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When your team is 3-9 and has no hope of making the playoffs, you're really only looking for them to make improvements and play solid football. This week we're going to try something different and just point out "the little things" that the Rams did or didn't do in this particular game. Maybe this will shed some light on things, or maybe it's just another way to break down a game. I'll let you be the judge.

1st quarter
(11:32) Rams have the ball on a 3rd & 5 - Berlin throws a ball to Torry Holt for a potential first down, but Holt couldn't hang on. Drive stalls there, and Rams punt.

(8:22) Bengals have the ball on the Rams 37 yard line - 3rd & 6 - Handoff to DeDe Dorsey - appears to be stopped at the line of scrimmage, but Fakhir Brown throws a shoulder into Dorsey as opposed to wrapping him up - Dorsey springs free for 19 yards and the drive continues. Bengals would have had to punt if a tackle was made there.

(6:13) Same drive, ball at the Rams' 19 yard line - Palmer throws downfield to Chatman, and overthrows him - but wait - pass interference on Will Witherspoon gives the Bengals the ball on the 1 yard line. Drive continues, and culminates in 6 points when Rudi Johnson runs it in 2 plays later for 6 points. Bengals would have had to settle for 3 without that penalty.

(4:50) 2nd & 6 - Rams have the ball - handoff to Looker who bobbles the exchange and brings up a 3rd & 9. Ensuing play, just an awful pass by Berlin to Isaac Bruce forces the Rams to punt. And when I say awful - I mean just flat out awful - at his shoestrings and behind. Berlin was under no pressure at the time, but also didn't get alot of work with the 1st string earlier in the week for some reason.

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2nd Quarter
(10:00) 3rd & 6 from the Rams 9 yard line - Palmer throws to Cinco Ocho in the endzone, but Bartell jumps in front and appears to have an easy interception. Had he just fallen down in the endzone, he would have. What the announcers failed to pick up was that Bartell was looking 104 yards downfield at the endzone and tried to make a few moves without securing the ball first. End result - Cincinnati tacks on another 3. Good play, very bad execution.

(8:07) 2nd & 10 from the Bengals 19 yard line. Dual holding calls on the same play by the offensive line backs the Rams up to the Cincinnati 29. A short run and a 3 yard flare pass to Jackson (?) sets up a 40 yard field goal attempt by Wilkins. No Good. 0 points on a drive that got the Rams all the way to the Bengals 19 yard line.

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3rd Quarter
(14:15) Palmer passes short left to Houshmandzadeh, but Fakhir Brown saw the hot read coming and jumped the route for an interception, taking it in for the TD. Palmer changed the play at the line of scrimmage, and you saw Brown peel off his man to anticipate the throw - absolutely perfect adjustment.

(9:47) This didn't effect the outcome of the game or the drive, but Adam Carriker was double-teamed on a screen pass to Rudi Johnson and still broke free of two guys to take Johnson down. He never quit on the play, and showed good strength and pursuit.

(5:04) 3rd & 4 - Cincinnati's ball from the Rams 9 yard line - Eric Moore comes through the middle on a stunt drawn up by Haslett to sack Palmer for an 11 yard loss - forcing the Bengals to settle for 3.

(2:24) 1st & 10 Cincinnati - Very lax coverage on Chad Johnson allowed him to get between three defenders and haul in a 52 yard pass to set up Cincinnati's 2nd successful field goal of the quarter.

* Sidenote: The playbook for Brock Berlin must have been about a page, and that's it. A majority of his throws were designed screens, flares, and shovel passes for very short yardage. Makes you wonder if he had more work with the starters, would he have been given more rope? I don't know. I do know that dinking and dunking isn't the way to get it done against a team ranking in the lower 20's in pass defense.

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4th Quarter
(13:46) Rams have the ball on their own 47 yard line. Penalty on Milford Brown for holding, backs them up 10 yards to their own 37. The very next play, Berlin hits McMichael for 9 yards, but Todd Steussie is flagged for an illegal chop-block sending the Rams back to their own 22 and facing a 2nd & 32. Shovel pass to Steven Jackson - who is running like a beast and inflicting absolute pain on Cincy's defenders - goes for 12 yards. 3rd & 20 - 6 yard pass to Holt. 6 yards? You need 20, and you throw it 6 yards? Playing it safe is for a team with something to lose - not a team with everything to gain. Rams net 12 yards on the drive that contained 25 yards in penalties - and punt.

(8:45) Hagans should never be allowed to field a punt again - his 2nd muffed catch nearly gives Cincinnati the ball back deep in Rams territory, but it took the right bounces and Rams retained posession. There is no excuse for Hagans not calling for the fair catch with a defender timing the catch with the tackle.

(3:37) 2nd & 1, Rams have the line stacked with 8 defenders and Rudi Johnson breaks through for 22 yards, getting the Bengals within field goal position. Cincinnati nets negative 1 yards on the next three plays and Graham hits a 46 yarder to make it a 2 score game.

(2:44) Berlin throws another bad pass over the middle to Bennett that gets picked off by Dexter Jackson, who was having just a phenomenal day up to that point - blitzing off the edge, forcing a fumble and making plays in the backfield.

Game Over.

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Also on this day:

* Torry Holt went over the 1000 yard mark for the 8th straight time, making him only the 3rd receiver in NFL history to achieve that. Holt ended the day with 90 yards on 8 catches.

* Isaac Bruce had 0 catches on the day, mainly due to the fact that the balls thrown his way were all but uncatchable.

* Today was Shayne Graham's birthday, and he celebrated it by connecting on 4 field goals (27, 32, 38, 46) to help the Bengals get their 6th win against the Rams in team history. The previous record to this point was 5-5-0

* The Rams are the 6th team to start a 3rd string QB in a game this season.

 

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