By Bill Coats
Of the Post-Dispatch
Sunday, Jan. 09 2005

On the heels of a forgettable rookie season, Rams wide receiver Kevin Curtis is
rapidly turning his sophomore year into a memorable one.

A broken leg suffered in the preseason limited Curtis, a third-round selection
from Utah State in the 2003 draft, to four games last season. He caught only
four passes for 13 yards, and he didn't play in the Rams' 23-20 playoff loss to
Carolina.

Nearly a year to the day later, Curtis was a key performer Saturday in the
Rams' 27-20 victory at Seattle. He caught four passes for a career-high 104
yards as the Rams became the first team with an 8-8 regular-season record to
win a playoff game.

Six days earlier, Curtis caught a personal-best six passes for 99 yards in a
32-29 overtime victory against the New York Jets that sent the Rams into the
playoffs. Curtis' late surge has boosted his season totals to 36 receptions for
528 yards.

Curtis shrugged off his two-game burst, saying, "It just kind of worked out
that way. I've had some balls thrown in my direction, and I've been able to
contribute a little more."

His coach, though, didn't play down the impact made by Curtis and other
emerging youngsters.

"We really are developing and maturing as a team," Mike Martz said moments
after the Seahawks' fourth-down pass with 21 seconds to go fell incomplete in
the end zone. "You could see some young players have some terrific success out
there. There are a lot of good young players here that played at a really high
level."

Three of Curtis' four grabs Saturday helped fuel scoring drives:

On a post route down the middle on the first snap of the
second quarter, he went 50 yards to the Seattle 5-yard line. Marshall Faulk
scored from the 1 two plays later, and the Rams led 14-3.

Curtis went 31 yards on a slant pattern to the Seahawks
25 midway through the third quarter. Jeff Wilkins' 38-yard field goal put the
Rams up 17-13.

He took the Rams' winning drive to the Seattle 24-yard
line with a 13-yard gain to the center of the field. After two Faulk runs,
tight end Cam Cleeland scored on a 17-yard toss from Marc Bulger.

"We go into every game knowing we can throw the ball, with the wideouts we
have," Curtis said. "We've done it before, and we knew we could do it again.
Beating (Seattle) three times in one year says something about this team. We're
feeling good right now."

The emergence of Curtis and fellow second-year receiver Shaun McDonald adds to
the team's growing list of weapons, tackle Orlando Pace pointed out.

"Both of those guys are young and they're fast," he said. "They're only going
to get better from here on out."

The road is a load


The Rams hadn't won a playoff game on the road since the 1989 season,
when they turned aside the New York Giants 19-13 in overtime in an NFC
divisional contest. They lost at San Francisco 30-3 the following week in the
conference title game.

Four of their five postseason wins since then had been at the Edward Jones
Dome. The exception was their 23-16 Super Bowl triumph over Tennessee at the
Georgia Dome in Atlanta.

Kennedy's foot aches


On the final drive Saturday, defensive tackle Jimmy Kennedy recorded his
first NFL sack.

Kennedy, the Rams' first-round draft choice in 2003, dropped quarterback Matt
Hasselbeck for a 6-yard loss, to the Rams 17, with 37 seconds left.

Kennedy, who has started the past six games, didn't play as much as he had
recently, because his right foot, which he broke early in training camp, still
is bothering him. Damione Lewis, whom Kennedy replaced in the lineup, saw
increased action against the Seahawks. Kennedy, whose foot was X-rayed after
the game at Qwest Field, said the area around the injury hadn't fully healed
and it was causing considerable pain.

"But I'm not trying to be a hero," Kennedy said. "My job is to play, no matter
what."