By Bryan Burwell
St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Monday, Sep. 19 2005

Inside the cramped and nondescript confines of the visitors' locker room at Sun
Devil Stadium Sunday afternoon, in every corner of the room, players were
engaging in their own vivid recreations of the Rams' 17-12 victory over the
Arizona Cardinals.

On one wall, the defensive linemen were engaged in their normal postgame
reveling, laughing at the things that worked, and even poking fun at a few
things that didn't go so well. "I swear, I didn't think it was that hot out
there until that one play where I was chasing Kurt (Warner) around," Tyoka
Jackson hollered. "That's when it suddenly felt like it was 100 degrees out
there. I just about died chasing him down."

Just as the players broke out in a huge group laugh, defensive coordinator
Larry Marmie strolled across the room, and Jackson, Leonard Little, Jimmy
Kennedy and Ryan Pickett in unison shouted at him.

"Great call, Larry! Hell of a call!"

Clearly, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. About 20 minutes earlier, a
rather vocal contingent of St. Louis media types viewed the same play call - an
all-out blitz and sack of Warner on the game-deciding play - and also screamed
in unison at Marmie.

"Well, it's about time!"

Everyone agreed it was a great call, though clearly with entirely different
levels of appreciation for the situation. While the players saw it as a bit of
clever defensive chess playing - holding back the big blitz until Warner least
expected it - more cynical souls in the press box wondered why it took so long
to call a blitz on an immobile, fumble-happy passer.

As he stood in the commotion inside the locker room, even Marmie had to admit
that the idea of blitzing Warner much earlier had crossed his mind, too. "To be
honest," he said, "we probably should have come at him earlier than on that
last drive."

On a day when ugly performances - or at the very least, fairly unremarkable
ones - were sprouting up around the NFL, the Rams got out of the Arizona desert
with a cosmetically impaired victory, and no one inside their locker room was
complaining about it.

"Look around the NFL," quarterback Marc Bulger said. "Victories are hard to
come by. Things aren't always going to look good."

After two weeks, the Rams are 1-1, having lost a game they could have won and
won a game they could have lost. They are still very much a work in progress,
trying to define just how good they can be. After two games, we're seeing signs
that the defense seems to be on the road to recovery. After the relapse in San
Francisco, the special teams may have worked out their glaring imperfections as
well. But on offense, we're still looking at a team searching uncomfortably for

They clearly aren't a bunch of inept plodders. I've seen enough to know that
something potentially exciting definitely is there. It's almost a tease, with
Steven Jackson galloping through defenses like an oversized gazelle and the
passing attack sputtering just enough to make you imagine the tantalizing

"So if you're saying that the one thing that hasn't gotten itself together yet
is the passing game on this team, I'd say that's a pretty good thing," Jackson
said. "Trust me, there's no one inside this room that doesn't think that sooner
or later our passing game is going to click. Come on, we are the Rams. Our
offense is always going to be our strength. But it's nice to have a game where
the defense takes the team on its shoulder, too."