TSX: Rams Notes, Report Card

Daniel Fells (Getty/Jed Jacobsohn)

In their Week 1 loss to Arizona, the Rams had just five penalties for 40 yards. In their Week 2 loss to Oakland, things changed, thanks to a litany of personal fouls that led to nine of the Raiders' 16 points.

In addition, the final personal foul on defensive tackle Fred Robbins gave Oakland a first down when they would have faced a third-and-9 from its own 19-yard line.

The Rams had four unnecessary roughness penalties, plus one for a chop block -- on kick coverage. Those five penalties accounted for 75 of the 92 yards in penalties walked off during the game.

Said coach Steve Spagnuolo, "(The Raiders) played well in the second half. But as I told the football team, you can't win in the NFL when you beat yourself.

"The disappointing thing is I have not seen or felt that this was an undisciplined football team. But how can you not think that after a game like that? I think we've just got to learn that you can play tough and physical football, and be smart doing it. It's too hard to win when you're giving them free 15-yard plays. It's too tough."

The Robbins penalty came as quarterback Bruce Gradkowski scrambled to his right and threw the ball away. Just after releasing the ball, Robbins gave Gradkowski a shove, and we went tumbling to the ground as if he'd been hit by a truck.

"I saw him break contain," Robbins said. "I felt I was close enough to him. I gave him a little shove, but I didn't think it was ... (the official) called it. You've just got to play smarter."

Safeties Oshiomogho Atogwe and Craig Dahl were whistled on borderline calls. Cornerback Ron Bartell also had a personal foul that wasn't shown on replay, and the official never identified the guilty party for the chop block.

Bartell was apparently mixing things up with Raiders receiver Louis Murphy. Asked about the play, Bartell said, "It was a chippy game and I kind of lost my head a little bit. It happens. That's it. It happens."

Chippy? Said Bartell, "A little shoving, a little face-mask grabbing, a little punching. But it's to be expected. You come to Oakland, they're a chippy team. You've got to be prepared to be chippy back. But we've got to keep our heads. We can't have those penalties, because at the end of the day, they cost us."

Asked how it ended up that he was penalized considering what was going on, Bartell said, "'Cause I got caught."

Said running back Steven Jackson, "These two games, our last drive we've had a chance to come out victorious but this is where penalties are killing us. This is where we don't know yet how to put a game away. Some kind of way we have to find it. And you have to do it on Sunday. You can't do it on Wednesday and Thursday. You have to do it on Sunday.

"You have to be able to find a way to kick, crawl, scratch, whatever it is to find a way to win the game. This goes back to what I feel like we did last week. We are not taking advantage of teams when we have them down."

NOTES, QUOTES

- On the first three possessions of the game, RB Steven Jackson ran for 60 yards on 10 carries and added 41 yards on two receptions. However, for the remainder of the game he was able to gain only 15 yards on nine runs and nine yards on two passes.

Jackson said the Raiders came out with only seven men in the box, then adjusted later by bringing up another defender.

"The first half, we had some very favorable running formations, things that we were able to take advantage of, that we practiced during the week," he said. "Second half, obviously Oakland made some adjustments. And we just couldn't get things going."

The passing game also sputtered. QB Sam Bradford completed his first six passes for 98 yards and a touchdown. For the remainder of the game, he was 8-for-19 for 69 yards, and that included three completions for 39 yards and a touchdown on the final drive. In between those touchdowns, both to WR Mark Clayton, Bradford was 5-for-15 for 30 yards.

Said Bradford, "I was not very good in the second half. I can't let that happen."

Stopping the run was a major factor because numerous first-down running plays weren't effective, creating long-yardage situations. On his first seven first-down runs, Jackson gained 55 yards. On his next eight, the net was just 13 yards.

"That's really the reason that things were moving for us in the first half because we were running the ball effectively and it was setting up everything else," Bradford said. "They did a good job in the second half taking away our run game, and it really hurt us."

- Because of injuries, several adjustments had to be made on the Rams' special teams. LB Josh Hull (knee) was lost for the season after an injury that occurred in practice, while LB Chris Chamberlain is out another five-to-eight weeks because of a fractured toe suffered against Arizona.

LB Brian Kehl was claimed on waivers from the Giants and rookie free agent Dominique Curry was active for his first game against Oakland.

