Bulger's clutch comeback keeps Rams in West hunt
Oct. 11, 2004
SportsLine.com wire reports
ST. LOUIS -- With 1:24 to play in regulation and the St. Louis Rams trailing the Seattle Seahawks by three points, Marc Bulger entered the huddle with a big smile on his face.
Bulger was in comeback mode again, shrugging off three interceptions and playing the leading role in a 33-27 victory on Sunday. The Rams (3-2) twice trailed by 17 points before Bulger brought them back in the final 5½ minutes, then calmly stood up to the blitz on the game-winning 52-yard touchdown pass to Shaun McDonald.
"He does have ice in his veins," coach Mike Martz said Monday. "He just doesn't ever get unnerved. I've never seen him get unnerved, in any situation."
Bulger was 8-for-14 for 52 yards and two interceptions in the first half, after entering the game with a string of 77 straight passes without a pickoff. The Seahawks appeared to have a firm hold on the game, leading 24-7.
But Bulger never gave up, and he finished 24-for-42 for 325 yards. The 17-point comeback was the second-most in the final six minutes in NFL history, trailing only the Colts' 21-point rally against the Bucs on Oct. 6, 2003.
"You have to keep plugging," Bulger said. "You say it is not one of my best days. I'm not saying it was my worst day but I prepared the same."
Bulger is 21-5 as the Rams' starting quarterback. He also has a knack for comeback victories, producing eight of them.
That includes a string of three straight victories last November, during the Rams' run to their third NFC West title in five years. It does not include another almost- fantastic finish, a 19-yard touchdown scramble two weeks ago against the Saints for what could have been the game-winning score.
But New Orleans rallied in the final 24 seconds to tie it and then won in overtime.
Bulger's revival against the Seahawks ended with a stunning victory that enabled the Rams to claim they're still the team to beat in the West. Martz ranked it with the Rams' Super Bowl victory in 2000, when he was the team's offensive coordinator.
Martz was so caught up in the comeback that he danced in place on the sidelines after Jeff Wilkins forced overtime with a 36-yard field goal.
"I didn't know that until I got off the bus and I had several comments," Martz said. "I'm not very proud of that, to be honest with you."
Completions of 27 yards to Isaac Bruce and 16 yards to Dane Looker were the big plays on the game-tying drive.
Looker's catch put the ball on the Seahawks' 18 with 13 seconds to play, but Martz never considered taking a shot at the end zone because the Rams had no timeouts left and a sack or an interception would have been a devastating end to the comeback.
"Do you know what that would do to this team? It would destroy it, just destroy it," Martz said. "And to not give them the opportunity to continue to play and win the game in overtime would just be unethical, in my opinion."
Instead, Martz counted on momentum carrying the day even if the Rams lost the coin toss. The St. Louis defense also played a large role in the comeback, holding the Seahawks to 85 yards in the second half.
"So there's no question in my mind," Martz said. "The odds are whether you've got to play defense or offense, you're going to win that game.
"Just tie it up and get into overtime."
The Rams won the coin toss and Bulger made sure the Seahawks never saw the ball, hitting the lightly-used McDonald - who has six catches for 105 yards - on a third-and-8. With that strike, which ended Seattle's 10-game home winning streak, the Rams restored what had been fading credibility following early-season losses to the Falcons and Saints.
"In my mind if I stick to the course and keep doing what I'm doing, guys are going to get open," Bulger said. "We gave them enough different looks that they started to sit on different things. And it worked."