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Gordon: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly

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  • Gordon: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly


    Quick-strike Rams drop Seahawks

    By Jeff Gordon
    Online Sports Columnist
    10/10/2004

    Now THAT was fast and furious football.

    The Rams scored 17 points during a breathtaking span of 5 minutes 34 seconds in the fourth quarter – rallying from a 27-10 deficit to force the stunned Seahawks into overtime.

    Then they won the coin toss, took the opening kick-off and marched right back into Seattle territory.

    And in one of the great plays in franchise history, Marc Bulger lofted a 52-yard touchdown strike to Shaun McDonald give the Rams a thrilling 33-27 victory.

    The Seahawks blitzed on third down, the Rams picked up the extra pass rushers, Bulger knew he had his receivers singled up . . . and he led the streaking McDonald perfectly for the winning score.

    Wow.

    Bulger shook off three earlier interceptions to lead the frantic comeback. Bulger's spectacular touchdown passes to Brandon Manumaleuna and Kevin Curtis brought the Rams back from the dead.

    The two halves were dramatically different. In the first and second quarters, the Seahawks ran running back Shaun Alexander right through the middle of the battered Rams defense.

    That ground success allowed Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck to execute a diversified passing attack, spreading the ball around to all this targets.

    And the Rams offense? It sputtered through the first 30 minutes of action.

    The Seahawks failed to finish off the Rams in the third quarter, however, then Mike Martz finally got his offense on track in the fourth quarter.

    Now 3-2, the Rams moved back within arm's reach of the 3-1 Seahawks for the NFC West lead.

    That makes up for that painful home-field loss to the New Orleans Saints, eh?


    THE GOOD

    * After failing miserably the first time on the field, the Rams defense earned a three-and-out stop on its second chance.


    * It took a 48-yard burst off right tackle by rookie running back Steven Jackson to arouse the Rams offense. (Their first quarter yardage total was 11 yards. Yikes!)


    * Jackson's big run set up Bulger's nine-yard touchdown sprint, on a well-executed bootleg play that cut Seattle's lead to 10-7.


    * The Rams opened up the second half with a strong running sequence, but failed to make a dent in Seattle's 24-7 lead.


    * The Rams' offensive highlight was a difficult touchdown catch in traffic by Manumaleuna. He out-leaped three Seahawks defenders to snag the jump ball.


    * Hey, the Rams got a big special teams play? McDonald broke off a 39-yard punt return to set up the Rams on Seattle's 41-yard line.


    * That led to Bulger's 41-yard touchdown bomb to Curtis on the next play with 3 minutes, 30 seconds left.


    * Defensive end Leonard Little gave the offense one more crack by sacking Hasselbeck with 85 seconds left on a third-down play. He also stripped the ball loose, but the Seahawks were able to cover it.


    * Bulger brought the Rams back one last time, completing a 27-yard pass to Isaac Bruce and a 16-yarder to Dane Looker to move them into field goal range. And Jeff Wilkins forced overtime with his 36-yard field goal.


    THE BAD

    * How did the Rams' offense respond to the first Seahawks touchdown? By taking a powder with a three-and-out sequence. On third down, two different Rams were flagged for penalties on an incomplete pass. Nice.


    * Cornerback DeJuan Groce blew an open-field tackle on receiver Koren Robinson in the first quarter as the Seahawks marched toward their second score.


    * With the Seahawks facing a third-and-11 situation in the first half, the middle of the Rams defense allowed fullback Mack Strong to plow forward for the first down. That helped Seattle extend its lead to 10-0.


    * After the Rams scored their first touchdown, their defense got spliced by another Seahawks scoring drive. At the end, safety Rich Coady couldn't locate Hasselbeck's 24-yard touchdown pass to tight end Jerramy Stevens.


    THE UGLY

    * The Seahawks spent two weeks developing their play script for this game. And it worked perfectly as they marched 74 yards in 10 plays to take a quick 7-0 lead in this game.

    Running to set up the pass – and passing effectively to facilitate the run – Seattle waltzed through the Rams defense.


    * Bulger hung a throw toward Torry Holt in the end zone and got picked off by Ken Lucas.


    * Bulger located Lucas again in the second quarter, badly overthrowing Bruce while throwing his second interception of the game.


    * The Seahawks were just trying to run out the clock at the end of the first half. But then Alexander broke off a 21-yard run to change the scenario and receiver Darrell Jackson ran free on a 56-yard touchdown pass.

    What coverage where the Rams attempting to play on that bomb? Jackson blew past Coady, who stayed put, and was all by himself.

