Linehan liked offense, but he's not gloating
He wants Rams looking ahead to their next game
BY STEVE KORTE
ST. LOUIS - St. Louis Rams coach Scott Linehan wasn't gloating over his offense breaking out for 427 yards in a 41-34 win over the Detroit Lions on Sunday.
"I would never do that," Linehan said. "To be honest with you, I think we had a good game offensively, but I think we were close to some better games earlier. It has just taken a bit of time to get our timing down."
The 41 points was the most scored by the Rams since a 48-17 win over the Minnesota Vikings on Nov. 30, 2003.
Linehan said he didn't take anymore satisfaction in the win over the Lions than he did in any of the Rams' two other wins this season.
"I think it's fun to win, and I mean this, (whether) you win by scoring six field goals or six touchdowns," Linehan said. "Whatever you have to do to win that game. Certainly, it feels better to execute better from the offensive side, just as it does on special teams or on defense. It's only one game. We have to come out and build on some of the things here. You have to do it every week in this league."
The Rams are 3-1 and tied with Seattle for first place in the NFC West.
"It's a good place to be," said Linehan, whose team is a five-point favorite against the Green Bay Packers (1-2) at noon Sunday at Lambeau Field. "We've only played a quarter of the games you play in an NFL season. A lot of things happen. A lot of things can change. You have to build on the momentum, but it's a little too early to feel good about where you are at."
The Rams are No. 1 in the NFL in takeaway-giveaway ratio at plus-10. They've forced an NFL-leading 13 takeaways, while committing only three turnovers themselves.
Linehan said the Rams' heavy emphasis on ball security caused the offense to sputter a little early in the season.
"We have established a lot of things that I think are important to this point -- taking care of the football, running it better, committing to running it more," Linehan said.
"Maybe it does effect our ability timing-wise. I think we're progressing every day. I think we are improving every day. You never feel too bad when things aren't going as well as you want them to, and you never feel too good when you think you had a good day. I think we have to keep a level head with where we are at."
Rams quarterback Marc Bulger is the only NFL quarterback who has started all four games this season who hasn't thrown an interception.
Bulger had his best game under Linehan by throwing for 328 yards and three touchdowns against the Lions.
"Familiarity level, comfort level, knowing what is expected, I think that's a lot of it," Linehan said of Bulger's performance against the Lions. " I think he's more comfortable with what we're trying to get done. It does take time to make a transition, and it's really hard on a quarterback. If he's done things a certain way for a lot of years, that's really how he is programmed. He has never complained. He's stayed very patient."
When wide receivers aren't open, Bulger has thrown a lot of what is called "check downs" to running back Steven Jackson in recent weeks. Jackson has nine catches for 124 yards over the last two games.
"The idea that it's a conservative approach, we somewhat disagree with that," Rams offensive coordinator Greg Olson said. "We want to take shots down the field, but we want to be smart with when we take those shots. When the defense presents the coverage that we have that big shot down the field, let's take it. If they drop back in coverage and if we have a good check down, then get it to our running back."'
The Rams actually might have put up four more points against the Lions if a short pass to Torry Holt in the first quarter hadn't been ruled an incomplete pass.
The play was originally ruled as a fumble, but it was changed to an incomplete pass after the Rams issued a replay challenge.
Linehan disagreed with the initial call and the replay decision. He thought Holt broke the plane of the end zone before losing control of the ball.
"I thought it was a touchdown," Linehan said. "It's a judgment call. Was it tucked or whatever?"