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  • Martz looks to veterans in dealing with defeat

    By Jim Thomas
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Monday, Sep. 20 2004

    In terms of run defense, the Rams' 34-17 loss to Atlanta was one of the worst
    clunkers for the team since the move to St. Louis.

    The Rams yielded 242 rushing yards on 38 carries to the Falcons. In nine-plus
    seasons in St. Louis, the Rams have fared worse on only one occasion. On Nov.
    3, 1996, the Rams yielded 248 yards rushing to Pittsburgh on 41 carries in a
    42-6 loss to the Steelers.

    That game marked the revenge of the Bus. Traded by the Rams to Pittsburgh less
    than seven months earlier, Jerome Bettis rushed for 129 yards on 19 carries
    that day at Three Rivers Stadium.

    There was no revenge motive at work Sunday at the Georgia Dome. But the Rams
    did get Vick-timized by Atlanta quarterback Michael Vick. Vick led Falcons
    rushers with 109 yards on 12 carries, and he made Rams defenders look silly.

    "It was one of those days where you probably needed a net," one Rams official
    said.

    But Vick had help. T.J. Duckett pounded away for 52 yards on nine carries, with
    all but one of those carries coming in the fourth quarter after Warrick Dunn
    left with a sprained left knee. Before his injury, Dunn added 43 yards (and two
    touchdowns) on 14 carries.

    Particularly frustrating for the Rams was a 26-yard gain on an end-around by
    Falcons wide receiver Dez White. White seemingly was trapped for a big loss
    before reversing field and outrunning Rams defenders like ... well, like Vick.

    "Obviously, they did a nice job of changing up what they do, and getting (Vick)
    out on the perimeter, and challenging us out there," Rams coach Mike Martz
    said. "And that reverse, we had that hemmed in, and just could not finish the
    play."

    Atlanta's rushing total wasn't the only bad number for the Rams.

    St. Louis' team rushing total of 30 yards tied for the fifth-worst for the Rams
    since the move to the Midwest.

    Also, the Rams had no takeaways for the second game in a row. Until now, the
    Rams hadn't gone back-to-back games without forcing a turnover since games 10
    and 11 of the 2002 season - against Chicago and Kansas City. This season, St.
    Louis is the only team in the NFL without a takeaway.

    "It's a concern," Martz said. "When you have a guy like Vick running around
    back there, it's hard just to tackle him, let alone take the ball away from
    him."

    So yes, it was bad Sunday in Georgia. But it's no time to panic. At times like
    these, Martz counts on his veterans to settle the younger players and stabilize
    the situation.

    "There's no question about it," Martz said. "I said to the team (Monday)
    morning: We've been through so many of these games in the last six years. Or
    five years. Our veterans, Isaac (Bruce), Torry (Holt) and Marshall (Faulk), and
    some of these guys. They know how to respond. Tyoka (Jackson). Aeneas
    (Williams)."

    But the roster also includes 19 players who had one year or less of NFL
    experience entering this season. That's more than one-third of the roster.

    "Guys like myself, and guys who have been around and have been in situations
    like this, we've got to take the younger guys and not let them get down on
    themselves," Faulk said. "They've got to understand that sometimes this happens
    in the league. Things can happen going into a hostile environment.

    "You catch a team that's excited, and young, and they've made some changes. ...
    You don't come out playing your best and you lose. It doesn't mean that you're
    not a good team, or you're not going to be good. It's early in the season; it
    happens."

    Quarterback Marc Bulger echoed those sentiments.

    "We're in the second week of the season," Bulger said. "It would've been huge
    to come in here and beat a good football team. But we just have to work harder
    now and come back and win at home. It's not the end of the world. We have faith
    in each other in here, and that's all that matters."

    For a lot of young players, it's simply a matter of maintaining poise and focus
    in a hostile environment when things aren't going your way. Teams that develop
    that kind of mental toughness are the teams that consistently win the close
    ones. See: the New England Patriots.

    With a re-tooled offensive line because of injuries, a very young defense, and
    a new defensive coordinator, Martz figured there would be a few bumps in the
    road early on.

    "We're going to have problems here at the beginning of the year," Martz said.
    "We just are. We've got to clean some things up, and that stuff just doesn't
    happen overnight. But we're going to end up being a real good team. ... There's
    no question about it."

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  • RamWraith
    Defense leads Rams into second round
    by RamWraith
    R.B. FALLSTROM

    Associated Press


    ST. LOUIS - It took the St. Louis Rams almost the entire season to learn a new defense. They got the hang of it just in time to make a little playoff run.

    The Rams held the Seahawks to 20 points in their wild-card playoff victory on Saturday, a week after limiting the Jets to 324 total yards in a regular-season finale win that allowed them to sneak into the postseason with a .500 record. Once ranked as low as 28th in the NFL in total offense earlier this year while struggling to grasp the scheme of new defensive coordinator Larry Marmie, St. Louis finished a respectable 17th.

