A Week 10 overtime tie between the St. Louis Rams and San Francisco 49ers showed the competition what that the NFC West has to offer in today's NFL. A rematch just three weeks later in Week 13 led to yet another overtime. This second time around, however, the Rams came away with the 16-13 win, which keeps them alive in the hunt for the playoffs.
But in a game that was important to both teams, it was the defense of the Rams that once again prevailed. With the offense seen struggling this often, the St. Louis defense forced a safety, which was followed later with a touchdown by rookie Janoris Jenkins. His fumble recovery in the end zone was his third defensive touchdown in two weeks, and it put the Rams in position for the go-ahead score.
So what is it about the Rams offense that makes it seem like they just can't get the ball moving? After all, they couldn't get into the end zone one time in this game. They again relied on kicker Greg Zuerlein, who came through in this one.
But why no ball movement?
It's not just the San Francisco defense. It's the mentality of the offense as a whole. Passes for very short gains make it tough to move the chains. Running backs that are sometimes hot and sometimes cold make for an inconsistent ground game. Sam Bradford is at the helm but even he seems to look lost and lack confidence as he has been sacked 30 times in 2012 so far.
At times, the Rams look like they are emerging as an explosive young team, but they can turn it on or off just as easily. They didn't even cross midfield against the 49ers until just under a minute left in the first half, which led to a field goal. Then, when they got into the red zone for the first time in the third quarter, they turned the ball over on a fourth down at San Francisco's four-yard line.
The up-and-down offense of St. Louis has to realize three points cannot take them to new heights. It's especially true if this young team has playoff hopes in their heart. There is no trading field goals for touchdowns with high expectations of winning.
According to the NFL team statistics, the Rams are ranked 12th in total defense but only 25th in total offense. In 12 weeks of play, they've managed to score only 18 offensive touchdowns. With the defense constantly on the field, the offense has to figure something out quick. Accumulation of 34 sacks and 12 interceptions by the defense has kept the momentum.
If the Rams are looking to establish themselves as a true power in the NFC West, they must figure out a way to get the ball moving. The defense can't remain on the field for as long as they do. At some point, a captain on the offense (Bradford or Steven Jackson) needs to step up and get this squad motivated.