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  • Gordo--Good, Bad, Ugly

    BY JEFF GORDON
    Post-Dispatch Online Sports Columnist
    Sunday, Sep. 19 2004

    Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick re-established himself as one of the
    NFL's most electrifying threats Sunday.

    The Rams would have preferred that he wait another week to do that.

    Vick led the Falcons to a thorough 34-17 victory over the Rams in Atlanta. He
    demolished the Rams defense with his arm and feet. He threw short and long. He
    scooted downfield on impromptu scrambles and designed runs.

    He made great use of running back Warrick Dunn, tight end Alge Crumpler and
    receiver Dez White in the new Atlanta offense – forcing the Rams to play
    catch-up all afternoon.

    And the sloppy, penalty-plagued Rams weren't up to that challenge in Atlanta.

    Quarterback Marc Bulger was able to play pitch-and-catch with Isaac Bruce and
    Torry Holt, but the offensive line failed to establish consistent run blocking
    and then broke down against the Falcons pass rush in the second half.

    In the tactical showdown between head coaches Jim Mora and Mike Martz, Mora won
    by a TKO. All in all, this was not a pleasant afternoon for the Rams.


    THE GOOD


    * Linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa led a four-man charge on Vick on Atlanta's first
    third-down attempt, resulting in a huge early sack.


    * Third and short, a hand-off to Marshall Faulk, he muscles forward for a
    first down . . . that's an excellent early sign. Too bad it wasn't a sign of
    good things to come.


    * On a fourth-and-one play at the Atlanta 10, rookie running back Steven
    Jackson lunged for the first down with a nice second effort.


    * On a fourth-and-goal play at the Atlanta 1, the Rams went for it – and Faulk
    walked into the end zone on a successful sweep left. Fullback Joey Goodspeed
    delivered the key lead block.


    * Wow! Holt went up and got a Bulger long ball for a 33-yard touchdown
    reception. Holt was well-covered on the pump-and-go pass, but he adjusted to
    the ball and two Falcons defensive backs didn't. That play got the Rams back
    into the game . . . briefly.


    * Defensive end Leonard Little broke up an end-around play in the third
    quarter, leading to an intentional grounding penalty and, one play later, a
    punt.


    * With the Rams moving back into scoring position, Faulk danced for a
    first-down on a third-and-one play. Yes, he can still make men miss in the open
    field – and miss badly.


    * That led to Jeff Wilkins' 46-yard field goal, which tied the game 17-17 in
    the third quarter. How nice to have a place-kicker that makes 46-yarders
    routine.


    THE BAD


    * Edgy in the face of a threatened blitz, tight end Brandon Manumaleuna took a
    false start penalty on the Rams' second possession.


    * The Rams defense seemed to have receiver Peerless Price corralled for a
    massive loss in the second quarter, but he reversed his field on an end-around
    run and gained nine yards. That kept the Falcons rolling toward their second
    touchdown.


    * Goodspeed committed a holding penalty on a second-quarter kickoff return,
    putting the Rams in a hole at their 13-yard line. Then guard Chris Dishman
    backed the team up another five yards with a false start penalty.


    * Bulger got away with a huge mistake when his touchdown pass to Falcons
    linebacker Matt Stewart was negated by a defensive holding penalty that didn't
    affect the play. Whew!


    * What's with all these illegal motion penalties? Tight end Cam Cleeland
    committed one the moment the Rams reached the red zone for the first time.


    * Jackson couldn't hold off Bryan Scott on a corner blitz; the result was a
    10-yard loss.


    * After the Rams crept back in the red zone, Orlando Pace committed an
    unfortunate holding penalty.


    * Goodspeed took another special teams holding penalty, this time on a punt.
    The Falcons got a 22-yard return on the do-over, allowing them to maintain the
    upper hand in the field position war.


    * Here was another inexplicable penalty: Jackson got flagged for taunting
    after a kickoff return, moving the Rams back to their 10 after the Falcons took
    a 24-17 lead.


    * Then defensive end Patrick Kerney moved the Rams another nine yards back by
    waltzing around Manumaleuna to sack Bulger.


    * The Rams' kick return and coverage teams were badly outplayed by the
    Falcons, giving Atlanta a significant field position advantage.


