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Rams' loss in Chicago reminiscent 2011 offensive woes

Monday, September 24, 2012 | 9:10 p.m. CDT; updated 11:12 p.m. CDT, Monday, September 24, 2012
Rams quarterback Sam Bradford is sacked by Bears linebacker Nick Roach in the second half of Sunday's game in Chicago. The Bears won 23-6.

ST. LOUIS — Sam Bradford absorbed six sacks and Steven Jackson rushed for just 29 yards. The St. Louis offense, so potent the first two weeks, found no holes in Week 3.

The 23-6 loss at Chicago was an uncomfortable flashback to 2011, when the Rams were at the bottom of the NFL with a 12-point scoring average.

But there's absolutely no scent of dissension from a defense that contained the Bears, holding them to 16 points and 274 yards.

"No, it's nothing like that," safety Quintin Mikell said Monday, mentioning a handful of missed big-play opportunities. "I don't even want to talk about last year. That's over and down with. Right now we're looking to the future, and we're excited."

The Rams (1-2) were largely betrayed by a patchwork line minus the projected starter at the beginning of training camp at three spots. Wide receivers who struggled to get open shared the blame, along with Bradford for waiting too long with the ball on some of the sacks.

Mistakes on defense and special teams also hurt, keeping Bears drives alive for a 10-0 lead in the second quarter.

Mario Haggan was whistled for roughing the kicker after hitting punter Adam Podlesh well after the ball was gone, leading to a field goal. A personal foul on safety Darian Stewart for a helmet-to-helmet hit on quarterback Jay Cutler led to a 3-yard scoring run by Michael Bush late in the second quarter.

The positive news heading into Week 4 against Seattle centers on a defense that held Chicago to 16 points. Tackle Michael Brockers, the Rams' first-round pick, could return to practice this week after missing the first three games with a high right ankle sprain.

"He had a good workout prior to the game, so we'll keep you abreast of that," coach Jeff Fisher said. "It will be great to get him back."

Jackson could be healthier for the Seahawks, too, after telling reporters following the Bears loss that he did not aggravate a groin injury that sidelined him most of the final three quarters against Washington. Fisher said Jackson "was good enough to play," against the Bears.

"I came out of this clean," Jackson said. "I just wish I could have been more productive and help my team win."

There's no immediate help on the way for the offensive line, with center Scott Wells (broken foot) out until Week 9 and tackle Rodger Saffold (knee) out at least the next several weeks.

At his media briefing, Fisher said the line was "just outmatched up front" much of the game against the Bears.

"We're going to have another week to work together and we'll continue to do the same things that we've been doing with these guys," Fisher said. "You coach them up. You put them in position where you think they can be successful and then you've got to adjust."

The Rams mustered just 160 yards and 12 first downs, going just 3 for 13 on third down, which left rookie kicker Greg Zuerlein as the undisputed standout on offense. Zuerlein is perfect in eight attempts this season after hitting from 56 and 46 yards.

The 56-yarder is second longest in franchise history, 1 yard shy of the record held by Jeff Wilkins.

Protection for Bradford was sketchy throughout, although the quarterback isn't totally blameless. It appeared he held the ball too long on at least a couple of the sacks.

"There's always those things, but you don't lay blame on anybody," Fisher said. "Sam's trying to make a play, you know, waiting for somebody to clear, trying to take an opportunity to buy an extra split second to make a play."

On third down, Bradford was 3 for 6 for just 23 yards and sacked four times for 37 yards in losses.

"I think the Bears did a good job of scheming us. The defense they play, they keep the ball in front of them and make you execute," Jackson said. "And every now and then they made us make a mistake, and when you get into second- and third-and-long, that stalls your drive."


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