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Bernie: Give Game Balls To Jackson, Spagnuolo

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  • Bernie: Give Game Balls To Jackson, Spagnuolo

    11.02.2009 10:06 am
    Give Game Balls to Jackson, Spagnuolo
    By Bernie Miklasz


    Greetings. Sorry that I didnít write immediately after Sundayís 17-10 Rams victory in Detroit, but Iím feeling better today, so letís have at it:

    * This one was for Steven Jackson: I wonder if we realize how difficult it is to be a standout running back on a bad team. Not only a bad team, but one with an extremely limited passing attack. It means that every week the opposing team has one goal in mind: stopping the running back. Taking away the Ramsí only real playmaker on offense. Jackson gets ganged up on every week. But Jackson continues to trample the odds. After a command performance in Detroit, Jackson is tied for second in the NFL in rushing and is second in the league in combined yards from scrimmage. Heís averaging 98 yards rushing per game and 4.8 yards per carry. Heís giving the Rams 122 all-purpose yards per game. And heís been at his best when the Rams make it close ó when everyone in the house knows heís going to get the ball. This season in the 4th quarter when the Rams are in a close game ó within a seven-point margin, up or down Ė Jackson averages 6.6 yards per carry. Heís been at his best, overall, in the fourth quarter, averaging 5.8 yards per carry. He breaks down those defensive stacks.

    But Jacksonís attitude and professionalism have been as impressive as his running. Heís been a total team player in 2009. A positive influence in every way. Someone who tries hard to keep his teammates fired up. Someone who refuses to dwell on any kind of negativity. Jackson just keeps pressing on, running through the fog of losing, trying to desperately to break through to the sunlight..

    * This one was also for Steve Spagnuolo: As I wrote in Saturdayís ďBitsĒ column, itís too soon to make any conclusive judgments about Spagnuolo as an all-around head coach. Way too early for that. Frankly, I donít understand how anyone can take a stand ó pro or con ó on the guy so far. There are some things that I really like about him; there are some things that give me concern. Heís never been a head coach before. Heís working his way through this. And heís learning to be a head coach as he cleans a mess created by the previous regime at Rams Park. You think thatís easy? But I was happy to see the man get a win in Detroit. I was happy to see him rewarded.

    I repeat: Spagnuoloís overall steadiness and consistency in dealing with his players is a real plus in this situation. No gimmicks will turn around years of roster-management incompetence and losing. There are no short cuts on the long road back to being a respectable franchise. Spags has a message and stays on it. He refuses to let any player drift away from the cause. Spagnuolo is from the Dick Vermeil school of positive thinking. There is nothing wrong with that. Too many fans think head coaches are supposed to put on a show by hollering and playing to the cameras, playing to the media. Too many fans think you have to cut players on the field and create a scene and act like a tyrant Ö and if you donít do that, it means youíre soft.

    Itís Jerry Springer America; we demand chair throwing as proof that someone is passionate or tough. And itís all rubbish. Look, being a loudmouth or an on-camera tough guys works for some; all sorts of personalities win games. But the key is this: you have to be true to who you are. You canít reinvent yourself on a weekly basis. Spagnuolo chews his team out when warranted; he did it again Friday at Rams Park. But it was done behind closed doors. He didnít do it to put on a show or score cheap points with media and fans.

    Again: I think next season weíll know a lot more about the kind of head coach he is, but for now I respect Spagnuolo for not being a phony. I respect him for not freaking out and letting adversity drive him nuts. I respect him for not having multiple personalities, which is the fastest way for a coach to lose the respect of his players. I respect Spagnuolo for refusing to play to the imbeciles in the crowd. Reasonable people understand the situation heís in. And theyíll give him time to develop. And Spagnuolo definitely has to improve in some areas, including game management and in coaching up his assistants. (I donít know if this is a good staff of assistants; a couple of people I respect in the NFL tell me that it isnít.)

    * OK, Iíll knock off the talk about the Rams being the worst single-season team in NFL history. They escaped that just bu winning a game. Two winless teams can fight over that title, the 2008 Lions and 1976 expansion Tampa Bay Bucs.

