The St. Louis Rams have been incredibly good at one thing since winning the Super Bowl in 2000.
They lose close games; they lose blowouts. They lose at home; they lose on the road. They fail to rise to the big games and stumble in ones they should never dream about losing. But year in and year out the Rams find new ways to embolden this reputation of futility.
Sunday the Rams welcomed the AFC West-leading Kansas City Chiefs to the Edward Jones Dome for the annual "Governor's Cup" game. For the first time in nearly six years, the atmosphere was good. I'm sure that point is debatable and open to scrutiny. But as a personal witness to almost 30 losses in this span, I can report without a doubt that there was a legitimate excitement to watch football from the first true sell-out crowd of the season.
Having somewhere close to 25,000 Chief fans showing up probably helped the cause, but that was going to happen if the Rams were 0-13 or 13-0.
Three-plus hours later and I left dome with a very familiar feeling: what just happened and why can't anyone fix it?
Coaching? So pathetic. Not only does Pat Shurmur call plays that don't work, he calls plays that don't work AND are the football equivalent of Ambien. They should discount the beer and bill the write-off to Medicaid as a anti-depressant. Mike Martz may have lost, but at least the SOB did it with flair. Gave us something to argue about all week. But this mess? What can you say? Unless his plan was to lull the Chiefs to sleep and then strike, I'm not sure what he spent all week installing.
(Beer Aside—I was lucky enough to sit in the Club Seats for this game and arrived around 11:45. I ordered a beer, but was told they were out. Why? They only had two home games left and didn't want half-full barrels they'd have to toss, so they were pulling beer from a single tap for the whole level.
Seriously, I asked.
Dead serious. For his part, the bartender did lay into the management that made that call, and as a fan he realized that these were the two biggest games of the year, and that people would probably like to, you know, have a beer. But still, the Rams remain the most comically inept organization in pro sports. Hands down.)
Defense? Awful. Gashed for over 200 yards on the ground. Burned for deep plays on third down several times. Stunningly ineffective at getting after a QB who was under a surgeon's knife less than two weeks ago. When the Rams cut the Chiefs' lead to seven late in the fourth quarter, the defense promptly let Jamaal Charles get loose for an 80-yard romp inside the 5-yard line to decimate any hope of a competitive game.
Sam Bradford? Not good. At all. Sammy-boy has been getting a verbal orgy from the press in 2010. And while he's looked impressive at times, he's also yet to really have a signature win. San Diego, by far, is the one game his fans will point to. But that occurred months ago, when the Chargers were at a crossroads and not on the tear they are now. Bradford may be a great quarterback in the future, but greatness is measured by big wins and he doesn't yet have one on his resume—one where people that don't watch the St. Louis Rams on a regular basis will sit up and say WOW.
Fans? Skeptical. After an eight-minute opening drive that produced points, Rams fans were ready to give this team a dome-field advantage. But the next three quarters left very little to cheer about. In a classy move, the Rams' PA system was cranked up to 11 late in the fourth quarter, where most Rams fans had exited and Chiefs fans were doing that incredibly racist chant.
Let's not sugarcoat it—the St. Louis Rams had our attention. We were ready to rally. And they came out, pulled their pants down and took a huge steamer on the carpet for all of us to witness.
A reminder, if you will, that the Rams are still winners at losing. Something that hasn't changed in a long time.