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Slumbering defense awakens after rare blocked field goal
By Bill Coats
ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
Wednesday, Oct. 26 2005
The Rams' defense, porous the three previous games, was providing only nominal
resistance again Sunday against New Orleans at the Edward Jones Dome. Marching
to touchdowns on their first two series, the Saints quickly took control.
The New York Giants, Seattle and Indianapolis had combined for 126 points in
wins over the Rams, the highest three-game total in franchise history. As the
Saints closed in on the end zone a third time, more of the same seemed
But then defensive end Tyoka Jackson blocked a field-goal attempt - the first
by the team in more than two years - and suddenly the defense began to stiffen.
"After the first two drives, we settled down," interim head coach Joe Vitt
said. "We got out of our defense what we needed."
That was a solid final three quarters, as the Rams rallied for a 28-17 victory.
"We hung in there," defensive tackle Ryan Pickett said. "We just kept playing."
In addition to mustering only a field goal through the final 45 minutes, the
Saints averaged just 62 yards per quarter after piling up 145 in the first.
That means 82 percent of New Orleans' scoring and 44 percent of its yardage
came in the opening quarter.
Vitt said "dumb penalties at stupid times" hurt the Rams early. Later,
increased aggressiveness helped keep the Saints down.
"We wanted to go in there with a heavy (blitz) package; we wanted to put some
pressure on" shifty quarterback Aaron Brooks, Vitt explained. "Once we calmed
down and just executed the game plan, we started to get into the flow of the
During their three-game losing streak, the Rams were minus 10 in turnover
ratio. They were plus one vs. the Saints.
Vitt said the players were reminded of the importance of takeaways and
giveaways, and they were pounded with empirical data chronicling their effects.
"We talked about it every day," Vitt said. "We had graphic stuff on the wall
... about the turnover ratio the last five years in the National Football
League, the percentage of wins, the percentage of losses, what they are when
you're at home, what the Rams specifically were. And the numbers are glaring.
"The players listened to it and believed in it, and obviously that was a big
determining factor in us winning."
A fumble recovery by strong safety Adam Archuleta gave the Rams the ball at the
New Orleans 42-yard line midway through the final period, setting up the
go-ahead touchdown. A 67-yard interception return by free safety Mike Furrey
with 1:55 to go sealed the victory.
The Rams watched workouts Tuesday for two free agents: punter Ryan Dutton and
running back Art Brown. Dutton, a Minnesota-Mankato product, was on Cleveland's
practice squad in 2004 and in Seattle's camp last summer. Brown was not taken
in the draft last spring out of East Carolina. No signing appears imminent. ...
Despite missing Sunday's game with a shoulder injury, Rams quarterback Marc
Bulger still ranks fourth in the league in passing yardage. His total of 1,769
yards trails leader Tom Brady of New England by only 52 yards.