It's a stinging loss for Bradford

2011-01-03T00:20:00Z 2011-04-29T13:13:34Z It's a stinging loss for BradfordBY BILL COATS • bcoats@post-dispatch.com > 314-340-8189 stltoday.com

SEATTLE • Just like that, Rams quarterback Sam Bradford's celebrated rookie season was over.

It was snuffed on a night of acute frustration for the No. 1 overall draft choice out of Oklahoma, as the Rams failed to mount any kind of sustained attack against Seattle's defense, which ranked 30th in the 32-team NFL at kickoff.

Asked how bitter was Sunday's 16-6 loss, which deprived the Rams of the NFC West title and a spot in the playoffs, Bradford replied, "I don't even know if I can tell you right now."

"The fact that our defense played great tonight, and the fact that we let the team down and we couldn't get anything going, that's what really hurts," he added.

Bradford hit on 19 of 36 passes, a 52.7 percent completion rate; he was at 60.5 percent coming into the game. He threw for 155 yards, his lowest total of the season. Bradford's passer rating was 52.4, his second-worst of the year. He also tossed a fourth-quarter interception in Seahawks territory.

Of course, Bradford wasn't solely culpable. Several passes were dropped, and the Rams mustered only 47 yards on the ground. They finished with just 184 yards of total offense, their least productive outing of the season.

"I think one of the reasons is, we never got in a rhythm. We never came close to getting in a rhythm," Bradford said. "We put together one drive early in the game, and then after that it seemed like it was three-and-out or we might make one decent play ... it was just tough to find any rhythm."

Trailing 7-0, the Rams marched from their 3-yard line to the Seattle 14 early in the second period. Bradford completed five of five passes for 53 yards before the drive stalled and Josh Brown booted a 32-yard field goal.

The next three Rams possessions ended with Donnie Jones punts, failing a couple of times in third-and-1 situations. "Third and short is an area that we've been very good at all year. And to not convert on two third and ones, I think that hurt us," Bradford said. "We've got to be much more efficient on third down."

The Rams closed to 7-6 midway through the second period, although they were forced to settle for a 27-yard field goal by Brown after recovering a fumble at the Seahawks' 21-yard line.

And that was it.

The Rams turned back Seattle 20-3 on Oct. 3 at the Edward Jones Dome, and Bradford said the Seahawks didn't throw any new wrinkles at them this time.

"Not really. I think it was on us executing, and that was something we just didn't do tonight," he said. "We've just got to be better as an offense."

In an effort to create some rhythm, you "go to what you do best," Bradford said. "Get some easy completions, get some first downs, whatever you have to do. Whatever your best runs plays are, go to those. You've just got to get a couple of first downs and keep yourself on the field."

Try as they might, the Rams couldn't get that done.

The Seahawks blew up several pass plays by batting away Bradford's passes before they got much past the line of scrimmage.

"A couple of times they did get through and get their hands up; credit their defensive linemen," he said. "It's really frustrating when things like that happen, but I've got to find a way to find a throwing lane and make sure it doesn't happen."

Struggling so mightily to generate offense in the 16th game of the season was "very surprising," Bradford conceded. "We were just out of sync," running back Steven Jackson said.

Bradford's season ended with his completing 60 percent of his passes (354 of 590) for 3,512 yards and 18 touchdowns, with 15 interceptions.

It ranks as one of the most productive rookie seasons by a quarterback in league annals. "He's going to be a quarterback that leads this organization and this team for a long time," Jackson said. "I think he's a very bright spot."

Still, it hardly helped reduce the sting of a wrenching defeat that cost the Rams their first home playoff game in seven years.

"To get this far and have an opportunity to make the playoffs, and to come up short ... to come in here and only score six points ..." Bradford said. "That's just not the way you want to end the year."


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