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Linehan shares credit for victory
Posted on Tue, Sep. 12, 2006
Defense, special teams turn up big
BY STEVE KORTE
ST. LOUIS - After tasting victory in his first game as an NFL head coach, Scott Linehan spread the credit around the entire St. Louis Rams' organization.
"It feels great," Linehan said after the Rams' 18-10 win over the Denver Broncos on Sunday. "I have never been associated with a bad win. I feel happy for our coaches and our players and our organization.
"There has been a lot of changes around here in the last eight months, and it's never easy."
Linehan said he slept OK on Saturday night, despite feeling a little nervous about his first game as a head coach on any level.
"It was more anticipation," Linehan said. "One of my best friends called and said, 'You know you're walking out on the field as an NFL head coach tomorrow, what's it going to feel like?' I said, 'I wish you wouldn't have said that because I was trying not to think about it.'"
Linehan, who served as the offensive coordinator of the Miami Dolphins last year, said the win over the Broncos was a culmination of eight months of work.
Several new players on defense turned in big plays, including strong safety Corey Chavous, middle linebacker Will Witherspoon and cornerbacks Fahkir Brown and Tye Hill.
"It was great to see it come together," Linehan said. "Things don't happen overnight. We put in a lot of work over the last eight months putting it together.
"To see in the first game some of those key players that we added go out and perform the way they did was pretty special."
Linehan said the Rams can't dwell on the win. There are 15 more games on the schedule, starting with a road contest against the San Francisco ***** next Sunday.
"It felt great and I'll always remember it, and we all will," Linehan said. "It's a new start for all of us. It's a good start, but that's all it is. We have to back it up next week.
"We have a 24-hour rule, which means you dwell on it for 24 hours and then it's on to next week."
It looks like the Rams may be without Andy McCollum for an extended period of time as the veteran center left the game with an injury to his left knee in the second quarter.
"The prognosis right now doesn't look very good," Linehan said. "We'll get the MRI, check it tomorrow and update you there."
Linehan said Larry Turner, a third-year player out of Eastern Kentucky, did a good job as McCollum's replacement.
Defensive tackle Jimmy Kennedy suffered a broken hand on the second play of the game, but missed only one series before returning with a cast.
"I don't think I missed a series; it was my turn to get rotated out," Kennedy said. "I just have to roll with it. I'm not sitting out at all. I have a goal -- I'm shooting for the Pro Bowl -- and I think I can do it."
Solid special teams
The Rams' special teams, much-maligned in recent seasons, had a solid all-around performance against the Broncos.
Jeff Wilkins kicked a club-record six field goals, Matt Turk averaged 50 yards per punt on his three punts, the coverage units allowed no punt return longer than three yards and no kickoff return longer than 21 yards.
"I think our special teams were pretty special today," Linehan said.
Linehan was especially impressed with a 29-yard kickoff return by J.R. Reed, who was signed last week after being released by the Philadelphia Eagles.
"He wills himself 15 more yards," Linehan said. "It's 10 percent technique and 90 percent desire. I think that lends itself pretty well to special teams."
The Rams' inactives were cornerback Jerametrius Butler, guards Mark Setterstrom and Adam Goldberg, tight end Dominique Byrd, linebacker Jon Alston, defensive end Brandon Green, safety Dwaine Carpenter and emergency quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick.
• Isaac Bruce had five receptions to pass Rams wide receivers coach Henry Ellard and former Broncos tight Shannon Sharpe on the NFL's all-time reception list. Bruce now has 818 career receptions.
Bruce also moved up to 11th on the NFL's all-time list for receiving yards, passing Jimmy Smith (12,287 yards).
• Marc Bulger registered his 1,000th career completion with a 17-yard pass to Torry Holt in the third quarter. He now has 1,005 completions.
• The Rams are 14-1 in games that have appeared on CBS since the network re-acquired the NFL package in 1998. The lone loss was a 40-22 setback against the New England Patriots on Nov. 7, 2004.
Re: Linehan shares credit for victory," Kennedy said. "I just have to roll with it. I'm not sitting out at all. I have a goal -- I'm shooting for the Pro Bowl -- and I think I can do it."