The St. Louis Rams entered Sunday’s contest with the Minnesota Vikings as serious contenders for the final NFC wild card spot, but the outcome destroyed any hopes of those dreams becoming reality. Just a few small mistakes prevented the Rams from remaining part of the playoff conversation, but those are areas that this team must improve this offseason if they want to continue the rebuilding process.
Aside from one nice drive at end of first quarter and into early part of the second quarter that ended with a Brian Quick touchdown on a pretty fade route, the offense really held this team back all day long.
Danny Amendola was back in action for this contest, but not he nor any other Rams’ receiver really had the opportunity to make a big impact due to the intense pressure on quarterback Sam Bradford all game long. Until the Vikings backed off defensively with a large lead in the second half, the Rams offensive line was severely overmatched and saw Bradford get sacked four times and forced into one very costly interception which changed the course of the game.
That game changing interception came on a zone-blitz scheme by the Vikings defense in which defensive end Everson Griffen dropped into coverage and picked off a Bradford pass over the middle of the field. He would return that errant throw 29 yards to the end zone which basically served to demoralize the Rams entire team.
While that was one play that changed the entire complexion of the game, the other came from the player who has been providing those moments all season long for the Vikes. Adrian Peterson ripped off an 82-yard touchdown gallop in the second quarter which just shifted the momentum into the Vikings’ direction. On the game, Peterson ran the ball 24 times for 212 yards, but those numbers are extremely misleading.
Along with that 82-yard score, Peterson also ripped off a 52-yard romp midway through the fourth quarter to ice things for Minnesota. 13 of his 24 carries actually went for two yards or less and totaled -3 yards. The other 11 are obviously where he did his damage, but the Rams defense held its own aside from those few glaring miscues.
In the end, just a few big plays and one game-changing turnover doomed the Rams in week 15. St. Louis actually out-gained the Vikings by a 432 to 322 yard margin, but the outcome of the game hinged on those few game-altering plays that could not be overcome. This loss will definitely sting for the Rams moving forward, but this team has building blocks to become a real contender in the years ahead. With just a bit more discipline, these growing pains will only serve to make this club stronger looking forward to 2013.
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