The St. Louis Rams football organization started playing their games with St. Louis as a jersey qualifier in 1995. There hasn’t been a game that created less interest in that city over the past 16 years than last Sunday against the New Orleans Saints.
It’s not even close.
At 0-6 and coming off a flogging by the Dallas Cowboys, the Rams were feckless. Sam Braford was inactive for the second straight week. The New Orleans Saints had just set a franchise record for points against the only team with a more qualified résumé for worst in the NFL.
Las Vegas set the highest line they’ve set all season. And then bettors pushed it higher.
On the other side of downtown, hundreds of thousands of red-clad Cardinals fans were celebrating championship number 11 with a full blown Parade of Champions down Market St. and pep rally for 45K inside Busch Stadium. All this following a heart-attack inducing post-season run that saw elimination a mere strike away. Twice.
It’s a baseball town, St. Louis. And when the baseball team does unprecedented things while the stepchildren scuffle off to another forgettable start? Apathy runs supreme.
So if a football team wins a game no one cares about, does it really happen? I guess there was no other way to cap off the signature W.T.F. week in St. Louis sports but a Rams drubbing of the Saints. Make no mistake, this was a drubbing.
Steven Jackson was in beast mode from the onset, toting the rock 25 times at a 6.4 YPC clip and racking up two scores and an on-field ass chewing of his offensive line along the way. A.J. Feeley looked way more comfortable guiding the offense in his second start of the season. And it turns out that the secondary that the Rams had been choosing not to play for the first 6 games was activated all at once.
Justin King survives Drew Brees? Almost as improbable as the Cardinals' World Series run. Hell, maybe more so.
What a great, great win for the Rams. Which brings me to the point.
Not in the sense of why did the Rams try to win—I think they owe us that as a franchise at a bare minimum. They expect us to pay money for entertainment, and as sports fans, we equate winning with being entertained. They should always try and win.
No, why in the sense of, "Why now?"
We knew that the first half of the Rams' season was brutal. We hoped for 4-4 and would have taken 3-5 with the promise that a big run in the second half could be doable for a division win. The Rams, however came out and laid an egg for the first six weeks against a wide swath of competition, and the apologists cited the numerous injuries, especially in the defensive backfield, as the reason for the crippling ineptitude.
Now, it seems as though those of us who thought this team was pretty talented when the season began are in an awkward position. We can’t claim it was the injuries after whipping a Super Bowl contender with a backup QB. We can’t be proven right with a successful season or at least an improvement over the 7-9 mark from 2010. So what do we do?
Coach Spags’ job security isn’t any less tenuous than it was last week. After this win, it might even be on thinner ice. After all, doesn’t it seem like the Rams emerged from the off-season for the first time in Week 8? Isn’t the only logical explanation for this turnaround that this team hasn’t been ready to go week-in and week-out? Or were they just really lucky?
This might be the first time a win has done less of a service to its head coach than a loss. Now we’re sitting around wondering just what was going on over at Rams Park before Sunday.
Let’s hope this was a harbinger of good things to come. But if it isn’t and the Rams limp home, expect this win to be the reason the coaching staff is relived of its duties.
We saw what they’re capable of with this "depleted" roster. So the excuses can stop.