By Jim Thomas
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
12/11/2005

MINNEAPOLIS On the checklist of what went wrong for the Rams, lack of commitment to the running game can't be listed this time.

Running backs Steven Jackson and Marshall Faulk combined for 24 carries Sunday against Minnesota, for 92 yards. Throw in five scrambles by quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, one of which went for the Rams' only touchdown, and St. Louis ran the ball 29 times for 108 yards.

Those may not be gaudy rushing figures for some teams, but the 29 rushes tied for the second-highest total by the Rams this season. And on only three occasions have the Rams rushed for more than 108 yards this season.

"I think Coach Fairchild dialed up the run," left tackle Orlando Pace said, referring to offensive coordinator Steve Fairchild. "We were getting some pretty good positive yardage on first and second down. And that's the type of game we wanted."



Offensive guard Adam Timmerman echoed those thoughts.

"I thought we did a good job of mixing up run and pass, to hopefully take some pressure off the quarterback situation," Timmerman said. "I thought they did a good job of calling it, and we were getting some positive yardage. It seemed like 3, 4, 5 yards a crack."

But Jackson, who gained 67 yards on 19 carries, didn't have a gain longer than 8 yards. He had a 12-yard gain wiped up by a holding penalty on guard Claude Terrell in the first quarter.

Jackson, who was outspoken in his desire to get more carries last week, declined to comment after the game Sunday.


Bartell sprains ankle

Rookie cornerback Ron Bartell started his fourth consecutive game Sunday, but he was sidelined by an ankle injury in the second quarter and did not return.

"I was defending a comeback (route), and I jumped up and came down funny on my ankle, just rolled it a little bit," Bartell said. "It was a situation where I really couldn't plant or push off. I don't feel like it's anything major. But you need your feet and your legs to play DB."

Bartell was replaced by Corey Ivy in the Rams' base defense, with Chris Johnson coming off the bench in nickel situations as the fifth defensive back.


Pace, Little banged up


Orlando Pace has been slowed by hamstring and hip injuries the past couple of weeks. On Sunday, he added another ailment to his "collection." Pace suffered a groin injury late in the first half and was replaced by Matt Morgan at left tackle for the final five plays of the half. Pace returned at the start of the second half and finished the game.

"I just kind of felt it in the first half a little bit," Pace said. "Fought through it, came back. It doesn't feel that bad. We'll see how it feels Monday."

It was the first NFL regular-season action for Morgan, who has spent most of the past two seasons on the Rams' practice squad.

Meanwhile, defensive end Leonard Little hobbled off the field near the end of the game. Little has been slowed by bone spurs in his ankle, which will require surgery at the end of the season. But this time, he tweaked his knee.

"I'll get it checked out Monday and see how everything goes," Little said. "Hopefully, it'll be all right for next week."