Curry was invited to the Rams' rookie minicamp on a tryout basis in April and earned a spot on the roster. He was active ahead of WR Brandon Gibson because of special teams.

He had a bad angle on and missed a tackle on Johnnie Lee Higgins' 53-yard punt return, but later had a tackle. Higgins had one yard o his other punt return, while Jacoby Ford averaged just 20.3 yards on three kickoff returns.

After being told he would be active for the game, Curry said, "It's pretty exciting ... like a dream come true."

He added that Chamberlain has been a help. Said Curry, "He's been telling me what to read on kickoffs and kick returns. He's been helping me a lot."

Kehl said he was shocked after being released by the Giants last Tuesday. "Very, very surprised," he said. "I didn't really expect it. That's the nature of the beast, though. I'm glad to be here. I think it'll be a good opportunity for me."

- Rams DE Chris Long didn't make a big deal of playing in Oakland, where his father Howie played for the Raiders and went onto the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

"I'm really appreciative of everything they did for my Pops. The organization and the fans were really great," he said. "But I've never really been there much. I went to a couple of games when I was really, really young. Really, I grew up in Virginia."

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

PLAYER NOTES

- TE Billy Bajema suffered an injury to the MCL in his knee and is expected to miss 2-4 weeks.

- TE Daniel Fells suffered an injury to the MCL in his knee, but is considered day-to-day in his availability.

- DT Darell Scott suffered a high ankle sprain Sunday against Oakland. But the timetable for his return has not been yet established. Scott is undergoing more tests.

- S Craig Dahl, who suffered a concussion Sunday against Oakland, will undergo testing Tuesday to see if he will be cleared to play this week.

- DT Clifton Ryan is seeking a second opinion on what caused the migraines that led to him being hospitalized last Wednesday night. Ryan was said to be fine Friday and Saturday, but did not make the trip to Oakland, and the tests are being done as a precaution. The Rams said an NFL Network that he didn't make the trip because of post-concussion symptoms was not accurate.

- OT Rodger Saffold was sore and stiff from the back tightness he experienced Sunday against Oakland, but it is believed he will be OK to practice and play this week against Washington.

- CB Justin King (hamstring) worked out before the game Sunday against Oakland and it was determined he wasn't healthy enough to play.

- RB Steven Jackson, who was treated for an inflamed knee after the season opener against Arizona and did not practice last Wednesday, was hit on the knee during Sunday's game against Oakland. He was treated and returned to the game.

REPORT CARD VS. RAIDERS

PASSING OFFENSE: C -- QB Sam Bradford had a passer rating of 86.6, but the aerial game disappeared in the second half until the final touchdown that brought the Rams to within 16-14. Only seven of his 14 completions went to wide receivers, and Laurent Robinson has struggled to get open the first two games. While he did score on a 1-yard touchdown in the opener, Robinson has caught just three other passes for 21 yards. There were two early receptions by tight ends -- Daniel Fells for 36 yards and Billy Bajema for 13 -- those were the only catches of the game by tight ends.

RUSHING OFFENSE: C -- Like the passing game, there was early success and then very little. RB Steven Jackson finished with 75 yards on 19 attempts, but the sledding got tough when the Raiders put eight in the box.

PASS DEFENSE: B-minus -- QB Bruce Gradkowski gave the Raiders' offense a lift in the second half, reliving Jason Campbell, whose passer rating was 42.9 in the first half. Gradkowski helped move the ball with quick passes and bring some rhythm to the offense. A late interception, however, helped the Rams get back in the game and lowered his rating to 70.6.

RUSH DEFENSE: D -- Once the Rams' offense couldn't help keep the defense off the field, the Raiders pounded RB Darren McFadden on a defense that was on the field for more almost 37 minutes, including just under 23 minutes in the second half. McFadden ended the game with 145 yards on 30 attempts; he was 20-for-107 in the second half.

SPECIAL TEAMS: C -- There was one punt return against for 53 yards, and little done in the return game, although Mardy Gilyard had a 30-yard kickoff return. P Donnie Jones was solid, but PK Josh Brown missed a 36-yard field goal in the first quarter.

COACHING: B -- Many like to put the blame on coaching when a team piles up personal-foul penalties. However, it's up to players to play smart. The most egregious was the penalty on DT Fred Robbins because there was no reason to shove QB Bruce Gradkowski after he threw and give the official any excuse to throw a flag.

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