    * Add a facemask penalty by Grant Williams to the fiasco that was the
    offensive line play. Yikes!


    THE UGLY


    * Safety Adam Archuleta failed to tackle fullback Justin Griffith at the
    corner – allowing him to take a swing pass 62 yards and set up a three-yard
    touchdown pass to Griffith. That was NOT a good defensive sequence for the Rams.


    * Not only did the Rams allow Falcons kicker Jay Feely to recover his own
    onside kick in the first quarter, but then Martz squandered a timeout with a
    no-chance replay appeal. Nice.


    * Falcons defensive end Brady Smith walked around Pace as if he were a pylon,
    stripped the ball from Bulger's hand in the end zone and then grabbed it for a
    touchdown himself. That was NOT a Pro Bowl moment.

    Martz wanted to appeal the play, but the officials reminded him that the ball
    never hit the ground so there was nothing to appeal.


    * Bulger threw a strike to Falcons cornerback Aaron Beasley with 10 minutes
    36 seconds left to kill what little hope the Rams had.

  • #2
    Re: Gordo--Good, Bad, Ugly

    * The Rams defense seemed to have receiver Peerless Price corralled for a
    massive loss in the second quarter, but he reversed his field on an end-around
    run and gained nine yards. That kept the Falcons rolling toward their second
    touchdown.
    This was very embarrassing. Should have been a huge loss, and in the Ugly column.



    * Bulger got away with a huge mistake when his touchdown pass to Falcons
    linebacker Matt Stewart was negated by a defensive holding penalty that didn't
    affect the play. Whew!
    Yeah, the decision was bad. But the penalty was good. So shouldn't this be in the good column?



    * Here was another inexplicable penalty: Jackson got flagged for taunting
    after a kickoff return, moving the Rams back to their 10 after the Falcons took
    a 24-17 lead.
    This was inexcusable. I know rookies will make mistakes, but don't pull this kind of crap. Be the bigger man.



    * Not only did the Rams allow Falcons kicker Jay Feely to recover his own
    onside kick in the first quarter, but then Martz squandered a timeout with a
    no-chance replay appeal. Nice.
    It seems to me Martz probably challenged not to try and overturn the play, but to give his defense more time to rest as well as try and calm the momentum that the Falcons gained. I wouldn't call this ugly at all, if that's the intent.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Gordo--Good, Bad, Ugly

      You know, momma said there would be days like this. We can analyze this forever, but reading Gordon's GB&U post just goes to show you that some days, all the planets lineup against you. Remember last year when we tore the Vikings a new one in the ED, or how about '01 in the playoffs when we shredded the Packers? We weren't that much better than either of those teams, but somedays you're the windshield, somedays the bug. Today we were the bug. Next week we'll be the windshield.

      We learn and move on. If we continue to make the same mistakes, then we can start rounding up the villagers, grabbing the pitchforks and lighting the torches.
      The more things change, the more they stay the same.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Gordo--Good, Bad, Ugly

        Originally posted by NickSeiler
        It seems to me Martz probably challenged not to try and overturn the play, but to give his defense more time to rest as well as try and calm the momentum that the Falcons gained.
        Nice try. sMartz ought to hire you as his publicist.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Gordo--Good, Bad, Ugly

          Originally posted by adarian_too
          Nice try. sMartz ought to hire you as his publicist.
          John Fox has admitted to using challenges in that way. So after the challenge occurred, it seemed obvious to me he wasn't going to win the challenge, therefore I could only conclude that there was some alternate motive behind it. According to Martz himself, there wasn't. So I was wrong. I'm beginning to wonder who's talking to Martz from the booth, and if he's even listening.

          Comment

          Related Topics

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          • RamDez
            Rams Recap: There's no stopping Vick and Falcons
            by RamDez
            BY JEFF GORDON
            Post-Dispatch Online Sports Columnist
            Saturday, Jan. 15 2005

            The Atlanta Falcons are a very sound, very tough football team. And the Rams,
            despite all their late-season progress, are not.

            The Rams could not stop the run Saturday night. Nor could they cover punts.

            So the Falcons will roll into the NFC Championship Game after thrashing the
            Rams 47-17 at the Georgia Dome.

