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Saints carry confidence into meeting with Rams

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  • Saints carry confidence into meeting with Rams

    By Jim Thomas
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    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."


    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.


    "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 New Orleans, and then take a 1-2 record into road games at San Francisco (Oct. 3) and division-leading Seattle (Oct. 10).

    "I don't know if you can say our backs are to the wall, but we need a win," wide receiver Torry Holt said. "You want to win on the road. I think that just continues to give your team that much confidence, it boosts the morale. You feel good. 'Hey, we can win on the road.' So there's no anxiety attack. There's no seed of doubt."

    But failing that, it's an absolute necessity to hold serve at home.

    "Any time you're trying to get back in the win column, it's always great to be home," Holt said. "Our fans are incredible when we're playing well. And I think they'll come out and support us this week. Our defense can use that energy, and use that charge to go out there and stop those guys."

    Speaking of defense, the 34 points the Rams allowed Atlanta was their highest yield in 21 games - regular season and postseason. It's a group still looking for its first turnover and still searching for its personality under new coordinator Larry Marmie.

    "We feel like we're a good defense," linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa said.

    But he added, "This will be a great time to prove ourselves and bounce back after that loss last week."

    The Rams have been surprisingly vanilla so far on defense, unofficially blitzing only a dozen times in the opener against Arizona and only nine times against Atlanta.

    "We've got some new things that we've held off because we've had some corners injured," Martz said. "But there's a lot of things defensively in terms of pressure, too, that we'd like to eventually get to."

    Cornerback DeJuan Groce's knee injury has forced more shuffling in the secondary. Aeneas Williams has moved from free safety to cornerback; Jerametrius Butler has gone from left cornerback to right cornerback; Rich Coady has gone from fifth defensive back to starting free safety; and newly signed Kwamie Lassister has gone from unemployed to potentially the fifth defensive back.

    All in a week when the opponent is the potent New Orleans passing game, featuring quarterback Aaron Brooks and talented wide receivers Horn and Donte Stallworth.

    Beyond the St. Louis defense, there are also issues with special teams - or lack thereof; the now-you-see-it, now-you-don't running game; and just the overall energy level of the team. But this is no time for psychoanalysis, says quarterback Marc Bulger.

    "Every week we can sit here and talk about what kind of team we are," Bulger said. "But as long as we know, from guy to guy in here that we're behind each other, and we're not panicking, then we'll be fine. ... We'll be able to steady the ship and win a lot of games."

    And keep Horn's mouth shut.

Related Topics


  • Saint Nick
    Ram, Saints feud
    by Saint Nick
    A great article that expresses my sentiments about the greatest divisional rivalry of the last two season this side of Raiders/Broncos.

    Rams, Saints have developed nasty feud fast


    By John DeShazier
    Staff writer/The Times-Picayune

    After the bell rang to signal the end of the third and final showdown, one contender lamented that the decision would've been different if time hadn't run out, while the other suggested that two knockdowns equals a knockout.

    That's about what you'd expect when it's clear each team would rather swim naked with piranha than face up to a loss.

    It's a kind of spirited, deep-down dislike that rears its head only on occasion in the NFL. Sunday, when the Saints and Rams mix it up in St. Louis, will be one of those times.

    "(Saints coach) Jim (Haslett) and I are very competitive people," Rams coach Mike Martz said. "Whenever you play another good team within the division like that, it's gonna be hot."

    Not just hot. Lava hot.

    The kind of bitterness that usually takes years to develop blossomed in one for the Saints and Rams. Last year the Saints won two of three games between the teams en route to ending St. Louis' reign as division and Super Bowl champs. The clincher came in the Superdome, a 31-28 thrilling Saints victory in a wild-card game.

    Amid the three scrums (the Saints won the first 31-24 in St. Louis; the Rams the second 26-21 in New Orleans) there was enough trash talk, big hits and cheap shots to give each a healthy respect for the other.

    But, certainly, there is no love.

    From the Rams' view, a snot-nosed upstart had the audacity to challenge and prance without possessing any bona fide claim to supremacy. From New Orleans' corner, each Saints victory was downplayed by the Rams, attributed to internal breakdowns rather than a superior opponent.

    For the rest of us . . . hey, sit back and enjoy it. These kinds of passionate bouts don't appear every week.

