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  • Bulger, Faulk on in finale

    Bulger, Faulk on in finale
    By Jim Thomas
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Friday, Sep. 03 2004

    OAKLAND, Calif. - Marc Bulger, Marshall Faulk and Co. looked sharp on the
    opening drive for the Rams. Very sharp. Then they called it a night. Next stop,
    Arizona on Sept. 12 at the Edward Jones Dome in the Rams' regular-season

    Bulger completed three of three passes for 66 yards and a touchdown, before
    giving way to Chris Chandler in the Rams' preseason finale Thursday against
    Oakland. Call it a short and very sweet night, because Bulger left with a 158.3
    passer rating - the highest passer rating possible.

    Faulk got five opening-drive touches, later giving way to Lamar Gordon. That's
    right, Gordon was back three weeks after undergoing ankle surgery.

    "We like to get the ball to Marshall, and things went to plan," Bulger said.
    "Hopefully, it'll give us some momentum going into the Arizona game. I think we
    were ready to go after last week's performance. But it's nice to shore some
    things up and then get a look at the young guys."

    But despite the good start by the Rams' offense, the defense faltered in the
    fourth quarter. A late Oakland touchdown gave the Raiders a 28-24 victory.
    Rookie Jeff Smoker's Hail Mary pass for the Rams was intercepted in the end
    zone by linebacker Tim Johnson as time expired.

    The Rams finished the preseason with a 1-3 record, their third straight losing
    record in preseason play. The Rams are 2-10 in exhibitions since the start of
    the 2002 preseason.

    After a strong finish in the Washington game, the Rams defense struggled
    through another slow start against Oakland.

    The Raiders marched 77 yards with the opening kickoff for a touchdown, making
    it four straight games that Rams opponents had scored on their first
    possession. Chicago and Washington opened with field goals, and Kansas City
    started with a touchdown.

    Oakland converted three third-down plays on the drive, including a scrambling
    five-yard TD pass from Rich Gannon to Justin Fargas. Rams tackle Damione Lewis
    got a hand on Gannon but was unable to bring him down.

    Sloppy tackling helped the Raiders keep the drive going, with Adam Archuleta
    and Aeneas Williams missing a tackle on one third-and-9 play, and Pisa
    Tinoisamoa missing a tackle on another third and 9.

    After the Oakland touchdown, the Rams' offense responded in kind. The Rams had
    managed only one first-quarter field goal all preseason. But this time, the
    Rams put up seven on their first possession.

    Faulk was featured on the drive, carrying three times for nine yards and
    catching two passes for 20 yards. But the big play was a 46-yard completion
    from Bulger to tight end Cam Cleeland on the Rams' fourth offensive play.
    Cleeland got behind a linebacker and then ran over safety Derrick Gibson, who
    was helped off the field to get his shoulder examined.

    The play, which carried to the Oakland 9, was the second-longest gain of the
    preseason for the Rams - topped only by Torry Holt's 58-yard reception last
    week against Washington.

    After Faulk gained two yards up the middle, he caught a seven-yard swing pass
    from Bulger for a touchdown with 5 minutes 33 seconds remaining in the opening
    quarter. The Rams successfully picked up a blitz on the play, with Faulk
    breaking a tackle at the 3 to reach the end zone.

    But Oakland responded with a big play of its own in the second quarter. In at
    quarterback for the Raiders, Kerry Collins hit Alvis Whitted over the middle
    for a 60-yard touchdown with 9:28 left in the opening half. In keeping with the
    early theme for the Rams defense, two Rams missed tackling opportunities on the
    play, most notably backup safety Rich Coady.

    It was the longest gain from scrimmage against the Rams this preseason. And
    save for the 44-yard pass from Patrick Ramsey to Taylor Jacobs, which resulted
    in a lost fumble by Jacobs, it was the only play from scrimmage longer than 26
    yards against the Rams in exhibition play.

    The Rams got back on the scoreboard late in the first half on a 27-yard field
    goal by Jeff Wilkins with 2:14 left in the half. The Rams had a chance for a
    touchdown, facing a third and eight from the Oakland 9. But Grant Irons of the
    Raiders got around left tackle Scott Tercero, hitting Chandler just as he
    released the ball. The play was ruled incomplete and out trotted Wilkins for
    the field goal, and the Rams trailed 14-10 at the half.

