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  • Failure to gain a few inches is costly in loss

    By Bill Coats
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Monday, Sep. 20 2004

    The Rams' 34-17 loss at the Georgia Dome truly was a game of inches.
    Specifically, the 3 inches that separated rallying St. Louis from a first down
    late in the third quarter and stripped away its building momentum.

    After trailing 14-0 early in the second period and 17-7 at the half, the Rams
    had trimmed Atlanta's edge to 17-14 and were driving for the lead. A pass from
    quarterback Marc Bulger to wide receiver Torry Holt on the left sideline made
    it second down and a quarter of a foot to go at the Falcons 25-yard line.

    Bulger took a shot at wideout Isaac Bruce in the end zone on second down that
    fell incomplete. On third down, running back Marshall Faulk tried to slip
    through the left side but was stuffed by tackle Ed Jasper for a 2-yard loss.
    Jeff Wilkins drilled a 48-yard field goal, but the Falcons had retained a share
    of the lead at 17-17.

    "Sometimes those plays go overlooked, but that was really a pivotal play,"
    Atlanta coach Jim Mora said. "Momentum had shifted a little bit, it had gotten
    a little bit quiet. Our team did a great job of rallying."

    From that point on, the Falcons dominated. They ran 26 plays, producing 162
    yards, two touchdowns and a field goal; conversely, the Rams had just nine
    offensive attempts and netted a mere 12 yards. And, of course, zero points.

    Rams coach Mike Martz agreed Monday that the failed third-down play blunted his
    outfit's charge. "It did," he said. "And had we not lost the yardage on that
    play, we probably would've gone for it on fourth down."

    Martz said he decided against a quarterback sneak because in a similar
    situation earlier, the Falcons had "covered all three down linemen and put the
    two linebackers inside." But they changed their alignment, and Faulk had
    nowhere to go.

    "I was surprised, to be honest with you," Martz said. "The play that we ran, we
    felt . . . we had a real good shot at it."


    Bruce tops NFL

    If Bruce maintains his pace, he'll put together one of the most productive
    seasons in his 11-year career. 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.

    Bruce, 31, was at his best in 1995, the Rams' first season in St. Louis, when
    he grabbed 119 balls for 1,781 yards.

    Right behind Bruce is teammate Torry Holt, who led the NFL in receptions and
    yards last year. Holt is second in catches (16) and yards (217), which projects
    to 128 receptions for 1,736 yards.

    Bulger ranks second in passing yardage (557) and seventh in quarterback rating
    (95.5).

    Polley has fracture

    Linebacker Tommy Polley dressed for Sunday's game but didn't play. Martz said
    the rib injury that has been bothering Polley has been diagnosed as a fracture.

    "It's pretty painful," Martz said. "As he mends and gets better, he will get
    more and more involved each week with the defense."

    Polley, a starter since early in his rookie season (2001), lost his job to
    rookie Brandon Chillar during training camp.

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  • 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
    Fiercely competitive Bruce off to best start ever
    by RamWraith
    By Jim Salter
    Associated Press
    10/14/2004

    One of the last of the original Rams is showing no signs of age.

    Isaac Bruce began the season with four consecutive 100-yard games, becoming the first NFL player ever to do so at the start of the season. The streak ended in Sunday's improbable come-from-behind 33-27 overtime win in Seattle. Still, Bruce led the Rams with six catches for 78 yards, including a 27-yard catch-and-run that set up the game-tying field goal, rallying the Rams from a 17-point deficit in the final six minutes.

    Not bad for a receiver who turns 32 next month and who broke in with the Rams -- the Los Angeles Rams -- in 1994, a year before they moved to the Midwest. Only Bruce and punter Sean Landeta remain from that team.

    Bruce on Thursday waved off any questions about his strong start. But his teammates and coaches are impressed. Coach Mike Martz cited a strict offseason workout that keeps Bruce in prime condition.

    "Just the way he works," receiver Shaun McDonald said. "He's out there working like he hasn't caught a pass in the NFL. I think that's what keeps him on top."

    Bruce is the Rams' all-time leading receiver in all major categories -- receptions (726), receiving yards (10,987) and touchdowns (69). Already this season he has moved passed Terance Mathis, Gary Clark and Keenan McCardell into 17th place on the all-time receptions list. He's also moved past Stanley Morgan and Clark to 13th place on the career receiving yards list.