    That put the Rams into a 24-7 hole at halftime. Ugh.


    * On the Seahawks first offensive play of the second half, Alexander broke off a 41-yard run. Double ugh.
    Last edited by evil disco man; -10-10-2004, 08:35 PM.

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  • RamDez
    Quick-strike Rams drop Seahawks
    by RamDez
    Quick-strike Rams drop Seahawks
    By Jeff Gordon

    Online Sports Columnist
    10/10/2004
    Rams wide receiver Shaun McDonald runs past Seattle's Terreal Bierria (left) for a 52-yard touchdown in overtime, giving the Rams a 33-27 road win over the Seahawks.
    (Otto Greule Jr./Getty Images)


    Now THAT was fast and furious football.

    The Rams scored 17 points during a breathtaking span of 5 minutes 34 seconds in the fourth quarter – rallying from a 27-10 deficit to force the stunned Seahawks into overtime.

    Then they won the coin toss, took the opening kick-off and marched right back into Seattle territory.

    And in one of the great plays in franchise history, Marc Bulger lofted a 52-yard touchdown strike to Shaun McDonald give the Rams a thrilling 33-27 victory.

    The Seahawks blitzed on third down, the Rams picked up the extra pass rushers, Bulger knew he had his receivers singled up . . . and he led the streaking McDonald perfectly for the winning score.

    Wow.

    Bulger shook off three earlier interceptions to lead the frantic comeback. Bulger's spectacular touchdown passes to Brandon Manumaleuna and Kevin Curtis brought the Rams back from the dead.

    The two halves were dramatically different. In the first and second quarters, the Seahawks ran running back Shaun Alexander right through the middle of the battered Rams defense.

    That ground success allowed Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck to execute a diversified passing attack, spreading the ball around to all this targets.

    And the Rams offense? It sputtered through the first 30 minutes of action.

    The Seahawks failed to finish off the Rams in the third quarter, however, then Mike Martz finally got his offense on track in the fourth quarter.

    Now 3-2, the Rams moved back within arm's reach of the 3-1 Seahawks for the NFC West lead.

    That makes up for that painful home-field loss to the New Orleans Saints, eh?


    THE GOOD

    * After failing miserably the first time on the field, the Rams defense earned a three-and-out stop on its second chance.


    * It took a 48-yard burst off right tackle by rookie running back Steven Jackson to arouse the Rams offense. (Their first quarter yardage total was 11 yards. Yikes!)


    * Jackson's big run set up Bulger's nine-yard touchdown sprint, on a well-executed bootleg play that cut Seattle's lead to 10-7.


    * The Rams opened up the second half with a strong running sequence, but failed to make a dent in Seattle's 24-7 lead.


    * The Rams' offensive highlight was a difficult touchdown catch in traffic by Manumaleuna. He out-leaped three Seahawks defenders to snag the jump ball.


    * Hey, the Rams got a big special teams play? McDonald
    ...
    -10-10-2004, 08:35 PM
  • Nick
    Gordo's Quarter-by-Quarter Comments
    by Nick
    Rams-Seahawks
    By Jeff Gordon
    11/13/2005 3:12 pm

    FIRST QUARTER

    The Rams were closer to full strength than they had been in a long, long time, on both sides of the ball.

    Quarterback Marc Bulger trotted back into action Sunday with an admittedly sore shoulder. Receivers Torry Holt (knee) and Isaac Bruce (toe) also made their way back from the injured list. running at nearly full speed.

    After the bye week, the Rams were in terrific shape to face the Seahawks in a huge NFC West showdown.

    Bulger came out firing, hitting tight end Brandon Manumaleuna for a 33-yard gain that immediately thrust the Rams into scoring range. Then he connected with Manumaleuna for an 11-yard gain to move the sticks again.

    The Seahawks kept stuffing Steven Jackson on the ground, however, so the Rams ultimately had to settle for a 31-yard field goal by Jeff Wilkins and an early 3-0 lead.

    Seattle marched into scoring position on its first possession, thanks to a couple of big completions to tight end Jerramy Stevens. But when Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck tried to dial the big fella up one more time, Rams linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa knocked Stevens off his route with some blatantly illegal contact down the field.

    The officials didn’t make that obvious call, however, so safety Mike Furrey was able to walk into an easy interception to maintain the Rams’ 3-0 lead.

    On their second possession, the Rams stalled despite an 18-yard run by Jackson. But the Rams defense responded with a second stop — and nearly a second interception by Furrey, who couldn’t quite hang onto the ball after reading a third-down Seahawks pass perfectly.

