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Bulger wins latest round of QB tale
By Bryan Burwell
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
GLENDALE, ARIZ. — So here we are at the end of another chapter written in this on-going Tale of Two Quarterbacks, and once again the agonizing and fateful turns of their football lives leaped out like memorable plot lines from a Charles Dickens novel.
If you didn't know it already, here was more proof how the football lives of Marc Bulger and Kurt Warner will be forever linked. It actually seems cruel to watch the way this story continues to unfold. It's uncomfortable to know that whenever they occupy the same space on a football field, ultimately one must suffer in order for the other to succeed.
So as the clock clicked down the final seconds of this bizarre, compelling, confusing, tormenting and ultimately entertaining 16-14 Rams victory over the Arizona Cardinals, Bulger and Warner were separated by the width of a football field and the emotional chasm that divides the best of football times from the worst of football times.
"Man, you must be livin' right," Gus Frerotte screamed at Bulger, as he leaped on his back, and slapped his suddenly relieved shoulders.
Bulger was laughing too, though with the sheepish grin of a man who knew he'd just stumbled in the dark, awkwardly tossed a pile of china plates into the air, then watched as they miraculously settled into perfectly stacked piles. Two minutes earlier, the Rams quarterback had fumbled away the football when he was supposed to be protecting a slim lead. A few seconds earlier, he was standing all alone on the visitor's sideline, and he was mentally scripting an apology to his teammates, trying to come up with the proper words to express the remorse he had for blowing this game.
"I had most of it written in my mind," Bulger admitted in the locker room as he stood in front of his locker stall. "I didn't have it all done, but I knew I was going to have to include a couple 'I'm an idiots' in there."
Several yards away, Warner glumly stood alone. Now he was the loneliest man under this translucent roof. Now he had no friends. Now everyone walked around him as if he had an invisible force field around him. A few moments earlier, Warner had the ball in his hands. He was about to convert the gift that Bulger presented him into victory.
But as Warner got the snap from center Alex Stepanovich, he lurched forward, the ball sailed into the air, then fell to the ground and into the hands of the Rams. He had victory in his hands and then he fumbled the ball away. Bulger had escaped being the goat of the game only because Warner took over about 20 seconds later. Sold-out Cardinals Stadium became deflated the second the ball slipped out of Warner's hands, while the entire Rams sideline spontaneously exploded with relief. The latest chapter was written under the translucent roof of Cardinals Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
"I just fumbled it," Warner said later. "It (stinks) like every other day when you lose. When you have a direct hand in it, it's even worse."
The easiest thing to do now is pile on Kurt Warner after a game like this. It's too easy to try and draw some statistical evidence to prove that the Rams were right in letting him go when they saw the signs that his once-magnificent game was showing signs of erosion. The Warner lovers will be expecting that. But I won't do it. I feel bad for him watching him struggle, watching him look over his shoulder again as another younger quarterback full of promise lingers over his shoulder.
Yet games like this won't keep the Matt Leinart crowd off his back. He does feel the heat, just like he did in St. Louis when Bulger was coming of age, just like he did in New York when Eli Manning was anxious to test his arm. "It seems like the fans don't want to be behind him," Bulger said. "I know the kind of guy he is and how hard he works. He wants nothing more to win."
Warner played well enough to win this game, but he also made the critical errors that cost the Cardinals again with three drive-killing interceptions, and probably caused Cardinals coach Dennis Green to chew on the idea that it might be time to give his Heisman Trophy winning rookie a shot.
In the Cardinals locker room, you could hear the division forming, too. "If you're going to go out and play, you've got to go out and play," said Edgerrin James, the Cardinals Pro Bowl tailback. "I've never heard of having a good game with a bunch of turnovers."
In the Rams locker room, you found the Rams in decidedly different spirits. Bulger was able to laugh about the fumble and instead talk about how he had finally found a rhythm with his first 300-yard passing game of the seasonand had a 110.8 quarterback rating.
"I feel like I just won the lottery," he said with a wide smile.
-09-25-2006 #2jkramsfan Guest
Re: Bulger wins latest round of QB tale
i dont think either guy should be proud of there performance yesterday,altough Bulger did do some good things.