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  • Five Keys to the Game

    Stlouisrams.com

    Friday, September 24, 2004

    This game could feature super-charged emotions. Both teams want to win this game badly and the team that tempers those emotions and stays poised will probably come out on top.

    Saints’ running back Deuce McAllister is probably out and New Orleans is expected to use a combination of Ki-Jana Carter and Aaron Stecker to replace him. Neither has proved themselves in the league, but will hope to against a Rams’ run defense that has struggled. This is a golden opportunity for both sides. Stecker and Carter could prove they belong or St. Louis could take advantage and force the Saints to throw.

    A week after facing dual-threat quarterback Michael Vick, the Rams get to attempt to stop Aaron Brooks. Brooks isn’t as good of a runner as Vick, but is more polished as a passer, which could present problems to a banged-up St. Louis secondary. The problems in the defensive backfield reached their peak this week when free safety Aeneas Williams was moved back to cornerback, his original position. The ability of Williams to make the move back and the performance of his replacement (most likely Rich Coady) will go a long way toward determining a winner.

    New Orleans’ run defense has struggled in its first two games, allowing 180 yards on the ground to San Francisco and 169 to Seattle. That could bode well for St. Louis, which looks to get going on the ground again after a great effort against Arizona and a subpar game against Atlanta. Marshall Faulk had one of his best games ever against the Saints on Dec. 24, 2000, when he ran for 220 yards and three touchdowns. Another performance like that from Faulk will probably equal a Rams’ win, just like it did on that day.

    St. Louis has won 15 consecutive regular season games at home. The Rams must hold serve at the Edward Jones Dome if they are going to make a serious run at the playoffs. The added sour taste from the last time they played the Saints in St. Louis should be added motivation to extend the streak to 16 for both the team and the fans. New Orleans should expect an extremely hostile environment in the unfriendly confines of the Edward Jones Dome Sunday.

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  • RamWraith
    Saints carry confidence into meeting with Rams
    by RamWraith
    By Jim Thomas
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    09/25/2004
    Something is strangely amiss. A Saints-Rams game week has come and gone without New Orleans wide receiver Joe "Hollywood" Horn saying anything inflammatory before kickoff.

    Horn has leveled many a zinger at the Rams in the past. But he did nothing but make nice this past week in New Orleans.

    When asked by New Orleans reporters if this was still a big rivalry game for the Saints, he replied: "No. You want to know why? They've got a Super Bowl ring. They've been to multiple Super Bowls. ... I can't say nothing negative about them and try to spark a rivalry."

    Huh?

    And there's more.

    "Coach (Mike) Martz has done a hell of a job," Horn said.

    Take that!

    What about former Saints tight end Cam Cleeland, now with the Rams, and his anti-Saints and anti-Jim Haslett remarks on Wednesday from Rams Park?

    "That's just Cam getting off some frustrations that he felt," Horn said. "He and Kyle (Turley) had some issues that they didn't like (with the organization). But they're very good friends of mine, and I love them to death."

    In your face!

    In a conference call with St. Louis reporters, Haslett, the New Orleans coach, made it sound like he and Martz were bosom buddies. Strange, since in 2000 and 2001 - when the Saints and Rams played each other five times over a 12 1/2- month period - they looked very much like mortal enemies.

    So perhaps this is some sort of a setup. Now a couple of years older and wiser, maybe Horn and Haslett are trying to kill the Rams with kindness.

    Make no mistake, the Saints aren't going to be the least bit intimidated by the Rams' 15-game regular-season winning streak at the Edward Jones Dome. New Orleans has won its last two contests here, including one of only two regular-season losses by the NFC-champion Rams in 2001.

    No Deuce McAllister (ankle) at running back? No problem. The Saints won here in 2000 with Jerald Moore and Chad Morton as their feature backs.

    Besides, the Rams have more on their minds these days than whether the Saints remain a rival. They left the Georgia Dome on the short end of a 34-17 score to Atlanta last Sunday, bewildered by the scrambling sorties of Michael Vick and befuddled by a Falcons front four that played like the Fearsome Foursome.

    Motivation?

    "We don't need to look any further than the fact that we need a win," defensive lineman Tyoka Jackson said. "Coming off a loss you need a win even more. It's just the way it feels. So we want to get back in the winner's column, get that good feeling again, and build off of it."