    * The Rams have the makings of a good offensive line: Theyíre still inconsistent, but the talent is obvious. Center Jason Brown was a terrific free-agent pickup, the depth is clearly better, and it was fun to watch the big fella, No. 2 overall draft pick Jason Smith, gore defenders from RT when the Rams ran the ball. Smith has scary-good ability.

    * Marc Bulger, continuedÖ. honest, I donít know how much more can be said. In the last two games heís completed 31 of 61 with no TDs and 3 interceptions and a passer rating of 38.6. He has completed only 6 of 20 passes in the red zone this season. In 4th quarters of close games (up or down by seven points) Bulger has completed 10 of 27 passes. Again, I realize his receivers arenít very good, but when he has the chance to make plays, Bulger doesnít make Ďem. Not many, anyway. And Sunday at Ford Field? In a very close game in which every first down loomed as a potentially vital breakthrough, Bulger had a chance to make a first down in the third quarter by scrambling for it. He took off. He had the opening. The first down was there. But with a defensive back rushing up to make a hard tackle, Bulger went down. He went into the slide to avoid the hit. He came up short of the first down. Iím sorry, but when a team has lost 17 consecutive games and is fighting to change that, your quarterback has to set the example by leading the charge. Bulger chose to bail on the play. Itís a shame.

    * Great call, obviously, on the fake field goal that resulted in kicker Josh Brown throwing a TD pass to an uncovered Daniel Fells. Until Sunday that was one of my disappointments with this coaching staff; a losing team has to take chances and let it rip. You canít run trick plays all the time, but when your squad has lost 17 in a row, you have to try and do some things to spark your team. And this fake FG was perfect. Better yet, Spagnuolo signed off on it even though the Rams were using their new long snapper for the first time, and even though the pass was drawn up for another TE, Randy McMichael, who was shaken up and unable to go on that play. Fells hadnít practiced it at all. But the play went off beautifully. Good coaching there.

    * I apologize in advance for being petty, but I canít help what I feel, and at least Iím being honest when I say this: Lions offensive coordinator Scott Linehan didnít deserve to walk off that field with a win Sunday, not after all the damage he inflicted on the Ramsí franchise in two-plus years. The Rams defense held Linehanís offense to 8 points and 289 yards. It was the second-lowest yardage output by a Rams opponent this season. Well done. Except for one series (bleep happens) the Rams defense was exceptional in the second half, holding the Lions to 51 yards rushing on 14 carries (3.6-yd avg) and 75 yards passing, with Matthew Stafford completing only 5 of 13 throws. Stafford completed only 2 of 7 in the fourth quarter.

    * Bernie Bytes: poor form by Rams safety Oshiomogho Atogwe, to be dancing to the music being piped into Ford Field during a timeout. It was his misfortune to have the moment caught on TV by FOX; other than that we may not have known about it. But thatís not really the point. You donít do that when youíre team is 0-7. It just doesnít look right. And Atogwe hasnít made many high-impact plays this season; according to STATS LLC he has one INT, only three pass defenses and no forced fumbles or fumble recoveries. But he does rank second on the Rams defense in tacklesÖMLB James Laurinaitis had another productive day, but he got trapped amid the cluster of bodies too many times against Detroit and wasnít free to pursue the runner. Maybe heís taking bad angles; I donít know. But heís a rookie. And a good oneÖ offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur has inexplicably abandoned the running game at times this season, but he stuck with it in the 4th quarter Sunday; Jackson had nine carries in the fourth quarter (and the Rams had two additional rushing attempts in the 4th).

  • #2
    Re: Bernie: Give Game Balls To Jackson, Spagnuolo

    poor form by Rams safety Oshiomogho Atogwe, to be dancing to the music being piped into Ford Field during a timeout. It was his misfortune to have the moment caught on TV by FOX; other than that we may not have known about it. But thatís not really the point. You donít do that when youíre team is 0-7. It just doesnít look right.
    Who knows what was going through Atogwe's mind at the time, but it was definitely a "cringe" moment for me.

