Rams special teams get kicked around again
By Jim Thomas
Of the Post-Dispatch
Sunday, Jan. 16 2005

ATLANTA - When it comes to the Rams special teams, most of the attention this
season has centered on their woeful kickoff coverage. But on Saturday in the
Georgia Dome, another segment of the Rams' special teams unit reared its ugly
head: punt coverage. Or lack thereof.

Atlanta punt returner Allen Rossum tap-danced all over the Rams' punt coverage
attempts. He returned a Kevin Stemke punt 68 yards for a touchdown in the final
minute of the first half to give the Falcons a 28-14 lead. He had two other
long returns in the third quarter:

A 39-yard return set up Atlanta's fifth TD of the game.

A 45-yard return resulted in a Falcons field goal that gave them a
38-17 lead.

Rossum finished with 152 yards in punt returns, setting an NFL postseason
record.

"Do I have an answer for it?" coach Mike Martz said. "No."

Bulger may have broken thumb

Bulger was shaken up on a scramble at the end of the first half, suffering a
bruised back and a thumb injury on his left hand, which is not the one he uses
to throw.

"I think it's broke," Bugler said. "But it's my left hand. If we'd have played
next week, I would have played. ... The loss hurts worse than all that stuff."

Continuing his run of strong late-season play, Bulger completed 23 of 25 passes
for 299 yards. He threw two TD passes and one interception. He finished with a
passer rating of 99.5.

In the four games since returning from a bruised throwing shoulder, Bulger's
lowest passer rating was 97.5 Any rating in the 90s or above is considered very
good.

Still, Bulger's work was good for only 17 points Saturday, the same point total
for the Rams in their loss here on Sept. 19.

"I think we played a little tired at times," Bulger said. "But we were
definitely in it in the first half."

Nutten aggravates knee injury

Left guard Tom Nutten's gutty attempt to keep playing despite a torn medial
collateral ligament in his left knee ended early Saturday. Nutten aggravated
the injury and was replaced by rookie Larry Turner in the second quarter.

Starting cornerback Travis Fisher briefly left the game with an upset stomach
in the third quarter.

T. Jackson sits again

A sprained ankle sidelined Rams defensive captain Tyoka Jackson for the second
consecutive playoff game. A valuable swing player at end and tackle, Jackson
had four sacks and 30 tackles in the regular season. He was one of the team's
seven pregame inactives.

Also designated as inactive for the Rams were WR Isaac Bruce (stomach and groin
injuries); CB Dwight Anderson; FB Nick Burley; RB Arlen Harris (hamstring); G-C
Matt Lehr; and QB Jeff Smoker.

Among Atlanta's inactives were former Rams LB Jamie Duncan and CB Christian
Morton (University of Illinois and Riverview Gardens High).