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Steady Bulger spearheads Rams' rally

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  • Steady Bulger spearheads Rams' rally

    Steady Bulger spearheads Rams' rally
    By Bill Coats
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Sunday, Oct. 10 2004

    SEATTLE - In the first 231 minutes and 18 seconds of the season - a span of
    three full games and almost 3 1/2 quarters on Sunday - the Seattle Seahawks
    grudgingly yielded 23 points.

    Then like a bolt out of the blue Puget Sound waters near Qwest Field, the Rams
    took just 11:44 to double that total, turning a 17-point fourth-quarter deficit
    into a riveting 33-27 overtime victory.

    Instead of slamming the door, the Seahawks opened it wide. Or perhaps more
    accurately, the Rams battered it down. They charged back behind a poised Marc
    Bulger, the fourth-year quarterback who shrugged off a woeful first half and
    "led us to this victory," guard Scott Tercero said.

    "That just goes to show the character of Marc Bulger," tackle Orlando Pace
    added. "We knew he was going to bounce back. And as a unit, we just believed
    and we continued to fight. Things just worked out our way."

    Bulger piled up 273 of his 325 passing yards in the last two quarters and the
    3:02 that overtime lasted until he found streaking wide receiver Shaun McDonald
    for a 52-yard touchdown that numbed the record turnout of 66,940.
    Fourth-quarter TD tosses of 8 yards to tight end Brandon Manumaleuna and 41
    yards to wideout Kevin Curtis made it 27-24.

    "We're just super excited," said Bulger, who connected on 24 of 42 passes. "If
    we didn't make our comeback, everybody would be writing us off. Not that
    everyone thinks we're one of the top teams in the league, but we have a lot
    more credibility now. To do what we did at the end against the No. 1 defense in
    the league, and on the road, it's huge."

    Seattle (3-1) was cruising 24-7 at the break, and Bulger was struggling. He'd
    hit on just eight of 14 passes for 52 yards and had been intercepted twice. His
    passer rating was a meager 25.6.

    Still, Tercero said he saw no sign of panic in Bulger. "One thing coach (Mike)
    Martz always talks about is resolve and perseverance," Tercero said. "Marc
    shows the most resolve out of all of us."

    Said Bulger: "You've got to keep plugging. In my mind, if I just stick to the
    course and keep doing what I'm doing, guys are going to get open. We gave (the
    Seahawks) enough looks where they started to sit on different things, and it

    While the defense limited Seattle to three points and 85 yards in the last half
    and OT, Bulger progressively found a rhythm. On the tying drive, he hit Isaac
    Bruce across the middle for 27 yards, then two plays later hooked up with Dane
    Looker for 16. That set up Jeff Wilkins for a 36-yard field goal that made it
    27-27 with eight seconds left in regulation.

    In overtime, Bulger recognized a blitz and found Torry Holt for 13 yards on a
    "hot" read on a third-and-6 play. On third and 8, three plays later, the
    Seahawks blitzed again and Bulger adjusted again, this time hitting McDonald in
    stride behind safety Terreal Bierria.

    "I was just amazed at Marc's composure, the way that he was able to move around
    the pocket and made some incredible throws," Martz said. "He's just a terrific

    Bulger said he learned as the No. 3 QB in 2000 and 2001 that "the Rams teams
    just don't quit; they can strike. Seattle today, they sat back a little bit and
    thought they had it won. We play to the end."

Related Topics


  • RamWraith
    This season, Martz keeps ball in Bulger's hot hand
    by RamWraith
    By Bernie Miklasz
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Saturday, Jan. 08 2005

    SEATTLE - In last year's NFL playoffs, Marc Bulger threw three interceptions in
    a bitterly disappointing, and shocking, home loss to Carolina. Bulger was so
    unreliable, the shakiness caused a radical transformation in Mike Martz,
    turning him into an arch-conservative for the first time in his coaching

    With a chance to win at the end of the fourth quarter by going for a touchdown,
    Martz removed the ball, and the trust, and the game, from Bulger's grip. Martz
    uncharacteristically settled for a field goal. But after Bulger's final
    interception, the Rams lost in overtime.

