EARTH CITY, Mo. -- Last year, we spent 10 days examining the 10 plays that shaped the St. Louis Rams' 7-9 season. Now, we begin this year's version where each day we will examine another play that helped define the team's 6-10 2014 output.
On Sept. 21, the Rams jumped out to a 21-0 lead against the Dallas Cowboys. It was a stunning start and the Rams looked poised to go to 2-1 on the season and build some momentum heading into an early bye week. After allowing 10 unanswered points to end the first half, the Rams needed to start the second half with a stop to slow Dallas' momentum.
Four plays into the third quarter, Dallas quarterback Tony Romo found a wide open Dez Bryant for an easy 68-yard touchdown to make it 21-17. While the Rams still had the lead, it was an ominous sign not only for that game but other games that would follow.
Rams cornerback Janoris Jenkins spent the day shadowing Bryant and had done an exemplary job but a miscommunication between Jenkins and safety Rodney McLeod allowed Bryant to break free for the easy score. Jenkins took Bryant underneath with McLeod supposed to provide the help over the top. Instead, McLeod took the crossing route over the middle but failed to communicate that to Jenkins.
“It was supposed to be passed off, but it was not communicated," Rams coach Jeff Fisher said then. “He can tell the corner that he’s going to take the crossing route. He didn’t.”
Jenkins also took the bait on Bryant's double move, looking to jump underneath as Bryant continued on the post route. Earlier in the game, Jenkins had intercepted Romo and returned it 25 yards for a touchdown, throwing up Bryant's trademark 'X' as celebration in the process.
"As soon as I seen him flip his hips, I knew I had him," Bryant said after the game.
Dallas soon surged ahead and claimed a 34-31 victory in a game that the Rams had there for the taking. But the larger issue on the miscommunication was that it was just one of a number of costly coverage busts that continued to plague the Rams all season. Even after the Rams' defense got it rolling in the second half of the season, the coverage busts continued and left the Rams frustrated time and again.