By Bryan Burwell
Of the Post-Dispatch
Monday, Oct. 11 2004

Deep in the catacombs of Seattle's fabulous football stadium early Sunday
evening, the Qwest Field visitors' locker room was filled with all the familiar
background noise of victory.

"Ooooooh baby, that was sweeeeet!!"

"Awwww they thought they had us, didn't they?"

"Shoooot, that's what I'm talkin' about, man! This is OUR house, baby, OUR
HOUSE!!"

Amid the distant hiss of shower water, rowdy Rams players could not stop
reveling in the feel-good buzz of their come-from-behind 33-27 overtime victory
against the previously unbeaten Seahawks. Scattered throughout the room,
players savored the sweet taste of victory, still fresh in their mouths. "The
only thing missing is a little bubbly," Torry Holt hooted. "But I guess that'll
have to wait."

But if you listened very carefully, there was another sound emanating
throughout this locker room on Sunday. It was the sound of players swelling
with confidence. Both championship-hardened veterans and wide-eyed NFL
neophytes roamed through the locker room with a strut and a resolve that we
hadn't seen before.

Given up for dead barely two weeks ago, the Rams are walking a little taller
right now, flexing their muscles just a bit more, thanks to that potentially
season-defining victory over the Seahawks. It's impossible to overplay the
prospective value of a game like that to both the Rams and Seahawks. When you
kick a so-called Super Bowl contender in the gut like that in their own house,
and do it in such a spectacular fashion, it's no telling how high it could
propel the Rams soaring, or how low down it could send the Seahawks reeling.

Victories like this can be stimulants. But defeats like that can be
season-killing downers. We know the Rams have the championship-seasoned
veterans who understand the benefits of moments like this. The question now is
whether the green-but-growing 'Hawks will develop a similar resolve.

But here's something else to mull over while waiting for the NFC West race to
define itself.

If games like that can alter the course of a season for teams, is it possible
that it could do the same thing for Mike Martz's NFL profile? With nearly 70
percent of the country watching this game on TV, Martz did everything in that
second half that we've all been begging him to do. He called a great game. He
showed both a patient and fast and furious side when no one expected it, but
always precisely when the Rams needed it most.

But the funny thing is, while all of us outside that locker room seem to need
convincing that Martz is the right man for this job, inside the Rams locker
room, all you heard from every corner of the room were all these excited
players singing the man's praises.

"This game - not just the victory, but the way we achieved the victory -
continues to validate what Coach Martz has been telling us about our team since
the start of training camp," said Aeneas Williams. "He told us a while ago that
we were a good team on the rise. He told us that it would take some resolve,
but we would get there."

On Monday, when asked how gratifying it was for him to hear that his players
had bought into his program, Martz sounded almost apologetic, and just a little
surprised. "Look, I don't say this to sound arrogant, but that's my job," he
said softly. "That's what I'm supposed to do."

Five weeks into the season, much to the surprise of a lot of folks, Martz is
doing a darned good job. We thought the Rams were dead. But now with two big
road victories in a row, the 3-2 Rams may have just gotten through the roughest
times and are surging in the right direction.

"We're improving," Martz said. "But we're not there yet. We won one game.
That's all. We have a lot of season left, and there are still a lot of bumps in
this road to go. We haven't matured like we need to, and we are not where we
need to be, or want to be, or will be. But we are making progress."

The players "believe in what we are doing," he said matter of factly. "And
that's the most important thing."