After talking to my buddy Vinnie over at StLouisRamFan.com, it's pretty clear that Rams followers are still a little bent out of shape about Super Bowl XXXVI. (Not that I blame them as XLII still has me tied up in knots.) So it must've been semi-vindicating to have the Rams come out swinging, only to have the Patriots storm back, only to have the Rams win the game on a last-second field goal. Small victory, I know. But when you go 1-15 the year before, I'm sure you take any type of win you can get. I'm just hoping that Taylor Price saves the game next week against the Giants by catching a ball off his helmet...
As I mentioned yesterday, a poor performance by the Patriots would raise a lot of doubts and all but erase the good will they earned in their drubbing of the Saints and Falcons. This morning, the ill-will is certainly swirling around Foxboro. While Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski certainly shined, the Patriots overall, looked like a team with some major problems.
Some key stats for you:
Time of Possession: 43:46 for St. Louis; 16:14 for New England
Rushing: 11 attemps for 28 yards
Rams 3rd Downs: 11 for 17
All in all, it just seemed like all the big problems that plagued this team last year reared their ugly heads again. A weak running game, an uneffective pass-rush, a pass-heavy offense, a lack of playmaking in critical situations - they were all on display against St. Louis. If I'm not going sing the Patriots praises for beating New Orleans and Atlanta, I'm not going to get too down on the team after last night's debacle. Again, the mantra, "It's pre-season. It doesn't matter." rings true. Still, it was a bit discouraging to see issues that appeared to be fixed become issues for this team again.
If you want some silver lining to the cloud, it's that a slice of humble pie is always a nice dish to start the season with. Had the Pats steamrolled the Rams, the hype machine might've started to get churning too quickly. I'd rather have a team get burned in the pre-season and have a fire in their belly as they work to fix the mistakes, than a team that's riding high and is happy with themselves. The fact that last night's game left a bad taste in their mouths may do the Pats some good. After all, better to get taken to the woodshed in Game 3 of the pre-season than Week 2 against the Jets.