    Cleeland, who missed the Rams' first two preseason games with a hamstring
    injury, was heard from again in the third quarter. He caught a 3-yard TD pass
    from Smoker on a third-and-goal play midway through the third quarter, giving
    the Rams a 17-14 lead.

Related Topics


  • Nick
    Rams Recap: More good than bad in last-minute loss
    by Nick
    Rams Recap: More good than bad in last-minute loss
    Post-Dispatch Online Sports Columnist
    Thursday, Sep. 02 2004

    Orlando who?

    For a night, anyway, the Rams excelled with their various offensive line
    combinations at Oakland on Thursday night. They didn't miss the unsigned
    Orlando Pace, the hobbled Chris Dishman, the disabled Kyle Turley or the
    retired Dave Wohlabaugh.

    The Rams played a strong, sound, well-rounded offensive game. They got their
    key starters in and out of their preseason finale without incident.

    They didn't quite get the victory the Raiders rallied for a 28-24 victory in
    the final minute of the exhibition but this final exhibition game produced
    more good than bad.

    The makeshift offensive line created consistent running room for Marshall
    Faulk, Lamar Gordon, rookie Steven Jackson and Arlen Harris. This impressive
    foursome took turns pounding the Raiders defense.

    Also, quarterbacks Marc Bulger, Chris Chandler and Jeff Smoker all got ample
    time to operate the passing game. The Rams consistently moved the ball
    regardless of who was running the show.

    On the down side, the defense missed too many tackles and allowed Oakland a
    couple of late touchdown drives. That unit will have plenty to work on before
    the Rams, 1-3 in the preseason, face Arizona in their season opener Sept. 12 at
    The Ed.


    * There's another combination that works! Bulger fired a strike to tight end
    Cam Cleeland, who bounced off three tacklers on a terrific 46-yard gain. The
    Rams are threatening to make better use of their tight ends in the passing game
    this season.

    That would be a good thing.

    * Just like in the old days, Bulger threw a quick outlet pass to running back
    Faulk in the red zone. That 7-yard passing play was the Rams' first touchdown
    in a first quarter during this preseason.

    Bulger earned a perfect quarterback rating for his brief three-pass outing.

    * Rookie linebacker Brandon Chillar blew in on a blitz, crushed Raiders
    quarterback Kerry Collins and jarred the football loose. He got the sack, but
    not the fumble recovery. Still, this is the stuff Tommy Polley used to do.

    * It was good to see receiver Kevin Curtis sort-of-recovered from his case of
    shin splints. He accelerated on a slant route to nab the first pass Chandler
    threw in the game.

    * Then he ran a deep curl-in route to catch still another pass from Chandler.
    Curtis showed some heart playing through that injury.

    * It was great to see running back Gordon recovered from his ankle surgery. He...
    -09-03-2004, 01:07 AM
  • Nick
    Rams put one in victory column
    by Nick
    Rams put one in victory column
    By Jim Thomas
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Saturday, Aug. 28 2004

    For a week, at least, Rams Nation can exhale.

    On Friday at Edward Jones Dome, the pass-blocking was much improved against
    Washington. So was the defense. And despite some erratic throws by Marc Bulger
    - so erratic that he drew a smattering of boos from the home crowd - he left
    with a 98.6 passer rating after tossing a touchdown pass to Torry Holt.

    Exhibition or not, it added up to a much-improved performance by the Rams after
    Monday night's debacle in Kansas City, and a much-needed 28-3 victory over the
    Redskins by the previously winless Rams.

    "This is the team that we see every day in practice," coach Mike Martz said. "I
    know there's a lot of panic and everything - but this is the team that we see
    every day."

    Perhaps it was in homage to Don Coryell, the offensive legend whom Martz
    studied and idealized as a player and young coach in California. Coryell was
    honored before the game, and in "Air" Coryell style, the Rams aired it out
    Friday against the Redskins, throwing 22 times in the first half.

    "I wanted to get some receivers involved, and I wanted to get Marc going a
    little bit," Martz said. "He missed a couple throws early in the game, and then
    settled down and had a real nice drive."

    Bulger completed six of 12 passes for 78 yards before giving way to Chris
    Chandler midway through the second quarter. Chandler, in his best outing of the
    exhibition season, completed nine of 15 attempts for 190 yards. His passer
    rating was identical to Bulger's (98.6).

