Rams Aim For Road Win

Steven Jackson (Getty/Thearon W. Henderson)

It's obvious what the focus will be for the Rams this week as they travel to Tampa Bay for a game against the Buccaneers. Even in the celebratory locker room Sunday afternoon following their 20-17 win over San Diego, the focus was already being directed ahead seven days.

Everyone knows the Rams won't be taken seriously as a legitimate threat to win the NFC West until they show they can win on the road.

Of course, entering this season, they first had to show they could win anywhere after totaling just six wins in three seasons. The Rams have now shown they can win at home, having won three straight after an opening-day loss to Arizona.

It's why within minutes after defeating the Chargers, the trip to Tampa Bay was already on everyone's mind.

Said running back Steven Jackson, "I think this is an example of what we can be. We're only going to get better as the season goes on, after weeks go by. We're going to celebrate. We're going to take this in today, but to be an elite team and to get ourselves in position to be in the playoffs, we have to learn how to win on the road. And I think that's our next challenge. That's the one good things about this team is we're always looking ahead. We're always looking for the next challenge."

When defensive end Chris Long was asked about rebounding from the previous week's 44-6 loss in Detroit, he said, "It's funny. You say you move past a game like that, and some teams might pay it lip service, but I really don't feel like anybody in here was thinking about Detroit. No one in here was looking back.

"I actually thought to myself right before the game when the ball was about to be kicked off, I said, ‘Man I haven't even thought about that game.' We're just moving forward. We won't be thinking about San Diego next week. We'll be trying to win a road game, which is a whole new challenge."

Of course, there might be lingering thoughts of the Detroit debacle now that another road game is ahead. Since 2007, the Rams have lost 22 of 26 road games, and the losses have mostly been ugly.

In 12 of the losses, the Rams have scored less than 10 points. In 13 of the losses, they have allowed 30 or more points, including four of 40 or more. Only six of the 22 losses have been within one score.

Last season, the seven losses were by a combined score of 190-53. In 2008, it was 245-88 in seven losses and 181-48 in six 2007 losses. This season, two losses have been by a 60-20 count, making the total score for the 22 defeats an astounding 676-209.

With a 3-3 record, the Rams are one-half game behind first-place Arizona and Seattle, both 3-2. No team in the NFC has better than a 4-2 record. After a home game Oct. 31 against Carolina, followed by their bye, the second half of the season features five road games, including three straight at Denver, Arizona and New Orleans. Four of the final eight games are in the division, including a road game against each of their division rivals.

"We're going to make it a focus," coach Steve Spagnuolo said of this week's approach in preparing for the Buccaneers. "In order to do the things you want to do, the goals you set at the beginning of the season, you have to win on the road and that's what we're going to try to do this week."

Knowing there will likely be adversity at some point, Spagnuolo was asked about getting a young team to "weather the storm" on the road.

"To me, you do it by staying together," he said. "Do all the little things right, that's what we'll be preaching. Teams are always going to throw something at you new at the beginning of the game. They've got their first 15 offensive plays and they scheme up, so if they hit them you just rally together, chip away, and come back kind of like what we did – I know it was a preseason game – but kind of like we did up in New England, try to answer."

They weren't able to answer in Detroit. Very soon, we will see if they find the answer Sunday in Tampa.



Howard Balzer is the Editor/writer for GridIronGateway Magazine. For subscription information visit GridIronGateway.com (reduced online rate of $39.95) or call 888-501-5752. You can also follow him on Twitter at twitter.com/HBalzer721

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