It might have been the first loss with Jim Haslett as head coach, but the Rams' 23-16 loss at New England Sunday was one where, to a man, the team knew they had opportunities to win and are now in a different place mentally than they were four weeks ago when 25-point losses were the norm.
For a while, the Rams were just concerned with keeping games close. Now, they expect to win and are disappointed when they don't.
Said rookie defensive end Chris Long, who had two sacks in the game, "For us to come in here and play a tough ball game, you can take some consolation. But we wanted to win the game. It's disappointing, but we lost to a good team. These guys in the locker room had a lot of good energy and we will be back next week to play hard."
Added linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa, "This is a great team we played, and we knew we had to play perfect, and we didn't play perfect. We were still in it to the end so that attitude's not going to change throughout the year."
Despite having a 2-5 record, the Rams are tied with Seattle for second place in the NFC West, still just two games behind first-place Arizona. The Cardinals come to St. Louis Sunday, which will be the first of five remaining division games for the Rams on the schedule. A victory would move the Rams to within one game of Arizona.
Said Haslett, "You still have to play that team twice. We still have to play Seattle and San Francisco twice. So, this loss wasn't pleasant, but everything you've got is still ahead of you."
What disappointed Haslett and had players shaking their heads were two trips to the red zone inside the 10-yard line that netted only field goals, plus a recovered onside kick, two interceptions and a fourth-and-1 stop that led to just six points.
Asked if anything is gained by the loss, Haslett said, "Guys fought hard. They played hard. They did everything we like. We have to cut out the penalties and we have to somehow get field position back.
"(But) there is a lot of good that happened in this game."
They Said It:
"He just couldn't go. Every time he planted and tried to cut on it, it grabbed. So, we thought for him and what is best for this team was not to let him go." -- Coach Jim Haslett, on the decision to have running back Steven Jackson inactive for the game against the Patriots because of a quadriceps injury.
With Jackson out, Antonio Pittman returned after missing three games because of a leg injury and rushed for 83 yards on 19 attempts. However, on two carries on first down in the red zone, Pittman was stopped for no gain and a loss of two yards. Jackson's presence could have made a difference on those two red-zone trips that resulted in field goals.
--RB Steven Jackson was inactive for the game against the Patriots, the result of a quadriceps injury suffered late in the previous week's win over Dallas. Jackson practiced on a limited basis for just one day (Friday) before the game, and struggled in pregame warm-ups.
--DT Adam Carriker, who suffered an ankle injury against Dallas, did not make the trip to New England after practicing on a limited basis just one day (Friday) in the week before the game.
--RB Antonio Pittman returned from a leg injury that sidelined him for three games and started in place of Steven Jackson, who was out because of a quadriceps injury. Pittman ran well, and gained 83 rushing yards on 19 carries and added 22 yards on three receptions.
--DE Leonard Little left the game in the second half with an injury to his right hamstring and did not return. It was the same hamstring Little injured in the season opener that caused him to miss the next two games. Afterward, Little said he believes he will be able to play next Sunday against Arizona. He was to have an MRI Monday.
--FS Oshiomogho Atogwe had his third interception of the season against the Patriots, and now has 11 interceptions in his last 15 games.