    Many of those passes were deep shots - and none deeper than the 58-yard
    completion from Chandler to Holt late in the second quarter. Holt beat Fred
    Smoot on the post pattern, getting dragged down at the 1. Chandler, 38, scored
    on a quarterback sneak on the next play, giving the Rams a 14-3 lead with 3
    minutes 47 seconds to play in the first half.

    "Torry ran a great route," Chandler said. "The safety held on the inside
    (leaving the middle open), and Torry just outran everybody."

    Chandler also completed a 35-yard touchdown pass to Shaun McDonald late in the
    third quarter.

    "He showed why he's been in the league so long and why he's stuck around,"
    McDonald said. "He still has it after all these years."

    Things started out slowly for the Rams, on both sides of the ball. Washington
    took the opening kickoff and marched 62 yards for a field goal. At this point
    in the proceedings the Rams had been outscored 30-10 in the first half this...
    -08-27-2004, 11:46 PM
  • RamWraith
    Rams regain their balance
    by RamWraith
    By Jim Thomas
    Of the Post-Dispatch

    SAN FRANCISCO - Coaches will try just about anything to motivate their teams. And in the days leading up to Sunday night's contest with San Francisco, Mike Martz told his squad he didn't think the ***** were very good.

    "Yeah, and he was (saying things) like - 'And it's San Francisco, and it's personal,'" defensive tackle Damione Lewis said.

    The Rams players apparently took the coach at his word. Offensively, they pounded the ***** on the ground, and in the air. Defensively, they harassed ***** quarterback Tim Rattay and kept running back Kevan Barlow bottled up most of the evening. The result was a much-needed 24-14 victory over rival San Francisco that evened the Rams' record at 2-2.

    "This win is very important to us," Martz said. "It's a good feeling, because we came out here the last two years and were embarrassed."

    The Rams lost 30-10 here a year ago and 37-13 here in 2002. But they dominated the ***** in the opening half, and really didn't let them back in the game in the second half - despite a couple of fourth-quarter touchdowns.

    Eschewing the traditional pregame player introductions, the Rams came out on the field en masse, headed directly to midfield, and proceeded to stomp on the *****' helmet painted on the turf at Monster Park. It proved to be symbolic of what was to come.

    By halftime, St. Louis had a 24-0 lead, had outgained the ***** 251 yards to 82, and had given NFC West-leading Seattle - next week's opponent - something to think about. Rediscovering the running game, the Rams had a 2-to-1 advantage in time of possession in the first half.

    After seeing their NFL-record 420-game scoring streak end last week in a shutout loss to Seattle, the ***** didn't get on the scoreboard Sunday until early in the fourth quarter, with a touchdown before a missed 2-point conversion. But it was too little, way too late.

    Isaac Bruce enjoyed his fourth consecutive 100-yard receiving game. Marshall Faulk enjoyed his second 100-yard rushing day of the season. The Rams are 26-0 when Faulk rushes for at least 100 yards.

    Fast and furious became methodical and productive on the Rams' opening drive. After running the ball only 15 times in each of the two previous games, Martz called nine running plays on the series, with Faulk handling the first eight carries for 34 yards.

    But the ninth carry went to - surprise! - fullback Joey Goodspeed. In his third season, Goodspeed made his first NFL carry a memorable one. On fourth and 1 from the San Francisco 2, he plowed up the middle for a touchdown.

    The surprises continued on the next play from scrimmage. The Rams sent linebacker Tommy Polley on a blitz and he hit ***** quarterback Tim Rattay from behind just as Rattay was about to throw downfield....
    -10-04-2004, 08:53 AM
  • RamDez
    Rams Recap: Not pretty, but it's a win
    by RamDez
    Post-Dispatch Online Sports Columnist

    No, it wasn't pretty. Yes, it still counted as one full victory.

    The Rams managed to beat the lowly Arizona Cardinals 17-10 at The Ed, but they should have demolished them.

    "We just couldn't put them away when we had the opportunity," coach Mike Martz said.

    Tackle Orlando Pace and the rest of the jerry-rigged offensive line dominated the Gridbirds. Veteran Marshall Faulk ran like a kid again -- adding another 100-yard game to his list -- and young Steven Jackson ran like a vet.

    The defensive unit played solidly across the board, holding the injury-riddled Gridbirds to one touchdown drive. The Rams owned the line of scrimmage all afternoon.

