Their comeback hopes hanging in the balance about halfway through the fourth quarter of Sunday’s game against Green Bay, the Rams defense found itself in a spot that had become quite familiar during the first 52 minutes of the game.
After a quick drive for a touchdown that trimmed the Packers lead to 20-13 with 8:50 to go, the Rams defense desperately needed a stop to get the ball back in the hands of an offense that had just posted one of its quickest scoring drives of the season.
Five plays into the drive, the Rams had Green Bay right where they wanted: a third and 7 and a prime opportunity to get off the field. But, as happened most of the day, Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers calmly converted with an 8-yard pass to receiver Randall Cobb, who shook loose from a
The drive culminated in yet another third down conversion, this time on third-and-9 when Rodgers found Cobb for a 39-yard touchdown that killed the Rams’ comeback hopes. A stop, a takeaway, anything would have sufficed but it was a theme that haunted the Rams all day.
What followed was a 30-20 Green Bay win that handed the Rams their first loss at the Edward Jones Dome this season and lowered their record to 3-4.
“When you play a team as good as they are offensively, in order to have a chance to win you need to get turnovers,” coach Jeff Fisher said. “You need to get the ball back or you need to get off the field on third down. That’s obviously what we did not do today defensively and that’s really the different in the game.”
An early-season avalanche of turnovers has gone dry as the Rams defense was unable to come away with a turnover for the second consecutive week. They have just one in the past three weeks.
Perhaps more maddening, though, was the inability to get off the field on third down when the opportunities presented themselves.
Rodgers’ ability to scramble and keep plays alive gives Green Bay an inherent advantage in converting on the money downs and it was overwhelmingly apparent on Sunday. The Packers finished nine-of-15, a 60 percent conversion rate, on third down and seemingly found a way to keep the chains moving even in the toughest situations.
“I think part of it had to do with tackling,” linebacker
The Packers were seven-of-10 on third down in the deciding second half after holding a 10-6 lead at halftime.
In the third quarter, it was apparent the Packers made some halftime adjustments to take what the Rams were giving to them as Rodgers and his crew worked the short area of the field to keep the chains moving.
“It’s always tough,” cornerback
But Rodgers also made the Rams pay for some costly free play opportunities that came from flags flying. Twice the Rams were flagged for offsides penalties on third downs and Rodgers made them pay dearly both times.
In the first quarter, Rodgers took advantage as end
The final touchdown, the aforementioned 39-yard connection to Cobb came on a third-and-9 when Long again jumped offsides.
“We jumped offsides and they pushed the ball down the field and we just didn’t execute as a secondary and as a defense,” Finnegan said. “They’re a good football team. They’ve got Aaron Rodgers, who is hot right now. They made the plays when they needed to. We had a chance there when it was 20-13 to get them off the field on third down and we just couldn’t do it.”
Of course, when Rodgers is rolling like he is right now, it’s tough for anyone to stop him. He finished with 342 yards on 30-of-37 passing with three scores and no interceptions for a rating of 132.2 against the Rams’ fifth-ranked pass defense.
Despite a strong early start in terms of getting pressure on Rodgers, that disappeared in the second half when Green Bay began looking for more receivers underneath.
“We got some pressure on them,” Fisher said. “They made some adjustments. They started banging the ends; they started chipping ends because that’s where we were getting our pressure in. We nearly had him down three or four more times. We just couldn’t because his mobility’s extraordinary.”
Meanwhile, a recurring them on offense again came back to haunt the Rams as they struggled again to finish drives with touchdowns instead of field goals.
“You’ve got to make that catch and then we get three or four more shots at it,” Fisher said.
After being almost completely shut down in the third quarter, the Rams got some traction and scored a touchdown as receiver
The late offensive outburst – including a cosmetic 3-yard touchdown catch by wideout
“They’re red hot right now,” Jackson said. “They have one of the best quarterbacks in football. We knew it was going to be a challenge. We have to continue to get better at that.
“We’ve still got work to do. We’re slowly coming together as an offense, a unit. But we’ve still got to continue to get better, continue to help our defense out by putting points on the board.