TSX: Rams Fail in Second Half Again

Sam Bradford (Getty/Elsa)

As the Rams prepare to end the first half of their season at home against the Carolina Panthers, they still have to figure out how to find a way to win a road game, but more important, they are searching for a cure for their second-half lethargy.

For the second straight week, in Sunday's 18-17 loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the offense became stagnant in the final two quarters after building a 17-6 halftime lead.

The week before, after leading San Diego 17-3 at the half, the Rams managed just a second-half field goal, but it turned out to be the difference in a 20-17 victory.

Against the Bucs, there were no second-half points, and the defense wilted on a 16-play, 81-yard touchdown drive that won the game with 10 seconds remaining. In the last two games, the Rams have been outscored 26-3 in the second half.

Other numbers have been remarkably similar. Against the Chargers, the Rams had 189 yards, 13 first downs and were 5-for-8 on third down in the first half. Against Tampa Bay, it was 206, 14 and 5-for-9. The second half was a different story.

The totals were 96, 6 and 2-for-6 against San Diego and 94, 6 and 2-for-8 against Tampa Bay.

Both weeks, coach Steve Spagnuolo has been questioned about being conservative in the second half and not being aggressive. Sunday, he said, "We were in the locker room talking about being aggressive, staying aggressive. That's what we did. I mean you got to make a few plays. (It) doesn't matter what you call, you got to make a play. You call a pass, you got to complete the pass. If you run the ball, you got to get a few yards. Obviously we didn't do a good enough job of that because we didn't get into the end zone in second half."

Said quarterback Sam Bradford, "I think it's just not making plays. You know as an offense, we are going to have to look at what we're doing in the first half that's allowing us to be successful and what we're not doing in the second half that's hurting us. It really hurts our team and really puts the defense in a tough spot when we can't get anything going in the second half."

Bradford put much of the onus on himself. "I was just off today and that is really inexcusable," he said. "In a game like this and your team needs you to put points on the board, and I can't go out and execute, it's just tough. I have got to get better. I've just got to find a way to make the plays when they're there."

NOTES, QUOTES

BY THE NUMBERS: In the second half of the last two games, Bradford has completed 10 of 19 passes for 82 yards with no touchdowns or interceptions. ... The Rams had no takeaways against Tampa Bay. In three road games, they have two takeaways, while totaling nine in their four home games.

LINEUP WATCH: The secondary continues to have injury issues. Kevin Dockery started at left cornerback with Ron Bartell hampered by a bruised thigh. Bartell played, and then was in and out in the final drive because of a stinger. Safety James Butler suffered a sprained MCL, while cornerback Jerome Murphy played with a hamstring issue and cornerback Justin King (hamstring) and safety Darian Stewart (hamstring) were inactive.

STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

PLAYER NOTES

- RB Steven Jackson became the franchise's all-time leading rusher while totaling 110 yards on 22 carries. Jackson, who now has 7,324 yards, passed Eric Dickerson (7,245). Jackson missed some plays in the third quarter because of a stinger.

- WR Mardy Gilyard did not make the trip with the team and was inactive for the game because of a hamstring injury.

- DT Clifton Ryan has now missed six games because of migraines and doesn't appear close to playing.

- DT Darell Scott was active and played for the first time Sunday since suffering a high ankle sprain in the team's Week 2 game against Oakland.

- LB Chris Chamberlain was active and played for the first time since suffering a fractured toe in the season opener against Arizona.

- S James Butler sprained the MCL in his knee early in the game, but his status isn't known. Butler missed time in training camp with a knee injury.

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