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Bernie: Give Game Balls To Jackson, Spagnuolo

      Originally posted by r8rh8rmike View Post
      Who knows what was going through Atogwe's mind at the time, but it was definitely a "cringe" moment for me.
      If I'm not mistaken that was the same dance he did after signing the big contract.
      sigpic :ram::helmet:

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Bernie: Give Game Balls To Jackson, Spagnuolo

        I missed it, I am glad to say ;)

        __________________________________________________________
        Keeping the Rams Nation Talking

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Bernie: Give Game Balls To Jackson, Spagnuolo

          It's a good thing we have Jackson. Otherwise, we'd be 0-8.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Bernie: Give Game Balls To Jackson, Spagnuolo

            Thank god we have Jackson. I think the floodgates have opened for him. Here are to many more TD's!

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Bernie: Give Game Balls To Jackson, Spagnuolo

              Originally posted by r8rh8rmike View Post
              Who knows what was going through Atogwe's mind at the time, but it was definitely a "cringe" moment for me.
              I completely disagree, maybe that's how he gets fired up and he wasnt the only one dancing so lets not single him out. I do believe Q. Butler was also doiing a little dance. So what because we are 0-7 you have to be miserable and serious all the time. You cant try and stay loose and enjoy yourself? When a guy makes a tackle it's ok to dance and make an arse of yourself but god forbid a guy busts out in a dance during a timeout. Let's not be so hum drum about everything.
              Aim high Willis, Aim High!

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Bernie: Give Game Balls To Jackson, Spagnuolo

                Originally posted by rammiser View Post
                I completely disagree, maybe that's how he gets fired up and he wasnt the only one dancing so lets not single him out. I do believe Q. Butler was also doiing a little dance. So what because we are 0-7 you have to be miserable and serious all the time. You cant try and stay loose and enjoy yourself? When a guy makes a tackle it's ok to dance and make an arse of yourself but god forbid a guy busts out in a dance during a timeout. Let's not be so hum drum about everything.
                I'm not sure what you disagree with me about. My initial reaction to seeing him do his little dance? You obviously didn't have the same feeling, which is fine.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Bernie: Give Game Balls To Jackson, Spagnuolo

                  Originally posted by r8rh8rmike View Post
                  Who knows what was going through Atogwe's mind at the time, but it was definitely a "cringe" moment for me.
                  Yeah, I was surprised to see it, but my theory was that they were just trying to stay loose. If Rams players were as mopey as the fanbase is these days, they'd never win a game again.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Bernie: Give Game Balls To Jackson, Spagnuolo

                    Well I saw Atogwe dancing at the Rams-Skins game also during a timeout... He has a thing for dancing ill say.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Bernie: Give Game Balls To Jackson, Spagnuolo

                      Originally posted by r8rh8rmike View Post
                      I'm not sure what you disagree with me about. My initial reaction to seeing him do his little dance? You obviously didn't have the same feeling, which is fine.
                      Sorry I was actually dis-agreeing with Bernie. But no it wasnt a cringe moment for me. Atogwe was dancing at the Niners game but not when we were losing. I'm sure if we were losing to the Lions he wouldnt have been dancing.
                      Aim high Willis, Aim High!

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Bernie: Give Game Balls To Jackson, Spagnuolo

                        Originally posted by rammiser View Post
                        Sorry I was actually dis-agreeing with Bernie. But no it wasnt a cringe moment for me. Atogwe was dancing at the Niners game but not when we were losing. I'm sure if we were losing to the Lions he wouldnt have been dancing.
                        No problem. You specifically quoted my post, so I thought you were disagreeing with what I said.

                        Obviously this is no big deal and I think reasonable people can have reasonable differences on Atogwe's actions. You made some legitimate points and I respect your opinion.

                        Comment

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                        • r8rh8rmike
                          Bernie: You Snooze, You Lose; Watching The Rams, It's Easy To Do Both
                          by r8rh8rmike
                          You snooze, you lose; watching the Rams, it's easy to do both

                          Sports Columnist Bernie Miklasz
                          ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
                          12/07/2009

                          CHICAGO ó I don't know about you, but I can't watch this anymore. This isn't football; it's anesthesia.

                          The Rams are supposed to be running a West Coast offense, but I think someone forgot the "offense" part. I don't see anything "West Coast" about it, either. The West Coast passing game was developed by the late genius, Bill Walsh. The Rams are more of a Bill Murray offense. Something has gotten lost in translation.

