“This team, we are a bunch of fighters. We’re a bunch of dogs caged, so when you cut us loose, you see what we can do.”
Those words came courtesy of tackle turned guard Rodger Saffold via ESPN when asked about the circumstances being stacked against his side over the course of the 2013 campaign. His position change was facilitated by some of that adversity with an injury inside at the guard position forcing the St. Louis Rams to reconfigure their front five. But that type of problem is only the tip of the iceberg for what this team has been overcoming all season long.
Issues began early with questions at the running back position bogging the team down into a 1-3 funk with a faint pulse in any potential playoff conversation. Daryl Richardson was benched in favor of rookie Zac Stacy in the backfield, and despite another setback in the form of quarterback Sam Bradford’s season-ending ACL tear this squad has just kept on pushing.
Since their leader under center went on the shelf the Rams have ridden backup Kellen Clemens to a 2-2 record with those two losses coming by the narrowest of margin in contests that easily could have gone the other way. The veteran has shown some impressive leadership growing into the role of a game manager with the running game doing most of the work for the offense. He commented on the situation saying:
“I think that we are starting to believe, which is what you need. As a whole, we are starting to believe. Coming off a big win at Indianapolis, I was proud of the guys, there’s no letdown. We didn’t come out flat coming off a bye week, a lot of times that happens.”
They sure didn’t.
After carrying the momentum of a 38-8 demolition of the Indianapolis Colts into the break, St. Louis emerged a refreshed football team for yet another stomping of a formidable foe as they trounced the Chicago Bears 42-21 in Week 12. This win boosted the Rams up the NFC ladder in terms of playoff positioning and gave them a real belief in their potential to actually make an impact once they get there.
There’s something to be said for the youngest team in the NFL showing some serious fight to get up off of the mat with a 3-6 record and fight back for two lopsided victories. And the way they have done it has been more impressive by pushing their opponents around and imposing their will on the foes placed in front of them. Veterans like defensive end Chris Long knew the kind of character that this team had inside of it from the start of the season as he said:
“We have got a bunch of tough dudes in this locker room. We knew that. Everybody else is starting to figure that out.”
And that discovery will continue to be unearthed if the Rams keep on destroying each and every opponent on their schedule. The next two games against divisional foes in the San Francisco 49ers and Arizona Cardinals will tell a lot about just how the NFC playoff spots will be distributed with both teams at 7-4 and two games up on the 5-6 Rams. Don’t expect that to keep this team from pushing on through the finish line, however, as this group has shown it will fight to the bitter end.