The St. Louis Rams experienced some early-season success in getting off to a 3-3 start, but it remained to be seen how they would stack up to one of the league’s elite teams.
The answer came in the form of a 30-20 loss to the Green Bay Packers that was more lopsided than the score would indicate. After entering halftime up 10-6, the Packers dominated the third quarter and put the game away with a 39-yard strike from Aaron Rodgers to Randall Cobb with 3:06 to play.
“Aaron (Rodgers), we knew he was coming off a hot hand last weekend and feeling pretty good and he’s got a lot of weapons and that’s certainly the difference,” Rams head coach Jeff Fisher said. “We kept it close for a while, but we couldn’t get the ball back the second half and that was the difference in the game.”
Depending on your vantage point the difference in the game could have been at a few different moments. Trailing 10-3 in the second quarter, the Rams faced a 4th-and-2 from the Green Bay 14-yard line. Instead of taking the chip shot field goal, the Rams attempted to pass for the first down. The pass went through the hands of Brandon Gibson, turning the ball over to the Packers.
“I thought we did a fairly decent job in the first half,” Sam Bradford said. “We probably would’ve liked to come away with a few more points, especially the possession where we got stopped on fourth down down there. It would’ve been nice to convert that and put seven on the board.”
The first drive of the second half signified a momentum shift in the Packers favor. After the Rams kicked a field goal to cut the lead to 10-6 at the end of the first half, the Packers took the second-half kickoff and put together a drive spanning 12 plays that lasted almost seven minutes. It culminated with Rodgers finding Cobb for his first touchdown catch of the day.
“That was huge,” Rodgers said. “We had one of our best drives of the season, for sure, starting the second half. It wasn’t the prettiest drive, but we converted a lot of third downs and we held the ball for seven minutes, so that helped our defense out I think.”
The backbreaker came on Cobb’s second touchdown. Steven Jackson’s first rushing touchdown of the year made it a 20-13 game with 8:55 left and seemed to swing the momentum back with the Rams, but Rodgers and the Packers responded with a drive of their own. Rodgers’ perfectly placed touchdown pass to Cobb on a 3rd-and-9 play made it a 27-13 game and effectively iced the win for the Packers.
It also served to answer the question about where each team is after seven weeks of the NFL season.
“I don’t know about the whole ‘how close are we,’” linebacker James Laurinaitis said. “I just think they made more plays in this game to win. We had a chance on multiple third downs to get off the field at the end, and we didn’t do it. They made plays and we didn’t. That’s the reality of it. These games in the NFL come down to who’s going to step up and make plays at the end. Today, Green Bay’s offense did it.”
And the Rams still have some work to do.