We did probably the only thing we could do—count down the last 10 seconds of the St. Louis Rams' first home win in nearly two years out loud and then wander out of the dome wondering... just what the hell are we supposed to be doing now?
Rams fans are accustomed to losing. And unlike a Cubs fan's acclimation to losing, it's scalable. Fans will leave Wrigley Field at some point after seeing a Cubs win, eventually. But with the Rams, the losing isn't just on a macro scale... it seemed to be infinite and absolute.
Go to game.
Leave game having seen loss.
Lather, repeat, rinse. So when Sam Bradford and the rest of the team jogged back to through the tunnel, and the normal hand-wringing, irrational bitching and general disgust that permeated downtown St. Louis on game days was morphed into something like excitement and merriment, I was pleasantly surprised.
Our problem child, whom we've always loved, had finally made a breakthrough?
A win in the NFL is manna. Losses are the apocalypse. Over the course of 16 games most teams are going to have volatile swings in the emotion they bring to their fans. And generally the ones that can ride the bull without getting bucked off are the ones still playing football in January. For purposes of this ill-placed rodeo analogy, the Rams have been afraid to mount the beast, let alone make a run at an eight-second ride.
After a dismal 0-2 start to 2010, I was pretty committed to the idea that this team was going to be 1-15. When Steven Jackson laid on the field for a good 3 minutes screaming in agony during the Redskins game, 0-16 seemed more like it. Once an NFL team starts sliding downhill—it can get ugly real quick. Take away a bad team's best player?
But a funny thing happened on the way to complete disaster... the Rams surprised everyone with a win over Washington and now sit on the precipice of a (GASP!) potential first-place showdown with the Seattle Seahawks on Sunday.
Spare the following: The NFC West sucks so bad, who cares? If the Cardinals win they'll technically be in first place! The Rams haven't won in Seattle since the Sonics were there!
I know. It's not the glamor game that Chris Berman is going to be having multiple orgasms over all this week on ESPN. But dammit—it's a first place game.
A FIRST place game!
More importantly, a true litmus test for the 2010 Rams. Are they the 0-16 probability from the Oakland debacle or the scrappy young underdogs from the Washington surprise?
Our problem child has the opportunity to completely turn 2010 into something that fans can have more than a fleeting moment of fun with. The Cardinals are officially out of the picture, and heading into the quarter post of an NFL season with a legit shot at the division title is every team's goal before camp breaks.
On the flip side, a loss will most likely end any hopes of a miracle division run, since home losses to the Cardinals and Seahawks would all but eliminate any tie-breaker that the NFC West Champion could need in a very average year.
I get it.
I know that hyping up a match-up between two fairly awful teams as a first place showdown is tantamount to calling Jackass 3 the seminal movie of a generation. But in a way, it's kind of true. Somebody's got to make the playoffs from this division... why NOT the Rams?
The problem child finally has a chance to prove its worth in 2010. Can it handle any sort of expectations?