    Fast forward to Saturday.

    The day Marc Bulger made up for all that went wrong in his initial venture into
    the NFL playoffs, one year ago. The day that Bulger made the bad memories, the
    doubts, and the ghost of a departed QB superstar all disappear in the course of
    two late drives that enhanced his reputation.

    On this day, with the Rams trailing by three in the fourth quarter, Bulger
    picked this precise time and situation to take a firm step in his development
    as an NFL quarterback. Bulger air-lifted the Rams out of trouble, pulled them
    out of a crisis, and calmly directed a stirring 27-20 comeback victory over the
    Seattle Seahawks.

    On this day, there would be no fear, no worry, no pulling in the horns to
    settle for field goals. On the final two possessions, Bulger got the Rams the
    field goal to tie and the touchdown they needed to escape Seattle and move
    forward in the NFC playoffs. To get those 10 points that kept the Rams going,
    Bulger completed five of seven passes for 80 yards including the game-winning
    17-yard touchdown on a beautiful play-action pass to tight end Cam Cleeland.
    Bulger had to make the perfect throw, drilling it into a narrow opening just
    before the arrival of a Seattle safety. Bulger was ice. He got the ball in
    there, right into Cleeland's mitt, just a nano-second ahead of the defender's

    On those final two drives, Bulger was money.

    "Marc was throwing DIMES to people," wideout Kevin Curtis said.

    Yes, 313 yards worth of dimes.

    Let it be known that Rams are Bulger's team now. He's grown so much in the last
    year. There would be no repeat of the Carolina caution and conservatism. On
    this occasion, the football, and fate, were placed squarely in Bulger's hands
    on a brisk Saturday afternoon in the Pacific Northwest.

    And Bulger responded the way winners do. With his helmet transmitter on the
    fritz, with his pass protection breaking down, with his offense in a rut, with
    -01-09-2005, 05:09 AM
  • RamWraith
    Bulger's clutch comeback keeps Rams in West hunt
    by RamWraith
    Oct. 11, 2004 wire reports

    ST. LOUIS -- With 1:24 to play in regulation and the St. Louis Rams trailing the Seattle Seahawks by three points, Marc Bulger entered the huddle with a big smile on his face.

    Bulger was in comeback mode again, shrugging off three interceptions and playing the leading role in a 33-27 victory on Sunday. The Rams (3-2) twice trailed by 17 points before Bulger brought them back in the final 5 minutes, then calmly stood up to the blitz on the game-winning 52-yard touchdown pass to Shaun McDonald.

    "He does have ice in his veins," coach Mike Martz said Monday. "He just doesn't ever get unnerved. I've never seen him get unnerved, in any situation."

    Bulger was 8-for-14 for 52 yards and two interceptions in the first half, after entering the game with a string of 77 straight passes without a pickoff. The Seahawks appeared to have a firm hold on the game, leading 24-7.

    But Bulger never gave up, and he finished 24-for-42 for 325 yards. The 17-point comeback was the second-most in the final six minutes in NFL history, trailing only the Colts' 21-point rally against the Bucs on Oct. 6, 2003.

    "You have to keep plugging," Bulger said. "You say it is not one of my best days. I'm not saying it was my worst day but I prepared the same."

    Bulger is 21-5 as the Rams' starting quarterback. He also has a knack for comeback victories, producing eight of them.

    That includes a string of three straight victories last November, during the Rams' run to their third NFC West title in five years. It does not include another almost- fantastic finish, a 19-yard touchdown scramble two weeks ago against the Saints for what could have been the game-winning score.

    But New Orleans rallied in the final 24 seconds to tie it and then won in overtime.

    Bulger's revival against the Seahawks ended with a stunning victory that enabled the Rams to claim they're still the team to beat in the West. Martz ranked it with the Rams' Super Bowl victory in 2000, when he was the team's offensive coordinator.

    Martz was so caught up in the comeback that he danced in place on the sidelines after Jeff Wilkins forced overtime with a 36-yard field goal.

