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Defense Does its Part

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  • Defense Does its Part

    Monday, October 11, 2004

    By Nick Wagoner
    Staff Writer

    With so many stars emerging for the Rams’ offense against Seattle on Sunday, it would be easy to overlook what was perhaps the most important part of St. Louis’ comeback win.

    In any good comeback, a team must have a high-scoring, quick-strike offense capable of taking large chunks of yards and scoring points rapidly. The Rams certainly had that, as they scored 23 points in a dizzying span of eight minutes and 32 seconds.

    Of course, a comeback isn’t possible if the team you are chasing continues to score and with that comes the necessary defensive performance. Trailing by 17 with about eight minutes to play means there is no room for error. A touchdown would kill, a field goal would hurt and a first down would sting. Any little thing could dash comeback dreams in a hurry.

    Knowing this, the Rams’ defense played an inspired fourth quarter and, overall, a superb second half. After getting shredded by a Seahawks’ offense fresh from a bye week for 306 first half yards, St. Louis made all of the necessary adjustments at halftime and held Seattle to 85 second-half yards.

    As hard as it might be to believe, the defense was actually better than the 85 yards. Almost half of that yardage came on running back Shaun Alexander’s 41-yard run with 9:13 left in the third quarter. That means the defense allowed just 44 yards during the remaining 24 minutes.

    Rams’ coach Mike Martz said the defense was nothing short of excellent in the second half.

    “We talk about such a great comeback on offense in the second half, but none of this is possible, I mean none of it is possible without the terrific effort by our defense in the second half,” Martz said.

    More importantly, the Rams held the Seahawks to a meager 3 points in the second half, allowing the offense an opportunity to forge its comeback. It would have been easy for the defense to relax after watching St. Louis’ offense sputter in the third quarter, but instead, it kept fighting and allowed Bulger and company a chance.

    In a second half that featured a number of big plays on offense, the defense provided some fireworks of its own.
    Safety Rich Coady was having a rough day, getting beat by a pump from Seattle quarterback Matt Hasselbeck, who hit receiver Darrell Jackson for a 56-yard touchdown to end the first half and put the Rams down 24-7. It took a little while for Coady to get his redemption, but he was in on one of the most unheralded stops of the day.

    After the Rams trimmed the deficit to 27-17 with 5:34 remaining, the defense took the field needing nothing less than a three-and-out. Alexander gained 9 yards on the first two plays and it looked as though Seattle was going to be able to run the ball and clock. Alexander finished with 150 yards and is one of the league’s best running backs; a 1-yard gain was a sure thing, right? Not if Coady and defensive tackle Ryan Pickett had anything to say about it. They did and stuffed Alexander for no gain.

    “The three and outs (were important),” Martz said. “That third and one at the end of the game and they don’t get it. The intensity really picked up in the second half. The fight that’s in this group is incredible.”

    The Seahawks promptly punted and receiver Shaun McDonald returned it 39 yards to set up Kevin Curtis’ 41-yard touchdown catch.

    Within about 10 seconds, the defense was back on the field, needing another stop. The score was 27-24 and there was 3:30 to go. Surprisingly, Seattle came out throwing as Hasselbeck hit receiver Koren Robinson for 10 yards and a first down. The Rams clamped down, though, holding the Seahawks to 5 yards on the next two plays and setting up a third-and-5 going into the two-minute warning.

    Facing the biggest play of the game, St. Louis got its biggest defensive play from one of its best defensive players. Defensive end Leonard Little exploded off the snap, flying into the backfield and hitting Hasselbeck for a sack and a loss of 9. Little’s hit jarred the ball loose, but guard Robbie Tobeck recovered for Seattle. The Seahawks punted, giving the Rams the ball back and setting the stage for the comeback to be completed.

    Little said he was confident in himself and his teammates to bounce back from the struggles of the first half.

    “This team never gave up,” Little said. “Coach Martz has talked about resolve all year and we showed that today. We knew if we made plays on defense and get the offense the ball that we could score points and get back into the game. That’s just what we did.”

    Seattle’s defense entered the game the No. 1 unit in the NFL. St. Louis was toward the bottom of those same rankings, allowing 359.3 yards per game. But for one day, one half, anyway, it was the Rams’ defense that looked like the best in the business.

