In the darned if you do, darned if you don’t scenario that played out at the Edward Jones Dome on Sunday, the Rams weren’t going to cause a drastic shift in what people think about them no matter what they did.
An easy, convincing win against a winless team on track to be one of the worst in league history would’ve had people telling them that’s what they’re supposed to do. A loss would’ve had people wondering if the Rams are the worst team in the league.
Now that they have a win -- a win not nearly as convincing as the two-touchdown margin would indicate -- the Rams will happily deal with the former rather than the latter.
“We needed a win,” defensive end Chris Long said. “We needed that really bad, to get out here and score more points than them at the end of the day. It’s not easy to win any games in the NFL especially with some of the issues we’ve had in the past month so it’s nice to get the win.”
The Rams’ record improved to 2-3, but what remains to be determined is if the Rams actually improved.
There were some signs of progress in Sunday’s win.
The Rams finally established some semblance of a running game, poking small holes in the Jaguars with short but effective runs that yielded a 4-yard average on 36 attempts.
The run defense also showed some improvement, holding the Jaguars to 96 yards on 25 carries after allowing San Francisco and Dallas to average 206 yards in the past two contests.
The defense even provided two turnovers, one which it converted into points when safety Matt Giordano returned an interception 82 yards for a score and one which immediately led to tight end Lance Kendricks' 16-yard touchdown grab and a lead the Rams would never lose hold of.
Of course, much of that has to be taken with a grain of salt given the opponent, but the alternative is much worse.
“I don’t think people understand how tough it is to get a win,” defensive tackle Michael Brockers said. “Even though it is a team struggling, I don’t think people understand how tough it is to win in this league. That was a tough win.”
Probably tougher than many might have expected. The Rams fell behind early on a 67-yard touchdown reception by receiver Justin Blackmon and in terms of problems that was just the tip of the iceberg.
The Rams continue to pile up silly penalties on special teams and had a punt blocked.
Making matters worse, Jacksonville outgained the Rams 363-351 and nearly made a comeback in the fourth quarter before a late touchdown pass from Sam Bradford to Austin Pettis pushed the lead back to the final margin.
“We’ve still got a long way to go,” Fisher said. “ (We) made some mistakes. Had some opportunities.”
The Rams will have plenty to work on when they get back to work this week. The good news for them is they don’t have to wait 10 days to give it another go this time around. The bad news is that Jacksonville doesn’t appear on the schedule again and it’s actually the Texans waiting for them in Houston next week.
Sweeping conclusions from this one will be few and far between. Steps forward were taken but so were steps back. The real test comes soon enough, but for now the Rams can take solace in at least getting back in the win column, regardless of opponent.
“It’s great,” tackle Joe Barksdale said. “I had a coach in the past who used to say there is nothing like winning. And there really is nothing like winning. It’s great to get back on track. Just like a loss, we’re going to take the 24-hour rule and come in tomorrow ready to work and get better.”