The St. Louis Rams have won a game in St. Louis. It's okay, you can look that up someplace off-site, I'll wait. I wouldn't believe me either. The last time the St. Louis Rams—the Rams of St. Louis—won a game in St. Louis, where a very expensive and ostensibly dated dome sits for no reason beyond allowing the Rams to win games in St. Louis, was October 19, 2008, 23 months ago.
They did it in a game in which Kenneth Darby outcarried Steven Jackson, in which they allowed six yards per carry to two separate running backs and 124 yards and a touchdown from the Redskins' top receiver. They did it at home! In St. Louis!
Here's what the Rams missed in their 23 months away from pleasing the hometown crowd.
5. They set a record. A punting record!
Sometimes it takes a bad team to know just how good your punter is. Who knew, in October 2008, that Donnie Jones would make history—let alone punting history? At the end of the season Donnie Jones became the first punter in 68 years to average 50 yards per punt. Which is incredible, really—how many football records go that far back?
But this is the late-aughts St. Louis Rams, so our man didn't have a particularly long time atop the modern punter heap. In 2009 Shane Lechler became the second punter since 1940 to average at least 50 yards per punt, with 51.1.
4. They made a pick everybody loves and a pick everybody is kind of indifferent about.
Hey, everybody! Sam Bradford is a golden god! Okay, maybe not—he's thrown five interceptions in three games, although one of those was a garbage time heave, and he's only now been given the go-ahead to throw downfield every so often. He's still pretty reliant on tight ends and running backs. He's been more accurate than Derek Anderson, but less accurate than Keith Null.
But Bradford's shown flashes of number-one-pick-quarterback brilliance, and not the Jeff George kind. In the second half of this week's game Bradford, with Steven Jackson sidelined, pushed the Rams relentlessly downfield, showing off an impressive accuracy that wasn't moored to the Rams' restraints on his freedom.
At the 2009 NFL Draft, when St. Louis Rams fans had no idea that the Edward Jones Dome was about to be used as an ersatz morgue, the team selected Jason Smith. Going with an offensive lineman early is one of those things that has been universally and unilaterally declared a Smart Move. Look, we are to say: They understand the importance of the things that don't show up in the box score!
So far Smith has been neither boon nor bust. In 2009 he was moved from left tackle in favor of the delightful Alex Barron and then sidelined by injuries; in 2010 he's been in no-news-is-good-news mode, which is not what a fanbase brought up on Orlando Pace is particularly inclined to see.
3. They were outscored by 418 points.
The Rams played 28 games. They were outscored by an average of 15 points a game. Two touchdowns. Every game.
And that's after the first two weeks of the 2010 season, in which the Rams were outscored by just six points, took the edge off. There were times in 2009 where it seemed like the Rams wouldn't have picked up a win if they'd held back, from the other team, that touchdowns in football are worth six points and not one.
2. They realized nobody could catch the ball.
Okay, okay, I hate to do this, but I'm going to do it. In 1999 the St. Louis Rams had four receivers go for more yards and at least as many touchdowns as their lead receiver, Donnie Avery, managed in 2009. The 3100 yards Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce went for in 2000 were 130 yards more than the Rams managed through the air in 2009.
That's the Greatest Show on Turf. That's the measure the next good Rams will have to live up to. They have not been doing it. Mark Clayton has 228 receiving yards through three games, which means the Rams might finally cross the harrowing 600 yard mark. But the season is young.
1. Two guys attempted to buy the Rams.
One of them even did it!
In the time between the Rams' home wins we learned and briefly memorized the name of an Urbana bumper magnate. I learned that Shahid Khan made his millions supplying bumpers to Toyota and the big three, and that he was born in Pakistan. I'm saying all this now because I'm not sure how else I'll remember it.
We also reminded ourselves about Stan Kroenke. And that guy—he did plenty in the time it took the Rams to win their second home game in two years. He triggered his make-everyone-forget-about-Shahid-Khan clause, sold the Denver Nuggets and the Colorado Avalanche to his son, and showed off a particularly outstanding mustache/presumable-toupee combo.
In fact, compared to Stan Kroenke, the Rams didn't do very much at all in the time between now and October of 2008. Well, except lose.