    It's as simple as that. The last thing the Rams want to do is stub their toe at home against...
    -09-26-2004, 04:47 AM
  • AvengerRam_old
    Rams need to run Saints out of St. Louis
    by AvengerRam_old
    The Saints have allowed over 170 yards per game on the ground in the first two weeks. The Rams need to take advantage of this weakness and make sure that Faulkson (the Faulk/Jackson two headed attack) gets at least 30 carries. If the Rams can establish the running game, it will take the pressure off Bulger, and give him time to find Holt and Bruce, who should be able to get open against the Saints secondary. It will also keep the defense off, and the Saints still dangerous offense, off the field.

    Time to pound it out!
    -09-24-2004, 09:26 AM
  • RamWraith
    True Birth of a Rivalry
    by RamWraith
    Wednesday, September 22, 2004

    By Nick Wagoner
    Staff Writer

    By most accounts, the rivalry between the Rams and Saints doesn’t date too far. Sure, the teams first met on Sept. 17, 1967 in New Orleans’ first game, a game the Rams won 27-13. They also squared off in the Rams’ first home game in St. Louis, with the Rams winning 17-13 at Busch Stadium.

    Historical firsts and perspectives aside, though, this rivalry never quite had the heat of a Raiders-Chiefs or Packers-Bears matchup. Never, that is, until about 33 years after the teams first met.

    It was Nov. 26, 2000, to be exact. That day, the potential for a major rivalry emerged. Little did any of the fans passing through the gates of the now Edward Jones Dome know that they were witnessing the beginning of one of the league’s most heated rivalries. There was little doubt after the first meeting that the blood was about to boil.

    New Orleans drew first blood, winning a 31-24 decision in St. Louis. Beating the high-powered Rams on their home turf, a year after they won the Super Bowl was a big blow. This was only the beginning, though, of a five-game series that could be one of the most intense in the history of the league.

    The Saints wasted no time in making their presence felt. Coach Jim Haslett called for an onside kick to open the game. The play could have given the Rams excellent field position to start, but the call worked and New Orleans recovered.

    Aaron Brooks, New Orleans’ quarterback seeing his first significant playing time as a pro, engineered the victory in his first career start. He threw for 190 yards and a touchdown and ran for 34 yards and a pair of touchdowns. His performance served as a statement that the Saints were ready to emerge as a legitimate contender in the NFC.

    New Orleans appeared ready to blowout the Rams, holding a 24-10 third quarter lead. Any person who remembers that St. Louis team remembers that no lead was safe against the Rams’ offense. Trent Green, starting in place of Kurt Warner, who broke a finger against Kansas City in game seven, led a pair of late drives to tie it at 24 with 11:06 to play.

    Green hit Az-Zahir Hakim for a 35-yard touchdown and later Ricky Proehl for a 19-yard score. Those two scores set up Brooks’ heroics. He took the Saints on an 85-yard, game-winning drive, aided by a 47-yard pass interference call against Rams’ cornerback Todd Lyght. Brooks capped the drive with a 1-yard touchdown run. Doug Brien’s extra point gave New Orleans the final margin.

    The loss was the Rams’ third straight at home and put their playoff hopes in serious trouble, dropping them to 8-4. The Saints improved to 8-4, good for a tie with St. Louis atop the division.

    New Orleans’ win propelled it toward the playoffs, but after the game, the first verbal shots of the burgeoning rivalry were fired. Rams’...
    -09-23-2004, 09:08 AM
  • RamWraith
    Rams-Saints: 5 Things To Watch
    by RamWraith
    09/25/2004

    Defending Brooks

    The good news is the Rams don't have to face Michael Vick this week. The bad news is they're facing his second cousin, underrated New Orleans QB Aaron Brooks. Although he doesn't lack for mobility, Brooks isn't the running threat that Vick is.

    "Vick likes to get rushing yards down the field," Rams defensive tackle Tyoka Jackson said. "Aaron is looking to slide around and use his evasiveness in the pocket, or to just buy more time. But he's trying to get the ball downfield with his arm. ... Aaron can run. He's a great athlete. But he wants to be a pocket passer."

