By Cedric Williams
It was supposed to be Fan Appreciation Day at the Edward Jones Dome on Sunday, as the St. Louis Rams hosted their final home game of the season against the visiting New York Giants.
What it became though, was another embarrassing, disappointing – and at times – infuriating loss. New York, which lost seven games in a row at one point this season, laid a beatdown on the Rams in front of an announced crowd of 55,851 fans.
The Giants jumped on the Rams early and didn’t let up, which is why we don’t have very many good grades for St. Louis’ performance on Sunday.
Quarterback – B-
Shaun Hill threw for 290 yards and two touchdowns, but he also missed several opportunities to make big plays. On one occasion, he forced a throw to a covered receiver while another one was running free down the sideline. Another time he missed a wide open Stedman Bailey for what would’ve been an easy touchdown. But Sunday’s loss wasn’t the quarterback’s fault. Hill played about as well as could be expected of a career backup who’s forced to play because the original starter is injured.
Running Backs – A-
Tre Mason was working on a sensational day with several big runs, an early touchdown, and a 5.8 yards per carry average. Unfortunately, St. Louis fell behind by so much it had to go away from attacking with their talented young ballcarrier.
If the Rams had been able to get Mason more touches, he probably would’ve earned himself an A+.
Receivers & Tight Ends – A-
The Rams pass catchers were pretty good on Sunday. Kenny Britt had nine catches for 103 yards with several of them coming while fighting off tight coverage. Chris Givens caught his first touchdown in two seasons on a 47-yard bomb from Hill. Tavon Austin made a couple of nice plays on runs and catches. And the tight ends Jared Cook and Lance Kendricks both made big catches as St. Louis tried to stay in the game.
Unfortunately, this group was also responsible for one of the worst plays of the game — a short pass that bounced off Austin’s hands and landed in the waiting arms of a New York defender for an easy interception deep in St. Louis territory.
Offensive Line – D
It was another rough day for the Rams front five. Penalties, ineffective play, more penalties, and even several botched snaps by center Scott Wells all contributed to Sunday’s beatdown loss at the hands of the Giants.
Defensive Line – F
Two months of tremendous play came crashing back to earth for the Rams on Sunday, as its “Sack City” defensive line never got going against New York, which dominated the line of scrimmage almost from the start.
New York had a 300-yard passer (almost 400), a 100-yard rusher, and two 100-yard receivers and St. Louis’ best unit showed almost no ability to defend them.
Linebackers – F
Save for the near riot started by outside linebacker Alec Ogletree, the Rams LBs were virtually invisible on Sunday.
Secondary – F
New York did whatever it wanted, whenever it wanted against the Rams DBs on Sunday, especially against corner Trumaine Johnson. When the Giants needed 16 yards on a long third down, they got it. When they needed 12 yards on a slightly shorter third down, they got it. And then for good measure, right after the Rams scored to make it a game again, New York hit for an 80-yard bomb against the St. Louis secondary (again on third down) to basically put the game away.
Special Teams – C
Sunday was a mixed bag for the Rams specialists. Greg Zuerlein and Johnny Hekker were good as always in the kicking game, and Austin had a sensational 42-yard punt return that helped re-energize the crowd after New York went ahead 10-0. But like they’ve done almost all season, the Rams had more bad penalties on special teams plays, which prevented St. Louis from ever getting control of the game.
Coaching – D
A win on Sunday would’ve given the Rams a chance to go to Seattle next week and possibly put an end to its streak of losing seasons (St. Louis was last 8-8 in 2006).
Instead though, the Rams took a bad loss in its home finale and now must go see the red-hot defending Super Bowl champions and hope to avoid their first double-digit loss season since Jeff Fisher became head coach in 2012.
Sunday could’ve been a day where the Rams sent a signal to the rest of the league that it was truly ready to take a step towards being a playoff contender next year.
Instead, St. Louis looked as sloppy, undisciplined, and unprepared as the team Fisher took over three years ago.
For more Rams news and updates, visit Rams Central.
Cedric Williams, a lifelong St. Louisan and proud UMSL alum, has been a freelance reporter/photographer covering St. Louis area sports for nearly two decades. Most recently, he has been working as a credentialed beat writer covering the Rams and small-school college sports for Examiner.com and other outlets from around the area. Please share any comments, questions, or feedback with Cedric at firstname.lastname@example.org. His work can be found on Examiner.com.