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So Far, Rams Have the Stuff of Which Dreams Are Made

Have you seen the new fancy-schmancy Ram commercial where the team has somehow advanced to the Super Bowl in Miami? There’s something about Jim Everett throwing a touchdown pass and the swarming Ram defense and Charles White running for a score (So it needs some editing work--big deal). Anyway, at the end of the clever spot (that’s advertising talk), the picture fades to black and then you see a Ram helmet. The message: Live the Dream.

I laughed the first time I saw it. The Rams in the Super Bowl? Who are they going to play--the Tampa Bay Buccaneers? Is Commissioner Al Davis going to throw out the first football?

This was a hallucination, all right, a fantasy all wrapped in one slick commercial package. The only way these Rams were going to see this season’s Super Bowl at Joe Robbie Stadium was by flicking on their RCAs. Live the dream . . . who were they trying to kid?

Well, that was three Ram victories ago and all of the sudden that dream stuff might have a little reality mixed in. Don’t get me wrong: No one is checking out air fares to Miami yet, but at least the thought is there.

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A brief season recap:

First, the Rams dispose of the Green Bay Packers, 34-7, at Green Bay. Fine. Wonderful. Except that these are the Packers we’re talking about. Mission Viejo High School could beat the Packers.

Next, the Rams beat an improved Detroit Lion team, 17-10, in Anaheim Stadium. Only 17-10, you say?

Then the Rams go on the road (actually, up the road) to the Coliseum, where they defeat the Raiders more than that 22-17 score reveals. Ram defensive end Gary Jeter becomes close and personal friends with Raider quarterback Steve Beuerlein that day, enough so that Jeter invites his buddies Kevin Greene and Mel Owens into the Raider backfield to meet his new sack pal. Tailback Greg Bell adds another 100-yard day to his blossoming Ram resume. Henry Ellard catches 5 passes. Rookie Aaron Cox has 1 reception, but it is for a touchdown--the first of his official National Football League career.

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Did I hear someone humming, “Moon Over Miami?”

I didn’t think so.

The Rams may be one of only 3 undefeated teams in the NFL, but it’s early. And nothing against the Rams’ play so far, but the Packers, Lions and Raiders aren’t exactly the modern version of Murderers’ Row.

“I thought we could win all 3 games,” Coach John Robinson said. “We certainly haven’t been underdogs on any of them.”

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Now comes this week’s opponent--the New York Giants and in the Meadowlands, too. For the first time this season, a test with some meaning.

The Giants are a little like the Rams: They struggled mightily last year, but appear to be slowly regaining their strength this season. The difference, though, is quality of opponent. While the Rams have been treated kindly by league schedule makers, the Giants have had to beat the defending NFL champion Washington Redskins and the Dallas Cowboys--in Irving. A last-second loss to the San Francisco 49ers is the only blemish on the Giants’ 1988 record.

“We’re not playing dominating football, but we are not being dominated,” Coach Bill Parcells told reporters this week.

Maybe the same goes for the Rams. They’re winning, but even Robinson admitted that the offense has yet to take a ride on Air Zampese. For the most part, the Rams are seeing the field by way of handoffs, not passes.

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“We’re not very dynamic right now on offense,” he said.

Expect that to change. Expect more long passes to Cox or Ellard or Flipper Anderson. Expect more strange and exotic uses of tight ends Pete Holohan and Damone Johnson, who account for nearly half of all Ram pass completions. Expect (but don’t hold your breath) the true unveiling of Gaston Green’s talents.

And if all goes as Robinson plans? Then maybe that Ram commercial doesn’t look so far-fetched, after all.

With linebacker Lawrence Taylor out indefinitely because of recurring drug problems, the Giants think they might have found an able replacement in former Indianapolis Colt first-round pick Johnie Cooks, whom the Giants acquired from the waiver wire. Cooks played well enough against the Cowboys this past Sunday to earn special praise from Parcells.

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“He did quite a bit,” Parcells said. “We need a strong player at the point of attack. He gave it to us. It was a good pickup.”

By the way, Taylor is undergoing counseling on an outpatient basis and is spending a lot of time on the golf course. No one is quite sure how the counseling is going, but word has it he can really hit those pitch-and-run shots now.

And for those who have Giant wide receiver Lionel Manuel in their fantasy leagues, now might be a good time to bench him. Despite his 9 receptions and 1 touchdown against the Cowboys, Parcells said he wants to get other receivers, especially Mark Ingram, involved in the passing game.

Pity the poor Seattle Seahawks this week. Not only have they lost quarterback Dave Krieg to a cheap shot by Charger Lee Williams that resulted in a dislocated shoulder (out for 4-6 weeks), but they must play the 49ers, those Ram archrivals. These are the same 49ers who are just now wiping the egg off their faces from a 34-17 loss to the Atlanta Falcons Sunday.

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“All in all, it was a severe loss to us,” 49ers Coach Bill Walsh told reporters. “I can’t think of anything positive about our part of the game.”

Said linebacker Riki Ellison: “It’s just a damn shame we weren’t hungry this week.”

Well, feast on this: the Seahawks . . . without Krieg.

The 49ers have their share of problems, mind you. Joe Montana played poorly, which breathed new life into the Steve Young-for-quarterback controversy. And the 49er defense did allow those 34 points. But help is on the way. Free safety Ronnie Lott and cornerback Eric Wright (both bothered by hamstring pulls) are expected to return to the lineup for the first time since Sept. 4.

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Frankly, I’m pulling for the 49ers and the Rams to win as many as they can. That makes that Oct. 16 matchup all the more interesting.


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