Monday, August 29, 2005

THIRD QUARTER

- The starting offense is still in. This could be its last series of the game.

- Bulger hit Bruce with a beautiful throw over the middle, but Bruce coughed it up when hit from behind. Bruce had this problem last year because of a hand injury. Itís become somewhat of a disturbing trend to see Bruce fumbling to negate long gains.

- Pace needlessly picked up a 15-yard penalty there. Itís interesting to note, though, that when the Detroit sideline wanted to retaliate there were no takers interested in mixing it up with Pace. Gee, wonder why?

- The defense comes up with a nice stop in short yardage on fourth down. Rams take over with 10:54 to go in the third.

- Starting offense is done as Jamie Martin takes over at quarterback and Harris handles running back duties. Kevin Curtis and McDonald take over the receiver spots and the offensive line remains intact.

- Itís Curtisí turn to make plays as Martin has been looking for him on this drive. Martin continues to show that he can be a solid game manager behind Bulger. Although Martin doesnít have the arm strength of Bulger, he knows this offense and the extra work in the preseason has helped him in the games.

- Wilkins hits from 35 yards out. Itís 24-6 St. Louis with 6:55 left in the third quarter.

- Jeff Garcia is in at quarterback for the Lions. Itís hard to believe he isnít an upgrade over Harrington, but after that first play where he fired it at the offensive lineman in front of him maybe he isnít. Itís a shame for the Lions that so many talented skill position guys canít get a chance to shine because of poor quarterback play.

- St. Louis is still using most of its top defensive unit with Leonard Little and Kennedy, among others still in the game.

- The Detroit fans that remain are not happy with their team right now. Itís hard to find many bright spots on that team right now, with the possible exception of defensive end Cory Reddingís play and Hansonís kicking.

- The second-team offense is officially in the game. The offensive line is (left to right) Alex Barron, Claude Terrell, Larry Turner, Blaine Saipaia and Matt Willig.

- Harris just got slammed to the turf with 4:39 to go in the third quarter. He landed on his shoulder/head and stayed down for about 30 seconds. He is on his knees, though and looks to be OK. Harris walked off the field under his own power.

- Dusty McGrorty is in at running back. This could be bad news for Aveion Cason.

- Rookie tight end Jerome Collins just plain missed that pass. Collins canít afford many of those considering the way he has played during camp. He needs to be standing out for positive things right now and he has yet to make a play for this offense.

- Wilkins is good from 31 yards out and it is 27-6 Rams with 3:44 to go in the third quarter.

- Corey Ivy might be small in stature, but he isnít scared to stick his nose in there. When given a chance to make a hit, Ivy takes advantage.

- Harris has a concussion and will not return.

- A loud round of cheers for the Lionsí first down with 2:30 to go in the quarter.

- Brandon Green forces a fumble and John Parrella recovers. Green just continues to make plays. There is definitely room on this roster for a player like him, heís relentless.

- Although Hargrove and Green are competing for a spot, Hargrove was the first to congratulate Green on the forced fumble. Thatís the kind of team chemistry you want to see.

- In case you didnít know, Curtis is fast. Really fast.

- Madison Hedgecock just made a nice catch and run for an 11-yard touchdown. Hedgecock caught the pass, shed a tackle, turned and made a nice dive for the corner of the end zone. The extra point makes it 34-6 with 1:34 left in the third.

- Plays like the one Hedgecock just made could be the difference between winning a job and looking for a job.

- Brian Howard and Vontrell Jamison are playing defensive end right now.

- At the end of three, the Rams are up 34-6.


SECOND QUARTER

- McDonald has got to run forward. The blocking isnít great, but for a player with McDonaldís electric moves in the open field to not be putting them to good use on special teams is strange.

- Jackson doesnít take punishment, he gives it out. Any player that thinks arm tackling him is a good idea will quickly learn that isnít the case. We are two minutes into the second quarter and he has 97 yards on nine carries.

- Bulger just threw an interception to safety Kenoy Kennedy. Nothing fancy there, just a Bulger misfire when looking for an open Isaac Bruce.

- Safety Jerome Carter has an Achilles strain and his return is questionable. Wilkins came out of the blocked extra point fine.

- Update on Fairís condition: He has a neck strain and was taken to Henry Ford Hospital for what officials are calling a ďprecautionary evaluation.Ē

- Jason Hanson just booted a 54-yard field goal. It was an impressive kick for a guy that could be very busy this season considering his teamís offensive struggles.

- As mentioned earlier, Manumaleuna could be a nice target at tight end, but he has to make catches like that one. That was right in his hands and led him perfectly and he simply didnít make the play.

- Bulger hits Bruce for a 31-yard touchdown on a play that was a thing of beauty. By the way, Orlando Pace looks outstanding on the left side right now. Itís actually possible that he might be better than ever, a scary thought for opposing defensive ends.

- Wilkins did indeed comeback and booted the extra point. Itís 21-3 Rams. This has to be the kind of performance Martz wanted to see when he turned up the heat on the team during practice this week.

- Hargrove looks inspired by his being moved to the second team this week. Hargrove has been getting consistent pressure on Harrington, getting a sack earlier and following with another quarterback pressure that was originally ruled a sack and forced fumble, but after a challenge became an incomplete pass.

