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Rams' rushers find little room to move against Falcons' "D"

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  • Rams' rushers find little room to move against Falcons' "D"

    By Bill Coats
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    09/19/2004
    ATLANTA - Late in the third quarter Sunday, tailback Marshall Faulk skirted the left end for a 13-yard gain. And that was just about the extent of the Rams' running game in a 34-17 loss to the Falcons.

    After shredding Arizona for 176 rushing yards - the highest total among the 16 NFC teams in Week 1 - the Rams were stopped cold by the Falcons. Faulk picked up only 7 yards on his 11 other carries, finishing with 20 yards on 12 tries on the heels of his season-opening 22-carry, 128-yard outburst.

    In their 17-10 win over the Cardinals, the Rams generated 39.3 percent of their offense on the ground. But against the Falcons, a mere 10.7 percent (30 of 280 total yards) came via the rush.

    Answers for such a dramatic downturn were hard to come by in the visitor's locker room.

    "That was last week, and this is a new week. Week to week, different teams, sometimes things work, sometimes things don't," Faulk said.

    Coach Mike Martz said, "I don't know. ... We'll just have to go back and look at" the game film.

    Part of it might be that new Falcons coach Jim Mora, a former defensive coordinator in San Francisco, is developing a solid unit in Atlanta. In two games, the Falcons have yielded just 123 rushing yards on 38 carries, an average of 3.2 yards per attempt.

    Another reason could be the minor knee injury that Faulk suffered in the second quarter. He said he "got a little dinged" but refused to elaborate. "I don't want to say what it is or what's going on, but it just bothered me a little bit after that," he said.

    Still, Faulk missed only a few plays, and he scored on a 1-yard run on the same series.

    Perhaps a major factor was the play of the offensive line. Although quarterback Marc Bulger passed for 285 yards, he was sacked five times; the Cardinals had none last week. Early in the fourth quarter, he was pressured in the end zone and stripped of the ball by defensive end Brady Smith for a touchdown that expanded the Falcons' lead to 31-17.

    "They were bringing the corners off the edge, which certainly makes it hard to run outside," Rams right tackle Grant Williams said. "And they were running a lot of blitzes and stunts."

    The Falcons didn't blitz as much as Mora's ***** defenses often did against the Rams. But they still got plenty of penetration, even beating All-Pro left tackle Orlando Pace. On the touchdown in the end zone, Smith bolted by Pace and batted the ball from Bulger's grasp.

    "We wanted to get after Marshall because he's a big difference-maker," Smith said. "We were able to do that and contain him. It was a good defensive effort."

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  • 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
  • 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 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
  • 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.

    EMAIL THIS
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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
  • RamWraith
    Gordo--Good, Bad, Ugly
    by RamWraith
    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.
    ...
    -09-19-2004, 05:18 PM
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