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  • Rams spin wheels again


    For the second week in a row, the Rams were positioned for a possible upset against one of the NFC's best teams.

    After spotting the Arizona Cardinals a 21-3 halftime lead, the Rams had narrowed the gap to eight points, and with 4 minutes to play had a first down at the Arizona 13. A touchdown and a 2-point conversion would tie it up. But instead of making lemonade out of a bad situation, the Rams were stuck with lemons. Once again.

    Losing for the 10th consecutive time at home, the Rams fell to 1-9 this season with a 21-13 loss Sunday at the Edward Jones Dome. Overcoming a horrible first half, the Rams made the most of Kurt Warner's departure just before halftime with concussion-related symptoms.

    Had Warner stayed in the game, the Cardinals might have put 40-plus points on the Rams. But backup quarterback Matt Leinart is no Warner, and the Rams were able to claw their way back into the game. Instead of a blowout loss, the Rams dropped their fourth game of the year by eight points or fewer.

    "We keep getting close, but we have to get there," center Jason Brown said. "Close isn't good enough. We have to get there."

    The Rams couldn't get there. And they couldn't get a call. A call that was made and one that wasn't by referee Bill Leavy's crew didn't help matters in the closing minutes.

    On first down from the 13, a penalty was called against a Rams offensive lineman for unnecessary roughness following an incomplete pass by Marc Bulger.

    Before you say: What did Richie Incognito do this time? ... Incognito didn't dress, missing his third consecutive game with a foot injury.

    No, the penalty was against Adam Goldberg, about the last player one might suspect for such an infraction. Goldberg plays hard, but clean, never loses his cool and is one of the Rams' brightest players. It's safe to say Goldberg wasn't expecting a flag.

    "I was extremely surprised," Goldberg said. "Anybody that knows me knows I'm not a cheap player. I think that's my first-ever personal foul in my seven-year career. But he made the call and I have to live with it. That's the world I live in.

    "I apologize to my guys for putting us behind the 8-ball down-and-distance wise, and I think they all understand. They know me. They know I wouldn't do anything that stupid. They understand I couldn't see the ball gone."

    Referee Bill Leavy, who threw the flag, obviously saw it differently.

    "(Goldberg) knocked the defender down well after the pass was released, and in my judgment, unnecessarily hit the player after the ball had been gone," Leavy told a pool reporter.

    Goldberg had his back to Bulger while blocking, so he didn't see the ball come out. The 15-yard penalty backed up the Rams to the 28. St. Louis made it back to the 7, but Bulger couldn't connect on two fade patterns to the left corner of the end zone the first to Brandon Gibson on third and 4, and the next to Donnie Avery on fourth down.

    There appeared to be plenty of contact between Avery and cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromarite on the fourth-down pass. But there was no flag.

    "My field judge (Clete Blakeman) said that the contact was incidental," Leavy said. "No restrictive contact (was made), and not enough to call a foul."

    If Avery was upset with the call, he didn't show it after the game.

    "It's something I can't call," Avery said. "We leave it up to the refs. That's it about that. We were going back and forth, so it could have been called both ways."

    Arizona took over, and by the time the Rams got the ball back at their 26 following an Arizona punt, only 61 seconds remained and they were out of timeouts. Bulger was knocked woozy by Big Red defensive tackle Darnell Dockett for a sack on first down. Two incompletions and an unsuccessful fourth-down scramble, and it was over.

    Arizona (7-3) had won its sixth in a row over St. Louis, and the Rams had fallen to 4-23 against the NFC West since the start of the 2005 season.

    "It's disappointing to lose, especially another close game where we're knocking on the door," coach Steve Spagnuolo said. "I am proud of one thing the way we came out in the second half. That I know is a good thing. They were fiery in the locker room at halftime. They were determined to do something when we were down 21-3."

    The St. Louis defense gave up an astounding 327 yards in the first half. When Warner wasn't working his magic to Arizona receivers, the Cardinals were gouging the Rams on the ground. The Big Red managed only 117 yards in the second half, but even Spagnuolo acknowledged that the departure of Warner had something to do with that.

    "I mean, let's face it. Any team that loses their starting quarterback, it's tough," he said. "You haven't practiced with the second guy all week."