- With about 2:45 to go in the first half, it is mostly backups on defense for the Rams, especially the line.

- Oshiomogho Atogwe just missed a golden opportunity for a sack by overrunning the play. It resulted in an 18-yard pass.

- Jimmy Kennedy has been downright disruptive tonight. He is getting excellent push up the middle and running all over the field.

- The boos are abundant in Detroit right now after a comedy of errors turned a Jonesí touchdown run into a Hanson 32-yard field goal. Itís 21-6 Rams with 1:01 left in the first half.

- Arlen Harris just got his first chance to return a kick in the preseason. He took it 15 yards, but didnít get much of a shot at return because of a short kick.

- That does it for the first half with the Rams up 21-6. In unofficial press box statistics, St. Louis holds a 241-132 edge in total yards.

FIRST QUARTER

- Three and out for the Lions on the first possession. Thatís the type of defense the Rams hope to play and a big improvement over last week against the Chargers.

- Shaun McDonald is too indecisive on punt returns. He needs to make up his mind and run forward if he wants to land the job again.

- Good luck arm tackling Steven Jackson. He just rumbled 64 yard down the sideline on the first play through a huge hole in the right side.

- Great play call on third-and-3 for a Marc Bulger 7-yard touchdown run. Bulger went untouched up the middle on the quarterback draw. The extra point makes it 7-0 Rams with 12:06 to play in the first quarter. Four plays and 78 yards in 1:52, not a bad start for both sides of the ball.

- With about 8:43 to go, linebacker Chris Claiborne just made more friends in Detroit by running over Kevin Jones for a sack. Claiborne was lustily booed by the Lion faithful after the sack.

- Tyoka Jackson followed Claiborneís act with a sack of his own to knock Detroit out of field goal range. This is the type of blitzing the Rams could do regularly if the defensive line continues its ascent.

- Beautiful pass from Bulger to Manumaleuna on second down for a 27-yard gain. If Manumaleuna can become another consistent receiving threat, the Rams offense can really take off.

- Jackson is getting his chance to carry the load right now and itís paying off. With four minutes left, he has 77 yards on six carries and just made a nice catch over the middle for another 12 yards.

- Marshall Faulk is in great shape right now and it shows. He just ripped off 17 yards on two runs, including a nice 10-yard burst there. Itís weird to say, but the future Hall of Famer is kind of the overlooked man in this offense right now. One of Mike Martzís strengths is finding ways to utilize people in the offense; itís probably fair to say he can find room for one of the most dangerous all-purpose backs in league history.

- Jackson finishes the drive with 1:20 to go in the first on a 3-yard touchdown run over right guard. That drive took 11 plays and covered 90 yards over 6:12, a far cry from the first drive, but equally impressive.

- Terrence Holt just hurt his brotherís kicker. Holt was offsides and ran into Jeff Wilkins on the blocked extra point. Wilkins walked off under his own power, but he was doing so gingerly. He looks OK, but itís not likely we see him again in this game. After a holding penalty on St. Louis, Remy Hamilton booted the extra point for a 14-0 Rams lead.

- Itís nice to see this offense get off to a fast start. This is what this group is capable of when it gets going. Itís interesting to note, though, that itís the running game that has gotten the unit off to such a strong start.

- For those that think the Rams can only chew up yards through the air, the first two drives are a perfect example of what this team is capable of with a balance of power running and aerial dynamite.

- Cornerback Terry Fair is down. He took a knee to the head and his head snapped back. It doesnít look good. Fair was put in a neck brace and was able to move his hand as he was carted away. He gave the thumbs up to fans as he left. Best wishes and thoughts to Fair and his family.

- Joey Harrington just doesnít look like he can get it done as the Lions quarterback. He holds the ball too long and when he does let it go, he is generally not accurate enough to hit his receivers, especially on deep outs, the one throw that you have to be able to make in this league.

- At the end of the first quarter, itís 14-0 St. Louis. In unofficial stats, the Rams outgained Detroit 168-41.


PREGAME

- A couple of quick notes on the starting lineup. Brandon Manumaleuna will start in place of injured Roland Williams (knee). Damione Lewis replaces Ryan Pickett (back) and Brandon Green gets the nod over Anthony Hargrove at defensive end.

- Inactives for Monday night are Jerametrius Butler, Brandon Chillar, Louis Ayeni, Richie Incognito (unsigned), Pickett and Williams. Detroitís inactives are fullback Cory Schlesinger, linebackers Nigel Eldridge and Teddy Lehman, defensive tackles Shaun Rogers and Marcus Jasmin and defensive end James Hall.

- There has been an inordinate amount of discussion in Detroit about the teamís new jersey color. The Lions will wear black jerseys with silver pants tonight, a move that has drawn the ire of many of the teamís traditionalist fans.

- Ford Field is a really nice place. It looks like a warehouse from the outside (partly because it is built into one), but inside it is well put together. There arenít many bad seats and the allowance of natural light at the top part of the end zone seats gives it an outside stadium feel.

- This city might not be ideal as far as the locale for the Super Bowl, but there is no doubt that the stadium will be up to the task. It appears the city is preparing itself for the onslaught of visitors for the big game, but itís hard to tell how much change will occur between now and then.