    These are the games worth watching, even though the Saints (3-2) are sputtering, the Rams (6-0) are surging and a St. Louis victory could do irreparable damage to the Saints' hopes of defending their NFC West crown.

    Circumstances don't figure to mean much once heads start cracking Sunday.

    "Look at the games last year," said linebacker Charlie Clemons, who helped the Rams win Super Bowl XXXIV, before a Saints-Rams rivalry existed, and moved to the Saints as a free-agent pickup last year.

    "I think they felt we were one of the teams they could just beat up," Clemons said. "We went in there, and I think we just took their hearts. With that, I think you develop a bitterness."...
    -10-25-2001, 08:16 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, 05:48 AM
  • RamWraith
    A Wild, Wild Game
    by RamWraith
    Friday, September 24, 2004

    By Nick Wagoner
    Staff Writer

    This is the third in a five-part review of the games that made the Rams-Saints into one of the NFL’s most heated rivalries.

    With the third game of the 2000 season set to be played on the NFL’s biggest stage, the pot of the Rams-Saints burgeoning rivalry finally boiled over.

    One week after a 26-21 win in New Orleans to put St. Louis in the playoffs, the Rams traveled back to the Big Easy for a playoff game. The added pressure of defending their world championship and eliminating their biggest rivals had the Rams’ emotions mounting.

    The Saints, on the other hand, seemed to dismiss the loss one week earlier as an aberration, running their mouths as well as Marshall Faulk did against them in the Rams’ win.

    Saints’ offensive tackle Kyle Turley fired the first shot, holding back nothing. He told the New Orleans Times Picayune that there was no doubt about his confidence.

    “They’re going to come down here and we’re going to beat them…and we’ll move on in the playoffs,” Turley said at the time. “I’m confident we’re not going to settle for losing to anybody in the playoffs. Especially these guys.”

    Receiver Joe Horn echoed Turley’s sentiments saying the Saints have nothing to fear by playing St. Louis again.

    “I don’t see the same Rams team. I can’t wait to play them,” Horn said. "We're going to be ready for them when they come to New Orleans. I don't mind running my tongue, if they want to put quotes up in their locker room. Put this quote in their locker room: 'We'll see you when you get to New Orleans.' "

    Rams’ defensive tackle D’Marco Farr countered with a strong statement of his own.

    “We’re not going to take any stuff from any team, especially these guys,” Farr said. “We were coming in to win. Now, we’re coming in here to beat you up.”

    Horn stoked the fire more, calling out St. Louis’ defense, which had struggled most of the season.

    “I mean, their defense ain’t that good man,” Horn told the Post-Dispatch. “To beat the Rams, you put points on the board. If the defense plays subpar and the offense plays the same game as the Rams, you beat the Rams.”

    The war of words wasn’t the only battle going on. New Orleans’ coach Jim Haslett apparently made overtures to some Rams’ coaches who were in danger of losing their job. Haslett mentioned it directly to the coaches. In addition, in the second meeting, one Rams fan was mugged by three Saints’ fans in the stands. That fan was later invited by Georgia Frontiere to attend the playoff game.

    St. Louis entered the game on Dec. 30, 2000 with all the motivation it needed, but in the end, turnovers kept the Rams from advancing. New Orleans won a playoff game for the first time in its history 31-28.

    Rams’ punt returner...
    -09-25-2004, 08:43 AM
  • RamWraith
    Coady, Conwell will cross paths
    by RamWraith
    By Bill Coats
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Thursday, Sep. 23 2004

    Former teammates on
    opposing missions now

    If Rich Coady and Ernie Conwell have a reunion Sunday, it won't exactly be a
    tea-and-cookies affair.

    With Aeneas Williams moving to cornerback, Coady is expected to start at free
    safety for the Rams against New Orleans. Conwell, who played in St. Louis from
    1996 through 2002 and had a locker near Coady's, is the Saints' starting tight

    So Coady and Conwell could meet again, this time on the Edward Jones Dome turf.
    "Playing against (Conwell) every day in practice for three or four years, it'd
    be nice to go live against him," Coady said.

    Conwell represents only a small part of Coady's concerns, though. The Saints'
    top running back, Deuce McAllister, is sidelined with a high-ankle sprain,
    meaning that coach Jim Haslett will have to rely on journeymen Aaron Stecker
    and Ki-Jana Carter for any semblance of a ground game.

