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Kickoff return for TD was beginning of end for Rams
By Jim Thomas
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
Tuesday, Oct. 23 2007
Despite being outgained 195 yards to 41 in the first half, the Rams were very
much in the game Sunday at Qwest Field. That all changed in 13 seconds at the
start of the third quarter, when Nate Burleson's 91-yard kickoff return turned
a 10-3 game into a 17-3 Seattle advantage. Given the sorry state of the St.
Louis offense these days, it was game, set, match, Seahawks at that point.
"We worked the return quite a bit all week (in practice), and it ended up
coming (from) behind a couple blocks," coach Scott Linehan said Monday. "When
you're covering from that part of the field you don't want to run behind the
blockers because you'll be behind the runner, and that's what ended up
Burleson fielded a short kickoff by Jeff Wilkins at the 9 and headed straight
up the middle. Cornerback Eric Bassey, signed by the Rams Oct. 12 and playing
in his second NFL game, dived and missed Burleson at the 24.
Linebacker Chris Draft appeared to have a bead on Burleson near the 30, but
Seattle's Kevin Bentley got away with holding, grabbing Draft's jersey from
behind. Just a couple of yards downfield, Burleson juked Wilkins at the
Seahawks 32, breaking into the clear.
From there on out, it was a footrace to the end zone. Jonathan Wade had an
angle but missed a tackle at the Rams 40, getting the short end of a Burleson
stiff-arm. Meanwhile, Ron Bartell chased the play downfield, but was shielded
by Seattle's Will Herring for more than 50 yards, before Burleson reached the
Just two Sundays ago, the Rams ranked eighth in kickoff coverage in the NFL.
But following Burleson's TD dash, and a 54-yard return by Baltimore's Yamon
Figurs on Oct. 14, the Rams have tumbled to familiar territory: No. 28.
UPON FURTHER REVIEW
Entering Sunday's game with the Rams, Seattle opponents had been flagged for 55
false starts since the beginning of the 2005 season. That's a league-high
total, and a testament to the crowd noise at Qwest Field. The Rams contributed
heavily to that total Sunday, with five false starts in their 33-6 defeat.
"It is a very loud stadium, and we knew that going in, though," offensive
coordinator Greg Olson said. "We practiced with (artificial) noise last week as
we always do when we go on the road. ... That's what's frustrating. You watch
the game, it looks as if we'd never practiced with noise before. There's no
excuses for that."
Milford Brown and Andy McCollum were flagged twice each for false starts, and
Alex Barron once against the Seahawks.
— WR Drew Bennett (hamstring) is questionable for Cleveland.
— WR-return man Dante Hall (ankle) is out until after the bye week.
— RB Steven Jackson (groin) will play against Cleveland.
— DE Leonard Little (toe) is questionable to doubtful for Cleveland.
— WR Dane Looker (thigh) will be available for Cleveland.
— C Brett Romberg (ankles) probably is out until after the bye week.
Seattle doesn't play another team that currently has a winning record until
"I can only speak for the receivers. I don't think we're getting open as we
should. We're just not getting it done. I really can't say why the points
aren't there. They're just not." — Rams WR Isaac Bruce.
Sunday in the Edward Jones Dome, the Rams play Cleveland for only the third
time since the move to St. Louis. The Rams defeated the Browns 34-3 during the
'99 Super Bowl championship season; and won in Cleveland 26-20 in a Monday
night game during their '03 division championship campaign.
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