    "The thing I like about our defense is we're capable of new things every week," coach Mike Martz said Monday. "Once they bought into that whole concept, it's a whole different ballgame."

    The Rams held Shaun Alexander to 40 yards on 15 carries, a key to the Rams advancing to the divisional round on Saturday at Atlanta. Alexander gouged them for 326 yards in the first two meetings, but found no holes the third time around.

    "We did a real good job of stopping Alexander," defensive tackle Jimmy Kennedy said. "He took advantage of our mistakes the first two games."

    Kennedy's sack of Matt Hasselbeck late in the fourth quarter helped the Rams hold on. He has become a factor lately after missing the first seven games of the season with a broken foot sustained early in training camp.

    "Jimmy has just amazed me," Martz said. "What he did quietly while he was away, the way he redefined himself physically, is pretty remarkable."

    This week the Rams will get a stiffer test. Michael Vick is the most dangerous run-pass quarterback threat in the NFL, and he ran for 109 yards on 12 carries and passed for 179 in the Falcons' 34-17 victory in Week 2 in Atlanta.

    "He certainly is unique and probably as an athlete is the best in the league, there's no question about that," Martz said. "The first thing you do is you need to account for him."

    Vick led the NFL with an average of 7.5 yards per carry and rushed for 902 yards, third-best ever for a quarterback. He'll be well-rested: the Falcons earned a first-round bye and Vick directed two scoring drives in three possessions in the regular-season finale.

    "When you keep a guy out like that, obviously they've got a plan for him," Martz said. "I know they'll have something different that involves him to a large extent."

    The Rams' defense features five first-round picks, three of them on the line. Martz said one of them, noseguard Ryan Pickett, played his best game in four seasons with the team with four tackles and three assists, a quarterback hit and a quarterback pressure.

    "As a noseguard, you just don't get...
    -01-11-2005, 05:09 AM
  • RamWraith
    Atlanta next stop for Rams
    by RamWraith
    By Jim Thomas
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Sunday, Jan. 09 2005

    Before the game on Sept. 19, Atlanta coach Jim Mora had some words of
    inspiration for his Falcons.

    "Just close the gate, lock 'em in here, and don't let 'em out until you kick
    their (butts)," he said.

    And that's pretty much what happened. Outscoring the Rams 17- 0 in the fourth
    quarter, the Falcons snapped a seven-game losing streak against St. Louis with
    a 34-17 victory at the Georgia Dome.

    Led by quarterback Michael Vick's dazzling 109 yards rushing, Atlanta gained
    242 yards on the ground. It's the second-highest rushing total yielded by the
    Rams in their 10 seasons in St. Louis.

    The Rams got fooled by an onside kick in falling behind 14-0 midway through the
    first half.

    Quarterback Marc Bulger was sacked five times, one of which resulted in a
    critical fourth-quarter TD after Brady Smith got around Orlando Pace with an
    outside rush and stripped Bulger from behind in the end zone.

    Atlanta's active front seven limited the Rams to just 30 yards rushing on 15
    carries.

    And in what would become a season-long problem area, the St. Louis defense came
    up with no takeaways for the second consecutive game.

    "We didn't do much of anything, really, in any phase of the game," Mike Martz
    said after the game.

    But that was fourth months ago. It was still summer. Steven Jackson was
    returning kickoffs. Brandon Chillar was starting ahead of Tommy Polley at
    linebacker. Cornerback Travis Fisher was out with a broken arm.

    The Rams were searching for their identity offensively and defensively, a
    process that would take much of the season.

    And now they meet again. As a result of Minnesota's first-round playoff victory
    Sunday over Green Bay, the Rams get Atlanta in the NFC semifinals Saturday at
    the Georgia Dome. The winner advances to the NFC championship game.

    While the NFC South champion Falcons were resting with a first-round bye, the
    Rams defeated Seattle 27-20 Saturday in a first-round playoff game at Qwest
    Field. It was the third victory in a row for the Rams.

    Afterward, Martz offered no apologies for making the playoffs despite an 8-8
    record.

    "We did make it in because we won enough games to get in," Martz said. "So it's
    well-deserved. And at this point, only the strong survive. The strong keep
    going and the others fall off."

    It will take an inspired effort against the Falcons for the Rams to keep going
    this postseason. By the numbers, the Falcons aren't overwhelming. They finished
    the regular season ranked 20th in...
    -01-10-2005, 05:33 AM
  • RamWraith
    Should the Rams be worried?
    by RamWraith
    By Chris Ruddick, NFL Analyst

    (Sports Network) - Maybe 35-year-old Emmitt Smith's 87-yard performance in Week One should have raised some flags with the St. Louis Rams run-defense. But if it didn't, then the 242 yards the Atlanta Falcons accumulated on the ground in their 34-17 win on Sunday, certainly did.

