Grading the Game: Rams

The Vikings came out flat and throwing ill-advised passes, and everything seemed to snowball from there. That left the report card full of average to failing grades.

PASSING OFFENSE: D — Rookie QB Tarvaris Jackson had an interception returned 38 yards for a touchdown by Rams CB Ron Bartell on the third play from scrimmage, setting the tempo for the day. Jackson passed for 213 yards and completed 20 of 34 attempts in his second start of the season, but 77 of those yards came in the fourth quarter when the Rams had control of the game. Jackson was sacked four times and was intercepted again by Bartell before the game was finished.

RUSHING OFFENSE: C-minus — For the first time this season, RB Chester Taylor did not lead the Vikings in rushing in a game he played. Jackson took that honor, running for 34 yards and a touchdown. Taylor also had a touchdown but gained only 29 yards on 13 carries. There was no question that the bruised ribs Taylor suffered in early December at Chicago — not to mention general wear and tear — limited him late in the season. He ran for only 116 yards in the final three games; he still finished with 1,214 yards rushing on 304 carries this season.

PASS DEFENSE: D — Rams QB Marc Bulger threw for 248 yards, and St. Louis seemed to be able to get key first downs through the air when it needed them. Granted, Bulger only passed for one touchdown, but his yardage total left the Vikings tied with the Bengals for last in the league in pass defense this season (238.6 yards per game). Far too often, the Vikings could not get key stops, and that was the case again Sunday.

RUSH DEFENSE: C-minus — Here's the big surprise. The Vikings entered Sunday ranked No. 1 in the NFL in this category and needed to hold St. Louis to under 153 yards to set the league's modern-day mark for rushing yards allowed. RB Steven Jackson nearly exceeded the figure by himself, going for 142 yards, and the Rams ran for 168 yards. The Vikings had held their previous 13 opponents to fewer than 100 yards rushing as a team, and they had gone 27 games without allowing an individual 100-yard rusher, dating to the fourth game of the 2005 campaign. As a result, the 2000 Ravens will keep the modern-day record with 970 yards given up in a season.

SPECIAL TEAMS: B — This unit had little impact, although Bethel Johnson did have 225 yards on eight kick returns. That was the second-most in a single game in Vikings history. Chris Kluwe averaged 45.2 gross yards and 41.0 net on six punts.

COACHING: F — Brad Childress quite simply did not have his team ready to play in the season finale. Yes, the Vikings were out of the playoffs, but that was no excuse for an underachieving team that should have had veterans and rookies alike giving their all in an attempt to audition for 2007. In some ways the Vikings' performance was a fitting conclusion to Childress' first season.

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