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Win over Seattle shows Rams are listening to Martz

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  • Win over Seattle shows Rams are listening to Martz

    By Bryan Burwell
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Monday, Oct. 11 2004

    Deep in the catacombs of Seattle's fabulous football stadium early Sunday
    evening, the Qwest Field visitors' locker room was filled with all the familiar
    background noise of victory.

    "Ooooooh baby, that was sweeeeet!!"

    "Awwww they thought they had us, didn't they?"

    "Shoooot, that's what I'm talkin' about, man! This is OUR house, baby, OUR

    Amid the distant hiss of shower water, rowdy Rams players could not stop
    reveling in the feel-good buzz of their come-from-behind 33-27 overtime victory
    against the previously unbeaten Seahawks. Scattered throughout the room,
    players savored the sweet taste of victory, still fresh in their mouths. "The
    only thing missing is a little bubbly," Torry Holt hooted. "But I guess that'll
    have to wait."

    But if you listened very carefully, there was another sound emanating
    throughout this locker room on Sunday. It was the sound of players swelling
    with confidence. Both championship-hardened veterans and wide-eyed NFL
    neophytes roamed through the locker room with a strut and a resolve that we
    hadn't seen before.

    Given up for dead barely two weeks ago, the Rams are walking a little taller
    right now, flexing their muscles just a bit more, thanks to that potentially
    season-defining victory over the Seahawks. It's impossible to overplay the
    prospective value of a game like that to both the Rams and Seahawks. When you
    kick a so-called Super Bowl contender in the gut like that in their own house,
    and do it in such a spectacular fashion, it's no telling how high it could
    propel the Rams soaring, or how low down it could send the Seahawks reeling.

    Victories like this can be stimulants. But defeats like that can be
    season-killing downers. We know the Rams have the championship-seasoned
    veterans who understand the benefits of moments like this. The question now is
    whether the green-but-growing 'Hawks will develop a similar resolve.

    But here's something else to mull over while waiting for the NFC West race to
    define itself.

    If games like that can alter the course of a season for teams, is it possible
    that it could do the same thing for Mike Martz's NFL profile? With nearly 70
    percent of the country watching this game on TV, Martz did everything in that
    second half that we've all been begging him to do. He called a great game. He
    showed both a patient and fast and furious side when no one expected it, but
    always precisely when the Rams needed it most.

    But the funny thing is, while all of us outside that locker room seem to need
    convincing that Martz is the right man for this job, inside the Rams locker
    room, all you heard from every corner of the room were all these excited
    players singing the man's praises.

    "This game - not just the victory, but the way we achieved the victory -
    continues to validate what Coach Martz has been telling us about our team since
    the start of training camp," said Aeneas Williams. "He told us a while ago that
    we were a good team on the rise. He told us that it would take some resolve,
    but we would get there."

    On Monday, when asked how gratifying it was for him to hear that his players
    had bought into his program, Martz sounded almost apologetic, and just a little
    surprised. "Look, I don't say this to sound arrogant, but that's my job," he
    said softly. "That's what I'm supposed to do."

    Five weeks into the season, much to the surprise of a lot of folks, Martz is
    doing a darned good job. We thought the Rams were dead. But now with two big
    road victories in a row, the 3-2 Rams may have just gotten through the roughest
    times and are surging in the right direction.

    "We're improving," Martz said. "But we're not there yet. We won one game.
    That's all. We have a lot of season left, and there are still a lot of bumps in
    this road to go. We haven't matured like we need to, and we are not where we
    need to be, or want to be, or will be. But we are making progress."

    The players "believe in what we are doing," he said matter of factly. "And
    that's the most important thing."

Related Topics


  • RamWraith
    Martz has fans waiting to see if Rams respond
    by RamWraith
    By Bryan Burwell
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Sunday, Nov. 14 2004

    It sure has been some wild and wacky week right here in the River City, hasn't
    it? First our favorite gray-haired football eccentric goes all Norman Vincent
    Peale on us - not once, but TWICE this week - in a very public
    effort to make friends and influence football players.

