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‘Massacre of a Preseason’ Ends, Season Looms

TIMES STAFF WRITER

OK, we interrupt this exciting NFL exhibition season to bring you a news flash on the Rams, a team on the move.

No, they’re not loading the moving vans and headed to Baltimore or St. Louis, at least not yet. But they are headed down another road they have come to know quite well.

To nowhere.

The Rams capped off their second-consecutive 0-4 exhibition season with a 24-6 loss to the San Diego Chargers Thursday night at Jack Murphy Stadium. So with a nine-game exhibition losing streak under their belts, can another 5-11 season be far behind?

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“I’m absolutely certain that you will see a different team next week,” linebacker Shane Conlan said of the Rams’ regular-season opener against the Arizona Cardinals Sept. 4 at Anaheim Stadium.

“Once we do that, everybody will forget about this massacre of a preseason we had.”

Conlan and the rest of the Rams’ first-string defense were searching for explanations after giving up 24 first-half points to a Charger offense led by, drum roll please, quarterbacks Stan Humphries and Gale Gilbert.

Yes, that’s Stan Humphries, ranked 22nd in the league in passing efficiency last season.

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New England, San Diego and the Raiders have scored a combined 58 points on the Rams’ first-string defense in the past five quarters.

Humphries burned the Rams for two first half touchdowns before giving way in the second quarter to Gilbert.

Yes, that’s Gale Gilbert, who hasn’t played in a regular-season game since 1990, when he was a third-stringer with Buffalo. Gilbert polished off a 24-3 halftime lead for the Chargers by hitting tight end Al Pupunu over the middle for a four-yard touchdown.

Pupunu came up with one of the more interesting touchdown celebrations, holding the ball up to his mouth and chugging from it like it was a mug a beer.

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And why not tip a few to the Chargers? After an 0-4 start, they avoided their first winless exhibition season in club history by beating the visitors from up north.

With starting defensive tackle Sean Gilbert and defensive end Gerald Robinson on the sidelines nursing sprained ankles from last week, the Rams got very little heat on Charger quarterbacks, which made for easy pickings once again on the Rams’ starting cornerbacks.

Todd Lyght got beat by Charger wide receiver Mark Seay, a former Long Beach State player, for an eight-yard touchdown in the first quarter. Seay caught the ball at the five and dove over Lyght, who was playing five yards off the receiver.

Steve Israel got beat for a touchdown for the second consecutive game when Shawn Jefferson grabbed a pass from Humphries for a 22-yard score.

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“Sometimes it’s frustrating,” Lyght said of the Rams’ pass rush. “But we can’t get upset about it because we played a lot of young guys on the line tonight.”


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