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  1. #1
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    Warner comes so very close to magical win

    By Bernie Miklasz
    St. Louis Post-Dispatch
    09/18/2005



    TEMPE, ARIZ. For a few precious moments you could close your eyes, let your imagination and sentiment lift you up and take you on a return trip to another place in another time. Back in the day, nothing seemed impossible for Kurt Warner. He'd take the Rams on these magical journeys to the end zone, and NFL defenses were helpless to stop him.

    So on Sunday at Sun Devil Stadium, with Arizona trailing Warner's former team 17-12, Warner got the ball and a last chance with just under 2 minutes remaining in the fourth quarter. It was hot as a barbecue pit down on the field, but Warner calmly completed all six of his passing attempts, picking up key parcels of real estate totaling 76 yards. And suddenly the Cardinals were 5 yards from the end zone and a winning touchdown.

    Old No. 13 was on the brink of recapturing his brilliant past. He was about to take down Mike Martz, he was about to upstage Marc Bulger, he was about to give his fiercely loyal fans a reason to clear their throats for delirious I-told-you-so calls to the Monday sports-radio talk shows.

    "That's what you're thinking - 'Here we go.' All we need is one. One play, one shot, one touchdown," Warner said. "And we win the game. Perfect scenario, perfect place to be in."

    But this is 2005, not 1999, and Warner plays for the Arizona Cardinals now. They've been a work in progress since 1947, when the franchise last captured an NFL championship. So the ending was almost predictable: Safety Adam Archuleta swooped in on a rare and belated Rams blitz and sacked Warner. With the final seconds ticking away, Cardinals coach Dennis Green wasted time getting new personnel onto the field. Next, an Arizona lineman moved prematurely; a penalty flag went up, and time expired. Just like that: comeback over, game over, and a flat tire for the populous St. Louis chapter of the Warner bandwagon.

    "It's always more disappointing," Warner said, "when you're in a situation like that and don't get it done."

    As he dressed in the spartan home locker room, Warner couldn't shake a look of disgust and dejection. Cardinals owner Bill Bidwill quietly moved in to offer Warner some encouraging words.

    "We were right there," Warner told Bidwill. "Right there."

    In his first game against the team that gave him his first chance in 1999 and his release in 2004, Warner started slowly. With three fumbles (one lost) and an interception in the first half, Warner looked like he'd fulfill the doom-and-gloom prophecies of his critics. He looked like another relic, left in the desert. Not so fast ...

    Warner feels he has something to prove, but for unselfish reasons. He claims he's never lost confidence in his ability. And in the second half, Warner just about converted the skeptics.

    Overcoming penalties and sacks, Warner completed 17 of 23 passes in the second half for 192 yards. He was dynamic in the fourth quarter, completing 12 of 14 throws for 153 yards and a QB rating of 112.2. This was classic Warner. Indeed, Rams defensive coordinator Larry Marmie made it much easier for Warner by inexplicably declining to blitz to exploit a weak offensive line and Warner's immobility.

    Still, the Rams held Warner off. And gave him a hand. "I respect those guys and I believe they respect me," Warner said. "It's just a bunch of guys competing out there. Help each other up, and then go at it again."

    Warner never did crack the end zone; Arizona settled for four field goals. On the final possession, Warner may have ordinarily spiked the ball to stop the clock and preserve time. But he didn't, or couldn't, because Green sent new personnel onto the field, hoping to catch the Rams off guard.

    "No question I wanted to win this game," Warner said. "I wanted to win it bad. It was more from an Arizona organization standpoint than it was for Kurt Warner's benefit. Obviously it would have been nice, beating the Rams, them being in the division, being that I played for them. But it wasn't really in the back of my mind."

    Warner hugged Martz and many of his former teammates before the game, and exchanged more greetings afterward. "There was really no emotion about that," he said. "It really wasn't about playing against them. I enjoyed seeing the familiar faces, but I'm part of the Arizona organization now, and I'm happy."

    As he left the locker room, Kurt got a kiss from his wife, Brenda, who is carrying their twins, due to be born later this year. Even after a tough loss, Kurt perked up. Family always does that for him, but it could be that Warner realizes he's close to regaining that winning touch.

    Warner didn't leave his heart in St. Louis, and he didn't leave all of his skills there, either. As Warner showed Rams in the second half, this veteran righthander has a few fastballs left in that right arm.


  2. #2
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    Re: Warner comes so very close to magical win

    I am still a huge Warner fan, but I find it interesting that the Cardinals lost this game the same way the Rams lost multiple games over the last few seasons, particularly with Warner at QB. I recall a Redskins game a few years ago, where the Rams lost lost by 3. They had the ball in field goal range late, and Warner fumbled it away for the loss.
    They also lost to the Saints last year in ridiculous fashion (not Warner's fault) and the loss last week against SF. If Bulger doesn't throw the pick, they probably at least get to OT.
    It was nice to finally see the bonehead ending happen to one of the Rams' opponents.

  3. #3
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    Re: Warner comes so very close to magical win

    The guy fumbles a couple of times, misses an open receiver for a td by underthrowing a deep ball and mismanages the clock at the end of the game inside the ten yard line and he is "almost a hero?"

    god forbid bulger did the same stuff, guys on this board would be crucufying him.

    ramming speed to all

    general counsel


  4. #4
    AvengerRam's Avatar
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    Re: Warner comes so very close to magical win

    Quote Originally Posted by general counsel
    The guy fumbles a couple of times, misses an open receiver for a td by underthrowing a deep ball and mismanages the clock at the end of the game inside the ten yard line and he is "almost a hero?"

    god forbid bulger did the same stuff, guys on this board would be crucufying him.
    Never have truer words been posted on this board.