            The Falcons ground the Rams defense into little bits, opening huge seams for
            running backs Warrick Dunn and T.J. Duckett. In the first half alone, the
            Falcons rushed for 239 yards.

            Two hundred and thirty-nine in one half! The Falcons finished with 327 rushing
            yards, averaging a whopping 8.2 yards per carry.

            Quarterback Michael Vick beat Larry Marmie’s defense with his feet AND his arm,
            scrambling out of trouble to make big plays downfield.

            Mix in some more horrendous special teams play by the Rams -- surprise,
            surprise -- and they were doomed.

            Quarterback Marc Bulger tried to rally his team, but the mounting deficit, the
            absence of receiver Isaac Bruce (groin strain) and the loss of guard Tom Nutten
            (sprained knee) made the comeback impossible.

            As the game got away, the Rams became submissive and accepted a terrible
            beating from the Falcons. The defensive front seven surrendered and the
            offensive line allowed Bulger to get tossed around like a crash test dummy.


            THE GOOD


            * With Bruce sidelined, the Rams needed more from Marshall Faulk –- and he
            quickly established himself by running for 24 yards on the Rams’ first four
            plays of the game.


            * That rushing success set up Bulger’s play-action bomb to Kevin Curtis -–
            good for 57 yards and the game-tying touchdown.


            * On the Falcons’ second possession, safety Antuan Edwards made a nice break
            on a Vick pass -– and nearly picked it off for a touchdown. Vick and Edwards
            both wanted that play back.


            * Linebacker Tommy Polley made a nice break on Vick's next throw, breaking up
            a pass meant for tight end Alge Crumpler.


            * On a 21-yard third-down completion to Curtis, Bulger got exceptional
            protection from his offensive line.


            * Rookie running back Steven Jackson finally got rolling with two carries for
            14 yards, propelling the Rams back toward scoring position.


            * Bulger kept the Rams alive with his pump-and-throw 28-yard touchdown pass to
            Torry Holt. That allowed the Rams to cut the Falcons’ lead to 21-14.


            * With the Falcons marching toward another score, Polley pounced on a break
            when an untouched Vick stumbled, fell and fumbled away the ball.


            * Jeff Wilkins buried...
            -01-16-2005, 03:44 AM
          • RamWraith
            Rams storm back, but lose 34-17
            by RamWraith
            By Jim Thomas
            Of the Post-Dispatch
            Sunday, Sep. 19 2004

            ATLANTA - The Rams had spent the better part of the first half watching Michael
            Vick run circles around them. Surprisingly, they watched the normally
            accommodating Falcons run defense put the clamps on Marshall Faulk.

            They stared at 14-0 and 17-7 deficits on the Georgia Dome scoreboard. But after
            a 46-yard field goal by Jeff Wilkins late in the third quarter, suddenly it was
            17-17 and the momentum was all Rams.

            But momentum can be a fleeting thing, especially when you're playing on the
            road in the NFL. Just when it looked like St. Louis had gained control of
            Sunday's game with Atlanta, things went south for the Rams in the Heart of
            Dixie.

            The result was a 34-17 loss to Atlanta, a loss that left glaring questions
            about the Rams' run defense, run offense, pass blocking, takeaway-giveaway
            ratio, play calling. ... Well, you get the point. It's a long list.

            "We just didn't do much of anything, really, in any phase of the game," coach
            Mike Martz said. "It's hard to identify. They just wanted it more than we did.
            They played harder than we did. They were more physical. We got outplayed and
            outcoached."

            Apparently, effort, attitude and physical play were at the crux of Falcons
            coach Jim Mora's pregame speech to his team. According to Falcons wide receiver
            Peerless Price, Mora told his team: "Just close the gate, lock 'em in here, and
            don't let 'em out until you kick their (butts)."

            The Falcons pretty much played that way in front of an enthusiastic sellout
            crowd, and the Rams couldn't match their energy level - particularly in the
            fourth quarter when the Rams were outscored 17-0.

            "That's the life of playing on the road in the NFL," Rams wide receiver Isaac
            Bruce said. "We've got to make sure that when we're on the road, that we treat
            it like we're at home. And try to make sure that we have as (few) mistakes as
            we possibly can, and put the ball in the end zone."

            But there were a lot of mistakes, including 10 penalties and two turnovers.