    On balance, this was an excellent way to start a road game against a tough divisional opponent.


    SECOND QUARTER

    Lookie there — it’s running back Marshall Faulk! Marc Bulger put him to work as a pass catcher in the second quarter and Faulk made consecutive big plays. He made a nifty one-handed catch to gain a critical first down, then he caught a nice play-action pass for a 13-yard gain that pushed the Rams into scoring position.

    The Rams caught another break when Kevin Curtis lost the football trying to stretch for extra post-catch yardage on third down in the red zone. Fortuitously, the loose ball flew out of bounds, allowing the Rams to send in Jeff Wilkins out to bank another three points.

    Inexplicably, though, interim coach Joe Vitt called for a fake field goal play. This gem had Wilkins taking the pitch from holder Dane Looker and running around the right end.

    Wilkins runs like I do, however, so this play went very, very badly. He ended up under a pile of Seahawks.

    The Rams should have taken the three points that were on the table. There was plenty of time to gamble later in the game. Why...
    -11-13-2005, 11:43 PM
  • Nick
    Three-peat! Rams dump Seattle again
    by Nick
    Three-peat! Rams dump Seattle again
    BY JEFF GORDON
    Post-Dispatch Online Sports Columnist
    01/08/2005

    The NFL has had 8-8 teams in the playoffs before. But an 8-8 team has never won a playoff game . . . until Saturday afternoon in Seattle.

    Using a diverse offensive attack and clever play-calling, the Rams toppled the Seahawks 27-20 in a predictably exciting wild-card game.

    Quarterback Marc Bulger threw the game-winning touchdown pass to tight end Cam Cleeland -– Cam Cleeland! -– with 2 minutes 11 seconds left.

    Then the Rams defense mustered one final stop to secure their third victory over the Seahawks this season.

    The Seahawks had one last shot to force overtime. But on a fourth-and-four play from the Rams 5, Matt Hasselbeck scrambled around and then bounced an incomplete pass off Bobby Engram.

    So the Rams move on.

    We’re certain the national media will find more reasons to slap coach Mike Martz around this week, but we’ll give the man his due. Burned timeouts aside, he designed and called an excellent game plan to beat Mike Holmgren’s Seahawks on the road.

    (Had the Seahawks possessed receivers that could actually catch the ball, they would have won. But, hey, that’s their problem.)


    THE GOOD


    * The Rams came out firing. After establishing running back Marshall Faulk as a receiver with two quick completions, quarterback Marc Bulger went up top to an uncovered Torry Holt for a 52-yard gain.

    Why run the ball when the Seahawks secondary stands transfixed while Holt runs his deep pattern? That play sent Bulger sailing toward a 313-yard passing performance.


    * Bulger came back to Holt, who knifed into another gaping hole in the Seattle zone to make a sliding catch for a 15-yard touchdown.


    * Cornerback Travis Fisher was paying attention when receiver Darrell Jackson dropped Seattle’s first pass of the game. Fisher managed to field it before it hit the ground for a rare Rams interception.


    * On their second trip to the field, the Rams defense earned a three-and-out stop. Nice.


    * Bulger found another huge hole in the Seahawks defense, bombing over the top of safety Michael Boulware to speedy Kevin Curtis for 50 yards. Cha-ching!


    * Faulk covered the remaining five yards in two carries, pushing the Rams' lead to 14-3 early in the second quarter.


    * How sharp was Bulger? How about that pinpoint 22-yard pass to Isaac Bruce through a tiny seam in the second quarter? Brilliant.


    * The combination of defensive tackle Ryan Pickett, with a big hit on Hasselbeck, and safety Adam Archuleta, with the pass break-up, combined to thwart the Seahawks on a big third-down play late in the first half.


    ...
    -01-08-2005, 11:22 PM
  • RamWraith
    Loss to rival St. Louis ends Seattle's season
    by RamWraith
    By José Miguel Romero

    Seattle Times staff reporter

    Seahawks

    They came because they thought their football heroes would truly hear their cheers, and that would carry their team over the top.

    They lined up en masse to get inside Qwest Field for the biggest pro football game in this city in five years, and some even were late because of more thorough security searches.

    And after those five years without a home playoff game, plus 15 more without a playoff win, it ended too fast and too soon. No matter how bad everyone on the field and in the stands wanted it.