    The four-time All Pro has 38 catches for 528 yards, both second in the league. His 13.8-yard average per catch is also among the league leaders.

    Martz said Bruce's fierce competitiveness sets him apart.

    "He's probably as good a competitor as I've ever been around and it's never wavered," Martz said. "He just has such great passion for playing this game and playing that position and winning."

    Bruce has also been helped by the added attention the Rams' other Pro Bowl receiver -- Torry Holt -- gets, especially after Holt caught 117 passes for 1,696 yards in 2003. In fact, Holt caught more catches for more yards than Bruce each of the previous three seasons. This season, Holt has 30 catches for 363 yards.

    Bruce began the season with nine catches for 112 yards in a 17-10 win over Arizona. He had eight catches for 102 yards in a 34-17 loss at Atlanta, and eight for 134 yards in a 28-25 overtime loss to New Orleans. He caught seven passes for 100 yards in a 24-14 win over San Francisco.

    NOTES: Martz said guard Chris Dishman, special teams standout Trev Faulk and defensive lineman Tyoka Jackson are all questionable for Monday night's game against Tampa Bay. Dishman sprained his right knee Sept. 26 in a 28-25 overtime loss to New Orleans. Jackson and Faulk have hamstring injuries. ......
    -10-15-2004, 05:12 AM
  • RamWraith
    Bruce Continues to Shine against Mora
    by RamWraith
    Monday, September 20, 2004

    By Nick Wagoner
    Staff Writer

    Through the years, Rams’ receiver Isaac Bruce has made a habit of picking on the Falcons with big game after big game. Sunday was no different, except this time Torry Holt, Bruce’s partner in crime joined in the fun.

    Bruce finished with 102 yards on eight catches, only to be topped by Holt’s nine catches for 121 yards and a touchdown. Earlier this week, Atlanta coach Jim Mora called Bruce his No. 1 nemesis, as Mora had seen Bruce light up the ***** when Mora was defensive coordinator there.

    The rivalry between Bruce and Mora is friendly and both have joked about it in the past. Bruce and Mora had a few close encounters, including an animated discussion after an illegal contact penalty was called on Atlanta in the second quarter.

    Bruce’s third catch of the game gave him 700 for his career, putting him in 18th place on the career list. It was Bruce’s 35th 100-yard receiving game of his career, his third against the Falcons, and the fifth time he topped the century mark against Falcons’ head coach Jim Mora as his performance also gave him back-to-back 100-yard games for the seventh time, including his streak of six consecutive such games in 1995.

    Holt’s big day was his 26th 100-yard game and his third against the Falcons. He made a highlight-reel catch to help pull the Rams within 17-14 in the third quarter. On first-and-10 from Atlanta’s 33, Marc Bulger lofted a pass to the left corner, where Holt outleaped and outmuscled the defender for the score. Holt fell just shy of a second straight 100-yard game, as he had 96 receiving yards against Arizona in week one.

    INJURY REPORT: St. Louis left Atlanta relatively injury-free. Cornerback DeJuan Groce sprained his right knee in the first quarter, but that was the extent of the hits the Rams took to their health, according to coach Mike Martz.

    INACTIVITY: The Rams seven inactives Sunday were quarterback Jeff Smoker (third quarterback), cornerback Travis Fisher, defensive tackle Jimmy Kennedy, linebacker Trev Faulk, guards Tom Nutten, Blaine Saipaia and Darnell Alford and receiver Mike Furrey.

    Wide receiver Kevin Curtis returned to the active roster after battling shin splints that left him on the inactive list in week one.

    Notable inactives for Atlanta included first-round choice DeAngelo Hall, who was out with a hip injury. Kevin Mathis started in Hall’s place. Former Rams’ linebacker Jamie Duncan was also inactive because of a pectoral injury.

    RING IT UP: Atlanta introduced its “Ring of Honor” on Sunday, honoring four of the greats from its past. Running back William Andrews, quarterback Steve Bartkowski and linebackers Tommy Nobis and Jessie Tuggle were honored in a halftime ceremony.

    SHIVERS BACK: Safety Jason Shivers, the Rams’ fifth-round selection in this year’s...
    -09-20-2004, 12:10 PM
  • 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
  • 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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