    And Arizona's "first guy" isn't your run of the mill quarterback. Warner was at his best Sunday, throwing completions into tight coverage and delivering the ball in the face of pressure. "He's been doing it for the last 12 years, and that's why he's one of the best," safety Oshiomogho Atogwe said.

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  • RamWraith
    Believe It Or Not: Strange finish favors Rams
    by RamWraith
    By Jim Thomas

    Rams Big Red

    GLENDALE, ARIZ. First the ball squirted out and onto that retractable grass field at Cardinals Stadium. Then, Arizona defensive end Antonio Smith emerged from the pile with the football. And then the celebration, with the sellout crowd going absolutely nuts.

    For Marc Bulger, this was "Twilight" Zone material. He stood all by his lonesome on the Rams' sideline. As the clock ticked down, and Arizona maneuvered for a game-winning field goal, it was as if Bulger's football life flashed in front of him.

    "Everything came on me at that point," Bulger said. "You work all year round. You know how hard everyone in this (locker) room works. And the organization, the accountants -- everyone.

    "And then to lose the ballgame. That's a big deal. One-16th of the season gone because of one stupid little ball-handling thing."

    But that's not what happened. Because just 16 seconds after Bulger's botched fumble with 2 minutes 3 seconds remaining in the game, Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner amazingly did the same thing. Warner's eighth fumble of the season came on a botched exchange with center Alex Stepanovich. Linebacker Will Witherspoon fell on the ball, preserving a 16-14 St. Louis victory.

    "I didn't have a chance to take a step," Witherspoon said. "The ball was there ... just right there. So I just jumped on the pile to get on top of it. And that's where the end of the story is."

    Well, not exactly.

    It's rare enough for a close game to feature a botched fumble in the final two minutes by both starting quarterbacks. But the ending got even weirder. Arizona had a timeout remaining, so the Rams couldn't quite run out the clock following the Warner fumble.

    Matt Turk punted the ball away with 5 seconds left with Troy Walters fielding the football with a fair catch as time expired. There was an offsides penalty against Arizona on the play, so the game was over. Right?

    Uh, no. For a few minutes, mass confusion reigned. Here's what was going through offensive guard Adam Timmerman's head at the time:

    "Whose ball is it? Is it the offense? Are we going to punt again? What's the deal here?" Timmerman said. "That was weird."

    Under NFL rules, a team can attempt an uncontested free kick after a fair catch at any point in the game. This is so even if time expires at the end of the fair-catch play, as was the case here.

    When the Rams originally declined the penalty, it was explained to them by the officiating crew that declining would allow Arizona to attempt a free kick. So instead of giving St. Louisan Neil Rackers a chance at a 77-yard -- that's right -- 77-yard desperation field goal, the Rams accepted the...
    -09-25-2006, 04:29 AM
  • RamWraith
    Rams can't hold onto early lead
    by RamWraith
    By Jim Thomas
    Monday, Nov. 03 2008
    On its opening possession, Arizona had four cracks at the end zone from the
    2-yard line in, but was stopped cold by the St. Louis defense.

    "I thought we were onto something," defensive end Leonard Little said.

    Sure looked that way later in the first quarter, when quarterback Marc Bulger
    connected on an 80-yard lightning bolt to young wide receiver Derek Stanley. It
    was one of the more amazing plays seen recently in the Edward Jones Dome.

    Running full speed, Stanley cradled the deep pass with one hand on the back of
    defender Eric Green, gathered the ball in, then managed to tightrope the
    sideline for a touchdown. It was Stanley's first NFL catch, and the longest
    pass completion of Bulger's NFL career.

    But just when it looked like the Rams were poised to play themselves back into
    the NFC West race, the bottom fell out in dramatic fashion. A team that hadn't
    yielded more than 23 points in any of Jim Haslett's first three games as head
    coach was scorched for 24 in the second quarter Sunday by the Cardinals.

    Poof! went any realistic division title hopes. And down went the Rams, 34-13,
    to a hungry and emerging Big Red team led by St. Louis favorite Kurt Warner at

    "It boils down to a number of different things, but we weren't very good in the
    one-on-one area," Haslett said. "We know this (Arizona) team is a good
    offensive football team, and they're going to score some points. We can't give
    them extra points through turnovers, and that was the big thing. That just
    killed us."