    According to Rams coach Mike Martz, with the exception of Green Bay's Brett Favre, Brooks may be the best in the league at making the big play downfield with the deep ball. That may be a bit of a stretch, but there's no doubt Brooks has gotten much better throwing the deep ball, which was a weakness for him when he entered the league. Brooks also excels at seam routes, and passes down the middle, perhaps a by-product of his height (6 feet 4) and his ability to see downfield over linemen.


    On the receiving end

    The Saints like to go vertical in the passing game with three-time Pro Bowler Joe Horn and the emerging Donte Stallworth at wide receiver. Horn talks a good game and backs it up on the field. Horn is very competitive, and is explosive in and out of cuts. He's not a burner, but plays strong and physical, and will make the tough catch.

    "Horn likes to go up for the ball," Rams CB Jerametrius Butler said. "When the ball's in the air, he's going to try to get it from you."

    Stallworth, the No. 13 overall pick in the 2002 draft, appears to be coming into his own after two disappointing seasons marred by hamstring, ankle and leg injuries.

    "I think Stallworth's really getting a feel for the league right now," Butler said. "He's their deep-threat guy. Not taking anything away from Horn - Horn's (also) a deep threat. But I think Stallworth shows more speed on the field."

    No. 3 wide receiver Jerome Pathon isn't real strong and sometimes gets knocked around, but he nonetheless can be effective over the middle on underneath routes.


    Life without Deuce

    With two-time Pro Bowler Deuce McAllister out with a high ankle sprain, the Saints are counting on Aaron Stecker and Ki-Jana Carter to generate a ground game against the Rams' 29th-ranked rushing defense. In four seasons with Tampa Bay, Stecker's primary duty was returning kicks. He never had more than 37 carries, or 174 yards rushing, in any one season there.

    "Stecker runs between the tackles very hard," Rams defensive tackle Ryan Pickett said. "He's not very elusive, but more of a power runner."

    In large part...
    -09-26-2004, 04:50 AM
  • RamWraith
    Conwell's back - as a Saint
    by RamWraith
    By Lori Shontz
    Of the Post-Dispatch

    Ernie Conwell was born in Reston, Wash., and he stayed at home for his college years at the University of Washington. Since 2002, he has played tight end for the New Orleans Saints.

    But when people ask Conwell and his wife, Andrea, where they're from, they often fail to mention either of those places.

    "My wife and I, we still have a tendency to say we're from St. Louis," said Conwell, who played in St. Louis for seven years after the Rams chose him in the second round of the 1996 NFL draft. "That's where we really grew into adulthood as a married couple. Where our kids grew up."

    So when Conwell returns to the Edward Jones Dome on Sunday for the first time as an opposing player, he expects to feel a twinge or two.

    "I'm sure it's going to be a weird feeling to be on the opposite sideline," he said. "And it'll be a different experience. But I think all that'll happen in pre-game, the warm-ups, and then just like anything else, when the game starts we're playing football and it'll kind of just subside, I'm sure."

    The Saints, as usual, are looked upon as a team with plenty of talent, particularly offensively, with running back Deuce McAllister (who was injured a week ago against the *****), quarterback Aaron Brooks and wide receivers Joe Horn and Donte' Stallworth. Somehow, however, that talent rarely turns into results.

    "The key right now is we don't want to talk about talent, ability, potential," Conwell said. "They're almost like four-letter words in this business. We just know that we have to take care of business every week and that we're only as good as we are on game day.

    "I think we're just maturing in that we realize that we're going to have to prepare like champions, we're going to have to practice like champions, and then go out and play hard and winning will take care of itself. I think we're starting to learn that as a team."

    That said, the Saints started the season with a loss to the Seattle Seahawks, and although they beat San Francisco a week ago, they played sloppily at times. They also lost McAllister with a high-ankle sprain. He will be out for four or five weeks, leaving the running back duties to Aaron Stecker and Ki-Jana Carter.

    "We'll package them up based on what they do best," Saints coach Jim Haslett said in his Monday news conference. "I think both of them have good qualities; both of them are good running backs.

    "I think Aaron showed (Sunday against San Francisco) that he has good, pretty good running skills, he's tough. You can see why Ki-Jana Carter was the No. 1 pick in the draft - he's got great vision. He's lost a little bit of speed, but he's a good player."

    By necessity, Haslett said, the Saints will...
    -09-26-2004, 04:48 AM
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