  5. #5
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    Re: Warner comes so very close to magical win

    Never have truer words been posted on this board.
    How ironic that two of the statements aren't true. Warner didn't mismange the game he did just as his coach was directing. The interception did happen but the db made a great..."Great" catch on the ball. The pass was underthrown only in that it would have hit the receiver in stride in the chest rather than in his outstretched arms. It wasn't a bad throw or bad decision, just a great recovery and catch by the db.

    The phantom fumble was ugly, the stripped fumble was poor ball protection although he was getting dogpiled at the time and I think the third fumble was when his own lineman ran into him and knocked it loose. Warner did get lucky that one of his other passes wasn't intercepted but the "shoulda been's" usually get balanced out by the aforementioned great plays and tipped balls.

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    Re: Warner comes so very close to magical win

    The "true" words to which I was referring were those contained in GC's observation that if Marc Bulger had the same game as Warner, with the same outcome, he'd be ripped to shreds by Ram fans.

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    Re: Warner comes so very close to magical win

    I don't think that's particularly true. Bulger had virtually the same game as Warner, statistically and I haven't heard too much backlash. There was one post, but that one got filed with the lunatic fringe.

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    Re: Warner comes so very close to magical win

    Sorry to disagree molk, but i think the reciever was open earlier in the play (before the tv replay showed) and that the ball was underthrown. Groce made a great play, if the ball was out in front, its a td. I am not sure your point on the end of the game clock management, are you suggesting that dennis green, the great sainted one while martz is an idiot, directed warner to run the play and not spike the ball?

    my point really was that while warner played pretty well, if bulger did the same thing he would have been killed rather than saying "he almost won the game"

    Last week bulger threw for over 300 yards and threw two real bad ones in 56 tries and people were all over him for "losing" the game with the bad throw at the end, rather than for bringing us back, making some great throws while getting killed all game and having passes dropped in the end zone for tds as he was being criticized for not putting the ball into the end zone.

    I agree that warner and bulger were comparable yesterday, that was not my point.

    ramming speed to all

    general counsel


  9. #9
    AvengerRam's Avatar
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    Re: Warner comes so very close to magical win

    Quote Originally Posted by moklerman
    I don't think that's particularly true. Bulger had virtually the same game as Warner, statistically and I haven't heard too much backlash. There was one post, but that one got filed with the lunatic fringe.
    Bulger did not have the same game as Warner. He was on the team that won (I could also point out that he had two TD drives and no fumbles, but that's almost beside the point).

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    general counsel's Avatar
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    Re: Warner comes so very close to magical win

    Keep in mind also that the INT charged to bulger was really a fumble by steven jackson on the shovel pass.

    ramming speed to all

    general counsel


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    Re: Warner comes so very close to magical win

    are you suggesting that dennis green, the great sainted one while martz is an idiot, directed warner to run the play and not spike the ball?
    Yes, that's actually the case. After the sack, Green sent in multiple substitutions. That's what took so long for the O to get set up. He didn't send in the substitutes to spike the ball he was trying to create a mismatch. It was the coach's decision to run a play and not spike the ball.
    (I could also point out that he had two TD drives and no fumbles, but that's almost beside the point).
    ...you'd be wrong, but you could point it out. Bulger did fumble yesterday. I don't know that I'd credit Bulger for Jackson's td run, but yes, he was the qb when Jackson scored.
    Keep in mind also that the INT charged to bulger was really a fumble by steven jackson on the shovel pass.
    That's true, it was an unlucky break but those things just average out. I'm glad you bring it up though. On that particular play, I don't think Bulger did anything wrong. Just like the deep pass down the sideline I don't think Warner did anything wrong. It didn't work out, but it was a good read, good throw(not perfect, but pretty darned accurate 40 yards down the field. I still say Johnson didn't slow down at all.).

  12. #12
    AvengerRam's Avatar
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    Re: Warner comes so very close to magical win

    Okay, how about this:

    WHO CARES!!!
    Kurt Warner isn't the Rams' QB anymore. Why do any of us need to worry about how he played?

    I'll take Bulger over Warner in 2005 (and beyond), thank you very much.

  13. #13
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    Re: Warner comes so very close to magical win

    Apparently you do since you post so much about him!

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    Re: Warner comes so very close to magical win

    Quote Originally Posted by general counsel
    I am not sure your point on the end of the game clock management, are you suggesting that dennis green, the great sainted one...directed warner to run the play and not spike the ball?
    Sometimes I wonder about you guys. Really I do. By now you should know that everything is M & M's fault.

    KW's failure to spike the ball at the end was due to his upbringing in M & M's system relative to no audibilizing and blind obedience to listening to Coach.

    In other unrelated news, MM accepts blame for the poorly managed evacuation of NO. In an untelevised news conference, MM is reported to have said: "I told Katrina to around, not down. But ... we'll fix that."

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    moklerman's Avatar
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    Re: Warner comes so very close to magical win

    It's not absolving Warner of anything or blaming anyone else. After the sack, Green sent players in from the sideline and others had to run off the field. Whether the ball was spiked or they ran a play, the same amount of time was going to run off the clock. It has nothing to do with Martz.

    Speaking of Martz, has there been any complaining about him in regards to this week's game? He used his rb's, didn't waste any challenges and got the win. Please stop playing the victim folks, Martz usually gets criticized when he deserves it.

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