            Only two touchdowns, despite 100-yard receiving games by Bruce and Torry Holt,
            and an impressive 102.2 passer rating by Marc Bulger.

            And several close plays down the stretch that went the Falcons' way.

            None was bigger than Brady Smith's strip and fumble recovery against Bulger in
            the end zone that resulted in an instant Atlanta touchdown and a 31-17 Falcons
            lead.

            Martz generally takes a high-risk, high-reward approach to offensive football,
            and this time that approach backfired as the Rams attempted a deep pass...
            -09-20-2004, 04:13 AM
          • RamWraith
            Rams need answers to Falcons' pass rush
            by RamWraith
            By Jim Thomas
            Of the Post-Dispatch
            Wednesday, Jan. 12 2005

            By noon Tuesday, Blaine Saipaia already had watched two Atlanta Falcons game
            tapes, and he was going back for more after a lunch break.

            Some offensive linemen can rely on experience in preparing for an opponent. But
            as Saipaia says: "I don't have any past experience."

            Saturday's NFC divisional playoff game against Atlanta marks just his sixth NFL
            start and 11th game overall. Saipaia was on the sidelines but didn't dress when
            the Falcons shellacked St. Louis 34-17 on Sept. 19. He was one of seven pregame
            inactives for the Rams.

            So he has no personal experience to go on against Atlanta - just game tape. And
            what he's seen on tape this week is an eyeful.

            "I'd say that their defense is relentless," Saipaia said. "I think they just
            rely on their tenacity."

            If the dazzling play of quarterback Michael Vick was the No. 1 reason the
            Falcons won on Sept. 19, the play of Atlanta's defensive line was reason No.
            1A.

            "They've got good people up front," Rams coach Mike Martz said. "They're big,
            physical guys who get off the ball quickly. They do a great job of penetrating,
            bull rushing, and changing things up."

            Last September in the Georgia Dome, just about every member of the Rams
            offensive line had some rough moments. Chris Dishman, then the Rams' starting
            left guard, got beat by underrated Falcons defensive tackle Ed Jasper for a
            sack. Grant Williams, then the Rams' starting right tackle, had a tough time
            against Pro Bowl defensive end Patrick Kerney.

            Late in the third quarter, Jasper got behind right guard Adam Timmerman on a
            key third-and-1 play, dropping Marshall Faulk for a 2-yard loss.

            The Rams had the momentum at that point, but were forced to kick a field goal,
            tying the game at 17-17 after Jasper's stop. The Falcons proceeded to score the
            game's final 17 points.

            All told, the Rams managed only 30 yards rushing in the game, their
            second-lowest total of the season.

            In one of the key plays of the game, Falcons defensive end Brady Smith went
            wide around left tackle Orlando Pace and stripped the ball from Marc Bulger in
            the end zone for an Atlanta touchdown. In the blink of an eye, that turned a
            24-17 Falcons lead into a 31-17 advantage with 11 minutes 48 seconds to play in
            the fourth quarter.

            "I didn't even realize until I watched the film that (Smith) came from the left
            side," Bulger recalled Wednesday. "Because usually, when the ball gets taken
            from you, it's from the front side. I didn't know he wrapped all the way...
            -01-13-2005, 04:40 AM
          • RamWraith
            Rams need answers to Falcons' pass rush
            by RamWraith
            By Jim Thomas
            Of the Post-Dispatch
            01/12/2005

            By noon Tuesday, Blaine Saipaia already had watched two Atlanta Falcons game tapes, and he was going back for more after a lunch break.

            Some offensive linemen can rely on experience in preparing for an opponent. But as Saipaia says: "I don't have any past experience."

            Saturday's NFC divisional playoff game against Atlanta marks just his sixth NFL start and 11th game overall. Saipaia was on the sidelines but didn't dress when the Falcons shellacked St. Louis 34-17 on Sept. 19. He was one of seven pregame inactives for the Rams.

            So he has no personal experience to go on against Atlanta - just game tape. And what he's seen on tape this week is an eyeful.

            "I'd say that their defense is relentless," Saipaia said. "I think they just rely on their tenacity."

            If the dazzling play of quarterback Michael Vick was the No. 1 reason the Falcons won on Sept. 19, the play of Atlanta's defensive line was reason No. 1A.

