Haslett focusing on final two games, not his job security

ST. LOUIS -- Rams coach Jim Haslett has two games left to make a case for next season.

St. Louis (2-12) has lost eight in a row after winning its first two under Haslett, elevated from defensive coordinator to replace Scott Linehan after an 0-4 start. On Sunday, they blew a 10-point halftime lead in a last-second 23-20 loss to the equally downtrodden Seahawks.

Haslett said he hasn't spoken with ownership lately. He said he's not wasting time worrying about next season, either.

"You know what, I'm going to be honest with you, I'm going to just kind of worry about what's going to happen the next two games and worry about the coaches and the players," Haslett said. "Because the speculation and the newspaper articles, all the Internet stuff, I'm going to let that up to you guys.

"I'm just really going to try to take care of business, try to give our team the best chance of winning games," he said, "and that's all I can do."

Haslett appeared a cinch earlier in the season to be back in 2009. In late October, Rams ownership attempted to rewrite his contract to ensure he kept the job if the Rams won at least six games, although the league office turned them down because of the Rooney Rule requiring teams to interview minority candidates.

Now, the biggest reasons for keeping Haslett are probably that the players like him, and a contract for next year would give him a clean slate with his own staff and more hand-picked players. A skid that will leave the Rams with another high draft pick after getting the second overall choice last season, and an apathetic fan base that led to a TV blackout on Sunday certainly don't bode well for his retention.

That leaves Haslett with two games to make a final impression, starting with the home finale this weekend against the 49ers. The Rams finish at Atlanta on Dec. 28.

"I know coach Haslett wants to win for us and we want to win for him, and we want to win for each other," rookie defensive end Chris Long said. "That's what a team is. We're not going to quit, there's a lot of fight left."

Turnovers have dragged down the Rams the second half of the season. During the losing streak they've committed a whopping 24 turnovers, more than 20 of the other 31 NFL teams have committed the entire season.

The Rams coughed it up twice against the Seahawks, with tight end Joe Klopfenstein's lost fumble at the Seattle 15 in the second quarter costing them a chance of putting the game out of reach. After a 30-yard return by Marcus Trufant, St. Louis ended up forcing a punt, but it wasn't able to build on a 17-7 lead.

"I had a bad feeling at halftime because they're hanging around, and you know that team, when they're hanging around they usually get back in the game," Haslett said. "We can't turn the ball over.

"You can't blow leads, and when you have a chance to put a team away you have to put them away."

The Rams gained only 99 yards with four first downs in the second half while Seattle climbed back into the game. St. Louis fizzled on its final possession with three incomplete passes that burned only 18 seconds off the clock, before handing the ball back for the Seahawks' winning drive.

Steven Jackson took a blow to the head in the fourth quarter and was still clearing his head the first two plays of the Rams' final possession. Haslett would have liked to have had that option, which at the least would have used more of the time.

"Obviously, if you're going to throw three straight balls you'd better complete them," Haslett said. "But we only needed 35 yards for a field goal opportunity to win the game and you're going to have to throw at some point to get some yardage."

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press

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