    So logic indicates that New Orleans quarterback Aaron Brooks will have the ball
    in the air much of the afternoon. "We expect to have a busy day," Coady said.
    "You like that, though, when the action's around you and when you're around the
    ball. It'll be fun for us to go out there and do the best we can and try to
    shut that down."

    The Saints (1-1) hardly have been on offensive juggernaut: They're averaging
    291.5 yards (22nd in the 32-team NFL) and 18.5 points (17th) per game. Yet
    Brooks' 502 passing yards are exceeded by only eight quarterbacks.

    Wide receivers Joe Horn (14 catches, 204 yards) and Donte' Stallworth (12, 149)
    are his favorite targets. Conwell has three catches for 32 yards.

    The 6-foot-1, 210-pound Coady said Brooks is especially effective when he
    throws "over the middle and deep outside. He's got a real live arm, quick
    release, throws the ball well. And he's got two great receivers to throw to, so
    that makes it easy."

    Coady, 28, was the Rams' third-round pick (No. 68 overall) in the 1999 draft
    out of Texas A&M. He has started 11 games in six seasons, but most of his work
    this year has been as an extra back in passing situations.

    "Instead of playing 30 plays, I'll play 60. So it won't be that big of a
    difference for me," Coady said. "You prepare to start every week, and I've been
    here long enough that I'll know what I'm doing every play. It's not one of
    those things where I've got to go in there and learn a bunch of new
    terminology. It should be pretty simple and pretty basic."

    Chillar rests foot

    First-team linebacker Brandon Chillar sat...
    -09-24-2004, 06:04 AM
  • eldfan
    Every given Sunday: Another unbeaten for Rams
    by eldfan
    AP Sports Writer

    ST. LOUIS — The schedule has done zero favors for the one-win
    St. Louis Rams, the first team in NFL history to draw unbeaten
    opponents in three straight home games.

    Good luck parlaying fresh legs off the bye week and a two-week
    buzz from their lone victory now that the prolific New Orleans
    Saints are coming to town. New Orleans (8-0) was a two-touchdown
    favorite to follow the script of the Colts (42-6, Week 7) and
    Vikings (38-10, Week 5) and give the Rams another reason to lose
    faith in the home-field advantage.

    “You definitely don’t want to play a team like New Orleans every
    week,” Rams quarterback Marc Bulger said. "They’re going to get
    their points, it’s as simple as that.

    “So we have to find a way to keep up with them.”

    Since moving to St. Louis in 1995, the Rams (1-7) are 6-2 at
    home coming off the bye week. In 2007 they beat the Saints on
    the road in after the bye for their first victory after an 0-8

    Useless, ancient statistics.

    “That was two years ago,” Bulger said. “If you look around this
    locker room, there are not too many guys left that were on that

    Extra time to prepare? Rookie coach Steve Spagnuolo worries it
    wasn’t enough to get ready for the NFL’s No. 1 scoring offense,
    and scoffed at Saints comments that indicated they haven’t been
    at their best lately.

    “I don’t know if anybody ever figures them out,” Spagnuolo said.
    “That’s a compliment to them and scary for the rest of the
    league that they can play better.”

    The Saints average 37.9 points and have scored 30 or more points
    the last four games to match a franchise best. They’re 8-0 for
    the first time and one win shy of tying the franchise record for
    consecutive victories because to this point they’ve been able to
    overcome mistakes with sheer firepower and by forcing their
    opponents into a league-high 24 turnovers.

    Drew Brees leads the NFL in passer rating and has 17 touchdown
    passes; he’s also the league’s best in the fourth quarter. Seven
    Saints have scored three or more TDs.

    Last week all those tools helped erase an early two-touchdown
    deficit caused by two turnovers in a 30-20 victory over the
    Panthers. New Orleans has a plus-8 turnover differential, tied
    for third best in the NFL, which is the biggest reason it’s
    perfect after going 4-4 halfway through last season.

    “We’ve been lucky up to this point because we’ve gotten some
    turnovers of our own,” Brees said. “It just makes you think
    about how good we could really be if we take better care of the
    football and end up scoring points on those times where...
    -11-12-2009, 09:50 PM