The Rams knew they had to score points Sunday to hang with the explosive Saints. They knew they had to come out of their offensive shell to have any chance to hang with New Orleans.
And they did.
The Rams rallied from 7-0 and 14-7 deficits to tie the game 14-14 at the half. Then they rallied from a 28-17 fourth quarter deficit, scoring one touchdown and bidding for a second before finally running out of time.
The moribund Rams offense outscored the Saints offense 23-21.The Rams outgained New Orleans, too, 434-420.
But the difference in the Rams 28-23 loss came on special teams. Saints return specialist Courtney Roby opened the second half with a 97-yard TD return and try as they might, the Rams could never quite overcome that big play.
They had the ball at the end with a chance to win the game, but their final drive made only halting progress down the field.
The only thing that matters in this league is results, Rams coach Steve Spagnuolo said. Im having trouble with the result.
But there was progress.
Here were the signs of that:
Running back Steven Jackson bowled through the Saints as a rusher and a receiver. He rushed for 131 yards and a touchdown and caught nine passes for 45 more yards.
Quarterback Marc Bulger threw the ball downfield for a change. He connected on a 29-yard and 19-yard touchdown passes to Donnie Avery and spread the ball around to most of his targets, throwing for 298 yards.
Receiver Brandon Gibson caught seven passes for 93 yards, demonstrating why the Rams traded linebacker Will Witherspoon to the Eagles to get him and a draft pick.
On the defensive side, safety O.J. Atogwe picked off a pass and forced a goal line fumble that saved the Rams six points. Fellow safety James Butler also had an interception.
Considering that all this happened against one of the NFLs powerhouse teams, it certainly looked like the Rams were getting better.
Does Spags agree?
Based on what happened out there today, Id say yeah, he said.