Thearon W. Henderson
The good news: The Football Outsiders were interested enough to watch the St. Louis Rams, for once. The bad news: They watched the Rams tie the San Francisco 49ers.
One of my favorite NFL columns every week is the Pro Football Outsiders' "Audibles at the Line" gameday conversations, but since they only watch games that are interesting or meaningful they don't always get to the St. Louis Rams. The good news: They did in Week 10. The bad news: They did just in time to not the Rams' "hardcore stupidity" in failing to beat the San Francisco 49ers on a high-school-level illegal formation mistake. Here's the full quote, from noted outsider Aaron Schatz:
I can't believe the Rams blew an almost-sure win with an illegal formation penalty because the left tackle wasn't covered up. Penalties like that drive me absolutely insane. That's just hardcore stupidity that should never, ever happen.
Words: Not minced. The description works for me, though—the aforementioned play, in which Danny Amendola's 80-yard reception was called back because Austin Pettis wasn't on the line of scrimmage, where he was supposed to be, was almost excruciatingly perfect as a metonym for the Rams' season so far. So much promise, so little polish.
Later on, of course, the Rams lost a game-winning field goal on their inability to get a play off or call a timeout before Greg Zuerlein's 53-yard attempt, which at least has to qualify for softcore stupidity, and the Rams only lost their regulation lead in the first place because Isaiah Pead fumbled a kickoff he might have just sat on for a touchback.
It was five quarters of the Rams at their best and at their worst, on Sunday—often at the same time—and it balanced out, predictably, as an actual tie.