    It all began unraveling early in the second quarter, when a Bulger pass
    intended for rookie Donnie Avery over the middle was intercepted by Arizona
    safety Antrel Rolle and returned 40 yards for a touchdown. That tied the score
    7-7 with 12 minutes 10 seconds remaining in the half.

    "I wish I had that back. That put our team in a bad situation," Bulger said. "I
    pumped the tight end, assuming that the safety would move."

    But Rolle didn't budge. He didn't go for the pump fake, stayed with Avery and
    made an aggressive play on the ball.

    On the Rams' next possession came another of those one-on-one plays that the
    Rams couldn't handle. Blitzing Big Red safety Adrian Wilson beat an attempted
    block by fullback Dan Kreider, sacked Bulger and forced a fumble that was
    recovered by teammate Bertrand Berry at the St. Louis 23.

    The Rams' defense held, but St. Louisan Neil Rackers booted a 36-yard field
    goal to give Arizona its first lead of the game at 10-7. The Cardinals were
    just getting warmed up. Rookie running back Tim Hightower...
    -11-03-2008, 10:24 AM
  • Nick
    [CBS]: Cardinals fumble away chance to beat Rams
    by Nick
    Cardinals fumble away chance to beat Rams
    Sep. 24, 2006
    CBS wire reports

    GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Marc Bulger and Kurt Warner took turns trying to fumble the game away Sunday. Warner succeeded.

    The Arizona quarterback, who threw three interceptions, fumbled a snap at the Rams 18 with 1:46 to play and Will Witherspoon recovered to allow St. Louis to hold on and beat the Cardinals 16-14.

    Arizona's Antonio Smith recovered Bulger's fumble at the St. Louis 30 with 1:58 to play and Edgerrin James carried three times to the 18. Bulger said he was thinking of how he was going to face his teammates when Warner dropped Alex Stepanovich's snap and Witherspoon jumped on the ball for St. Louis (2-1).

    "I feel like I hit the lottery," Bulger said.

    The Cardinals were stunned.

    "I couldn't believe it," defensive tackle Darnell Dockett said. "I was tapping myself in the head like `Wake up! That's not reality.' That's definitely something you see on a video game -- but it happened."

    The game ended strangely with Arizona taking a fair catch on a punt as time ran out. Under an obscure rule, that would have given the Cardinals a free kick, and Neil Rackers was ready to take a shot at a 77-yard field goal.

    But Arizona was offsides on the punt. After considerable confusion, the Rams decided to take the penalty and Bulger took a knee to end it.

    It was a fitting conclusion for a game that featured six turnovers, four of them by Warner.

    "Any one of those four plays, if I don't make them, we probably win this football game," Warner said.

    "It was a good snap," he said of his last play. "I just fumbled it."

    One of his interceptions came with Arizona at the Rams 13, another at the St. Louis 1.

    Afterward, Cardinals coach Dennis Green was furious.

    "I don't think I've been so angry since I've been here, and I've had some (bad) days since I've been here, believe me," he said. "But none of them compares to this."

    Bulger was 21-of-31 for 309 yards and one touchdown with no interceptions, and Warner was 19-of-28 for 256 yards and one score.

    Torry Holt caught eight passes for 120 yards, including a 9-yarder for St. Louis' lone touchdown.

    Coach Scott Linehan said the team used a few plays from the old "Greatest Show on Turf" offense that Mike Martz used to run.

    "I think coach did a good job of going back to some things we hooked up on in the past," Holt said. "He (Bulger) can close his eyes and know that I'm there."

    Anquan Boldin had 10 receptions for 129 yards for Arizona.

    Warner left the field to more than a few catcalls from fans calling for rookie Matt Leinart...
    -09-24-2006, 09:14 PM
  • RamWraith
    Big Red blush
    by RamWraith
    By Jim Thomas

    Sunday's 38-28 loss to Arizona may not be the worst defeat suffered by the Rams in their 11 seasons in St. Louis. But it certainly ranks among the top 10.

    "To lose in the way we lost, it's pretty embarrassing," defensive tackle Ryan Pickett said. "And it really hurts. You can't describe how you feel right now."

    Offensively, the Rams acted as if they had never seen a safety blitz before. Coordinator Steve Fairchild called only 12 running plays - just two in the second half - against Arizona's 25th-ranked rushing defense.

