The Rams haven’t traveled to New York to face the Giants since September 19th, 2011. Rams Talk writer Steve Rebeiro was at that game. This is his memoir.
Growing up in Connecticut, it was hard for me to see the Rams in person. My first opportunity to do so came in Week 2 of the 2011 season. The Rams traveled to East Ruthorford, New Jersey to take on the New York Giants in primetime.
Yes, the NFL featured the game on Monday Night Football! The Rams entered the year coming off their best season since 2006. Led by 2010 Offensive Rookie of the Year Sam Bradford, the Rams finished 7-9 and missed the playoffs after suffering a heartbreaking loss to the Seattle Seahawks in the final game of the regular season.
The Rams began the 2011 season as the favorites to win the NFC West. They were an up-and-coming team with a coach and quarterback ready to take this team to the next level. Unfortunately, the Rams suffered a devastating 31-13 loss in the opening game to a very good Philadelphia Eagles team. To make matters worse, several Rams starters went down with injury, including starting running back Steven Jackson. They still had to prove against the Giants that the loss wasn’t as horrible as it looked. Instead, it was just that the Eagles were really good.
Early first quarter action
The Rams came out swinging. Safety Quintin Mikell intercepted Eli Manning on the first drive of the game. Bradford completed a 68-yard pass to wide receiver Danario Alexander, who went down at the 1-yard line. The Rams failed to capitalize and settled for a field goal. After a few more drives, the Rams ended the quarter down 10-6.
The next score of the game would be the play that I believe ended the Rams season. To understand this play, I must give some context to anyone who doesn’t remember this season.
The Steven Jackson-era Rams had one glaring problem after Marshall Faulk retired: they never found a solid backup for Jackson. He took a beating every game as the Rams’ featured running back, and there was never anyone dependable enough to spell him. Enter Carnell “Cadillac” Williams. The Rams signed the 2005 Offensive Rookie of the Year to backup their star player. Williams wasn’t the same player he was in 2005, but he was still expected to be a reliable second stringer at the very least. The Rams finally had their backup running back – or so they thought.
It was 3rd-and-2 with 9:24 left to go in the second quarter. Williams lined up at receiver. Sam Bradford stepped back and threw a screen pass to Williams. He dropped it.
For anyone who hasn’t played football before: if you drop a screen pass, there is a high possibility that the play would be considered a fumble. This is because many wide receiver screen passes require the quarterback to throw the ball backwards, especially when the play isn’t out of the shotgun. This play was not out of the shotgun.
Apparently Cadillac did not know this, because I will never erase the image from my head of him staring at the football as Michael Boley picked it up and ran 75 yards for a touchdown.
The funny thing is that anyone who just looks at the box score of this play won’t even know it was Cadillac’s fault. Since the play was technically a fumble, and Williams never gained possession of the ball, Bradford is credited for the fumble. History forgot Williams’s performance that night. But I never will.
To be honest, I don’t remember much else from the game. The Rams lost 28-16. They went on to lose their next four games and finished the season 2-14. Meanwhile, the Giants won the Super Bowl.
Then and now
I knew the season was over when when Boley took that fumble into the endzone. The Rams felt different entering the season; they didn’t feel different after that play. They smelled like the same old sorry ass Rams I’d grown to know and love over the past few years. The loss continued the era of the SOSAR Rams up until this year.
I’ll be back in the Meadowlands on Sunday to watch the Rams redeem themselves for the sins of Cadillac Williams. Let’s hope the Rams are past losing in these kind of trap games.