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  1. #1
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    Big plays spark Rams

    By Jim Thomas
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Tuesday, Oct. 19 2004

    Things started out oh so easy Monday for the Rams, with a fast and furious
    lightning bolt of a touchdown pass to Torry Holt less than three minutes into
    the game.

    But, hey, the opponent was the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. And Rams fans know what
    that means. It has been a slugfest and a struggle against the Bucs ever since
    the teams met in the 1999 season's NFC title game. That epic struggle went to
    the Rams 11-6.

    Since then, the Bucs have turned into Mike Martz's personnel Monday night
    nemesis. Tampa won Monday nighters against the Rams in 2000, 2001 and 2002.

    But not this time. With some long-distance dialing by Marc Bulger to Holt,
    Marshall Faulk's 100th NFL rushing touchdown and takeaways by the defense, the
    Rams finally have defeated the wicked witch of the Southeast.

    Holt's second touchdown catch of the day, a 36-yard reception with 10 minutes
    46 seconds to play, snapped a 21-21 tie. The 28-21 victory was the third in a
    row for St. Louis, boosted the Rams' record to 4-2 and moved them into sole
    possession of first place in the NFC West ahead of Seattle (3-2).

    "There was never any doubt - shoot," a drained Martz said. "What a great
    performance by the defense. They made plays when they had to make plays just
    like last week."

    The St. Louis defense spent much of the night helping Michael Clayton's rookie
    of the year candidacy at wide receiver for Tampa Bay. (Clayton finished with
    eight catches for 142 yards). And Rams linebackers and safeties couldn't cover
    a Buccaneers tight end to save their lives.

    But the Rams defense came up with four turnovers - it had only two all season
    entering the contest.

    A fumble recovery by Leonard Little at the Tampa 5 set up Faulk's 100th TD - a
    1-yard run on fourth and goal late in the second quarter.

    Safety Adam Archuleta, back in the starting lineup for the first time in three
    weeks, forced a Michael Pittman fumble. Archuleta picked the ball up and
    scooted down the sideline for a 93-yard TD midway through the third quarter. It
    was the third-longest return of a fumble recovery in Rams history and gave them
    a 21-14 lead.

    After Holt's second TD catch gave the Rams that 28-21 lead, cornerback
    Jerametrius Butler snuffed out a Bucs scoring drive with a leaping interception
    in the end zone with 5:42 to play. The pass was intended for - who else? -

    Butler also recovered a fumble by Tim Brown at the St. Louis 12 with just 26
    seconds to play, with Rams safety Aeneas Williams forcing the fumble. A replay
    booth review of the play - which occurs with less than 2 minutes to go in
    either half rather than the coach's challenge - upheld the original call that
    the ball came loose before Brown's knee hit the turf. That was much to the
    chagrin of Tampa coach Jon Gruden, who gave referee Larry Nemmers an earful at
    midfield after the game.

    Martz was so pleased with those four turnovers that he decided to award the
    entire defensive unit a game ball.

    "No matter what else happens, that's a great day on defense," Martz said. "You
    score and set up a score from the 5-yard line - that's a good day's work by
    anybody's evaluation."

    The turnovers have been a long time coming for the defense.

    "Everybody knows the more turnovers you get, the better chance you have to win
    the football game," Archuleta said. "They haven't been coming to us early in
    the season, but we are still working on those little things in practice, and
    keep trying to get those turnovers."

    For the first time all season, the Rams won the opening coin toss. They made
    the most of it, scoring on the pass from Bulger to Holt just five plays into
    the game. Holt juked the Tampa cornerback with an inside fake, and then split
    both Bucs safeties on a post route. It was his third TD of the season, but his
    first since the New Orleans game Sept. 26.

    The play electrified the sellout crowd at the Edward Jones Dome. But Tampa Bay
    seemed determined to take the fun out of the evening for the Rams, and
    dominated much of the first half.

    The Bucs got right to work after that Holt TD, with Torrie Cox returning the
    ensuing kickoff 59 yards to the Rams 43. It took a hustling tackle by kicker
    Jeff Wilkins to save a touchdown - a tackle that resulted in a tweaked left
    ankle for Wilkins.

    Wilkins' efforts didn't keep the Bucs out of the end zone, however. En route to
    a nine-for-nine passing start, quarterback Brian Griese completed passes to
    Clayton of 19 and 9 yards to get the ball to the Rams 15. Four plays later,
    Mike Alstott was in the end zone with a 1-yard run off left tackle, tying the
    score at 7-7 with 9:14 remaining in the first quarter.

    With Griese throwing to Clayton almost at will, the Bucs took a 14-7 lead early
    in the second quarter. The big play came on third and 5 from the 50, when
    Clayton ran right by defensive back DeJuan Groce at the Rams 45 and then caught
    a Griese pass for a 44-yard gain to the St. Louis 6.

    The touchdown came on third and goal from the 5. Griese absorbed a hammer shot
    from Little but still managed to complete a TD pass to Pittman, despite close
    coverage by Archuleta.

    Later in the quarter, the Rams finally had something good happen on special
    teams when Dwight Anderson downed a Sean Landeta punt on the Bucs' 4. Tampa
    faced a third and 7 from its 7 when a botched snapped by center John Wade fell
    to the Dome carpet and was recovered by Little on the Tampa 5 with 3:12 left in
    the half.

    It took four running plays - three by Faulk and one by Steven Jackson - but the
    Rams got into the end zone on a fourth-and-goal play from the 1. Despite being
    hit by Bucs defensive end Dewayne White just inside the 2, Faulk muscled his
    way into the end zone with the ball crossing the line in Faulk's outstretched

  2. #2
    ZigZagRam's Avatar
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    Re: Big plays spark Rams

    This game looked like one of several games from last season. Offense playing pretty good, and the defense bending butnot breaking, and coming up with some key turnovers.

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