            "They've got good people up front," Rams coach Mike Martz said. "They're big, physical guys who get off the ball quickly. They do a great job of penetrating, bull rushing, and changing things up."

            Last September in the Georgia Dome, just about every member of the Rams offensive line had some rough moments. Chris Dishman, then the Rams' starting left guard, got beat by underrated Falcons defensive tackle Ed Jasper for a sack. Grant Williams, then the Rams' starting right tackle, had a tough time against Pro Bowl defensive end Patrick Kerney.

            Late in the third quarter, Jasper got behind right guard Adam Timmerman on a key third-and-1 play, dropping Marshall Faulk for a 2-yard loss.

            The Rams had the momentum at that point, but were forced to kick a field goal, tying the game at 17-17 after Jasper's stop. The Falcons proceeded to score the game's final 17 points.

            All told, the Rams managed only 30 yards rushing in the game, their second-lowest total of the season.

            In one of the key plays of the game, Falcons defensive end Brady Smith went wide around left tackle Orlando Pace and stripped the ball from Marc Bulger in the end zone for an Atlanta touchdown. In the blink of an eye, that turned a 24-17 Falcons lead into a 31-17 advantage with 11 minutes 48 seconds to play in the fourth quarter.

            "I didn't even realize until I watched the film that (Smith) came from the left side," Bulger recalled Wednesday. "Because usually, when the ball gets taken from you, it's from the front side. I didn't know he wrapped all the way around. We were going for the home run from our own end zone, and that's the risk you take when you have to hold on to the ball that long for a home run."

            Bulger wanted to throw deep for Isaac Bruce on a second...
            -01-13-2005, 01:59 PM
          • DJRamFan
            [Falcons] Falcons have some fun in Frisco
            by DJRamFan
            Atlanta's defense preserves 21-19 win over *****

            By MATT WINKELJOHN
            The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
            Published on: 09/12/04


            SAN FRANCISCO — There's a long way to go, but the Falcons may not experience more fun this season than on the NFL's first Sunday.

            If your definition of fun is nearly losing, that is.

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            You might think there's nothing traipsing into your house of horrors, and converting it into a fun house, and for the senior Falcon, reserve defensive lineman Travis Hall, maybe you'd be right.

            He's been around since 1994, or three years after the Falcons last won here before beating the ***** 21-19.

            But to end a 10-game losing streak in 3Com Park, the Falcons had to endure a few goblins popping out of closets in a terrifying fourth quarter that saw the game come down to one play. Good thing defensive tackle Rod Coleman swatted down the *****' two-point attempt with 40 seconds left.

            No wonder Hall was still spooked. Some habits die real hard.

            "This is huge," he said. "I've been here 10 years, and I haven't seen a victory here until today. It was weird because, I don't know what to say. We've gone through so many blowouts. I, I, I, I really don't know what to say. I'm just stumped with what to say."

            Leave that to Jim Mora. He sure enjoyed his first game as a head coach, returning to steal from his former employers, who outgained his team 359 yards to 227, and converted five of their final six third-down tries as Atlanta was good on just one of 11.

            "When we recovered the onsides kick [after the 'Niners pulled to within two], and I knew that we could clock it [run out the clock], I went over to [offensive coordinator Greg] Knapp," Mora said.

            "And he said, 'You get away from me. It's not over yet.' But I knew it was over, and it felt good. You try to keep your wits about you. We're supposed to win."

            Uh, yeah.

            But after controlling the game for three quarters with defense, the sun-burned Falcons had to sweat in a cool, stiff wind.

            They led 14-6 going to the final period, thanks to quarterback Michael Vick (13 of 22, 163 yards) connecting on his first five passes, including a 16-yard touchdown pass to tight end Alge Crumpler in the first quarter.

            Crumpler caught a quick, "smoke," pass at the right sideline, and followed the advice of a friend while making mincemeant of Pro Bowl safety Tony Parrish.

            "My college roommate, Marcus Cormier [who went by the last name of Jones at the University of North Carolina], got on my [butt] about my stiff-arm," Crumpler said. "Actually, he text-messaged me before [a preseason] game, and said to work on my stiff-arm...
            -09-13-2004, 12:37 PM
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