Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Losing Habits Die Hard for Young Rams

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Losing Habits Die Hard for Young Rams

Article excerpt

A week ago in San Francisco, the Rams were a young team searching for all the right words to describe just how close they'd came to a season-defining victory. A week ago, they were a young team bubbling with a belief that prosperity was just around the corner, as if some critical spark had been ignited in those demanding and often impressive five quarters of football in Candlestick Park.

But on Sunday back in St. Louis, in the quiet of another loser's locker room, the frustratingly inexperienced Rams were singing another tune entirely. They stood in front of their Edward Jones Dome locker stalls searching for the proper words and emotions to describe how they had just spit out this unsightly 27-13 loss to a dead team walking called the New York Jets.

"It was just ugly," Chris Long said in a voice barely above a whisper.

"It's extremely frustrating," said Jo-Lonn Dunbar before quietly slumping into a chair and staring into space for what seemed like an eternity.

It was the lament of a team on the verge of ... well, on the verge of what exactly?

A long-awaited, but repeatedly-delayed winning surge?

Or maybe it's just another agonizing Groundhog's Day regurgitation of the up-one-minute-down-the-next two step that teams stuck in perpetual mediocrity give us all the time?

I'm still sipping the Kool Aid that this is a green but growing team that is still wandering in the dark, but ever so close to walking through the door that will send them on a steady climb back to respectability. But because of that youthfulness, there are still going to be a few more head-scratching days like this when they bang into walls, trip over furniture and end up sprawled out flat on their faces before they have that great awakening that allows them to become consistent winners in the rugged world of the National Football League.

So, impressive but imperfect games like last week's overtime thriller with the San Francisco 49ers can be inexplicably followed up by stinkers like this against a bad team like the Jets because getting over that hump is turning out to be a lot harder than anyone could have imagined.

"It's pretty difficult," said nine-year veteran Steven Jackson, one of the rare old heads on one of the youngest teams in the NFL. "It's frustrating because we'll go in tomorrow and we'll look at the film and we'll see some things that we did really well and then we'll see some things that we didn't do too well."

All week in practice, the Rams seemed to be almost resurgent, bubbling with the confidence that they'd discovered themselves against the 49ers. Yet by the end of the Jets game, it felt more like they'd left something in San Francisco. It wasn't their heart, but it was the concentration and execution that's required to win every week in pro football's most demanding workplace. …

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