Rams still have goals to reach

The St. Louis Rams are looking at another season without a
postseason appearance.

Winners of three straight games before a 36-22 loss Sunday to
Minnesota, the Rams had a chance of making the playoffs if they won
their final three games. Now, the final two games serve mostly as a
tuneup for next season.

”I don’t think they’re thinking about next year or the future
when you come to work on Wednesday and you’re digesting the game
play,” coach Jeff Fisher said Monday. ”I think they’re thinking
about doing the best they can improving their skills.”

St. Louis (6-7-1) still has a chance at its first winning season
since 2003. The Rams play at Tampa Bay before ending the regular
season at Seattle. With a victory – or tie – against the Seahawks,
St. Louis would finish undefeated in NFC West play.

The Rams, who are 4-0-1 in the division, went 0-6 last season.
Arizona was the previous team to go undefeated in the West in 2008.
The most recent team to go undefeated it division play and not make
the playoffs was Oakland. It went 6-0 in 2010 in the AFC West, but
finished third with an 8-8 overall record.

Quarterback Sam Bradford said though the playoffs are out of
reach, the Rams don’t plan to change how they prepare.

”We’re going to look at the things that we did well this week
(against Minnesota) and try to build on those,” he said. ”We’re
going to look at the things that we need to get corrected, we’re
going to try to improve on those, and we’re going to try to get
better these next few weeks.

”Win two games and build on that going into next year.”

Several Rams players veered from the ”one game at a time”
mantra Fisher said as his team won to get back into the playoff
picture. Leading up to the Minnesota game, some had the idea of
playing in the postseason for the first time since 2004.

Running back Steven Jackson, in his ninth season with the Rams,
has dealt with the disappointment of his team missing the playoffs
previously. The player with the next longest tenure with St. Louis
is defensive end Chris Long, in his fifth year.

”I definitely was hoping that we could,” Jackson said. ”We
knew that we had to take each game one at a time and we had to win.
(Against the Vikings) we did not get it done and now I have to show
these guys how to finish strong.”

The Rams will want to shore up both lines this week. The
defensive line couldn’t stop Adrian Peterson, who had 212 yards
rushing, though they sacked Christian Ponder twice and recorded 10
tackles for a loss.

More troublesome for St. Louis was its offensive line. Bradford
was sacked four times, center Scott Wells had a bad snap that the
Vikings eventually converted into a field goal and the team managed
just 87 yards rushing.

Fisher said the team has options this week.

”Our challenge is do we want to mope around as a result to the
loss to the Vikings and be that team.” Fisher said. ”Or do we
want to be the team that’s won three of the last four games that’s
going to go out and try to win another one.

So, that’s the approach we’re going to be taking.”

Fisher also said that guard Harvey Dahl suffered a torn left
bicep and will have surgery Wednesday. He will be placed on injured
reserve and the Rams are still deciding what to do with his roster
spot. Shelley Smith is likely to be in the starting lineup in his
place.

Online: http://pro32.ap.org/poll and
http://twitter.com/AP-NFL