Two embarrassing losses in five days leaves Rams scrambling for solutions
ST. LOUIS -- The Rams' next game is scheduled for Oct. 6, the same day as Game 3 of the National League Division Series. There's a chance the Cardinals could be playing at home that day, as the Rams will be.
The Rams better root for the Cardinals to earn home-field advantage so Game 3 will be on the road. After the 35-11 beatdown the Rams suffered Thursday night against the 49ers, they could give away tickets to the Oct. 6 game against Jacksonville and still be outdrawn by their baseball neighbors. Now that would be embarrassing.
Of course, the Rams know all about being embarrassed, never more so than in the past five days. Like Sunday's 31-7 debacle at Dallas, Thursday's was a total-team humiliation.
Sam Bradford, Daryl Richardson, Cortland Finnegan, Jake Long, Scott Wells, Jared Cook, Tavon Austin and the entire defensive line are among those who should be red-faced in the film room this weekend.
Coach Jeff Fisher and his staff should be as well. Based on the brevity of Fisher's postgame presser, he did not want to talk much about the Rams' third straight loss. Fisher answered two questions before thanking the room and hastily exiting.
It's not likely he wanted to go home and study statistics that were as ugly as these:
Bradford completed 19 of 41 passes, was sacked five times, lost a fumble deep in Rams territory that led to a San Francisco touchdown and had at least two passes deflected.
Earlier on Thursday, Kurt Warner said on NFL Network that Bradford does not seem to be playing with confidence. Bradford's performance made Warner look as efficient at analyzing as he was at quarterbacking.
In the third quarter, with the Rams down 14-3, the Niners kept the ball 10 minutes, 52 seconds to 4:08 for the Rams. Three of the Rams' four possessions in the quarter were three-and-outs; they picked up one first down on the other.
"It just seemed like we never found a rhythm," Bradford said. "When you go three and out, three and out, three and out, it's almost impossible to start a rhythm on offense."
Austin, the team's first-round pick, was a non-factor for the second straight game, catching one pass for a total of two yards. His six punt returns were equally disappointing, with 14 of the 19 yards he gained coming on one return.
Though the Rams actually led 3-0 after the first quarter, their trend of being behind at the half continued for a third game. In the past three first halves, they have been outscored 55-6.
The Rams' defense was run over again, this time with Frank Gore going for 153 yards. At Dallas on Sunday, DeMarco Murray rushed for 175.
"When you give up that many yards on the ground, it's a lot of things going on," defensive end Chris Long said.
Finnegan twice was badly burned by Anquan Boldin on San Francisco's first scoring drive, including once for a 20-yard TD reception. On the other, he was beaten for a 47-yard reception and called for defensive holding. Finnegan left after the drive with a thigh injury and did not return.
In a quiet locker room, the Rams sounded as stunned as they looked on the field.
"We got our (butts) kicked," defensive end Chris Long said, pretty much the same quote he issued at Dallas. "It's disgusting. That's not who we are. We keep playing like that it will be who we are. We don't believe that's who we are."
Other principals were no less dumbfounded:
Receiver Austin Pettis: "We have to get back to square one, like coach Fisher said. Go back to starting with the basics."
Defensive tackle Michael Brockers: "They made some halftime adjustments. We didn't. That was the big thing."
Bradford: "We just failed to do a lot of things that are necessary in order to be efficient on offense. The good news is 10 days, 11 days until we play again and there's going to be ample time to get that corrected. The frustrating thing is the past two weeks ... I feel like we should be playing at a much higher level than we have."
Defensive end Robert Quinn: "Especially with the expectations going into the season, we weren't expecting this. We knew we had a tough schedule, but 1-3 is not where we wanted to be."
Fisher: "Well, obviously, as a football team, we have a lot to work on concerning what has happened in the last five days. ... Very disappointed for our fans. I have faith in this football team that we're going to get it fixed."
Whether fans that long ago grew weary of such talk will stick around remains to be seen. The Rams better not count on it if the Cardinals are home Oct. 6.
You can follow Stan McNeal on Twitter at @stanmcneal or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.