    "I didn't know that until I got off the bus and I had several comments," Martz said. "I'm not very proud of that, to be honest with you."

    Completions of 27 yards to Isaac Bruce and 16 yards to Dane Looker were the big plays on the game-tying drive.

    Looker's catch put the ball on the Seahawks' 18 with 13 seconds to play, but Martz never considered taking a shot at the end zone because the Rams had no timeouts left and a sack or an interception would have been a devastating end to the comeback.
    -10-12-2004, 05:19 AM
  • RamWraith
    Bulger is armed with composure
    by RamWraith
    By Jim Thomas
    Friday, Dec. 01 2006

    Out of all the possible influences on Marc Bulger's career, who would have
    thought words of wisdom from Billy Joe Tolliver would help in the closing
    minutes against San Francisco?

    In 2000, Bulger was a rookie quarterback for New Orleans. The Saints were
    playing their preseason opener in Minnesota. Tolliver, a journeyman
    quarterback, came off the bench late in what was a tight contest.

    "He said, 'I'm going to win this game checking the ball down. Watch,'" Bulger
    recalled. "He's a 15-year vet or something. He went in, checked the ball all
    the way down the field. We kicked a field goal and won it. I never forgot that."

    The morale of the story: If there's a couple of minutes left in a tight game
    and teams are playing soft, "prevent" coverage, there's no need to force the
    ball or get greedy.

    If you check the ball down to backs and underneath receivers, "you're going to
    get 10 yards, and that's 10 percent of the field each time," Bulger said.

    And so it was Sunday at the Edward Jones Dome. Trailing by four, the Rams took
    over on their 20 with 3:54 remaining and all three timeouts. Even though the
    first play of the drive resulted in a 10-yard sack, Bulger and the offense
    maneuvered downfield for a touchdown with 27 seconds left, pulling out a 20-17
    victory over the *****.

    "Marc was nine for nine on that last drive, and the ball's going different
    places," coach Scott Linehan said. "He was basically going everywhere he needed
    to go."

    Steven Jackson caught four check-down passes for 25 yards; backup running back
    Stephen Davis caught one for 11. Torry Holt caught a short pass; Isaac Bruce
    had two clutch catches. Mixed in were two fourth-down runs by Jackson. And then
    Kevin Curtis caught the game winner.

    "Marc had a great tempo about him," Linehan said. "He had such a great demeanor
    in that situation. You don't ever feel like it's something that's not possible
    with him. Because he's got ice water in his veins."

    Fiery quarterbacks such as Brett Favre can be very effective; but as Linehan
    has seen from Bulger, ice water works, too.

    "I really never see Marc rattled," Linehan said. "That's not his personality or
    his temperament. I think that's what makes him as good as he is.

    "He just brings calmness ... a security blanket to the rest of the group, that
    as bad as things may seem, or as good as they may seem, he stays the same. I
    think that creates a lot of consistency with his performance. Not a lot of
    quarterbacks have...
    -12-01-2006, 03:12 PM
  • RamWraith
    A banner year for Bulger
    by RamWraith
    By Bill Coats

    MINNEAPOLIS The most productive of his four full seasons as the Rams' starting quarterback helped take the Rams to the brink of the playoffs. Yet Marc Bulger's harsh criticism of some unnamed teammates might have had an even greater impact as the team looks to the future.

    After going 6-10 in 2005, the Rams wound up 8-8 with Sunday's 41-21 victory over the Minnesota Vikings. Just a month ago, they were slogging along at 5-7 after a mortifying 34-20 loss to the visiting Arizona Cardinals.

    Bulger, normally soft-spoken and allergic to controversy, opened up afterward, accusing players of a lack of effort, preparation and commitment.

    The message was received loud and clear, even by those who weren't culpable, wide receiver Kevin Curtis pointed out. "We all saw the competitor inside of him, and I think guys just wanted to follow him," Curtis said.

    After a Monday night loss to Chicago, the Rams finished the season with three wins in a row. They went 3-1 on the heels of Bulger's outburst.

