appeared content with the field goal and they ran the ball three times in a row into the middle of the line. Then lining up for the winning field goal with just over 2 minutes left in the game, the craziest thing happened. The Browns field goal protection was so tight that guard Alex Mack’s leg was under the long snappers legs. But, then at the snap, Alex Mack moved his leg even further under the long snapper’s legs and deflected the ball as it went back to the holder and kicker. The holder did a great job to catch and hold the football, but the timing was already off and the Browns kicker, Phil Dawson, who had already hit 4 field goals on the game, shanked the ball badly and the Rams got the ball back. The Rams got a first down through two runs by Steven Jackson and the Rams lined up in victory formation to win the game.
Despite what the announcers tried to tell us, the Rams and Browns game was hideously ugly. But, for once the terrible luck went in the direction of the opposite sideline and the Browns out-losered this game. Every player on the Rams sideline and every Rams fan will absolutely take a win like this every single time. The game was ugly, the Rams offense couldn’t get out of their own way, quarterback Sam Bradford looked lost, but the Rams still won the game. No matter how the game looked, it still counts the same in the W-L column and the Rams doubled their win total with a victory away from home in Cleveland today.