    "We don't hold hands and get in a seance and sing Kumbaya. I'm not into
    that. ... You're on the train or you're not. Get out, period. I know where I'm
    going, you're either with me or you're not."

    -Mike Martz

    So now that Mike Martz has thrown down another verbal gauntlet to a world full
    of doubters - and in the process minimizing the importance of really good, old
    fashioned campfire songs - here we are again in a very familiar place. The Rams
    are in another do-or-die situation as the Seattle Seahawks come to the Edward
    Jones Dome with supremacy of the NFC West at stake. And once again Martz has us
    all on the edge of our seats, intrigued with how his football team will respond
    to his urgent words.

    Will they take to heart his warnings that this 4-4 season is at a crossroads
    and treat this game as though it is a desperate playoff game? Will they be
    inspired by his angry words and use them as emotional fuel to turn what has
    been a half-season of mediocrity into a strong second-half run to the

    "This is a game of attitude, pure and simple. This is not about ability,
    it never has been, never will be. Everybody in this league has got ability to
    play. Everybody's talented. Everybody's fast, everybody's big, everybody's
    strong. If you think that's the difference, you're sorely mistaken. This is
    purely a game of attitude."

    Martz was a man on fire this week, from his Monday afternoon rant when he said
    he was tired of "taking bullets" for underachieving players, to his
    inspirational, but exceedingly short Wednesday press briefing when he continued
    to challenge the players, then made them go through a full-contact scrimmage.
    He was so fired up as he stormed out of the news conference that by the time he
    marched onto the practice field, he was stalking around the field from one
    group of players to another. Martz looked like an emotional volcano. He looked
    like a man itching for a fight. He looked like a guy who was almost begging to
    find just one half-stepping player.

    "I am not happy with how we are playing period, regardless of a division
    race or anything else. I think the way we have played in the last two games is
    embarrassing. Not so much, whether you win or lose the game, just the way we
    play the game,...
    -11-13-2004, 07:04 PM
  • RamWraith
    Illness is forcing Martz to confront frightening reality
    by RamWraith
    By Bryan Burwell

    From his hospital bed late Monday afternoon, Mike Martz's voice was still choked with emotion. No doubt there was an IV tube stuck in his arm and all sorts of folks in lab coats and drab green hospital garb urgently coming in and out the door. There would be medical charts dangling from the edge of his bed, and unknown gizmos with strange tubes and pulsing sounds hooked up to him, letting you know that whatever it was that's ailing him was not a trifling thing.

    This was an incredibly sobering moment in his life, a frightening flash of reality that finally struck Martz square on his obsessive, workaholic coach's chin. It was time to walk away from the game, because, well it is just a game. It was time to walk away from football because the potentially deadly virus that's creeping through his body clearly is no game.

    "Last Friday, I finally realized I couldn't do this anymore," Martz said during a telephone interview from an undisclosed local hospital about an hour after it was announced that he was taking an indefinite medical leave of absence because of a bacterial infection in his heart valve. "I can't begin to describe the feeling of pain I felt. I've never felt anything like this before in my life. I knew this was deadly serious, and for the first time in my life, there was this incredible frustration to deal with. I've been in sports all my life, but this was something I wasn't able to outhit, outcoach, or outwork."

    So now he laid flat on his back, maybe even a little woozy from the medication pumping into his veins. He didn't want to be there, and quite frankly probably would have been behind his desk at Rams Park getting bleary eyed watching game film if not for the scared-straight conversation with team doctors and heart specialists who let him know in no uncertain terms that the workaholic tough guy in him was going to kill him.

    But the more Martz talked, the more his conversation drifted away from the seriousness of endocarditis. I reminded him about his retirement plans. I reminded him of how excited he was when he talked about the vacation home in the hills and the ranch in the wilderness, and how important it was to get well so that he could actually grow old enjoying those special places. But Martz didn't want to talk about that. All he wanted to do was talk about his football players, his football team, his football life.

