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  • Good, Bad, and Ugly - Gordon

    From ecstasy to agony
    BY JEFF GORDON
    Post-Dispatch Online Sports Columnist
    09/26/2004

    Oh, the humanity!

    The Rams had the New Orleans Saints beaten – vanquished, defeated, conquered – and then let them escape with a 28-25 overtime win Sunday.

    Describing the horror of it all is difficult. Quarterback Marc Bulger rallied the Rams with a dramatic last-minute drive, scoring the go-ahead touchdown himself. Then he threw a two-point conversion pass to give them a 25-22 lead with 28 seconds left.

    All the Rams had to do was boot the ball deep, cover the kickoff, stop a couple of desperation passes and victory was theirs.

    But no. Coach Mike Martz authorized a squib kick, which the Saints advanced to their 42. Moving from there into field goal range was no big trick and New Orleans forced overtime with John Carney's 38-yard field goal.

    What was Martz thinking?

    "They have a great kick returner (Michael Lewis) back there," he said. "We were concerned about field position. We just didn't get it done."

    The Rams won the coin toss, started the overtime with the ball . . . and failed to reach scoring range. The Saints took advantage of their opportunity and Carney's 31-yard field goal finished them.

    "That's a tough loss," an ashen-faced Martz said. "That's a tough one to lose."

    No kidding. The Rams (1-2) now realize their 2004 season is in great danger. Their streak of 16 consecutive home victories is kaput and their playoff aspirations could soon evaporate, too, given the difficulty of the remaining 13 games.

    How could this happen? As usual, Bulger was able to play pitch-and-catch with Isaac Bruce, Marshall Faulk, Torry Holt, et al.

    He torched the Saints with a 358-yard passing game, completing pass after pass after pass to move the yardsticks.

    As usual, though, mistakes prevented the Rams from controlling this game. Exasperating special teams penalties . . . an untimely first-half fumble by Bulger . . . a few dropped passes here, a few offensive penalties there, some untimely sacks sprinkled in . . . 12 penalties overall for 85 yards . . . one defensive breakdown allowing a long Saints touchdown run . . . sloppiness in all phases of the Rams' play undermined their effort.

    Throw in the fact that the Rams defense failed to claim a turnover for the third consecutive game and, well, there's your recipe for disaster.


    THE GOOD

    * It was good to see the Rams defense forgo the individual introductions before the game, running onto the field en masse instead. Why take a bow on the home field after that "effort" in Atlanta?


    * Linebacker Tommy Polley, broken rib and all, sucked it up and regained his starting outside linebacker job – replacing rookie Brandon Chillar. The Rams needed Polley to tough it out, since middle linebacker Robert Thomas suffered an ankle sprain moments into the game.

    And Polley made several notable plays to help the injury-depleted defensive unit.


    * The Saints went for it on fourth-and-one on the Rams 34 in the first quarter and the defense held, turning the ball over on downs. Ryan "Big Grease" Pickett and the rest of the defensive line stood firm.


    * Kevin Curtis lives! The much-touted young receiver caught a 15-yard pass on the Rams' first possession, keeping his team moving into scoring position.


    * Martz went for his first fourth-and-one situation and the Rams executed with Marshall knifing off left tackle for the first down. That led to Bulger's 32-yard touchdown pass to Holt and a quick 7-0 lead. Bulger hung his deep throw, but Holt was so open that it hardly mattered.


    * The Rams sustained a powerful pass rush against the Saints on their second possession, leading to another turnover on downs. On fourth-and-four, defensive tackle Damione Lewis chased down quarterback Aaron Brooks and forced an incomplete pass.

    Two plays earlier, defensive end Leonard Little caught Brooks from behind on a scramble.


    * Ironically named fullback Joey Goodspeed caught a safety-valve pass while falling down, then scrambled to his feet and banged off various Saints while fighting for first-down yardage. That's the spirit!


    * Jeff Wilkins drilled a 53-yard field goal, picking up Faulk and Dane Looker after they dropped potential first-down passes over the middle. That pushed the Rams to 10-3.


    * That two-back scheme with Steven Jackson lined up like a H-back worked nicely when Jackson came back inside on a counter run. We like him running the ball more than Cam Cleeland running the ball.


    * Lewis made another disruptive play, batting a third-down Brooks pass into the air – forcing the Saints to settle for a field goal and a 16-10 third-quarter lead.


    * Bulger brought the Rams back by spreading the ball around, hitting Looker with a couple of 18-yard completions. The Rams got to the Saints 3 and Martz did something radical on first down – he ordered a handoff to Faulk, who wedged into the end zone.

    So the Rams edged ahead 17-16 in this needlessly tense game.


    * Safety Adam Archuleta broke up a two-point conversion pass by Brooks, keeping the Saints lead at 22-17 in the fourth quarter.


