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Rams Notebook: Watch out, Peyton, you’ve got some new competition
By Jim Thomas
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
NEW ORLEANS • Steven Jackson’s back felt good. Apparently, so did his throwing arm. Jackson caught the New Orleans defense totally off guard in the second quarter with a halfback pass that was cradled by tight end Randy McMichael for a touchdown.
Jackson was only too happy to talk about his passing exploits after the Rams’ 37-29 upset victory Sunday in the Superdome.
“It’s something I work hard at,” he said, tongue in cheek. “Watch film. I anticipated the pressure of the defense, so I was going to have to pop it over the top.”
Actually, the toss looked more like a shot put than a forward pass.
Or as quarterback Marc Bulger put it: “He throws about as well as I run.”
On second and goal from the New Orleans 2, Jackson took a handoff from Bulger and ran right as if running a sweep. The Saints’ defense took the bait and came hard at Jackson, who pulled up and lobbed the ball to a wide open McMichael. The score gave the Rams the lead for good at 14-7.
“It was in the air for a while,” Bulger said. “But it was a great call. It was a gutsy call. You don’t want to take anything away from our other backs, but if it’s them, I don’t know if it works as well.
“When Steven runs down to the goal line and wants to finish a play, he runs hard. Defenders know they have to bring everything to bring him down.”
What's my line?
Brett Romberg was slated to start at right guard Sunday, but an ankle injury suffered in the Seattle game Oct. 21 hasn't healed enough to let him play. So Romberg was a pregame scratch, which meant Nick Leckey got the start.
Leckey was unemployed until the Rams signed him Oct. 6. Starting left guard Milford Brown was signed early in training camp (July 29). Starting right tackle Brandon Gorin was signed Sept. 12. Gorin rotated Sunday with Rob Petitti, who was signed Oct. 24. It's been that kind of year for the offensive line, which has been decimated by injuries.
"I'm not even sure those guys know each other that well," coach Scott Linehan joked. "They might have to introduce themselves again. But that was a heck of an effort by those kids."
The unit played surprisingly well. Bulger was sacked four times, but two were coverage sacks, and the third came when Bulger said he missed a blitz read.
Bruce is injured <-- Uh-oh. I hadn't realized this
A good day for wide receiver Isaac Bruce ended early Sunday. The four-time Pro Bowler suffered what Linehan described as a strained hamstring late in the third quarter. Bruce missed the Arizona and Baltimore games in October with a hamstring injury.
"I believe it was the same hamstring," Linehan said. "I don't know how serious it is."
The injury occurred on an incomplete pass from Bulger to Bruce with 3 minutes 22 seconds left in the third quarter. Bruce did not return to the game. He finished with four catches for 62 yards, including his first TD catch of the season, a 9-yard pass from Bulger that gave the Rams a 27-7 lead with 4:43 to play in the third quarter. With several members of the military on hand to commemorate Veterans Day, Bruce celebrated his TD catch by handing the ball to a Marine seated near the Rams' bench.
Dante Hall sits
Wide receiver-return man Dante Hall joined Romberg on the sidelines Sunday with an ankle injury. They were among the Rams game-day inactives. The others: TE Aaron Walker (ankle); OG Richie Incognito (knee); TE Dominique Byrd; LB Tim McGarigle; and WR Travis Taylor. Marques Hagans was designated as the team's No. 3 — or emergency — quarterback.
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