    "This job is what I love," Martz said. "I do love all those other things in life, but I'm a football coach. That's who I am, that's what I do. I can't imagine doing anything other than this."

    A few hours earlier, Martz stood in front of a room full of puzzled players in the giant auditorium at Rams Park. The players had no idea that their head coach was about drop a bombshell on them. "I've been...
    -10-11-2005, 04:56 AM
  • RamWraith
    Rams are fearless, and nearly peerless, in Seattle
    by RamWraith
    By Jim Thomas
    Of the Post-Dispatch

    Aeneas Williams' sarcastic gesture drives home the point to an already muted crowd after the Rams' improbable comeback win.
    (Gabriel B. Tait/P-D)

    The Rams' 33-27 overtime victory over Seattle was improbable, unexpected and - in the annals of NFL history - almost unprecedented.

    Only once in the 85 seasons of NFL football has a team rallied from a larger deficit with so little time remaining in a regular-season game.

    Interestingly, it happened just last season, when Indianapolis overcame a 21-point deficit in the final 6 minutes of regulation to defeat Tampa Bay 38-35 in overtime on Oct. 6, 2003.

    According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Rams' rally from a 27-10 deficit in Seattle was the second-largest comeback within the final 6 minutes of play in league history.

    Small wonder then, that Mike Martz rated it as one of the most meaningful victories he has been involved with as a coach.

    "I think it's obviously at the top of the list," Martz said. "Right there next to the '99 Super Bowl, I would think."

    Martz was offensive coordinator on that squad, which defeated Tennessee 23-16. The stakes weren't nearly as high Sunday at Qwest Field, but there was still a lot on the line against the Seahawks.

    "God forbid if we would've lost the game, it would've been tough to close on them," offensive guard Adam Timmerman said. "They'd have been 4-0; we'd have been 2-3 - down three games on people in your division."

    But as a result of Shaun McDonald's game-winning touchdown reception from Marc Bulger, the Rams (3-2) are just a half-game behind the Seahawks (3-1). And there's a good chance the Rams could be back on top of the NFC West by this time next week.

    That's because the Seahawks travel to New England next Sunday to play the defending Super Bowl champions. The Patriots are in the midst of a league-record 19-game winning streak.

    Meanwhile, the Rams play host to Tampa Bay (1-4) on Oct. 18 in a Monday night game at the Edward Jones Dome. After that game, the Rams travel to Miami - currently winless (0-5) and offensively impaired - on Oct. 24, then take their bye week.

    If the Rams take care of business against the Buccaneers and Dolphins, they should be 5-2 entering critical home games against New England (Nov. 7) and Seattle (Nov. 14). The picture would have been bleaker - much bleaker - had things ended differently Sunday.

    "This was such a thrill," Martz said. "To watch these guys. Just to be on the sideline and watch them - their attitude. How they responded to everything. How positive they stayed throughout the game, even in the first half."

    But as happy as he was about the Seattle game, Martz isn't ready to make any...
    -10-12-2004, 02:45 PM
  • Yodude
    Attitude Adjustment
    by Yodude
    Rams Set Sights on Attitude Adjustment
    Wednesday, November 10, 2004

    By Nick Wagoner
    Staff Writer

    With perhaps the most important game of the season at hand, the Rams are making changes in many areas. There might be some changes to the personnel, maybe a few tweaks to the gameplan, but the one area where a change is almost certain is clear: attitude.

    St. Louis has lost its past two games, losing a shot to open a comfortable lead in the NFC West Division. Rams coach Mike Martz said he has not been pleased with the team’s performance recently and things need to change, not just in scheme and personnel, but on the mental side also.

    “This is a game of attitude, pure and simple,” Martz said. “This is not about ability, it never has been, never will be. Everybody in this league has got ability to play. Everybody’s talented. Everybody’s fast, everybody’s big, everybody’s strong. If you think that’s the difference, you’re sorely mistaken. This is purely a game of attitude.”

