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Linehan awed by Rams' miracle win
By Jim Thomas
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
In the aftermath of a wild and wacky 16-14 victory, Rams coach Scott Linehan said he could think of only one game in his 18-year coaching career that came close to what transpired Sunday in Arizona.
When he was offensive coordinator at Louisville in 2000, Linehan's team waited out a third-quarter weather delay of more than an hour against Kentucky because of lightning.
Once play resumed, Louisville rallied to tie the score 34-34 and was driving for a game-winning touchdown when a shotgun snap from center sailed over the head of quarterback Dave Ragone.
Not only did Kentucky recover, the Wildcats returned the ball all the way to the Louisville 1. With less than a minute to go, all Kentucky had to do was run down the clock, kick a field goal, and the game would be over.
After three quarterback draws failed to cross the goal line, Kentucky lined up for a chip-shot field goal. ...
"We block the kick," Linehan said.
The game went into overtime. Kentucky quarterback Jared Lorenzen threw an interception. Louisville got the ball and scored a touchdown for a 40-34 victory.
When asked Monday if that game topped what happened between the Rams and Arizona, Linehan shook his head.
"Yesterday's No. 1, because it's the recent memory," Linehan said. "It's similar in that you think it's over in reality, but you're not giving up that last bit of hope. You're staying calm. It's important to stay calm."
So when Marc Bulger fumbled a snap from Richie Incognito, giving Arizona possession at the St. Louis 30 with 1 minute 58 seconds to play, it was no time to panic or yell at Bulger.
"Usually, (yelling) is not going to be the style," Linehan said. "You certainly get emotional in games. But that's not the time to do it. You've got to keep your quarterback focused. There's potentially another drive coming up."
It didn't look like the Rams would get that chance Sunday. Two runs by Edgerrin James exhausted the Rams' final two timeouts and gave Arizona a first down on the Rams' 18 with 1:46 to play.
It looked for all the world like it was over, especially with Arizona kicker Neil Rackers, the pride of Aquinas-Mercy High in St. Louis, waiting in the wings.
"I mean, this kid in pregame was kicking 65 yards, with one 'step-in,' " Rams defensive coordinator Jim Haslett said. "I think he has the NFL record for the most (field goals). What he have, 40-something in a row?"
Actually, Rackers kicked an NFL record 40 field goals last season for Arizona. In the process, he made a franchise record 31 in a row. But you get the point. Rackers is very good.
In fact, both Linehan and Haslett were surprised that Arizona didn't kneel down to run off some clock time and then have Rackers come out to kick.
"I thought, 'They're not even going to try to run it,'" Linehan said. "They've got this kicker who's automatic. Not second-guessing anything anyone's doing. They were probably trying to get the ball a little bit closer, make sure it's a sure thing, or whatever. But it's the strangest thing I've ever seen."
Strange because Rackers never made it out to the field. Strange because Kurt Warner bobbled the exchange from center €" just 17 seconds after Bulger's gaffe €" with Will Witherspoon recovering for the Rams to preserve the victory.
"That's why you've got to play every play, and don't take any of them for granted," Linehan said.
Linehan's Louisville example notwithstanding, that's especially true in the NFL, in which nearly every game comes down to the fourth quarter.
"We talk about it as coaches all the time, about how hard it is to win games in the NFL," Linehan said. "Sometimes we make it hard on ourselves. But it's amazing how close, really, the games are, regardless of (won-loss) records or who's playing who. Every game comes down to some critical play."
Or in the case of Sunday's victory over Arizona, many critical plays.
"Certainly, we dodged a bullet," Linehan said. "In a lot of ways, we never should have been in that situation."
But they were, and somehow they survived.
Re: Linehan awed by Rams' miracle win
I think I aged 5 years during the last half of the 4th quarter this game.