Rams bemoan their fumbling ways

The Rams were minus-3 in turnover ratio against the Vikings, but their fumbles near the end zone were nothing new and they know it.

After five games, the Rams are minus-7 in turnover ratio, a statistic fashioned by committing 12 turnovers. Of those 12 lost balls, nine have been fumbles. And everyone has been a culprit.

Wide receiver Donnie Avery fumbled at the Washington 5-yard line in the fourth quarter of Week 2 as the offense was driving to a potential go-ahead score.

Against San Francisco, a punt that bounced off the foot of cornerback Quincy Butler was recovered in the end zone for a touchdown. Wide receiver Danny Amendola never gained control of the ball on an end-around in that game, and the fumble was also returned for a touchdown.

On Sunday against Minnesota, quarterback Kyle Boller had the ball fall out of his hand while attempting to pass, and the fumble was returned 52 yards for a touchdown. What followed was a parade of miscues in the red zone.

Running back Steven Jackson never gained possession of a handoff on a play that began at the Vikings 1-yard line. Tight end Daniel Fells lost a fumble inside the 5-yard line. Boller was intercepted in the end zone on a play that started at the 9-yard line.

That's three turnovers inside the opponent's 5-yard line.

Said guard Jacob Bell, "I don't know if I've ever seen that before."

Added center Jason Brown, "It just comes down to execution. When we get down there, we've got to focus and finish. I know it hurts more than anybody else to see our offense drive the ball the full length of the field and get right there. That's something we're going to correct, we have to correct."

Said Jackson, "My turnover at the goal line definitely hurt the team and our momentum. After that I think we just snowballed downwards. We were able to move the ball as an offense, but in the National Football League, it's really hard to overcome turnovers, especially when you're facing a team like the Minnesota Vikings."

Boller's fumble came on a play that began at the Minnesota 35-yard line and gave the Vikings a 14-0 lead. Had Jackson scored, the Rams would have cut the Minnesota lead to 14-7 in the second quarter. Fells' fumble occurred with the score 17-3 late in the first half.

At halftime, the Rams had outgained Minnesota 207-157; had more first downs, 14-9; more time of possession, 17:38-12:22; and more plays, 38-25. Yet, they trailed by two touchdowns. For the game, the Rams outgained Minnesota 400-377, had more first downs, 27-21; more time of possession, 32:39 to 27:21; and more plays, 70-53.

Said guard Richie Incognito, "We went out there with a feeling today that we can overcome anything. We've overcome a lot of penalties, a lot of turnovers in the past, and I think speaking for myself, the offensive line, and the offensive unit, we just came out like we can overcome anything. Line it up, call it up, and let's run it. We really did ride the emotional roller coaster through the day with the ups and downs of turnovers. We just kept chopping wood and kept moving the ball, and we get down there in the red zone, and another critical error."

Concluded defensive end Leonard Little, "It's just amazing our luck now. We don't seem to get any breaks. You're supposed to make your own breaks, but this is a hard-working team. We work hard every week in practice, and we're just not putting it together on Sunday."

NOTES

  • WR Donnie Avery apologized to his teammates Monday for the dance he did after scoring a touchdown with 6:45 remaining in the game. The score cut Minnesota's lead at the time to 31-10.

    Said Avery, "I was wrong. But I got excited after our failures in the red zone. I knew there was time on the clock, and I really thought we had a chance to come back in the game."

    Asked about Avery's actions, coach Steve Spagnuolo said, "I addressed that today with the team." Pressed further, Spagnuolo said, "I wasn't real fond of it."

    Avery said Spagnuolo's comments were in general and he talked about not celebrating when the team is far behind in a game.

    "He stressed it's about the team," Avery said.

  • Rookie MLB James Laurinaitis grew up as a Vikings fan, which made his first career interception even more meaningful. In addition, the pick came off QB Brett Favre.

    Asked about that, Laurinaitis said, "It's pretty cool; I'd be lying if I didn't say it was.

    He then added, "To be honest with you, I'd put that ball on the ground to get a win. I'd give up any individual achievements to get a win for our team."

    Commenting on the overall play of the defense, Laurinaitis said, "That's a good football team over there. They have a lot of weapons. You watch more film and you see really how explosive they are. But we had a game plan. I think we did some things well today, but there's always the big plays we got to eliminate and get some more turnovers maybe. That's a good football team, so you got to give credit when credit's due."


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