    So why did it take them almost three hours to gain control of this game? First-half fumbles by Jackson and Dane Looker -- combined with quarterback Marc Bulger's first-quarter interception -- kept the Rams from building a big lead early.

    Also, the red zone inefficiency from last season seemed to carry over to this opener.

    "That's more play selection than anything else," Martz said. "I'm to blame for that."

    In the first half, they outgained the Cards 229-134. But those turnovers limited them to a 6-3 halftime lead.

    The Rams controlled the second half as well, save for one Cardinals drive, and finally put their season opener in the bank.


    * Martz established his ground game right away, giving Faulk four consecutive carries to gain two first downs. The highlight was a 15-yard burst that very nearly went for many more yards.

    Faulk and Jackson combined for 99 yards rushing in the first half.

    * Defensive end Bryce Fisher essentially killed the second Cardinals possession with a 16-yard sack of quarterback Josh McCown.

    * Mixing it up, Martz opened his second possession with a four-receiver set and got Bulger into a nice passing rhythm. Aside from a mishap here or there, he stayed in sync with his receivers all game.

    * Faulk turned back the clock on the third possession, busting a 16-yard gain on a turn-on-a-dime cutback. Did he look this good at any time last season?

    * Linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa crushed Bryant Johnson to break up a third-down slant pass early in the second quarter.

    * Jeff Wilkins finally put the Rams on the board, muscling up with a 50-yard field goal with 11 minutes 21 seconds left in the first half. Points at last!

    * Bulger marched the Rams 83 yards on a 14-play, 9:10 drive to start the second half. He spread the ball around, hitting passes to Torry Holt, Faulk, Isaac Bruce and Shaun McDonald.

    * Jackson proved his red zone value in that sequence, muscling for a first down on
    -09-12-2004, 03:04 PM
  • RamDez
    Rams Recap: Nightmarish game for Bulger, makeshift line
    by RamDez
    Rams Recap: Nightmarish game for Bulger, makeshift line

    Post-Dispatch Online Sports Columnist

    Online Columnist Jeff Gordon

    When a team hasn't won a Super Bowl in a while, it has to chase whatever trophy is out there.

    So the Kansas City Chiefs went hard after the Governor's Cup -- again -- on Monday night at Arrowhead Stadium. The result was a one-sided 24-7 preseason victory.

    This was the Gunther Cunningham Show. Back in the saddle as Chiefs defensive coordinator, Cunningham threw the (play) book at the Rams and made them look foolish.

    The Rams couldn't run or pass the ball in Kansas City. Their makeshift offensive line buckled in the face of constant pressure.

    Quarterback Marc Bulger had a nightmarish game. He suffered sacks, threw an interception the Chiefs returned for a touchdown, fumbled the ball and missed a variety of throws he normally makes.

    Before the last of the first-teamers got off the field, the Rams trailed 24-0. Twenty-four to nothing!

    Adding injury to insult, the Rams lost starting cornerback Travis Fisher to a broken arm. Ouch.

    All in all, not a whole lot of positives came from this crummy exhibition of football.

    Here's our Rams Recap:


    * It was great to see running back Marshall Faulk back on the field running and catching the football. It's too bad he didn't get any blocks during his brief playing stint.

    * The Chiefs tried to pick on cornerback Kevin Garrett with a deep ball early in the second quarter, but he maintained blanket coverage. Later in the quarter, they tried to go over the top of him for a touchdown -- but failed.

    * Say, the Rams actually got a sack! Defensive end Leonard Little took down back-up quarterback Todd Collins late in the second quarter. That led to the Chiefs settling for a field goal after reaching the red zone.

    * Running back Arlen Harris helped in the first-half damage control, recovering a Bulger fumble with 38 seconds left in the second quarter.

    * Fighting for a job, second-year receiver Kevin Curtis made a nifty adjustment on a Chris Chandler throw and caught a 23-yard pass. Then he ran a nice slant pattern to catch a 14-yard pass. He continued catching passes in garbage time.

    * Rookie running back Steven Jackson finally got the Rams into the end zone, running in on a nice misdirection play. He continued pounding out decent yardage into garbage time, showing much-desired toughness on inside runs.

    * Also in garbage time, Rams defensive linemen Tyoka Jackson, Anthony Hargrove and Brian Howard poured in and hassled Collins.

    * Rookie Jeff Smoker got to throw the ball around the field in the fourth quarter, showing a bit of his long-range...
    -08-24-2004, 02:13 AM