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Thread: Atogwe helps save the day
Atogwe helps save the day
He forces fumble that prevents Redskins' TD
BY ROD KLOECKNER
ST. LOUIS - O.J. Atogwe sat on a chair in front of his locker answering questions from reporters when he got a surprise visitor.
It was St. Louis Rams coach Scott Linehan, who had a message for the second-year safety out of Stanford.
"You won the game for us," Linehan said. "Great job."
Slightly embarrassed, Atogwe tried to deflect praise to the other members of the defense. However, there was no denying Atogwe's forced fumble by Redskins running back Ladell Betts late in the fourth quarter Sunday was the play of the game in the Rams' 37-31 overtime victory.
With the score tied at 31 and Washington on St. Louis' 49-yard line, Betts -- who carved up the Rams' defense for 129 yards on 29 carries -- blew through a hole at right tackle with 2:02 left for a 25-yard gain and appeared headed for his third touchdown.
"At that point, it really didn't look good," Linehan said.
That's when Atogwe materialized to save the day. Catching Betts from behind, Atogwe punched the ball from Betts' grasp. Corey Chavous fell on the loose ball at the 13, giving the Rams a chance to win it in regulation.
"I was just consciously trying to make something happen," Atogwe said. "I tried to get in there and punch the ball out, no matter who it is. I was just trying to make a play."
It was a play he had worked on all week in practice.
"(Betts) had made a nice run and broke through the line, and I was just trying to make the tackle," Atogwe said. "All week in practice and all year, we've been harping on getting strips and forcing turnovers.
"When I grabbed him, I was blessed to be able to reach around and punch the ball out on the other side."
Chavous followed the play and scooped up the ball for his second fumble recovery of the season.
"I was just running to the ball," Chavous said. "O.J. made a great play. As usual, he has a knack for the ball and hitting the ball out. He's a fantastic football player and I really enjoy playing with him. Really, he made the play."
In overtime, Rams linebacker Raonall Smith had the big hit.
The Redskins faced a 3rd-and-1 at their own 15 when T.J. Duckett tried to find a hole over right tackle. Dexter Coakley made the initial hit, and Smith finished him off for no gain.
Washington was forced to punt, and the Rams won the game on their ensuing possession on a 21-yard run by Steven Jackson.
"I was lined up across from (tight end Chris) Cooley and just tried to make a play," Smith said. "Dex came in and got the initial hit and everybody was like BBs to the ball. It was a great effort on everybody's part."
St. Louis' much-maligned defense did have its troubles, allowing 336 total yards and another running back (Betts) to gain over 100 yards for the 10th time this season.
But when they needed the big play late, the Rams' defense delivered.
After Washington took a 28-14 on Betts' second TD with 8:56 left in the third quarter, the Rams' defense buckled down. They allowed only one Redskins first down the rest of the way.
"As a a team as a whole, we're individuals of great character," Atogwe said. "I feel like when it matters, when we really need to buckle down we've been able to do that throughout the season.
"That's just a test of our character and just the kind of guys we have on this team."
"I think the biggest thing for us as a football team is growth," Chavous said. "We feel we could have done better with some of the situations early and we learned from them. We tried to come back in the second half and play the situations better. I think it was a good team effort."
Re: Atogwe helps save the dayAtogwe tried to deflect praise to the other members of the defense. However, there was no denying Atogwe's forced fumble by Redskins running back Ladell Betts late in the fourth quarter Sunday was the play of the game in the Rams' 37-31 overtime victory.
that was an amazing play by him... he looked like he knew what he was going to do right after he got held on to Betts to punch it out.
Last edited by RamsFan4ever; -12-26-2006 at 08:12 PM.