As if trying to beat a talented Eagles team and dynamic quarterback Michael Vick wasn’t enough, the Rams added to those difficulties by making the types of mistakes that can quickly make things even tougher.
A slew of miscues added to some injuries and the Houdini act of Vick added up to a 31-13 loss for the Rams in Sunday’s regular season opener against Philadelphia at the Edward Jones Dome.
The Rams drop to 0-1 on the season and the Eagles move to 1-0 with the victory.
“I think it goes back to a lot of fundamental things we didn’t do right,” coach Steve Spagnuolo said. “When you play good football teams, the first thing you’ve got to do is make sure you don’t beat yourself and we didn’t do that today so we suffered the consequences.”
The damage done by the fundamentals certainly made life extra difficult for the Rams.
There was no exact count on drops but there were some key ones. The Rams were penalized nine times for 60 yards and seemingly at the most inopportune times. And the missed tackles also can’t be quantified just yet but were evident time and again, not only because of the mad dashes of Vick.
“Drops are going to kill you, penalties are going to kill you, bad tackling or backside leverage as we call it is going to kill you,” Spagnuolo said. “They’ve got some talented, talented players but I just felt like if we had done some of the fundamental things right I don’t think the talent would have come out quite like it did.”
Of course, the talent of Vick was evident right away as he showed off his strong left arm and the escapability that makes him one of the most unique athletes in the league.
“There’s nobody in the league like him,” Spagnuolo said.
The Rams got after Vick early, generating pressure with their defensive line and with the use of creative blitz packages, particularly featuring speedier defensive backs capable of tracking Vick down.
But when all was said and done the Rams couldn’t corral Vick well enough to keep him from having one of his patented big games. Vick threw for 187 yards and two touchdowns to go with 98 yards rushing on 10 carries.
The Rams got Vick for three sacks but it was his ability to get away from various other pressures that kept plays alive and allowed the Eagles to stay on the field.
Vick was particularly effective on third down where the Eagles were eight-of-12 in converting.
“He’s just a good player,” Rams safety
Of course, the way the Rams started put the pressure on right away. After getting a defensive stop to start the game that featured a
The score was the first career touchdown for Jackson in a season opener and had the Edward Jones Dome as loud as its been in a long time. Unfortunately for the Rams, Jackson came up injured following the run and his day came to an end after one more carry because of a quadriceps injury.
“To jump on Philadelphia like we did and for me to have the news that I won’t be able to finish the game is very disappointing,” Jackson said. “Especially when you see your teammates battle the way they were battling.”
The Eagles responded calmly with a drive that culminated in a 7-yard touchdown pass from Vick to running back LeSean McCoy.
Even with Jackson out of the game, though, the Rams appeared poised to come up with an answer of their own. Replacement back
After getting to Philadelphia’s 29, disaster struck and momentum shifted. Bradford dropped back to pass and rolled to his left. He was met there by Eagles end Darryl Tapp and the legs of his teammates splayed at his feet.
As Bradford attempted to break his fall, he led with the ball and it popped out. Juqua Parker scooped it up and raced 56 yards for a touchdown and a 14-7 lead the Eagles would never relinquish.
“My feet just kind of got tripped up and I went down and put the ball down to try to keep myself up and it came out,” Bradford said.
Despite the sudden swing in momentum, the Rams didn’t fold.
“The fumble return did hurt,” left tackle
The Rams continued battling, holding the Eagles to just another field goal in the first half and coming up with a sack from Mikell that caused Vick to fumble and middle linebacker
At the half, the Rams trailed just 17-10 and had the ball coming out for the second half.
Things got away from them from there though as kicker
Injuries continued to mount as well as at various points the Rams lost Bradford to a finger injury, tackle
“It’s unfortunate,” Jackson said. “Quite a few of us went down. But at this point, this is when you have depth. You brought those guys in in the offseason, some of those veteran guys like Cadillac and those guys, to step up for us while we lick our wounds. Hey, if we’re going to have our injuries, let’s get them out of the way now I guess.”
While injuries are out of their hands, it’s the things they can control that bothered the Rams. As Spagnuolo was quick to remind his team in the locker room after the game, the fundamentals are the foundation for all the Rams do.
Now isn’t the time to panic with so much football left to be played. It’s on the Rams to make those corrections and get back to work this week.
“It’s the first game of the year,” Mikell said. “We’re not going to go in the tank right now. Regardless of if we won or we lost, we still have to play 15 more games. We’re not going to hang our heads and think it’s the end of the world. That’s a good team we lost to. We had some plays we left out there on the field. At the end of the day, we’ve got a lot of work to do but we’re still a good team.”
Starting Monday, it’s up to them to prove it.