ST. LOUIS -- At least for one week, the St. Louis Rams got the defense straightened out. The offense is another story.
Coach Steve Spagnuolo spent most of his Monday news conference answering questions about a feeble attack that was held without a touchdown for the fourth time this season in a 17-9 loss at Chicago. Six times they've been held to 10 or fewer points and they've scored only 14 touchdowns, one-fourth the New Orleans Saints' league-leading total.
"We're going to go with five wideouts," Spagnuolo said with a touch of sarcasm. "Do we need more points? Yeah, there's other ways to do it, and we'll do that."
"Eight-man fronts, you take the risk," Spagnuolo said. "If somebody pops one it goes for a long one. All it takes is a couple of those."
Or a couple of nice passes. But Kyle Boller, who lost his 10th straight start dating to 2007 with the Ravens, totaled 113 yards passing with a long gain of 21 yards in his second straight start in place of injured Marc Bulger.
The Rams have only one other healthy quarterback, rookie Keith Null, and Spagnuolo reiterated he has no plans to get the sixth-round pick on the field.
All of which meant very little to the bottom line.
Spagnuolo didn't seem to think it was necessary to throw the occasional deep ball, if only to keep defenses honest.
"We all know Steven's the featured guy here, so I don't think we're going to drive anybody out of what they do stopping the run," the coach said. "But we'll find other ways to move the ball downfield."
Spagnuolo pointed out the Rams were 2 for 14 on third-down conversions, and said he didn't want to lose yardage. He also defended a tendency to call pass plays shorter than the yardage necessary for a first down, pointing out that players are allowed to make yards after the catch.
"We all realize that, right?" he said. "It's not a play to say, 'We're just going to get 5 yards and punt the ball away."'
Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press