Rams 14 - Raiders 16: A Tale of Two Black Holes
Campbell was benched in favor of journeyman (and Jersey Shore stand-in) Bruce Gradkowski after an evenly matched first half yesterday, and the quick hook by Raiders coach Tom Cable was met with roaring approval by the fans in the Black Hole at the Oakland Coliseum, where Halloween comes early every NFL season.
But while the costumed Raiders fans chanting "Bruuuuucccceeeee!" were given an early season treat in the form of a plucky new QB, the afternoon was (yet again) a house of horrors for the Rams.
Let us count the ways the Rams lost yesterday:
- Penalties: Eight for 92 yards, including three personal fouls on the defense in the second half. The killer was a roughing-the-passer on Fred Robbins late in the fourth quarter to extend an Oakland drive. (Though, to be fair, Gradkowski's acting as he went to the ground after Robbins' shove might have earned him an Emmy nomination.)
- Defense: The Rams D made Gradkowski look like the second coming of Ron Jaworski. Fox's Howie Long (former Oakland great and father of the Rams' Chris Long) quipped of the backup, "You gotta make sure you have a good spare tire!" and he wasn't joking about the figurative spare tire around Big G's midsection. Cornerback Ron Bartell dropped (yet another) easy interception and was responsible for one of those personal fouls. Oakland running back Darren McFadden looked like the second coming of Bo Jackson (and Bo knows the Rams D-line sucks.)
- Offense (or lack thereof): But only in the second half. Sam Bradford looked solid again despite holding onto the ball too long too often and taking sacks. Mark Clayton caught two touchdown passes. Steven Jackson looked unstoppable in the first half, catching screen passes and bowling people over...and then disappeared after halftime. Jackson had just eight yards on five carries in the second half.
So yeah, long story short, there was a black hole (defined by Wikipedia as "a region of space from which nothing, not even light, can escape") on the Rams sideline as well is in the Oakland stands. The Rams are 0-2 heading into next week's home game against a rejuvenated-looking Washington Redskins team (an improvement that comes in large part because that same Jason Campbell was replaced by Donovon McNabb.)