                          Despite having possession of the football in the Bears' backyard for much of Sunday afternoon, the Rams crawled their way to a tortuous demise, managing only three field goals in a 17-9 loss to the unimpressive home team.

                          At Soldier Field, the Rams were tin soldiers, slowly marching in formation and getting wiped out before they could make it to the end zone. The visitors were staked to exceptional field position and managed to have the ball on the Bears' side of the field nine times in 13 possessions. The Rams ran 34 of their 65 plays inside Chicago territory.

                          This game had a claim ticket, but the Rams passed. Or actually, they didn't pass ó the ball, that is. The Bears stacked the line all day, and frequently played one safety high. That's an open invitation to throw a forward pass down the field. But the Rams wouldn't dare think of doing anything radical like that.

                          This would require creativity.

                          And imagination.

                          And nerve.

                          Have you seen much evidence of that at Rams Park?

                          Actually, I should apologize to Rams special teams coach Tom McMahon. He designed the most inspired offensive play of the Rams' season, that wonderful fake field goal that went for the winning touchdown pass in Detroit. And that's still the only victory in this dreadful 1-11 season.

                          Maybe they should put the special teams coach in charge of the red-zone offense. It couldn't get any worse.

                          The Rams have completed only 14 of 42 passes in the red zone this season.

                          In this day and age of marvelous passing attacks ó the leather helmets went out a long time ago ó how is that even possible?

                          Rams offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur won't be confused with "The Most Interesting Man in the World" from those Dos Equis beer commercials, that's for sure.

                          Shurmur is running the murmur offense.

                          Sunday he called for 28 Steven Jackson runs and a bunch of dink and dunk passes that wouldn't faze a high school defense.

                          The Rams dressed five wide receivers for the first time all season.

                          Why, was this a costume party?

                          I have no idea why they put five wideouts in uniform. The Rams didn't spread the field, they...
                          -12-08-2009, 12:32 PM
                        • r8rh8rmike
                          Bernie: Quick Takes On Rams At Halfway Point
                          by r8rh8rmike
                          11.05.2009 11:45 pm
                          Quick Takes on Rams at the Halfway Point
                          By Bernie Miklasz


                          Iím taking a few days off, but before I zoom off, letís take a look at the 1-7 Rams at the midway mark of their 2009 season.

                          Here are my opinions, and yours are certainly welcome in the comments section:

                          Best Player: Steven Jackson. Yes, an obvious choice. But itís impressive the way SJ39 has been running through defensive walls. Through 8 games, Jackson is second in the NFL in rushing yards (784), second in rushing first downs (32), first in the NFL in runs of 10+ yards (25), second in the league in yards from scrimmage (970), second in most broken tackles, and second in yards gained after contact (461). His attitude has been tremendous. The only minus is the shortage of rushing touchdowns (only 1). Thereís more than a few ordinary backs in the league with 5 or more rushing TDs. But hereís the problem: the Rams have had only six series where theyíve had a 1st down and goal to go; only four NFL teams have had fewer. The Rams have had only two series where theyíve had a 1st down and 5 yards or less to go for the TD. And the Rams are tied for 23rd in the league for most red-zone possessions. In other words, Jackson hasnít gotten many opportunities to run the ball from in close. Jackson obviously lacks the breakaway capability of, say, Tennesseeís Chris Johnson, but thatís because Jackson is a power runner and not a speed back. And power backs roll up the TDs when they get the ball close to the goal line. And Jacksonís chances have been limited.

                          Worst Player: Lots to choose from, and Iím picking on a guy who is no longer with the team, but I never understood why WR Tim Carter was recalled to the roster after being cut in the preseason.

                          Most Surprising Player: That would be WR and return man Danny Amendola. Heís no superstar, but this was a nice pickup of a ďstreetĒ free agent. The Rams have thrown the ball to Amendola 19 times and have completed 15 of the passes, which is an exceptional percentage. He knows how to get open. And I think tight end Billy Bajema has some talent and should be utilized more.

