PONTIAC, Mich. — The Rams, in their own minds at least, are streaking toward the playoffs, in high gear, just as it was planned all along.
Sunday, they rolled over the Detroit Lions, 37-16, in front of 33,413 at Pontiac Stadium.
The fans couldn't get to their Pontiacs quick enough. It was the Rams' fourth win in four weeks and, in the end, there was real emotion, for which no one could find reason. These were Lions, not Bears.
But apparently, the Rams have served warning: Let no team stand in harm's way. Look out Atlanta, Dallas, San Francisco, you're next. Too bad the team slipped on a banana peel that happened to stretch from September to early November. Too bad you can't change history.
"That's why it's history, you just can't go back and change it," guard Dennis Harrah said. "If I could start my life over again, I know I'd have a lot of votes. I'd go back and change more than this damn season. First of all, I wouldn't run a quarterback sneak with little Pat Haden up in Minnesota."
What the Rams wouldn't give for a chance to lose playoff games like that again.
But for now, at 5-7, they're only playing out a string, albeit to a pretty good tune.
After a sluggish start, the Rams outscored the Lions, 27-3, in the second half to win going away.
Coaches don't write game plans like this in their dreams. The Rams got 324 yards passing from their quarterback, Jim Everett; 102 yards rushing from Charles White, and 171 yards receiving from Henry Ellard.
"That's good," Robinson said of the balance. "And a 21-point win, that's good."
The marks for Ellard and Everett were career bests. Everett, in his finest performance since last week, completed 20 of 26 passes and threw for 2 touchdowns.
"Discounting the 300 yards, he just doesn't make the plays that lose games for you anymore," Robinson said.
Admittedly, it took Everett and the Rams some time to get worked up over the Lions. Empty seats and hearing pins drop can do that to you.
"We came out and everything was so flat," Robinson said of the crowd. "They didn't boo us, they didn't cheer them. They didn't even bother to boo them."
The Rams trailed at the half, 13-10, but then came the deluge.
They took the second-half kickoff and went 90 yards for the go-ahead touchdown, a one-yard leap by Charles White.
The drive was kept alive by Mike Guman's one-handed catch for 12 yards and a 37-yard bomb from Everett to Ron Brown that gave the Rams the ball at the Lions' three-yard line.
Detroit kicker Eddie Murray cut the lead to 17-16 with 36-yard field goal late in the third quarter, but the Lions would not be heard from again.
It was over quickly. First, Mike Lansford, who would kick three field goals on the day, hit a 47-yarder with 1:31 left in the quarter to make it 20-16.
Then, in the fourth quarter, the Rams got a little lucky. Twice. On second down at their own 19, Everett looked deep for Ellard, who was streaking down the right sideline with cornerback Bobby Watkins by his side.
When Ellard made a cut, Watkins fell down. Ellard was so open that it didn't matter that Everett's arm was hit as he threw, knocking the ball off course. Ellard came back for the ball and ran in untouched for an 81-yard touchdown play, the longest ever for either player.
"It was open for duck season," Everett said of the pass. "But that's what type of day it was. I'll take it." On the Lions next possession, Ram cornerback Jerry Gray recovered a James Jones fumble at the Detroit 45.
Everett then went 14 yards to Brown, who finished with 3 catches for 93 yards, and then 14 more to Ellard to the Lions' 17.
Before you knew it, White was doing another swan dive from a yard out with 9:13 left, making the score 34-16.
Lansford added some topping with a 48-yard field goal late in the fourth quarter. He's made 16 of 18 attempts this season.
As for White, someone marveled at his two touchdown dives afterward.
"When you're an inch away, the chances of making it are really good," White said.
White has accepted his new-found stardom with great humility.
He hit the 1,000-yard rushing mark for the season with a 14-yard run in the second quarter.
For a back who had gained only 1,378 yards in seven years coming into this season, White admitted reaching 1,000 yards was "a sensation."
White's 102 yards Sunday give him 1,054 yards for the season and keep him 96 yards ahead of Eric Dickerson, who gained 98 yards in Indianapolis' win over Cleveland.
White still won't talk about his chances for winning the NFL rushing title.
"The offensive line will win the rushing title," he said. "I just want to win."
For White, it's three games to go but who's counting.
Harrah said the offensive line would love to win the title for White, but not to spite Dickerson.