Monday night melancholy in St. Louis
For the thousands of St. Louis sports fans in the downtown area Monday night—a crowd that included droves of the Washington University community—hope and anticipation progressively eroded into disappointment and frustration.
First, the Cardinals dropped to a 3-2 deficit in the World Series in their final home game of the season. About 40 minutes later, the Rams, making their first Monday Night Football appearance at home since 2006, fell to 3-5 with a 14-9 loss to the NFC-best Seattle Seahawks.
Sophomore Ellen Kaushansky, president of the Olin Sports Management Organization, attended the Rams game with several of the club’s members. Some stayed until the end, while Kaushansky and others left early to watch the World Series game with friends.
“When the Cardinals lost, it was obviously very upsetting—especially because there were Boston fans around us,” Kaushansky said. “Then on the way back on the Metro, we saw that the Rams had a chance to win in the last four seconds, and we were hopeful that at least one St. Louis team could pull it out. They lost too…and we told the score to everyone around us on the Metro, and they were just really upset.”
The letdown was perhaps not too unexpected for the Rams, whose starting quarterback, Sam Bradford, had suffered a season-ending knee injury in the team’s previous game. The Rams were also fresh off a reported rejection from 44-year-old Brett Favre, a grandfather in both NFL and literal terms.
The team’s normal backup quarterback, Kellen Clemens, was pressed into starting duty and made a 26-yard throw in the first quarter to wide receiver Austin Pettis, leading to a field goal and 3-0 lead. It would be his last completion of more than 20 yards until the game’s final drive, when the Rams nearly won but were stopped at the goal line.
Clemens’ pass to nearly the exact same sideline spot later in the first quarter was intercepted. Shortly thereafter, the Edward Jones Dome video board cheered up fans by replaying a clip of Matt Holliday’s home run for the Cardinals.
But midway through the second quarter, another errant throw from Clemens found the arms of All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman of the Seahawks, who returned it 38 yards to near the Rams’ red zone. The Seahawks scored a touchdown on the ensuing drive as a St. Louis penalty within the 10-yard line hindered a solid defensive stand.
After a Rams’ field goal in the third quarter, Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson and wide receiver Golden Tate connected for the pair’s second touchdown of the evening. As the Rams started losing hold of their matchup, so did the neighboring Cardinals, whose 1-1 tie became a 3-1 deficit just blocks away at Busch Stadium.
With the Seahawks nursing a 14-6 lead at the third quarter’s conclusion, Boston Red Sox closer Koji Uehara clinched a Cardinals loss.
Senior Bradley Baskir attended both Games 3 and 5 at Busch Stadium, but the diehard Red Sox fan was not among the many somber folk downtown Monday.
“Tonight had a different feel [than Saturday]—just more of a nervousness and paranoia,” Baskir said. “The crowd energy just didn’t seem to be there the way it was on Saturday night, and it was even amplified when the Red Sox went up so quickly in the first inning.”
The crowd gained some enthusiasm back after Holliday’s tying homer, Baskir said, but it evaporated when Boston added two more runs to the scoreboard.
“When I would stand up and start cheering ‘let’s go Red Sox’ or ‘MVP’ for David Ortiz…it wasn’t even fun because no one was even retorting back and telling me to shut up or saying ‘let’s go Cardinals,’” Baskir said. “It was pretty much just me against myself cheering for the Red Sox.”
The Rams seemed destined for their own defeat until Clemens led a drive of 96 yards to the Seahawks’ one-yard line in the final six minutes. Rookie running back Zac Stacy, who had a career-high 134 yards rushing on 26 carries, sprained his ankle and was replaced by Daryl Richardson.
Richardson gained 30 yards rushing and receiving on the drive, but he was stopped short on third down at the goal line. Clemens’ pass to wide receiver Brian Quick on the final play fell incomplete.
The mood in the Rams locker room was sullen after the loss, and head coach Jeff Fisher could be described as at least slightly menacing in his postgame press conference. The only semblance of a grin that Fisher mustered was when asked about the fan support his team received.
“The crowd was awesome,” he said. “They were great.”
Sadly for those fans, the hometown teams failed to break a dubious streak. On five days dating to 1987, both teams have lost when a Rams game has overlapped with a Cardinals World Series contest.
Wash. U. students from Boston and Seattle headed home winners, but for local St. Louisans and adopted fans, it was a false start to the school and work week.