Harris steps up and delivers
By Bill Coats
Of the Post-Dispatch
Sunday, Dec. 12 2004
CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Marshall Faulk was dressed but reserved for emergency duty.
Steven Jackson was in sweats, not even on the 45-man active roster.
With the Rams' top two backs nursing bruised knees, the running game rested
solely in the hands of Arlen Harris, a second-year pro who had just one carry
this year - a 2-yarder last week against San Francisco - before Sunday's game
The offense had all sorts of problems in a 20-7 loss to the Panthers, most
notably the six interceptions thrown by quarterback Chris Chandler. But don't
count Harris among the culprits on a day when the Rams were held under 10
points for the first time in more than two years.
"He played his heart out," coach Mike Martz said. "I thought he did a terrific
job running the ball."
Harris, 5 feet 10 and 212 pounds, turned in a workmanlike performance, rushing
19 times for 62 yards and catching four passes for 41 yards. His production
represented 102 of the Rams' 289 total yards.
"It felt good to get back in the swing of things," Harris said. "In the second
half, we ran the ball a lot better. But playing from behind, it's a lot
Harris started twice last season because of injuries to other backs,
contributing 85 yards and a touchdown against Green Bay, then adding 81 yards
and three TDs vs. Pittsburgh. The Rams won both those games.
"He's going to give his maximum effort, and he did that again," said tackle
Orlando Pace. "It makes us want to do our job that much more." Added guard Adam
Timmerman: "He ran hard. Offensive line-wise, I wish we could've got more for
him and got the run game going earlier."
The Panthers (6-7) bolted to a 14-0 lead in the first quarter and were up 20-7
at the half. At that point, Harris had run for only 18 yards. "They have two
big guys in the middle (tackles Brentson Buckner and Kindal Moorehead) that
clog the holes up pretty well," he said, "and with (defensive ends Julius)
Peppers and (Mike) Rucker on the outside, they were getting upfield pretty
Harris piled up 43 yards in the second half, 40 on one possession in which he
carried nine times in a row. But that drive ended when the Rams (6-7) failed to
convert on fourth and 2 at the Carolina 28-yard line. "I think we were wearing
them down," Harris said. "We just couldn't get the ball in the end zone."
That was largely because the interceptions - three in each half - continually
scuttled their advances. The Rams totaled only 19 fewer yards than Carolina.
"You can't win when you have that many turnovers," fullback Joey Goodspeed
said. "That really costs you."
"This is a tough loss," Pace said. "The defense played well, but offensively,
we just have to cut out those mistakes and get some points on the board."
Faulk, who has missed two games, probably will be ready to go on Sunday at
Arizona. Jackson's status is more uncertain; fluid was drained from his knee
Sunday for the second time since he was injured last week vs. the *****. "He's
probably still questionable for next week," Martz said.
For his part, Harris said he'd be content to return to his reserve role. Or, if
needed, to carry the full load again.
"Whenever a situation opens up, I've got to be ready; that's the way it is," he