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Say this for Sam Bradford, he was the Rams offense tonight. Say this too: the Rams offense was not at all good tonight.
On a night just five days removed from a brutal thrashing at the hands of the Dallas Cowboys, there was a hope - an insane, illogical hope but a hope nonetheless -- that the short week would actually help the St Louis Rams wash their hands of all the awfulness that has infected their football program.
There was literally no time to look back. When you kick off on a Thursday after playing on Sunday, there's no time for film review. You have to immediately start game-planning for that Thursday opponent and installing that gameplan in practice.
Stoking that hope: the 49ers were coming to town, wounded and embarrassed and seemingly out of mojo against Jeff Fisher's team. The Rams owned Jim Harbaugh's club last season. They took the fight to San Francisco on both sides of the ball, both at home and at the Dome.
And for a full quarter of football, that illogical hope had wings.
Tim Walton's defense was sugaring its front by dancing around the line, refusing to let the 49ers set their protections, and the gimmick stymied their offense. Cornerbacks were lining up at the line of scrimmage! Amazing! Even without a legitimate running game, Sam Bradford was moving the chains. A gorgeous playcall and a throw almost (but not quite) stepped into came thisclose to a touchdown connection to Austin Pettis. A Greg Zuerlein field goal boinked in off the left upright for an early 3-0 lead.
But then, the suck started creeping back in. Missed tackles on defense. Foolish penalties on special teams (and more phantom calls by the officials). A complete absence of a running game. An offense that dissolved into a zero-protection nightmare of checkdowns, hits and fumbles. Cortland Finnegan single-handedly putting points in Harbaugh's pocket to give SF a 7-3 lead and all the momentum they would need.
And the suck went deeper than it had yet gone this season, tapping into a deep-rooted vein of awfulness that hadn't been seen in the dome since Steve Spagnuolo was fired. Run-run-sack-punt became the drumbeat of the offense. Rare moments of good fortune were immediately and soundly squandered. Defensive turnovers were rewarded by fruitless three-and-outs. Successful replay reversals of big plays were just a prelude to giving up even bigger ones.
And then came the injuries. Oh, the injuries. But that's part-and-parcel of playing two games in five days. Players are beat up, tired, too slow to protect themselves, too fatigued to protect anyone else. None more so than the shambles of the Rams' offensive line.
An illustrative stat:
And we wonder why he's regressing.