ATLANTA -- For the first 30 minutes of the St. Louis Rams' 31-24 loss to the Atlanta Falcons on Sunday, they found as many ways as possible to dig themselves into a deeper hole that would be difficult to come out of.
In the final 30 minutes, the Rams did all they could to get out of that hole and came up a bit short. That they got within a score of completing a comeback from a 21-point halftime deficit represents a clear sign of progress in the on-going rebuilding project that’s taken place in St. Louis since the arrival of coach Jeff Fisher.
For as infuriating as the mistakes and errors that ultimately led to a loss for the Rams are, they at least showed a knack for battling back for the second week in a row.
“It tells us that we’re resilient and everybody in here claws back,” defensive end Chris Long said. “A lot of years past, nobody would have said it but I think guys would have folded up the tent. Not in this locker room. We’ll be in a lot of games if we play with that same determination and heart. But we have got to execute and stay away from the mistakes on the field.”
Falcons fans have come to expect a team that starts fast and finishes slow and there was a clear air of "here we go again" when the Rams mounted their second-half surge Sunday. On the other sideline, though, the Rams have developed an early-season trend of starting slow but finishing with a flourish.
We explored the offensive adjustments the Rams made in the second half yesterday, but it bears noting again that the offense has been far more successful playing in a hurry-up style where it can dictate the tempo.
Against Arizona in Week 1, the Rams scored 10 points in the first half. They had three on Sunday. In the first half of the two games, the Rams have scored one touchdown and that score came against Arizona when the Rams were, you guessed it, running a two-minute drill.
Of the 51 points the Rams have scored through two weeks, 38 have come in the second half and 28 of those have come in the fourth quarter.
“I think it’s great to see from the guys in this locker room that no one is going to quit, no matter what the score is,” quarterback Sam Bradford said. “We are going to play the game until the final whistle blows. It would have been easy for us to call it a day when we were down 24-3, but everyone kept fighting, kept battling. It was a nice finish. In the future, we just can’t put ourselves in that type of a hole.”
Those types of holes are going to be particularly tough to get out of against top contenders such as Atlanta, particularly on the road. But on the flip side of the coin is a team that continues to show that it’s capable of mounting a charge and not folding up the tents and calling it a day when it falls behind.
At halftime of Sunday’s game, no fiery locker-room speeches were given; no lockers or walls were punched in. The Rams regrouped and went about their business.
“I’m sure a lot of people weren’t thinking this was going to be a game,” middle linebacker James Laurinaitis said. “In here, we knew it was. We talked about it. We have a lot to learn from. I’m optimistic about this crew. I love the heart of this crew and the passion and fire we play with. We have just got to be more consistent. That’s when you become a great football team.”
It’s perhaps the next step in the growth of the league’s youngest team.