    In nine-plus seasons in St. Louis, the Rams have allowed more than that only one other time. Back on November 3, 1996, the Rams surrendered 248 yards rushing to Pittsburgh on 41 carries in a 42-6 loss to the Steelers in a game that featured the return of Jerome Bettis, who was dealt to Pittsburgh seven months earlier.

    "They just beat us every way you can, in every phase of the game," said St. Louis head coach Mike Martz. "Physically, they took it to us. We weren't out there doing the right things. We got outplayed and outcoached."

    St. Louis quarterback Marc Bulger completed 15 of his first 16 passes on the way to a 24-for-31, 285-yard effort that included a touchdown. But Bulger committed two costly turnovers in the second half, a fumble recovered for a touchdown and an interception that led to a field goal.

    To make matters worse for the Rams they produced just 30 yards on the ground, the fifth-worst output since the franchise left Las Angeles.

    "We're going to have problems here at the beginning of the year," Martz said. "We just are. We've got to clean some things up, and that stuff just doesn't happen overnight. But we're going to end up being a real good team...There's no question about it."

    Marshall Faulk rushed 12 times for only 20 yards, but managed to score his 132nd career touchdown, which moved him past Cris Carter into sole possession of fourth place on the all-time list.

    "Guys like myself, and guys who have been around and have been in situations like this, we've got to take the younger guys and not let them get down on themselves," Faulk said. "They've got to understand that sometimes this happens in the league. Things can happen going into a hostile environment.

    BRUCE ON RECORD PACE

    One bright spot of Sunday's loss was the play of 31-year-old wideout Isaac Bruce, who hauled in eight catches for 102 yards. After two games, Bruce leads the league in catches (17) and is third in yardage (214). That projects to 136 receptions for 1,712 yards over 16 games.

    His best year came during the 1995 campaign when he caught 119 passes for 1,781 yards.

    The Rams host the Deuce McAllister-less New Orleans Saints (1-1) on Sunday
    -09-22-2004, 02:10 PM
  • RamWraith
    Rams like new season
    by RamWraith
    Martz says players are energized for postseason play

    BY STEVE KORTE




    ST. LOUIS - St. Louis Rams coach Mike Martz is glad that his team didn't have a bye in the playoffs this year.

    The Rams (9-8) are seven-point underdogs against the Atlanta Falcons (11-5) at 7 p.m. Saturday at the Georgia Dome in an NFC Divisional playoff game.

    The Rams will be playing their third game in 14 days. The Falcons should be well-rested after having a bye in the first round of the playoffs.

    "For us right now, you just wouldn't want to have a bye," Martz said. "In years past with the experience that we had, and we were at a high level going into the playoffs, we wanted to rest our guys a little bit. That's not the case right now.

    "It's like I told the team a couple of weeks ago, 'It's like we have a whole new season.' These guys are energized as if the season has just begun in their minds."

    If the Rams win, they'll be playing in the NFC Championship game on Jan. 23 against either the Philadelphia Eagles or the Minnesota Vikings.

    They'll travel to Philadelphia to play the Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field, but they'd play the Vikings in the friendly confines of the Edward Jones Dome.

    "Right now, we are right where we were last year with the same opportunity, except we are on the road," said Martz, whose team lost 29-23 in double overtime to the Carolina Panthers in a divisional playoff game last year.

    Three of the four games on the NFL's Wild Card weekend were won by road teams. It marked the first road playoff win for the Rams since the 1989 season.

    "I've never been a part of a team that has won a playoff game on the road," Martz said. "I think you have to go back quite a ways to find a Ram team that has won on the road in the playoffs. These guys did this, with the resiliency they had, on a second short week with a long trip. I couldn't be more pleased with that type of effort."

    Martz said home-field advantage is still a big factor in the playoffs.

    "I think it is important," Martz said. "I think the more you make of it with your football team, the more it becomes an issue for you. The more you talk about fumbling the ball, the more apt they are to fumble the ball. The more you talk about dropping the ball, the more apt you are to drop the ball. The more you talk about how hard it is to win the road, then they buy into how hard it is. We've had a little deal where we just go play and don't worry about it."

    The Rams went 2-6 on the road during the regular season, including a 34-17 loss to the Falcons on Sept. 19.

    "I think an experienced team, particularly a young inexperienced team, will always struggle initially on the road until they learn how to...
    -01-12-2005, 04:50 AM
  • txramsfan
    Did you know.....
    by txramsfan
    That not ONE offensive tackle, not ONE, was called for holding against Leonard Little.....ALL YEAR?

    All frickin year. Not one holding call.

    That's something to ponder.
    -01-18-2005, 01:14 PM
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