Secondary receivers make a primary contribution
By Bill Coats
Of the Post-Dispatch
Sunday, Oct. 10 2004

SEATTLE - A week ago in San Francisco, second-year wideout Shaun McDonald
caught his first NFL touchdown pass. On Sunday at Qwest Field, he caught his
first game-winner.

"If that happens every other week, I'll be happy," McDonald said in the raucous
Rams locker room moments after their 33-27 overtime victory over the Seahawks.
McDonald and quarterback Marc Bulger hooked up for a 52-yard touchdown 3
minutes 2 seconds into the extra period that completed a staggering comeback.

The Rams were trailing 27-10 before Bulger found tight end Brandon Manumaleuna
for an 8-yard strike across the middle with 5:34 remaining in the fourth
quarter. The fourth-year pro made the catch in heavy traffic for his first
touchdown of the season. Then 2:04 later, Bulger connected with second-year
wide receiver Kevin Curtis on a post pattern that produced a 41-yard score -
Curtis' first TD of the year, too - and trimmed the Seattle edge to 27-24.

After Jeff Wilkins forced OT with a 36-yard field goal, the Rams won the toss
and were on the march again. On third and 8, the Seahawks blitzed and the Rams
adjusted: McDonald streaked past safety Terreal Bierria and Bulger lofted the
ball onto his fingertips.

"It came up perfect," McDonald said. "Marc waited for me, and he put the ball
right where it needed to be." Once the ball was in his hands, McDonald had just
one thought. "It was, 'Get to the end zone,'" he said. "I know not too many
people are going to be able to catch me once I get moving."

Curtis, hobbled early in the season by shin splints, seemingly has taken over
the No. 3 wideout spot from veteran Dane Looker. He's the team's fastest
receiver, and he sprinted by Bierria and cornerback Ken Lucas to get open for
his TD catch. "I had a feeling, for some reason, it was coming to me on that
play," Curtis said. "I just tried to run as hard as I could and make a play for
this team."

Manumaleuna altered his route when he saw Bulger scramble to the left on a play
that was designed to go to the right. "I just tried to mirror him, and he threw
it up there for me. "Luckily, I made the play," Manumaleuna said. He said the
score was vital for the Rams to "get a little momentum going. We were down in
the red zone so many times, and just being able to get a touchdown was big."

Wideouts Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt are the unchallenged leaders among Rams
pass-catchers: Together, they've hauled in 68 balls for 889 yards this year.
Although McDonald, Curtis and Manumaleuna have combined for only 18 catches and
219 yards, their contributions to Sunday's triumph were larger than their
numbers.

"It's big," Bulger said. "It takes the pressure off Isaac and Torry a little
bit. You need your third and fourth receivers against their nickel guy and dime
guy to win. That's the matchups you look for in this offense, and I think we
have some guys now that can beat those third and fourth guys.

"It forces (opposing defenses) to play more man and less zone, because we'll
keep beating them."