After a 20-10 defeat to the New York Giants on Sunday, which included another sputtering performance by the Ram offense, quarterback Jim Everett was right on target.
“Right now, we’re horrible,” Everett said.
The Rams (1-2) converted one of 10 third-down opportunities, lost the ball twice on interceptions, including Mark Collins’ 50-yard return for a touchdown, and wasted a superb effort by their defense.
"(The defense) played extremely well, turned the ball over to us and got the sacks,” said Everett, who completed 11 of 28 passes for 135 yards. “But we put them out on the street . . . we didn’t get our job done. If we get that type of effort from our defense, we’ve got to win ballgames.
“I think as an offensive unit we have to take credit for this one. . . . We just didn’t work well as a whole unit the whole day. It was horrible.”
First quarter: Rams go 0-3 in third-down situations, forcing Don Bracken to punt three times into the wind.
Second quarter: Everett had wide receiver Flipper Anderson wide open deep, and although he had the wind to his back, Everett underthrew Anderson, giving Collins enough time to recover and knock the ball down.
Third quarter: Everett’s short pass for running back Tim Lester flicked off Lester’s hands and was intercepted by Collins, who beat Everett to the end zone to give the Giants a 20-3 lead.
Fourth quarter: Running back Jarrod Bunch fumbled, the Rams recovered at the Giants’ 47-yard line with 7:03 to play and one minute later they were forced to punt after retreating five yards in four plays.
“The game plan was there to take advantage of their weaknesses,” said Jackie Slater, Ram offensive tackle. “I don’t understand it . . . we just didn’t get it done.”
The Rams gained 171 yards against the NFL’s fifth-ranked defense, and because of their defense, which sacked Phil Simms five times, they were still in position in the fourth quarter to make a run at the Giants.
“We had so many chances, it was unbelievable,” said Ernie Zampese, Ram offensive coordinator. “I thought we were going to come back and win the game, but we really had nothing going the whole day. I wish I had the answers.”
The Rams’ first-string offense, which scored only one touchdown in four exhibitions and a season-opening loss to Green Bay, appeared to recover in a 27-0 victory over the Steelers. But that might have been a mirage.
“I think we got some things done last week, but the defense was turning the ball over to us in positions where we didn’t have to get a lot done,” said Everett, who was the lowest-rated passer in the league going into Sunday’s game. “I don’t think our offense in the first three games has gotten a lot done. I include the second game with that . . . we still have to pick it up.”
The Rams’ only touchdown came in the fourth quarter, when Anderson took advantage of Giant reserve cornerback Corey Raymond. Raymond, who replaced an injured Phillippi Sparks, not only allowed Anderson to get behind him, but he failed to jump on Anderson inside the five-yard line after Anderson made a diving catch. Anderson regained his feet and dived into the end zone to complete the 51-yard touchdown play with 12:10 to play.
It was the first time this year that Everett and Anderson have hooked up successfully on a deep pass.
“We don’t throw as many (deep passes) in practice . . . even in the games we don’t throw them,” said Anderson, who has caught six passes this season for 97 yards. “Things come with practice. You get your timing down, he’ll get my speed and we’ll hook up more. It’s still early in the season, though. We’ll have a lot of opportunities.”
A Giant game of keep-away, however, limited the Rams’ opportunities. New York’s offense controlled the ball for 43 minutes 29 seconds behind the efficient play of Simms and the running of Rodney Hampton. Simms completed 21 of 27 passes for 217 yards, and Hampton ran a career-high 41 times for 134 yards--the second week in a row he has topped the 100-yard mark.
Hampton, who has carried 70 times in the past two weeks, spent 15 minutes in a tub of ice after the game to soothe his painful body.
“It was cold,” he said, “but I was hot today.”
Hampton opened the scoring for the Giants with a one-yard dive after Simms moved the Giants 60 yards in seven plays on the opening drive.
Simms had the Giants in position to score again in the second quarter at the Rams’ five-yard line, but defensive end Robert Young sacked him for a six-yard loss on second down, and Young’s counterpart on the right side, Fred Stokes, dropped him for a six-yard loss on third down.
David Treadwell kicked a 34-yard field goal for a 10-0 lead.
The Rams tried to respond with a charge midway through the second quarter, but on third and two at the Giants’ 35, running back Jerome Bettis gained one yard.
Center Bern Brostek also was penalized for holding on the play, but instead of pushing the Rams out of field-goal range and giving them another third down, the Giants declined the penalty.
Tony Zendejas came on and kicked a 52-yard field goal--his eighth consecutive success from 50 yards or beyond.
The Giants’ offense returned to the field with 6:14 to play in the second quarter and used every second while adding a 19-yard Treadwell field goal on the final play of the half.
“This was a great win for us,” Coach Dan Reeves said. “They have a lot of weapons offensively, and a good, young, aggressive defense. This win tells us that we have taken a step forward.”
The loss leaves the Rams running in place with a 1-2 start for the fourth year in a row.