                          Most Disappointing Player: Thereís a long line of candidates. And generally speaking, you have to possess real talent to be considered disappointing. So Iíve tried to stick with guys who have the ability to do better than they have. Marc Bulger continues to decline as an NFL QB. We expected more from TE Randy McMichael, who has dropped five passes. Safety Oshiomogho Atogwe has a lot of skill, but isnít coming up with the ball (picks, fumbles) nearly as much as he has in the past. He has one INT and only three pass defenses. CB Ron Bartellís coverage has slipped, but heís also been playing hurt. Thereís second-year WR Donnie Avery, the only wideout on the roster who can burn a defense and change a game. But Avery has dropped five passes and canít stay healthy. I cut...
                          -11-06-2009, 03:33 PM
                        • r8rh8rmike
                          Bernie: Spags Had To Go For It
                          by r8rh8rmike
                          10.18.2009 5:27 pm
                          Oct. 18: Spags Had to Go For It
                          By Bernie Miklasz


                          My Stream of Consciousness flow on the Ramsí 23-20 OT loss @ Jacksonville.

                          * Make it 0-6 on the season and 0-16 since Oct. 19, 2008. Monday is the 1-year anniversary of the Ramsí last regular-season win. And now Indianapolis and Peyton Manning come to STL on Sunday. The Rams are 5-33 since the end of the 2006 season. This, presumably, is some sort of karmic payback for the Miracle of 1999.

                          * This is a bottom-line business. It isnít high school. In the NFL they donít hand out trophies and ribbons for trying hard. And 0-6 is really bad. And 16 consecutive losses is unacceptable. But I respected the Ramsí effort and determination and several aspects of their performance at Jaxville. There have been many times since the start of the 2007 season when Iíve wanted to stop watching the game, because the Rams have been so weak in terms of competitive character. Iíve seen too many Rams games where the players donít care, and these no-shows are disgusting. Watching Sundayís game, I saw a group of players who were doing everything and anything they could to win a game. And I respect that. I think the Rams are getting better. I know that isnít enough, and that it doesnít count; there are no moral victories. But if nothing else I at least want to come away from a game with a some respect for the players and their desire to win. And that happened Sunday. A team thatís been ravaged by injuries fought like mad to win a game. I appreciate that part of it.

                          * Coach Steve Spagnuolo had to go for the win at the end of the 4th quarter. His offense had battled and scrambled and survived its way down the field and had a chance to win in regulation. The Rams defense ó on the field for a remarkable 51 snaps during the second half ó was gassed. You just knew if it went to OT and the Jaguars got the ball first, the Rams defense would be too worn down to make a stop. So you had to go for the win, go for the throat, right then and there. Seven seconds left, at the Jax 9, and one timeout left. You have to take a quick shot into the end zone. If it fails, and the ball is thrown out of the end zone or is incomplete, you donít need the timeout. You kick it on the final play. Or if you make a play thatís short of the end zone, then you call the timeout and kick it. And if you turn the ball over or take a sack, so be it ó at least you went down taking your best shot, and most people would respect the attitude. I would not criticize Spagnuolo for being aggressive there, even if hs decision blew up on him. You have to go hard there, let it roll. You were 0-5, and the organization had lost 15 in a row, and thereís no reason in the world to be safe and conservative.

                          OK, even if you disagree ó and as a guy who tries to be fair I recognize that thereís a reasonable case to be made for what Spags did ó then answer me this:...
                          -10-19-2009, 04:14 PM
                        • r8rh8rmike
                          Bernie: Loss Is Disturbing In Many Ways
                          by r8rh8rmike
                          Loss is disturbing in many ways

                          Sports Columnist Bernie Miklasz
                          ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
                          11/30/2009

                          From the moment Steve Spagnuolo was hired as the Rams' head coach to partner with new general manager Billy Devaney, I've preached patience. The new leaders were put in charge of cleaning up the NFL equivalent of a toxic spill. And it would take a lot of time, hard work and smart decisions to get it done.

                          Those who thought the Rams had a chance to win between seven and nine games this season and contend for the playoffs were more delusional than optimistic.

                          I didn't expect much, and I'm not asking for much.

                          All I wanted to see, really, were signs of progress in 2009. And shouldn't this team be getting better, even if the gains are incremental and modest? Instead, the Rams are getting worse. Is there any justification for that?

