Jackson may not play against Falcons

BY STEVE KORTE




ST. LOUIS - Marc Bulger's game-winning touchdown pass to Cam Cleeland in the St. Louis Rams' playoff win over the Seattle Seahawks on Saturday was evidence of how much he has matured as a quarterback, Rams coach Mike Martz said on Monday.

"The window to make that throw is not very long," Martz said. "You have to have great confidence to make that throw. Most quarterbacks would be reluctant to make that throw. He didn't hesitant, he didn't bat an eye, and he just put (the ball) right home."

Cleeland managed to pull down the high pass from Bulger right before taking a hard hit from Seattle safety Ken Hamlin.

"Probably one of the better catches we've had since I have been here in terms of being extremely meaningful," Martz said of Cleeland's catch, which put the Rams ahead 27-20 with 2:11 left to play. "It was a little bit like Ricky's catch against Tampa Bay to win that game. I think it was outstanding and it deserves to go down in Rams folklore as being one of the franchise's biggest catches."

Martz said Bulger has come back better than ever from a bruised throwing shoulder that sidelined him for two games late in the season.

"There is no question about his arm strength," Martz said. "I don't know if Marc would be happy that I said this, but his arm looked weary. I didn't realize that he was actually hurt. He didn't say anything to anybody. After that time off and coming back, he has some zip on the ball that is pretty remarkable, and it's one of the reasons he is throwing the deep ball so doggone well."

Bulger had pass completions of 52 and 50 yards in the first half against the Seahawks.

Bulger has thrown for 988 yards with six touchdowns and three interceptions in his three games back from the shoulder injury. He's completing 68 percent of his passes over that span.

"He is so accurate and so quick with the ball, and he knows what is going on out on the field better than he ever has before," Martz said.

Martz said Bulger's knowledge of the Rams' offense has enabled him to be more creative in preparing the team's offensive game plans in recent weeks.

"I think Marc right now is capable of doing anything that we ask him to do, obviously within reason, but we can be unreasonable sometimes," Martz said. "He is playing at the highest level right now. He is truly remarkable. Some of the things that he sees and does, I didn't know that he could do."

Players of the Game

The Rams' coaching staff has chosen wide receiver Kevin Curtis as it's offensive player of the game, defensive tackle Ryan Pickett as it's defensive player of the game and Mike Furrey as its special teams player of the game for the win over the Seahawks.

Curtis had four catches for career-high 107 yards against the Seahawks. He had a 50-yard reception on the first play of the second quarter, setting up a 1-yard touchdown run by Marshall Faulk.

Pickett had seven tackles, a quarterback hit and a quarterback pressure.

"It could have been any one of five guys," Martz said of the number of defensive standouts the Rams had against the Seahawks.

Linebacker Tommy Polley had 13 unassisted tackles and assisted tackle and cornerback Jerametrius Butler had six tackles and two passes broken up.

Furrey, who was inactive for the previous seven games, had two tackles in addition to being an effective wedge buster on kickoff coverage.

"He only had two tackles, but he probably disrupted everything that happened on the kickoff returns," Martz said. "He went through the wedge and disrupted the entire situation there so somebody else could make the tackle."

Injury report

Martz said defensive tackle Tyoka Jackson is the only Rams player in danger of missing the team's game against the Falcons.

Jackson was inactive for the game against the Seahawks due to a sprained ankle.

"Everything does look positive for everybody with the exception Tyoka, who is still pretty questionable," Martz said. "Everybody else is in good shape. We should have everybody else."

That includes left guard Tom Nutten, who had to leave the game against the Seahawks after aggravating a knee injury in the fourth quarter.

"Since 1999, his nickname has been 'Lazerus,'" Martz said of Nutten. "He has always rose up sometime during the week. He didn't re-injure it. He just aggravated it, I guess. There is no new damage to it. He's much further along right now than he was at this time last week."