Rams Review Week 1: Carolina Controls


On Sunday afternoon at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis, the Rams suffered their first loss of the season…and it was on opening day. This was clearly a game the Rams should have won, but sloppy play by the defense and offense gave them very little chance.

First Half

The sloppy play on defense began in the opening drive. With the Panthers driving at their own 30 yard line, Rams safety O.J. Atogwe was called for pass interference, a 29 yard penalty on third and two that resulted in a Carolina first down at the Rams 41 yard line.

The Panthers navigated their way down the field with some nifty scrambles by quarterback Jake Delhomme and some short passes. The 78-yard drive ended with a ten yard touchdown pass from Delhomme to Drew Carter, and the Panthers were on the board 7-0.

Marc Bulger came right out swinging from the getgo, firing off four passes in a row before handing the ball off. Two of those passes were complete, both to veteran wideout Torry Holt, the second one resulting in a first down on third and four.

The St. Louis offense looked pretty sharp in the rest of the opening drive, with a combination of short passes by Bulger, and some hand offs to Steven Jackson that resulted in no less then 10 yards per carry. The drive ended with a three yard touchdown pass to Holt from Bulger, and the Rams tied the score with 2:05 to play in the first quarter.

The Panthers got the ball back, and drove the ball down into field goal range. John Kasay needed to put some leg into a 47 yard attempt that would put the Panthers up by three. Kasay missed the field goal to the right side. There was 13:21 left to play in the first half at this point.

The missed field goal by Kasay proved to mean nothing as St. Louis went three and out on their next drive. The Panthers got the ball back with 11:02 to play in the second quarter and thanks to an excellent punt by Rams punter Donnie Jones, the Panthers regained possession on their own ten yard line.

The Rams D continued to show versatility, forcing a three and out by Carolina. Jason Baker then punted the ball 58 yards to Dante Hall who gained 12 yards to get to the Rams 34. However, linebacker Corey Chavous was called for an illegal block above the waist, a penalty worth ten yards. So the Rams took over at their own 24 with 10:01 to play in the half.

This time, a false start penalty on tight end Randy McMichael sent the Rams packing to their own 19 yard line. So initially, the Rams could have been in a good position to get down field as they were at their own 34. But penalties that amounted to 15 yards brought the Rams back inside their own 20. The drive ended with a Jones punt at the 41 yard line with 7:58 to go.

Had the Rams not gotten into trouble with penalties, three points could have been added to their score.

However, the defense for St. Louis couldn’t stop the strong play as they forced yet another three and out on the next drive for Carolina’s offense that ended in a third and two Delhomme scramble that only brought in one yard as Leonard Little came up for the tackle.

Up to this point in the game, the Rams offense hadn’t gotten all that much time to shine, with penalties killing the team.

Meanwhile a huge defensive pass interference play on Panthers cornerback Ken Lucas with 1:45 to play in the half ended up contributing to a 42 yard field goal by Jeff Wilkins to end the first half of the game. Rams 10 Panthers 7.

Second Half

To open up the second half, Dante Hall returned the ball 84 yards to the Carolina 17 yard line, showing that he still has the speed and talent he had in his glory years with the Chiefs.

However, bad offensive play by the Rams resulted only in a 28 yard field goal by Jeff Wilkins with 12:55 to go in the third.

The Rams defense played very well in the first half of the game and they continued their strong play in the second half when at their own 34, the Panthers suffered the first turnover of the game. Jake Delhomme completed a pass to DeAngelo Williams on third and twelve. Williams made it to the Panthers 47 and appeared to have a first down when Corey Chavous stripped the ball loose. Linebacker Will Witherspoon recovered for the Rams who took over at the Panthers 49 with 10:39 to play.

Just when a golden opportunity had arisen for the Rams, they couldn’t capitalize. St. Louis picked up a first down on second and seven when Torry Holt caught a pass and ran for 14 yards. On first down from the Carolina 32, Bulger gave the ball to Jackson who ran six yards before fumbling at the Panthers 26. Defensive end Julius Peppers recovered and Carolina took over at that spot with 9:19 to go.

Within less then a minute, Delhomme connected with Steve Smith for a 68 yard touchdown pass. The Panthers led 14-13 with 8:43 to play in the third.

St. Louis began their next drive at their own 18 with 8:28 remaining in the third quarter. On the second play of drive, Bulger gave it to Jackson who ran four yards and fumbled the football once again.

Thankfully, the Panthers turned over the ball for a second time when running back DeShaun Foster ran into linebacker Brandon Chillar of the Rams who forced a fumble and recovered the ball on the Rams five yard line. The Panthers challenged the ruling but the play stood and the Rams regained possession at their own three.

This proved to mean nothing for the St. Louis offense as they went three and out. Carolina got the ball back on their own 42 yard line with 4:02 left in the third. This drive would carry into the beginning of the fourth quarter and resulted in a 34 yard field goal by John Kasay. The Panthers led 17-13.

The Rams would prove unmatched in the remainder of this game, not once getting inside the Panthers 40 yard line again in the game. The Panthers, however, would go on to score ten more points, as Delhomme went on to throw another touchdown pass to Carter and Kasay tacked on three more with a 32-yard field goal. Final score: Panthers 27 Rams 13

Final Thoughts

All in all, the Rams played a very inconsistent game on both sides of the ball. Those two fumbles by Jackson in the second half of the game really proved a killer for the team’s chances.

Marc Bulger had a rough game, throwing the ball 42 times and when you have Steven Jackson on your team, that’s a big number. He couldn’t reach 200 yards passing and only threw for one touchdown.

Torry Holt turned in a usual Big Game Holt performance, catching eight balls for 73 yards and that first quarter touchdown reception.

O.J. Atogwe had ten tackles for the team and Tye Hill really turned in a good performance as well, with seven tackles.

Also, Orlando Pace left the game with an arm injury and Richie Incognito didn’t even play yesterday. Those are huge losses for this offensive line.

As for my analysis of this game before it started, the Rams couldn’t stop Steve Smith and that’s what I said they needed to do to win. Smith had seven catches for over 100 yards and that third quarter touchdown. Jake Delhomme also had a great game.

The Panthers D absolutely tore the Rams offense apart yesterday and that’s the real reason why they won this game.

Stay tuned for some news and notes throughout the week which will include exactly how Orlando Pace is doing and what the status of his injury is.