    The St. Louis Rams continued their mastery over Seattle, winning yesterday's NFC wild-card game 27-20 and ending the Seahawks' season. It was the third victory of the season for the Rams over the Seahawks, and the most disheartening of all three.

    On the Seahawks' last chance to tie the score, the ball slipped through the grasp of wide receiver Bobby Engram in the end zone, suddenly sucking the life from the crowd of 65,397 that wanted to believe.

    The play will be etched into this city's memory forever, becoming another chapter in the already voluminous another-Seattle-team-that couldn't win-the-big-one book.

    On fourth-and-four from the Rams' 5-yard line with 27 seconds left, Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck attempted to sidearm a prayer of a pass through heavy traffic. Engram was the only possible target, as Hasselbeck was under heavy pressure and couldn't take a sack.

    On his knees, Engram appeared to cradle the ball. In an instant, it popped free and onto the painted turf in the end zone.

    Incomplete. Rams' ball. St. Louis running back Marshall Faulk flapped his arms in mockery of the Seahawks' fans in the south end zone. All hope was gone as quarterback Marc Bulger took a knee and the clock expired.

    "There's no excuses," Engram said in the locker room, trying his best to stay composed as he painfully relived the final offensive play of the Seahawks' season.

    "The ball came in hot. I had a chance to make the play. I didn't make the play."

    Engram will have the offseason to think about what would have been a great catch. But the Seahawks deserved some credit for at least being in a position to send the game into overtime, after all that had transpired and seemed to work against them.

    It couldn't have started much worse. Three plays into the game, Bulger went deep for Torry Holt on a corner route, gaining 53 yards as Holt found a seam in the Seahawks' zone coverage.

    Moments later, on third-and-14 from the Seattle 15, Bulger found Holt in front of safety Marquand Manuel in the end zone for the touchdown. Holt appeared to lose control of the ball for a split second. The Seahawks challenged the touchdown call, but it was upheld. ...
    -01-09-2005, 10:44 AM
  • RamDez
    Rams respond, slam Seattle
    by RamDez
    Rams respond, slam Seattle


    BY JEFF GORDON
    Post-Dispatch Online Sports Columnist
    11/14/2004


    Now THIS was fast and furious football.

    Rams coach Mike Martz was furious this week. And the Rams were certainly fast when they hit the field Sunday afternoon -- scoring the first three times they touched the ball to get rolling toward a 23-12 victory over the Seattle Seahawks.

    Outraged by his team’s uninspired play during losses at Miami and at home against New England, Martz cracked the whip this week.

    He challenged his players from the podium, during his news conferences at Rams Park, and he challenged them in meeting rooms and on the practice field as well.

    Really Mad Mike got the desired result. After building an early 17-0 lead, the Rams played sturdy defense at their end of the field and forced the Seahawks into two critical red-zone turnovers.

    By beating the Seahawks, the Rams (5-4) pulled back into a tie for the NFC West lead and put themselves back into position to make a playoff run. They own the tiebreaker after beating Seattle twice.

    Martz decided to use his passing game to set up the run, instead of vice-versa. With the offensive line providing ample protection, quarterback Marc Bulger was able to spread the ball to all his targets and get the Air Martz attack into full flight.

    With the Seahawks back on their heels, running backs Steven Jackson and Marshall Faulk went to work on the ground. Martz’s offensive game plan played out beautifully in the first half.

    Even the loss of All-Pro receiver Torry Holt to a first-quarter concussion and All-Pro left tackle Orlando Pace to a third-quarter ejection couldn’t derail the Rams in this game.

    Guard Chris Dishman (sprained knee) and cornerback Travis Fisher (mouth injury) also missed time in this game, but the Rams persevered with the likes of Blaine Saipaia, Tom Nutten and Mike Furrey filling offensive roles.


    THE GOOD


    * The oft-maligned Rams special teams opened with a prank -- an end-around pitch on the opening kickoff, with DeJuan Groce taking the ball out to the 29. Surprisingly, nobody threw an illegal block on this play.


    * Martz came out firing, calling pass after pass after pass. Completions to Isaac Bruce, Holt, Bruce again, Faulk and finally Kevin Curtis put the Rams up 7-0 just 2 minutes 37 seconds into the game.

    The pass protection was notable through that six-play, 71-yard drive -- especially on the touchdown pass to Curtis. Bulger could have run through his progressions twice and not gotten touched on that play.


    * The Rams defense fed off that opening TD drive by delivering a three-and-out stop on their first turn on the field. The front seven stuffed the run and applied pressure on Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck.

    ...
    -11-14-2004, 11:22 PM
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