ST. LOUIS (AP) — Softening the blow, Jeff Fisher reminded St. Louis Rams players that 11 other teams lost on Sunday.
However, it's happened to the Rams three weeks in a row.
"Some of the games — pretty much all the games — have been hard to go home without a win," rookie outside linebacker Alec Ogletree said. "Every week you come out and try to eliminate the mistakes, and get better."
The Rams (3-6) finished a 15-point setback at Carolina without quarterback Sam Bradford, done for the year with a left knee injury. They were tantalizingly close in their first Monday night home game since 2006, just 1 yard shy of the winning touchdown against Seattle. Last week they tied it late in the fourth quarter against Tennessee, turned it over and surrendered the deciding score on consecutive plays, then ran out of downs at the Titans 26 in the final minute.
So, they're coming close.
Still, the bottom line isn't pretty for a franchise that had appeared poised for a breakthrough in the second season under Fisher and general manager Les Snead. They were 9½ -point underdogs for Sunday's game at Indianapolis (6-2).
But they're far from a beaten group. Exasperated, maybe.
Defensive end William Hayes bloodied his forearm shattering a mirror in the locker room after last week's loss to Tennessee. He's among numerous players and coaches with Titans ties, including Fisher.
"He was only expressing the frustration our whole team has been feeling," fellow defensive end Robert Quinn said.
Quinn is still aiming high. Real high.
"You look at the Giants when they got in the playoffs at 9-7, just barely, and won the Super Bowl," Quinn said. "That's kind of the mind-set you can take. Don't look too far into the future, one at a time, and see what happens."
Last year could be a blueprint for another surge.
The Rams made a five-win improvement to 7-8-1 after being in almost the same predicament. They were 3-6-1 after an 0-4-1 trough that included a 45-7 blowout to the Patriots in London in Week 8.
They won the next three, over Arizona, San Francisco and Buffalo.
Nailing the details will be the key to another rebound for the Rams, who have a bye next week.
Wide receiver Austin Pettis has a vertical leap of 36 inches, but could only get a hand on the high last-gasp throw from Kellen Clemens in the end zone in last week's 28-21 loss to Tennessee.
"You can lose games and can say we've got a lot to improve upon and lose games where you can say your best was probably not good enough," Pettis said. "I don't know if we've played our best game, but we've definitely played well enough to be in there.
"If we can play our best, I think we'll come out with the W."
Ogletree last played for a losing team his freshman year at Georgia. The Bulldogs were 6-7 but surfaced from a 1-4 start and went to the Liberty Bowl as a .500 team before losing to Central Florida.
That year, only four games were decided by fewer than 10 points.
"In the pros," Ogletree noted, "one mistake can cost you the game. You've got to be on your Ps and Qs, be precise, and hold everybody accountable."
The last two weeks, the Rams have lost by a total of 12 points.
"There's going to be three or four plays in every game that determine the outcome," offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer said. "And sometimes that's in the first series. Sometimes, it's In the last series."
Middle linebacker James Laurinaitis (hip) and rookie running back Zac Stacy (foot) were listed as probable for Sunday, but it would be a major surprise if either didn't go. Stacy is coming off consecutive 100-yard games and has been limited in practice since taking over the starting job.
Tight end Lance Kendricks (broken finger) and backup quarterback Brady Quinn (hip) were doubtful.
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