Rams cornerbacks survive barrage
By Bill Coats
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
HOUSTON — Wet-behind-the-ears cornerbacks Ron Bartell and Chris Johnson figured it was coming. And the Houston Texans didn't disappoint.
Bartell and Johnson, who went into Sunday's game with one NFL start between them, were targeted time and time again by Texans quarterback David Carr. Both youngsters struggled at times, Johnson more often than Bartell. But in the end, they had the last laugh: a 33-27 Rams victory in overtime.
"We got the win," Bartell said. "That's all that matters to me."
Carr went after Bartell, a rookie from NCAA Division I-AA Howard, and Johnson, a third-year pro who never had started a game, with a vengeance - and with considerable success. He completed 25 of 34 passes for 293 yards and three touchdowns, with one interception (by linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa on a deflection). His passer rating of 116.4 was his highest this season.
"I don't think Carr gets enough credit for how mobile he really is," Bartell said. "He got out of the pocket and hurt us a little bit."
Wideout Andre Johnson did the most damage on the receiving end, with 12 catches for 130 yards and a TD. No Texan had topped 100 receiving yards this year.
"Andre, he's a big-time, physical receiver," Chris Johnson said. And, no doubt, a big-eyed receiver, too, when given the kind of cushion - sometimes almost 10 yards at the line of scrimmage - that the Rams' secondary afforded him.
"It was just the coverage," Johnson said. "We were giving up the underneath routes."
Interim head coach Joe Vitt acknowledged that Johnson "was misaligned a couple of times. ... But he never quits. He plays as hard on the last play as he does on the first play."
Bartell filled in for the injured Travis Fisher (groin), as he did last week. Johnson was subbing for DeJuan Groce (concussion), and the secondary was further compromised with rookie Jerome Carter starting in place of strong safety Adam Archuleta (concussion).
"We were trying to find some coverage that our secondary felt comfortable with and that they could compete with," Vitt said. "It was difficult."
Carr threw all three of his scoring passes in the first half, which ended with Houston leading 24-3. "We came in at halftime and had a gut check," Chris Johnson said. The Texans mustered only a field goal thereafter.
"They have nothing to lose; it's a 1-9 team. They came out fighting real hard," Bartell said. "I think we did a great job responding in the second half. We only gave up three points. We battened down the hatches, came together as a team and ended up pulling it out."
Re: Rams cornerbacks survive barrage
lets hope they can cover a redskins' wide receiver corp with no one excpet for moss.. should be interesting