By Jim Thomas
Of the Post-Dispatch
Sunday, Dec. 12 2004

CHARLOTTE, N.C. - After watching his Rams fall behind 14-0 in the first
quarter, coach Mike Martz got in some, uh, face time with some young defenders
on the sidelines.

"They had that shocked look in their eyes a little bit," Martz said. "I got in
their face pretty good. A couple of them ended up coming out of it and making
some plays for us.

"They just have to know how to respond. You just can't lay down and take it,
where you get shocked and in awe. You just have to make a play, or else you
need to find another profession."

Martz feels there have been too many occasions this season when the Rams,
particularly the younger players, get down in the dumps when bad things happen.
That usually leads to more bad things.

After he challenged them to show some toughness in the first half, the Rams
limited the Panthers to two field goals the rest of the way.

Muffed call on muffed punt?

As if Chris Chandler's six interceptions weren't bad enough, the Rams committed
a seventh turnover on Shaun McDonald's muffed punt with 6 minutes 23 seconds to
go in the third quarter.

Carolina recovered on the Rams 21 but was unable to score in part because of
three penalties. Rams coaches, including Martz and special teams coach Mike
Stock, were incensed that there was no penalty called against the Panthers for
fair-catch interference on the muff.

Punt returners are supposed to have a "halo" of 2 yards on fair catches -
meaning defenders can't be in that area. It appeared that a couple of Panthers
were inside the halo, possibly distracting McDonald as he tried to catch the
ball.

"I just felt for certain that it was going to be called," Martz said. "And (the
referee) said he wasn't in position. That's his job to be in position to see
that. That's his job. So that's a hard one to swallow."

But Martz was quick to point out that the non-call didn't cost the Rams the
game.

Injury update

Linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa, arguably the Rams' best defensive player this
season, continued to play through a shoulder injury he has had since Game 1 of
the season. Tinoisamoa left the game twice after aggravating the injury, but
returned on both occasions after brief sideline stays.

"It's all right now," Tinoisamoa said. "It came out again."

Tinoisamoa said he will go back to wearing a harness to protect the shoulder.

The outlook isn't as good for safety Aeneas Williams, who aggravated a shoulder
injury on the Rams' first defensive series and did not return.

"It's real sore right now," said Williams, who had trouble moving his head
after the game. "I have to see a specialist some time this week to try to get a
final, more in-depth analysis. I've just got to make sure I get well before I
get back out there."

But with only three games remaining in the regular season, Williams doesn't
have much time to get well. "The MRI is showing that it's just wear and tear,"
he said.

Williams said he plans to see a specialist either today or Tuesday. Kevin
Garrett replaced Williams as the Rams' fifth defensive back, and struggled
early in that role. Even through DeJuan Groce was active Sunday after missing
two games with a sprained knee, Rams coaches decided to go with Garrett as
their third corner.

Limited duty for Little

A combination of dehydration and illness limited defensive end Leonard Little's
playing time in the second half Sunday. Little needed an IV to restore fluids
at halftime, and started feeling better in the second half. But he was limited
mainly to duty in passing situations in the third and fourth quarters, with
Tyoka Jackson getting most of the work at left end.