    * After the Rams went nowhere with the ball, their defense desperately needed to make a stop. And it did, getting the ball back for the offense with 5:42 left.


    * Bulger's last-minute touchdown drive was a thing of beauty, capped off by his heady 19-yard touchdown run up the middle after the Saints defense parted. What a shame to waste this performance.



    THE BAD


    * The Rams finally got the football to tight end Brandon Manumaleuna . . . and right tackle Grant Williams got busted for holding.


    * Veteran guard Chris Dishman went down with a sprained knee, forcing inexperienced Scott Tercero to fill in.


    * The defense was bearing up well against the run – holding the Saints to 32 yards on 12 carries – but then allowed somebody named Aaron Stecker to bust off a 42-yard touchdown run to tie the game 10-10 midway through the second quarter.


    * Safety Justin Lucas was guilty of holding on an 18-yard Mike Furrey kickoff return, pinning the Rams on their 10. Where have we seen this before?


    * Holt got busted for holding on a downfield block, pushing the Rams back into a second-and-17 situation.


    * Then, Saints defensive end Charles Grant burned Grant Williams on a speed rush to squash Bulger with a punt-forcing sack.


    * Lucas got flagged on another kickoff return – this time for an illegal block – to pin the Rams back on their own 13. Since the Saints had just taken a 13-10 lead, the Rams would have liked the opportunity to come back before halftime.

    If not for the penalty, the Rams would have started at their own 47 after Arlen Harris' 40-yard return. If not for the penalty, Wilkins would likely have gotten his crack at tying the game. Oh, well . . .


    * Tackle Orlando Pace, struggling to scrape off the rust from his training camp boycott, had trouble getting off on the right snap count. What's with those false-start penalties?

    So much for the notion that this guy didn't need the preseason to get ready to play. Pace became a liability for the second game in a row.


    * After the Rams earned a critical three-and-out defensive stop after the go-ahead touchdown, they got nailed with a ticky-tack running-into-the-punter penalty to return the ball to the Saints.


    * Naturally, the Saints took advantage of that break by marching downfield with a little of this, a little of that to regain the lead. Brooks tried to hit Rams cornerback Aeneas Williams in the end zone, but the ball caromed to Joe Horn for the touchdown.

    Yikes!


    * With the Rams down 22-15, Williams got dusted by Grant on another speed rush -- good for another costly sack on Bulger.


    * After Sean Landeta boomed a 55-yard punt with time running out on the Rams, Michael Lewis ran it back 34 yards. Once again a special teams catastrophe imperiled this team.


    * Adam Timmerman contributed one more false-start penalty in overtime, capping a disgraceful performance by the offensive line.



    THE UGLY


    * Bulger fumbled away a Rams scoring opportunity on the second offensive possession of the game, giving the Saints the ball on their 17. Talk about a buzz kill – you knew the Rams were about to move ahead 14-0. Instead, the Saints marched back and got a field goal.


    * By the end of regular play, the Rams defense had nothing left. That continued into overtime as Brooks strafed the unit with his passing.

  • #2
    Re: Good, Bad, and Ugly - Gordon

    So much for the notion that this guy didn't need the preseason to get ready to play. Pace became a liability for the second game in a row.
    And once again, everybody sing along......


    So much for the notion that this guy didn't need the preseason to get ready to play. Pace became a liability for the second game in a row.
    Clannie Nominee for ClanRam's Thickest Poster

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Good, Bad, and Ugly - Gordon

      Which makes it interesting to see what his asking price will be when it comes time to negotiate long term.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Good, Bad, and Ugly - Gordon

        Originally posted by NickSeiler
        Which makes it interesting to see what his asking price will be when it comes time to negotiate long term.
        Sad but true, Nick. The highlight of this young season is that Pace's performance should lower his value for long-term negotiation. Wow, I can actually feel my depression starting to set in.
        The more things change, the more they stay the same.

        Comment

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        • RamWraith
          Rams Seize First Win
          by RamWraith
          Sunday, November 11, 2007
          By Nick Wagoner
          Senior Writer

          NEW ORLEANS – The wait is over. On the most unlikely of days, the Rams came away with a victory.

          St. Louis dominated the Saints for most of Sunday’s game at the Superdome on its way to a 37-29 win.

          Coming off a bye against a team with four consecutive wins, not many expected the Rams to find a win in the Big Easy, but that’s how the Rams made it look against the Saints.

          The offense was sharp, the defense was stout and the Rams started their second season the way they had hoped.

          The Rams are now 1-8 on the season and the Saints drop to 4-5 with the loss.

          First Quarter

          After winning the opening toss, the Saints wasted no time driving to take a lead, driving 73 yards on four plays in just over two minutes. The help of a questionable 37-yard pass interference call against cornerback Fakhir Brown set up a 7-yard touchdown run by running back Reggie Bush.

