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Originally published Monday, September 22, 2008 at 12:00 AM

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Danny O'Neil

Another loss leaves Linehan, wretched Rams all wet

The wretched Rams fall hard, leaving coach Scott Linehan and his 0-3 team searching for answers.

Seattle Times NFL reporter

The Rams coaches were all wet after Sunday's game.

This may not come as a great shock to the folks of St. Louis, who've watched the Rams lose 16 of their last 19 games.

But this isn't any sort of comment on coaching acumen. The Rams coaches were sopping wet and without towels in the visitor's locker room at Qwest Field after the game.

"They're in there drip-drying," one of the Rams equipment people said.

It should be clarified that former Mariners general manager Bill Bavasi had nothing to do with the lack of towels. This had nothing to do with promoting accountability. This was just a symbolically appropriate conclusion to a day in which St. Louis couldn't do much of anything right, not even when they tried to wash away the sting of a 37-13 loss to the Seahawks.

Amazingly, that final score counted for progress because 24 points is the closest loss for the Rams this season. The Eagles beat them 38-3 in Week 1, and the Giants routed them 41-13 in Week 2.

So what do the Rams do for an encore? They go out and fall behind 24-3 in the first half and lost a game so lopsided that asking coach Scott Linehan what went wrong was almost a rhetorical question.

"Well, you were probably at the same game I was at," Linehan said. "They were able to pretty much do what they wanted to do in the first half."

The Seahawks wanted to run the ball. Anyone who saw a starting lineup that included two receivers who weren't even employed by the team in Week 1 could see that.

And what did the Seahawks do? They ran the ball. Ran it repeatedly, logging their most carries in any game since 2006. Ran it effectively, gaining more yards on the ground than any game since 2005.

"These big chunks of yardage that teams are getting on us is alarming," Linehan said. "It's not like it's a new thing. It was alarming the first week. It was alarming last week. It's alarming again."

It's time to be alarmed for Linehan. He's one of the truly good guys in the coaching profession. He's from Sunnyside, went to Idaho and he was selling class rings at the time he decided to take a shot at college coaching and began working for next to nothing.

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He's a capable coach. Someone who made the most of an opportunity he got as Jim Lambright's offensive coordinator at Washington in the late 1990s and worked his way to an NFL head-coaching job.

But this gig with the Rams is done. It could end this week. Maybe it will be during the Rams' bye week after playing Buffalo on Sept. 28. At the very latest it will come at the end of this season because this team is absolutely awful.

The Rams went 8-8 his first season and were it not for Seattle's two last-minute field goals against St. Louis, the team would have made the playoffs. The Rams lost 13 games last season and look bad enough to lose even more this season.

St. Louis' most effective play of the first half was the punt that Seahawks' receiver Michael Bumpus failed to catch. The Rams' first three possessions resulted in the same number of turnovers as first downs with one apiece, but when Bumpus failed to catch a punt that sailed over his head, the Rams recovered the ball at the Seattle 23. The Rams ran three plays, lost 2 yards and then kicked the field goal. They moved backward even on their first scoring possession.

The Rams didn't do anything well Sunday except kick the ball. The field goals came out OK, but they better, given all the money St. Louis ponied up to sign Josh Brown.

St. Louis has been outscored 38-0 in the first quarter and Sunday's game marked the first time this season they've run a play that began inside the opponent's 20. But that's not really progress. Not for a team that is now alone in last place in the NFC West. So at this point, do you just acknowledge that this is the reality of this season?

"No," Linehan said. "I acknowledge that it is pretty bad. The way it's going to be? No. We're going to be ready to play next week's game. And it's got to be a heck of a lot better than the first three."

The Rams returned to Missouri in a state of abject misery. Let's hope their coaches found some towels before they headed out of town.

Danny O'Neil: 206-464-2364 or doneil@seattletimes.com

Copyright © 2008 The Seattle Times Company

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About Danny O'Neil
Danny O'Neil will comment on issues, events and personalities in the NFL. His column will appear on Sundays during the regular season. He also posts most days on the Seahawks Blog.
doneil@seattletimes.com | 206-464-2364

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