While most everyone wants to hear Rams coach Jeff Fisher and his players talk about the playoffs, mum's the word when it comes to any such discussion.
The Rams' 15-12 victory over Buffalo Sunday evened their record at 6-6-1, while providing a third straight win for the first time since the 2006 season and it was also the team's second consecutive win on the road.
It's understood that any hope of qualifying for the post-season is dependent on the Rams finishing with three straight wins, and that will be a significant challenge first with a home game this week against the Minnesota Vikings and two road games to follow at Tampa Bay and Seattle.
And while it's only human nature for the team to consider its playoff possibilities, Fisher has kept them focused all season on the cliches of constantly improving and concentrating on one game at a time.
"We will focus on our next opponent, our next game, period," Fisher said when asked about the playoffs. "Right now, we are just playing hard and trying to find a way to win."
Quarterback Sam Bradford, who engineered the game-winning 86-yard drive against the Bills, also refused to be drawn into a playoff discussion.
Said Bradford, "We are at .500 right now, obviously that wasn't our goal at the beginning of the year, we want to be above .500, we're taking it one game at a time, we've got a good Minnesota team coming to our place next week, and we are looking forward to that challenge."
When it was mentioned that the team is in "the playoff hunt." Bradford said, "Like I said, we are going to take it one game at a time, we got Minnesota this week, and look to make it four in a row."
The Rams were able to make it three in a row with a run defense that limited running backs C.J. Spiller and Fred Jackson to 51 yards on 16 attempts, and an offense that sputtered most of the day, but was able to score two second-half touchdowns, including the game-winner with 48 seconds to play.
Bradford completed five passes on the final drive for 68 yards, including the game-winning 13-yard scoring play to wide receiver Brandon Gibson. He then hit receiver Chris Givens for a two-point conversion.
"Sam's a clutch guy," Fisher said. "He never panicked, and he had help; he had guys that made some tough catches. Sam's not a guy who gets flustered. He understands what's going on, he has respect for the defense, respect for their cover ability. We even talked about it last night, there's gonna be some balls knocked down, there's gonna be times where we get off the field on third down without converting, but if we just hang in there, someone needs to make a play, and he did."
Tale of two halves: The Rams had 71 yards on 26 plays in the first half, Bradford was 5-for-13 for 37 yards with a passer rating of 14.6 and Gibson had one reception for 10 yards. In the second half, they had 214 yards on 41 plays, Bradford was 14-for-26 for 172 yards and Gibson had five catches for 90 yards.
Meanwhile, in their three-game winning streak, the Rams have allowed 17, 13 and 12 points.
What will it take? Because of the Rams’ tie against the 49ers, tiebreakers won’t be in play for any potential post-season berth unless the Rams end up tied with San Francisco.
Currently, aside from the division leaders, Seattle and Chicago are 8-5, followed by Dallas, Washington and Minnesota at 7-6. If any two of those teams win 10 games, the Rams are eliminated because the best they can be is 9-6-1. Dallas and Washington play each other on the final day of the season, so one of those teams will have seven losses.
If the Rams win out:
*Minnesota would be eliminated because next week would be their seventh loss.
*Seattle would be eliminated if they lose to Buffalo in Toronto next week or San Francisco. Of course, the Seahawks are 6-0 at home, and the games against the 49ers and Rams are at home.
*Dallas has games at home against Pittsburgh and New Orleans, plus the season finale at Washington.
*The Redskins are at Cleveland and Philadelphia the next two weeks.
The reality, obviously, is that a playoff spot is a longshot, but we know the unlikely often happens in pro sports. What’s important is that the Rams have meaningful games in December, and that this team is on track to be a consistent contender.
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