          Olindo Mare’s extra point made it 7-0 Saints with 12:45 to go in the first quarter.

          The Rams got off to a rough start, going three and out on their first drive, but safety Oshiomogho Atogwe gave them a spark by coming up with an interception on the second play of the ensuing possessions.

          The offense used that to put together its best drive on the road this season, marching down the field to set up a 1-yard touchdown plunge by running back Steven Jackson. Quarterback Marc Bulger was sharp on the drive, connecting on all five pass attempts for 49 yards. The extra point from kicker Jeff Wilkins tied it at 7 with 2:58 to go in the quarter.

          The Saints got right back into scoring position as Pierre Thomas returned the kickoff 64 yards to the St. Louis 33. The entire left side of the Rams’ coverage unit collapsed and Thomas’ cutback would have led to a touchdown were it not for the containment by Wilkins.

          With its back against the wall, the defense stepped up again. This time, an intentional grounding call on Drew Brees and a sack for a forced fumble by linebacker Will Witherspoon killed any chance at a score and the Saints had to punt.

          The Rams took over on their 20 with 1:24 to go in the quarter. Rob Petitti replaced Brandon Gorin at right tackle to open the drive. Petitti got repetitions with the first team at that spot.

          The Rams got a first down and have the ball at the New Orleans 30 to end the quarter.

          Second Quarter

          The Rams picked up where they left off in the first quarter, piecing together one of their finest drives of the season. St. Louis marched 80 yards on 14 plays in seven minutes, 47 seconds and capped the drive with a toss from Jackson to tight end Randy McMichael for a 2-yard touchdown.

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        • RamWraith
          Bulger, Holt, Lead Rams to Surprising Upset of Saints
          by RamWraith
          Nov 11, 4:29 PM (ET)

          By BRETT MARTEL




          NEW ORLEANS (AP) -It had been a long time since the St. Louis Rams looked anything like the "greatest show on turf."

          But Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce found the old magic, teaming with Marc Bulger on Sunday to give perviously winless St. Louis (1-8) a surprising 37-29 victory over a New Orleans Saints squad that hadn't lost in a month.

          Bulger finished with 302 yards and short touchdown passes to Bruce and Drew Bennett. Running back Steven Jackson, recovering from a back injury, rushed for a short touchdown and even threw a 2-yard halfback pass to Randy McMichael for a score.

          It was a demoralizing loss for New Orleans (4-5), which could have climbed into a first-place tie in the NFC South with a win. Instead, they gave up 34 straight points from midway through the first quarter until early in the fourth, falling behind 34-7 to a team that not only had yet to win this season, but hadn't even led on the road.

          The most crushing blows came on third-and-long situations, when Holt routinely found a seem in the defense and Bulger found Holt.


          The pair kept St. Louis' second touchdown drive of the game alive by hooking up for 21 yards on third-and-17. Early in the second half, Bulger found Holt for 40 yards on a third-and-15 play, leading to Jeff Wilkins' second of three field goals.

          The Rams converted eight of their first 11 third downs through the first three-plus quarters.

          Saints coach Sean Payton feared it was only a matter of time before the Rams' talented offense began to live up to its potential, especially after returning to relative health during an off week. Coaches placed rat traps around the Saints' training headquarters during the past week, a ploy to prevent their players from overlooking what they saw as a "trap game" against a winless but hungry and talented team.

          Early on, it seemed to have worked. New Orleans took the opening kickoff and drove easily down field, scoring on Reggie Bush's second-effort run from 7 yards out.

          What seemed like a promising start in fact marked the beginning of the end of the Saints four-game winning streak, which had gotten them back in playoff contention after an 0-4 start.

          Looking long for David Patten in single coverage, Brees threw his 10th interception of the season - this one to Oshiomogho Atogwe, on the Saints' next drive. That led to the Rams' first score on Jackson's 1-yard dive over the pile.

          New Orleans had more problems with the St. Louis defense, now led by assistant coach Jim Haslett, who was the Saints' head coach from 2000-2005.