                          With Sunday's 27-17 loss to the visiting Seattle Seahawks, the Rams became the first St. Louis NFL team to post a 1-10 record after 11 games in a season. That covers 43 seasons of St. Louis NFL football, 28 with the Cardinals and 15 with the Rams.

                          This was a winnable game. It was sitting there at 7-7 in the second quarter, and the Rams were only down by seven late in the third quarter. The Seahawks came into The Ed with a 3-7 record and didn't appear to be highly motivated. But as most opponents do, the Seahawks pounced on the Rams' mistakes and sloppy play and bullied the Rams with a physical rushing attack. Taking over, Seattle opened a 17-point lead before the Rams scored a so-what TD with 44 seconds remaining.

                          The Rams had shown improvement by losing in overtime at Jacksonville, winning at Detroit, and taking the undefeated New Orleans Saints down to the wire with a chance to win. But the Rams didn't build on that brief spell of not-so-hideous football.

                          Instead, they're regressing.

                          And I don't think that's acceptable.

                          "This game was a big step backward," Rams defensive end Chris Long said. "I think we've got a long way to go, so we can't afford to take these steps backward."

                          Agreed. After the game, I asked Spagnuolo if he thought his Rams were slipping and getting worse. After saying he wouldn't cite injuries as an excuse, Spagnuolo sort of did just that.

                          "The one thing we've got to remember, and I'm not going to use this as an excuse, so bear with me here," Spagnuolo said. "But we have gelled. Since the first time we played Seattle (in the season opener) until now, I believe it's a different football team.

                          "But we're fighting some injuries right now at some key positions. So the dynamics of working together and getting better and better at certain things, maybe it takes a step back. But this is professional football and guys got to go in there and play....
                          -11-30-2009, 04:39 PM
                        • r8rh8rmike
                          Rams Team Report - Nov 10
                          by r8rh8rmike
                          Rams Team Report
                          Yahoo! Sports - Nov 10, 1:40 am EST


                          INSIDE SLANT


                          As the Rams begin the second half of their first season under coach Steve Spagnuolo with a record of 1-7, no one knows how many wins will occur in the final eight games. Certainly, Spagnuolo was hopeful of having more than one when the team hit its bye.

                          But he hasn't strayed from his consistent approach, which is to stress team first, one game at a time, and remain as positive as possible with his message. That can be tough when losses mount up, but Spagnuolo has apparently achieved it so far.

                          He admitted, "I have had my moments (of frustration). But I think there's a professional way to do it. I think everybody in this business should be respected for the jobs they have. I think any business is about respecting each other. I don't see any reason to go off the cuff. I keep that to myself. Part of what we talk about as a team is being a poised team. You can't be a poised team if the head coach isn't poised."

                          Said safety Oshiomogho Atogwe, "Being a guy who has been here with the Rams now going for five years, some of the younger guys and some of the vets need to see loyalty and faithfulness from the guys that have already been here, and that's going to carry over throughout the locker room so you just build a team that is really focused on one goal and one purpose and being one."

                          A head coach has to have credibility, and that can be difficult for a first-timer. It surely helped Spagnuolo that he was an assistant coach for 10 seasons under Andy Reid in Philadelphia and Tom Coughlin with the Giants.

                          "I think that he would even admit that we bought into his system," quarterback Marc Bulger said. "We know it's going to be successful; it's just a matter of bearing with it. Once we start getting those wins, it will start to pay off. It's a winning formula. He's been with the Giants and Philadelphia. It's not always easy, but I think that the older guys around here know that it is a winning formula. We've all bought into it."

                          Spagnuolo likes what he has seen, especially the absence of sulking players, or those who start pointing fingers at others.

                          Said Spagnuolo, "To me, that's a credit to the players. It is easy in this business to venture somewhere else, especially when you don't have a lot of success. That's why I keep going back to and keep saying that I love the group down there, the character, the commitment, the loyalty, because if you have those things, eventually that will be the reason why you win. It won't be about coaches or trick plays. It will be because what your core of players is made of. That will be the reason why we win."

                          Expounding on that point, Spagnuolo said he gets impressions from a lot of the little things that are still important in terms of the...
                          -11-11-2009, 03:42 PM
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