    Defensively, the Rams' blitz couldn't get to Arizona quarterback Kurt Warner. And even though the Rams were blitzing, their corners played surprisingly soft in coverage.

    "I can't believe how much cushion we're getting," one Arizona coach said en route to the locker room at halftime.

    Neither could wide receivers Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin, who combined for 17 catches for 209 yards and two touchdowns. Whenever the Rams blitzed, Warner took advantage of that cushion to throw short stuff and carve up the St. Louis secondary.

    "I said this when he left us a few years ago, he'll come back in here and cook us one of these days," Rams center Andy McCollum said. "And it happened. I'm sorry that I was right."

    Call it Kurt's Revenge. Despite losing a fumble on his fourth offensive play of the day, Warner's first game in St. Louis since his June 2003 release was a memorable one. He completed 27 of 39 passes for 285 yards, three touchdowns, and a stellar passer rating of 115.9.

    "They gave him the offense (Sunday)," wide receiver Torry Holt said. "They let him run the show. He ran what he saw."

    In other words, Warner was allowed to do something he never got to do in St. Louis - audible. He did it a lot on Sunday, looking like an NFC version of Peyton Manning, with his pointing, hand signals, and gesturing at the line of scrimmage.

    "I was shocked for a minute," Holt said. "I guess throughout the week of film study, they saw something that would work for them and they went to it.

    "With Kurt, you've got to get to Kurt, and hit him and rattle him. And when you don't do that, he makes his money off of blitzes. He will tear your (rear end) up."

    Which is basically what happened Sunday. As a result, the Rams fell to 4-6, losing for only the 12th time in their past 58 regular-season and postseason games at the Edward Jones Dome.

    They will have to win all six of their remaining games to have any chance at a playoff game. Given the fact that they couldn't beat a 2-7 team at home Sunday, that looks like no chance at all.

    Worse yet, the Rams probably will be without the services...
    -11-21-2005, 05:29 AM
  • RamWraith
    Close, but no victory
    by RamWraith
    By Jim Thomas
    Monday, Oct. 08 2007

    Was it or was it not a fumble by Arizona running back Edgerrin James late in
    the second quarter?

    Was it or was it not a case of Rams players intentionally kicking the ball
    later in the same quarter, preventing Arizona from getting a play off before
    the half ended?

    Like everything else these days, both of those disputed calls went against the
    Rams. The result was two touchdowns for Arizona in its 34-31 victory over St.
    Louis on Sunday at the Edward Jones Dome.

    Debate those calls all you want, but there's no debating this: The Rams remain
    winless five games into the 2007 season and simply can't find a way to end
    their run of bad luck, bad play and bad health.

    "I've never been a part of anything like this on any level as far as not being
    able to get a win," wide receiver-return man Dante Hall said. "Not getting a
    call. Not making the plays consistently. I couldn't tell you what it is, or put
    my finger on it. I don't think anyone can. We just can't get a win. It's
    unbelievable what's happening to this team."

    With coach Scott Linehan calling the plays and Gus Frerotte starting at
    quarterback in place of the injured Marc Bulger, the Rams nearly matched their
    point total of the previous four games in one afternoon. Touted offseason
    pickups Drew Bennett and Randy McMichael

    caught their first TD passes of the season as the Rams showed new energy with
    frequent use of the no-huddle offense.

    Rookie running back Brian Leonard, subbing again for the injured Steven
    Jackson, rushed for 102 yards and averaged 5.7 yards a carry. Kicker Jeff
    Wilkins snapped out of his field-goal funk with kicks of 46, 35 and 31 yards.

    But it wasn't enough.

    On defense, the Rams played with more intensity than they have displayed all
    season. Cornerback Fakhir Brown, his four-game NFL suspension over, made his
    presence felt with two interceptions.

    But it wasn't enough.

    For the third time this season, the Rams had a lead in the third quarter. For
    the fourth time this season, they were locked up in a "one score" game in the
    fourth quarter.

    But once again, the Rams couldn't finish.

    "If things were going for us, we wouldn't be here talking about things going
    against us," Linehan said. "Eventually, if we keep our heads about us, the game
    does turn around."

    It hasn't yet. In fact, it swung dramatically in Arizona's favor late in the
    second quarter. The Rams were leading 10-3 with under four minutes to play in
    the half when James headed up the middle on a second-and-goal play from...
    -10-08-2007, 05:28 AM