          Haslett used to lash out at fans for booing when things got bad in the Louisiana Superdome during his tenure with New Orleans. But this time, his successful defensive calls were inducing...
          -11-11-2007, 05:17 PM
        • THEFIELDGOAL
          The Field Goal: Saints Edge Rams in OT 28-25
          by THEFIELDGOAL
          After finishing a dismal 8-8 in 2003 and John Haslett's team in some form of disarray. The Saints are at a crossroads in 2004. With every other NFC South team having reached the playoffs or Super Bowl for that matter, these Saints are on a mission to prove they too can reach the playoffs and beyond. The word around Cajun country is this team lacks maturity and professionalism. 2004 is not easier for the Saints with Michael Vick and the Atlanta Falcons also rising and the Panthers looking to get back to the big dance.
          With a 1-1 record so far in 2004 the Saints arrived at The Edward's Jones Dome with a mission. The Rams with a similar record are still asking questions from their previous game versus the Atlanta Falcons and Michael Vick. With the Falcons rising, the Saints were here to prove a point with their former NFC West rivals.
          Six year veteran quarterback Aaron Brooks and Joe Horn led the Saints attack. With Deuce McAllister out with an ankle sprain, the Saints called upon a guy named Aaron Stecker to carry the load. Stecker's first start was huge, 19 carries for 106 yards and a 42yard touchdown to boot.
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          The second quarter was a rude awakening, the Saints and Aaron Brooks went to work on the Rams secondary. Brooks finished 24 of 41 for 316 yards and a touchdown. Early in the second, Brooks hit Horn for a 24 yard strike on a 3rd and 6 from the New Orleans 34 to setup the Stecker 42 yard touchdown. Saints went seven plays and 80 yards in a flash and tied the contest. Joe Horn and Donte Stallworth combined for 12 catches for 156 yards and a touchdown.
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        • eldfan
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          QUESTION: What must the Rams do to slow down Drew Brees and the New Orleans Saints this weekend?

          JIM THOMAS

          Ball control by the Rams’ offense, like the 7 1/2-minute edge in time of possession they had Sunday in Arizona – or more. That’ll help but it won’t be enough given the quick-strike capabilities that the Saints possess. The Rams’ defense needs a big turnover game – maybe three or four or more. And Brees has thrown some INTs (16). And if ever the Rams were going to get a punt or kickoff return for a score, it would come in handy this week. Scoring 19 points won’t beat New Orleans.

          JEFF GORDON

          One, keep Brees off the field by actually running the football with some consistency and sustaining a ball-control offense. Two, take away the Saints running game – which won’t be easy with Na’il Diggs out for the year and the Rams lacking strong OLB play. Three, generate a consistent pass rush in the base defense to lessen the reliance on the blitz. Brees has seen it all, so the Rams will have to mix up their defenses. They won’t be able to blitz the Saints into submission liked they blitzed the Cardinals into submission.

          BRYAN BURWELL

          The Rams were able to stay competitive with New Orleans last year by winning time of possession. Barring some genius defensive game plan that will cover up the injuries in the secondary, keeping Brees off the field is the key.

          KEVIN WHEELER (Host of “Sports Open Line” on KMOX)

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        • Nick
          Panthers get a kick out of 32-21 victory
          by Nick
          Panthers get a kick out of 32-21 victory

          NFL.com wire reports

          NEW ORLEANS (Dec. 5, 2004) -- John Kasay wasn't interested in the record, he was focused on the outcome.

          Kasay kept the Carolina Panthers' late run for a playoff berth on track with six field goals in a 32-21 victory over the New Orleans Saints.

          "If you know me, you'd know I really don't play for records," Kasay said. "But we really needed the win. That's the important thing."

          It was the Panthers' fourth victory in a row and, in the weak NFC, their 5-7 record has them in the middle of the wild-card race.

          The Saints (4-8) have lost three straight and seven of the last nine games. Some of the few fans remaining by the end of the game chanted "Fire Haslett" as the clock wound down, referring to beleaguered coach Jim Haslett.

          The Panthers have shaken off the loss of 14 players to injuries. The defending NFC champions put the game out of reach early and stopped the Saints' second-half effort with two interceptions, including one on the Carolina 11-yard line.

          "We've become a new football team," Carolina coach John Fox said. "We have a lot of new faces in there that are starting to come together."

          Kasay's six field goals set a Panthers record; he kicked five in a game twice.

          Jake Delhomme, playing with a cast on his broken right thumb, completed 22 of 29 passes for 294 yards and a touchdown, making him the first Carolina quarterback to throw 20 touchdown passes in a season since Steve Beuerlein tossed 36 in 1999.

          "We're starting to find ourselves," Delhomme said. "We're doing some good things. We just have to keep it going."

          Nick Goings rushed for 122 yards on 36 carries, and Muhsin Muhammad had 10 receptions for 179 yards against the NFL's worst defense. The Saints are the only team to allow more than 400 yards per game (418.3) and Carolina gained 401. New Orleans has not held an opponent under 20 points in any game this season.

          The offense is no better. New Orleans has not scored in the first quarter since Sept. 19. Against Carolina, it did not make a first down until the two-minute warning in the first half.

          The Saints had 280 yards in total offense, but only 74 yards in the first half.

          "The first half was bad, ugly football," Haslett said. "The second half we came out and moved the ball and rallied a little. But that was bad football."

          Aaron Brooks completed 20 of 40 attempts for 251 yards and three touchdowns. Joe Horn had eight catches for 160 yards, giving him a 1,000-yard season for the fourth time in the last five years.

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          -12-05-2004, 03:48 PM
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