Okay, that was bad. The St. Louis Rams don't have to go as far back as most teams to find a beating so thorough—they lost three games by at least 30 points last season, and two the year before—but they do have to go farther back than most teams to a time when a loss hurt this much. The Rams looked like they were on the way up, and they still probably are, but the elevator's going a lot slower than it seemed like it was.
So some of your friends might not be at work today. They might be sick to their stomachs; they might be canceling orders for personalized Mark Clayton jerseys. And they might be locking themselves inside a bunker and waiting for Kurt Warner, Jr., to lead The Greatest Show On Field-Turf. Here are five reasons why:
1. Mark Clayton's done for the season.
At least when Donnie Avery went down they won. At this point the St. Louis Rams' luck with wide receivers seems to be some kind of cosmic payback for those years when Az-Zahir Hakim briefly turned into a valuable commodity. Ten years ago the Rams had Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt in their respective primes at the same moment; this year the Rams can't have Donnie Avery and Older Donnie Avery on their feet in the same week.
This is bad news for Sam Bradford; this is bad news for people who have to watch Sam Bradford.
2. They lost to the Lions.
The Lions were, until last weekend, The Bad Rams. They lost a bunch of games, like the good Rams, but their franchise quarterback can't stay healthy, their hometown's less popular than ours, and they managed to go an entire season without winning, something the Rams couldn't quite pull off.
This was supposed to be the game where the Rams severed our connection with the Lions once and for all, but it didn't work out—only the Lions would lose this badly to the Lions. And now we're back to square one.
3. It was a decisive loss. Really decisive.
This season's first two losses were themselves cause for optimism—the point differential was just six, which, for fans of the Pythagorean Theory of Sports, is hardly anything at all. By the time they'd improves to 2-2 and won decisively over the Hated Seattle Seahawks the Rams' point differential was all the way at +25, which meant they'd played more like a 3-1 team than a 2-2 team. 3-1! Can you believe it?
Well, I mean, could you have believed it? Two days ago? The Rams looked like a team that missed opportunities when they were falling to 0-2—on Sunday they looked like a team with no opportunities at all.
4. The defense gave up nearly as many points as it had all season.
The offense has been really promising at times this season, but it's also clearly in flux. Steven Jackson is gimpy, the wide receivers aren't really there, and Sam Bradford is a rookie who makes some rookie mistakes. But the defense, Steve Spagnuolo's specialty, had finally come together—allowed just 52 points, fourth-lowest in the entire NFL.
Now? 15th-lowest in the entire NFL. If the defense isn't going to be able to hold back the Lions and their second-string quarterback, the Rams aren't going to have a side of the ball they can count on every week. And that's going to make watching football a lot more nerve-racking.
5. It was a trap game, and they got trapped.
It's a gameday cliche in good standing by now, so we all knew about it—you Can't Look Past The Lions, because Every Game Can Be Trouble on Any Given Oliver Stone Movie. But it turns out that losing to the Detroit Lions isn't about not having enough respect for them as opponents—sometimes it's just about getting crushed by the Detroit Lions.
I have no doubt that the Rams came in assuming they were prepared for this game, and giving all due respect for the Lions. But terrible things happened anyway, and now the Rams have a date with the San Diego Chargers, who are thinking to themselves: We Can't Look Past The Rams.
It was a bad game in a season that didn't need any, but it isn't a bad season yet—come Wednesday I think the bunkers will begin to thin out. Until then, tread lightly around anybody who still smells of blue and gold facepaint.