Business as Usual for Rams : Pro football: Wild passes, ill-timed penalties and poor offense bring 14-6 loss to Packers.
The Rams, flashing midseason form, threw wild passes, were called for penalties that wiped out successful plays and failed to score a touchdown in a 14-6 loss Saturday to the Green Bay Packers at Camp Randall Stadium.
The Rams, who were 5-11 last season after losing all four exhibitions, were unable to overcome the Packers’ first drive in the exhibition opener for both teams.
Quarterback Brett Favre, who never had the chance to respond to the Rams’ off-season offer of $20 million for five years because of the sudden signing of Chris Miller, ran twice for 14 yards and completed all four passes during a 12-play, 69-yard scoring drive.
Running back Edgar Bennett carried the final yard for the touchdown, kicker Chris Jacke adding the decisive extra point with 7:54 remaining in the first quarter.
“I thought the offense operated with a lot of precision for a first game,” Packer Coach Mike Holmgren said. “I would like to start every game that way.”
The Packers have something to look forward to: They play the Rams again in Green Bay on Oct. 9.
“We didn’t win the football game, which is the bad news,” Ram Coach Chuck Knox said, “but the good news is I think we can profit by some of the mistakes we made.”
Some of those blunders included:
--A Leo Goeas holding penalty wiping out a 20-yard pass from Chris Chandler to Nate Lewis.
--A Chandler pass from the Green Bay 11-yard line intended for Chris Brantley at the five, but instead intercepted by safety Tim Hauck.
--A dropped pass by Travis McNeal, leaving the team’s tight ends without a catch in the game.
--A four-for-13 performance on third-down conversions.
--A kickoff coverage team giving up an average return of 28 yards.
--Rookie tackle Wayne Gandy’s inability to deter Sean Jones from joining Reggie White to blast Chandler and force a fumble.
“Getting beat is not a thing that I’m worried about,” Ram offensive line coach Jim Erkenbeck said. “I’m worried about whether he takes the steps to improve himself. If he got beat because he was . . . incompetent or a sportswriter, then I would probably be very discouraged.”
A crowd of 52,149 watched the Packers take on the Rams minus Miller and running back Jerome Bettis. Miller said he will be ready to practice Monday, but he was kept out of the game because of a sore abdominal muscle. The Rams are saving Bettis for games that count.
The Rams also chose not to use Johnny Bailey on kickoff and punt returns, but for a glimpse of what is to come, they included him in their offensive attack and he ran 12 times for 37 yards and caught two passes for 65 yards.
“I think when we put it all together,” Bailey said, “we’re going to have a pretty good football team.”
The Packers’ starting units, however, outscored the Rams, 7-3, and in the battle between reserves, they also prevailed, 7-3.
“The first order of business was to give the young players an opportunity to play without being obstructed by all kinds of intricate formations,” said Chick Harris, the Rams’ new offensive coordinator.
Presumably, the Rams will incorporate plays with touchdown potential in Saturday’s exhibition against the Patriots at Anaheim Stadium.
“I hope we can do that,” Harris said. “We can add some things to make it a little better.”
The Rams, however, will have to be a lot better to scare the opposition. Chandler, who will back up Miller this season, was nine for 18 for 149 yards and failed to get the team into the end zone after twice moving inside the Packers’ 20.
Chandler had the Rams at the Packer eight on third and goal in the second quarter, but his pass for Jessie Hester came closer to hitting a fan in the stands. On the team’s next possession, Chandler had the Rams at the Packer 11, before making Hauck a hero.
“That looked like his only bad play,” said Mike Martz, Ram quarterbacks coach. “I thought Chandler did a lot of good things under pressure, and his decision making was really very good.”
The decision to pass in Hauck’s vicinity with 27 seconds left in the half, however, sabotaged the Rams’ prospects for momentum and a halftime lead.
“It was a play they (coaching staff) used a lot in Seattle with Steve Largent,” Chandler said. “It’s a route, though, you have to work a lot. It’s such a timing-feeling thing between quarterback and receiver. That’s why they make us play so many preseason games.”
Chandler, who fumbled after being hit by Jones and White on the first play of the second quarter, fumbled again near the end of the quarter. Defensive end Matt LaBounty got the ball and ran into the end zone. A penalty for illegal use of hands, however, on cornerback Lenny McGill wiped out the touchdown.
The Rams trailed, 7-3, at the half after a 26-yard Tony Zendejas field goal.
Packer wide receiver Robert Brooks beat Todd Lyght’s coverage to catch a two-yard touchdown pass from Ty Detmer to cap a 78-yard, 12-play drive for a 14-3 lead with 7:38 left in the third quarter.
Zendejas kicked a 29-yard field goal after a Wymon Henderson interception to bring the Rams within a touchdown and two-point conversion of tying the score, but then Jamie Martin was at quarterback in place of Chandler.
Martin, who did not play in any games last season, misfired on his first five passes before finishing six for 17 for 62 yards.
“I thought, given his limited experience,” Knox said, “Martin went in there and did some things.”
While not exactly an overwhelming endorsement, Martin did move the Rams to the Packer 45 with 1:38 to play. But on fourth and one, his pass to Turhon O’Bannon was too high and behind the receiver and fell incomplete.