Win Over Lions Commentary
In reality, the biggest thing about the Rams 41-34 win over the visiting Detroit Lions was simply that it took Scott Linehan's club to a 3-1 record, and a tie for the division lead.
However, the circumstances of the game itself, and of the people involved in playing and coaching in it gave this particular Rams victory very special meaning for Rams nation that takes it beyond the league standings.
Any game that sees an incredible six lead changes, five in the second half, the last in the final two minutes, and an outcome in doubt until the last two seconds tends to live long in the minds of fans and those involved in the game. This particular shootout happened inside the Edward Jones Dome, against an offense coached by Mike Martz, and a squad full of ex-Rams, which makes it one for the ages. There was little doubt that losing to Martz new club was something the fans in the dome were not ready to accept gracefully.
The emotions in the stands boiled over several times during the roller-coaster contest that seemed to go on forever, no doubt the last of the afternoon games to finish by far, as police and security personnel were kept busy protecting the few overly vociferous Lions fans in the crowd.
The crowd was at an absolute fever pitch by the time Isaac Bruce put the Rams ahead to stay with a classic short TD pass just over the goalline near the right sideline. Then Bruce caught a two point conversion toss over the middle from Marc Bulger, who enjoyed a breakout game, as the fans finally were able to exhale, knowing that the worst that could happen the last two
minutes of the game would be a tie.
The way Martz' Detroit crew, featuring ex-Rams Mike Furrey, who caught two touchdown, passes and Az-Zahir Hakim, had moved the ball throughout the game, helped by great kickoff returns by the Lions Eddie Drummond, there was no way anyone in the dome thought it was over after Bruce scored. Even after the defense got the ball right back on an interception by
Jerome Carter, no one was happily lighting any victory cigars.
In the end , that was probably logical, seeing as how a rare Jeff Wilkins miss that would have iced the game caused one last heart attack for Rams fans. It looked like the Lions would receive a miracle similar to the one the Rams received a week earlier in Arizona, as pass interference was called on Tye Hill covering Hakim in the end zone with just ten seconds left.
As had happened seemingly too many times on this afternoon, it took a few minutes of officiating discussion to finally determine the outcome of the play. In the end, it was only the fingertip of MLB Will WItherspoon that saved the day for the Rams, as he tipped the hail mary pass from Jon Kitna just before it reached Hakim, nullifying the flag, and leaving the Lions one last shot on fourth down. That pass went too far for the dangerous Roy Williams,
who Martz has already forged into his biggest weapon, and at last, all that remained was a
kneel down for the huge win.
Though the defense took a step backward against the Lions and "Martz Motown Madness", something that had to stick in the craw of Martz long time nemisis Jim Haslett, the offense seems to have finally found it's rhythm. Bulger was spectacular, again leading the team without an interception as the team was plus three and turnover free again. Steven Jackson
became a big weapon in the passing game for the first time in 2006, and the tight end seems to have returned as a receiving option, with Joe Klopfenstein hauling in a touchdown
pass, his first in the NFL.
This game was won mostly because the Lions turned the ball over one too many times, and once again it was proven that whether the game ends up a 10-9 defensive struggle or a 41-34 offensive explosion, turnovers will almost always be the deciding factor. It was a game familiar to Rams fans from when Martz was on the Rams sideline, and even a great offensive game couldn't save the team from a loss when turnovers reared their ugly head.
Re: Win Over Lions Commentary
Yep, turnovers are killers. Good thing we've been able to force them, 'cause I don't even want to think where we'd be without them.
Re: Win Over Lions Commentary
There was no TV or radio access to the game for me so it was difficult to "feel" the heart rate and the blood pressure inside the dome, especially during the last few minutes.
I can just imagine, however. Bulger and Bruce connecting on one short, timely TD then on a two-point coversion. Money missing one. The interference flag Vs. Hill on the last ticks of the clock, then Refs discussing and surmizing for the correct call.
Thanks, Barry. It is this type of reporting that enhances the imagination and often fixates the right Ramimage in the mind. ...What a game!