    Essentially, the Rams need to toughen up to get a win Sunday. That is easier said than done against a Seattle team that doesn’t need a long memory to get fired up for this game. Rewind to the Oct. 10 meeting between the teams and you will find one of the best comebacks in NFL history, as St. Louis bounced back from a 17-point deficit to claim a stunning 33-27 overtime win. Actually, don’t rewind anything; Martz said he doesn’t need to watch any film to get excited for a game.

    “I don’t need to look at a tape to get energized,” Martz said. “Not me, I don’t have to look at a tape to go to a happy place to get energized. That’s not who I am, sorry.”

    With so much at stake this week, the thoughts of that game should be the furthest thing from the Rams’ collective mind. This game could be the defining game of the division this season. The Seahawks are 5-3, but have two losses in the division. The Rams are 4-4, but undefeated in the division.

    A win puts St. Louis firmly in control of the division and gives it an inside track to the playoffs. A loss could severely damage a team that is reeling and needs a win, not just to keep pace in the playoff hunt, but also to build some much-needed confidence.

    Nobody is giving up hope on the season, yet. There is plenty of season left, but the sense of urgency is certainly at its peak. Martz said the time has come for some of the younger players to make an impact.

    “I would expect us to come out and compete better,” Martz said. “I think that’s what I would expect, as a football team. We have core guys we can hang our hat on. You can get them up in the middle of the night, go out and practice and you’ll get all they got. What we are trying to do is get the rest of the guys up to that level. We were there for awhile and we fell off a little bit in a couple of key areas.”

    There could...
    -11-10-2004, 05:05 PM
  • RamWraith
    Give the coach his due, he had the Rams ready
    by RamWraith
    By Bryan Burwell
    Of the Post-Dispatch

    Because he possesses an audacious and occasionally brazen coaching style that is equal parts hair raising and hair pulling, Mike Martz tends to be a rather polarizing fellow. There is no other head coach in the NFL whose every move is as scrutinized or criticized as much as Mad Mike. There's no other sideline boss in pro football who's so roundly imitated or so routinely denigrated as the Rams' head coach.

    Truly there have been a few too many Sundays when the hair pulling overwhelms the hair-raising nature of his football philosophies. But sometimes, the bashing needs to take a rest. Sometimes you just must give the man his due.

    This is one of those times. Criticize him next week. Save the hand wringing over his fast-and-furious approach to football for some other day, too. Just hold your tongue, put down your angry placards and stop with the irrational e-mails, because Sunday -all week, really - Mad Mike coached his rear end off.

    As he walked off the field at Edward Jones Dome after the Rams' inspiring (and inspired) 23-12 victory over the fraudulent Seattle Seahawks, our favorite gray-haired football eccentric was a man loving life. Mad Mike blew kisses to a few admiring fans, pumped his fist in the air and smiled broadly as he trotted gleefully through the end zone tunnel toward the locker room to the cheers of 66,044 witnesses to one of the most significant regular-season victories of his career.

    "I was just excited about getting these guys passionate again," Martz said. "If you don't coach passion every day, they start to slide."

    Well, Martz surely had done his job. He'd just coached a near-perfect game and a near-perfect week. No one mumbled about any failed strategies or any odd clock management. Heck, even when he threw two red flags to challenge a few officials' calls, the only booing that this delirious mob spit out was directed at the zebras.

    For the past six days, Martz had turned this week into a high-energy referendum on his ability to motivate a team that was on the verge of floundering into mediocrity. He had ranted and raged and challenged his players to step up and make plays and stop making excuses. It is always risky business when a coach goes public like this, because if the Rams had lost, it would have given Martz the appearance of nothing more than a desperate man.

    But the scoreboard glowed with good news. Rams 23, Seahawks 12, and he looked like a wise strategist. Martz kept talking about players making plays and that's precisely what they did as they once again exposed these phony-baloney pretenders from Seattle and reminded them who still has a firm grip on the supremacy of the NFC West.

    But if this was a game about players making plays as Martz kept telling us it would be, ultimately it was...
    -11-16-2004, 05:41 AM