When describing the Rams' 23-16 loss to the Patriots on Sunday, missed opportunities would be in the headline. But, considering where this team was after four games, just the fact the Rams put themselves in position for those opportunities is a plus.
Still, coach Jim Haslett knows it's a game St. Louis could have won. And after preaching about responding to adversity for four weeks, now he will see how his team responds to a loss.
Said Haslett, when asked about the mind-set of the team after the loss, "You guys were in the locker room. They were disappointed. They felt that we could go up there and win this game. We didn't do it, and that will be another challenge ahead. Come back Wednesday, get your head on straight, get ready to go to work and let's load up and see what happens again. We're not going to win them all. We know that. Not too many do in this league. New England did last year, that's why they are such a good football team, but we're not there yet.
"This will be a good challenge. Guys will come back Wednesday ready to go, and we'll compete against this team. The good thing is it's at home, and that's the most exciting thing. You get to play at home in front of our crowd, and obviously we're going to need everybody there, and I think they'll help us win this game."
The Rams, who host Arizona on Sunday, are two games behind the Cardinals in the NFC West. As quarterback Marc Bulger said, "We have Arizona twice, San Francisco twice, Seattle once again at home. So as far as our division is concerned, if we take care of business, we can get to where we need to get. We're not there yet because we dug ourselves into a pretty deep hole with that 0-4 start. But we know we can get there now."
Despite the loss Sunday and the missed opportunities, the Rams quickly have become an extension of their head coach's personality. On the first possession of the game, Haslett went for a first down on fourth-and-1. There was an onside kick to start the second half.
Then, after the seven-point loss, Haslett said he would have gone for a two-point conversion to win the game had the team scored a touchdown.
He said, "You come up here and play this team on the road, you've got to try to do whatever you can to win. ... You've got the ball in your hand, why not just win it right there? Why put it on the flip of a coin?"
When told what Haslett revealed, Bulger said, "I didn't know that he said that. But I tell you what, when we were driving the ball at the end, I was starting to think about that, too. I don't think I would have thought that before. But hey, with 'Has,' I think we can assume we would (go for two). I think we all believe we would."
Said tackle Adam Goldberg, "You know what that says to players when a coach does that sort of stuff? It says he's in it to win. It says he's going all-out, so that's what we do, too."
Asked what he wants to accomplish in the final nine games, Haslett smiled and said, "I'd like to win them all. Everybody tries to diagnose the schedule. I think you kind of split the schedule into weeks of four, because you don't know who you're playing and when they're going to get hot and when they are not going to be hot, who's healthy and who's not healthy. I think that all plays into it. The team we're playing this week, that's why I like to look at it one week at a time. The team we're playing this week is a good football team. They have a lot of wins, they are playing well. They are racking up yards and points on offense, have a lot of talent on defense and have a big-time kicker.
"We have our work cut out for us. The good thing is that it's a division game at home. Obviously, we are going to need our crowd, if we can take advantage of that, because they've had some struggles on the road. I'm excited about playing the game. I'm disappointed we lost (Sunday). I thought we played well enough that we could have won the game. We didn't do well enough in the fourth quarter to the win the game, but I'm excited about the opportunity to play this team. I think our players will be ready to play."