    "I didn't do it for that exact reason, but I think some guys did wake up a little bit," Bulger said Sunday in the cramped visitors locker room at the Metrodome. "Just the fact that some guys played harder, I think, shows you a little something."

    Thus, Bulger's words might have been more important than his arm down the stretch. "I think the big thing was, no one took it personal," guard Richie Incognito said. "Everyone said, 'OK, well, he's a little upset, so let's all pick it up.' And it went well."

    Added wideout Dane Looker: "Personally, I love to see a quarterback take that position. Marc doesn't have a real outgoing personality, and I think that's what shocked everybody. But I like the fact that he stepped up."

    In doing so, Bulger established himself as the unquestioned leader of the offense. "It got our attention, and we played better," wide receiver Torry Holt said. "That's what leaders are all about."

    On the field, Bulger amassed personal bests in completions (370), attempts (588), yards (4,301), touchdowns (24) and interceptions (eight). He also played in all 16 games for the first time.

    "I think it's my most complete year," said Bulger, 29. "But we didn't win, so I'll have to go back and evaluate where I could've done better ... just see where I could help us improve so we can get to the next step."

    When he gave way to second-year quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick late in the fourth quarter, Bulger stood only five completions and 52 yards short of the franchise records Kurt Warner set in 1999. Still, Bulger was content to watch the final 2 minutes 20 seconds from the sideline.

    -01-01-2007, 09:13 AM
  • RamWraith
    Losses obscure Bulger's success
    by RamWraith
    By Jim Thomas
    Of the Post-Dispatch

    With 36 seconds to play, the Rams faced a third and four from the New Orleans 19, trailing 22-17. The Saints dropped seven defenders in coverage. Four spread out across the 14, just behind the first-down line, with three more stationed deep.

    After the ball was snapped, quarterback Marc Bulger looked right. He saw Torry Holt running a deep corner route into double coverage. Shaun McDonald ran a sideline route underneath and was in front of his defender at the 13. But there was no throwing lane, particularly with Saints defensive end Charles Grant pushing offensive tackle Grant Williams back into the pocket. Bulger pumped once, then took off running.

    "I didn't specifically come up to the line looking to run," Bulger said. "The middle of the field opened up, and they had Torry covered, and they had the second guy (McDonald) covered."

    So off he went. Grant dived at Bulger's heels, missing, at the 15. As Bulger closed in on the goal line, trailing Rams offensive linemen knew what was about to happen. Left tackle Orlando Pace raised his right arm in celebration. Then center Andy McCollum signaled touchdown.

    Just to make sure, wide receiver Isaac Bruce peeled back and plastered pursuing Saints cornerback Fred Thomas at the two. An instant later, Bulger was in the end zone, giving the Rams the lead in dramatic fashion.

    "Marc played like a champion," wide receiver Dane Looker said afterward. "It just shows you what he's made of on that run to get in the end zone. A lot of quarterbacks might've taken a slide, but he wanted to win this game and he made a great play."

    Had the Rams been able to protect a 25-22 lead in the final 28 seconds of regulation, Bulger's dramatic dash might have dominated the town's football talk this week and added to his credentials as a starter.

    "Marc's always had the moniker, if you will, of being a guy that will do whatever it takes to win that game in the end," coach Mike Martz said. "Making a great throw, moving around, scrambling. ... Having the presence of mind to do that is very important. He's very quiet, but he's very, very competitive and tough. A lot like Isaac."

    Of course, this time, the Rams didn't hold the lead. The Saints won in overtime 28-25 and Bulger's TD run quickly became an afterthought. In a sense, it was a microcosm of his season. Because lost in the disappointment of a 1-2 start for the Rams has been impressive play by Bulger at quarterback.

    Bulger ranks first in the NFL in completions (79), third in passing yards (915), fourth in completion percentage (69.3), and seventh in passer rating (94.7).

    "He's playing exceptionally well," Martz said. "I think he really did a great job in terms of responding to the...
    -10-01-2004, 05:27 AM