Related Topics


  • RamWraith
    Defense comes alive in second half
    by RamWraith
    By Bill Coats
    Monday, Nov. 13 2006

    SEATTLE — The battered Seahawks were without four of their 11 starters on
    offense Sunday: quarterback Matt Hasselbeck (knee), running back Shaun
    Alexander (foot), tackle Sean Locklear (ankle) and center Robbie Tobeck

    Surely the defensive task for the Rams, who had fallen to Seattle by just two
    points a month ago with three of those four in the lineup, would be far less
    challenging this time around.

    Yet for the first 30 minutes, the Seahawks pounded the Rams harder than the
    relentless rain pelted the Qwest Field turf. Seattle rolled up 243 total yards
    in the first half en route to its 24-22 win and two-game lead in the NFC West.

    Maurice Morris, filling in for reigning league MVP Alexander, had 79 rushing
    yards; Seneca Wallace, the understudy for Pro Bowler Hasselbeck, had 11 of 15
    completions for 136 yards and two touchdowns, compiled a 140.6 passer rating
    and ran twice for 30 yards.

    The Rams never had faced Wallace, a fourth-year pro out of Iowa State, making
    just his third NFL start. But they knew he was a dangerous scrambler and decent

    "He's a tough quarterback," defensive end Leonard Little said. "I missed him a
    couple of times. He's poised in the pocket, but he also can run. That was the
    main thing; we tried to keep him from running."

    Despite being outgained by more than a 2-1 ratio, the Rams trailed just 14-13
    at the half, and the defense made a significant contribution: an 89-yard fumble
    return for a touchdown by rookie defensive end Victor Adeyanju after Little
    knocked the ball from Wallace with a jarring blind-side sack. That occurred
    with Seattle driving crisply on the game's first series.

    The 12-minute intermission was a time for reflection for defensive coordinator
    Jim Haslett's sagging outfit.

    "Just want-to more than anything; guys really made up their minds," tackle
    La'Roi Glover said. "It wasn't much more than that. Just guys coming together."

    Whatever the explanation, the second half bore little resemblance to the first.
    Whereas the Seahawks clicked on all cylinders in the first, they barely managed
    to move forward in the second.

    "We came out and just got after them," Adeyanju said. "I guess it's a mental

    Linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa, who returned after missing two games with a broken
    left hand, said, "We were playing like how we should, quite simply."

    Seattle's first four of five second-half possessions resulted in three
    three-and-outs, plus a lost fumble. "And that's how...
    -11-13-2006, 04:48 AM
  • RamWraith
    Defense does its part
    by RamWraith
    By Bill Coats
    Monday, Oct. 22 2007

    SEATTLE — On their first series Sunday, the Seattle Seahawks rolled through the
    Rams for 71 yards on 11 plays and a touchdown. Over the next 52 minutes 20
    seconds, the Seahawks tacked on only 208 additional yards.

    "We kind of settled in and got comfortable," tackle Adam Carriker said. "We
    played pretty well. But obviously not well enough to win."

    Despite putting together one of their stoutest defensive efforts of the season,
    the Rams sunk to a franchise-worst 0-7 with a 33-6 defeat at Qwest Field.

    "The score speaks for itself," linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa said. "As a defense,
    your job is to prevent scores. So you can say, 'Well, they didn't have a
    100-yard rusher, they didn't go over 300 (total) yards.' But they got 33
    points, and that's the name of the game: who has the most points at the end."

    With the Rams garnering scant points of their own — just three field goals over
    the last two weeks — the defense's task is heightened. "Anytime we're out
    there, there's pressure," cornerback Tye Hill said. "We all get paid to do a

    Part of the defense's job was to contain running back Shaun Alexander, who had
    topped 100 yards in each of his last five games vs. the Rams. It did that:
    Alexander mustered just 47 yards on 19 carries, a meager 2.5 yards per try.

    Part of the defense's job was to keep the Seahawks under 300 yards. It did
    that: Seattle had 289, the third-lowest total by a Rams opponent this season.

    "The defense stepped up and played," tight end Randy McMichael said. "We
    didn't. Offensively, we stunk up the football field."

    The Rams committed five turnovers — three interceptions and two fumbles — and
    the Seahawks feasted on short fields. Their longest scoring march after that
    first series was 52 yards, for a field goal. They collected points on "drives"
    of minus-6, 14, 19 and 38 yards. Seattle also scored on a 91-yard kickoff
    return by Nate Burleson to open the second half.

    "I think the defense is making a lot of improvement," coach Scott Linehan said.
    "It hasn't showed up in our record, and that's unfortunate."

    A week ago, the Rams yielded just 264 yards in Baltimore. But the Ravens
    capitalized on six turnovers and cruised 22-3. Because of injuries and a
    suspension, the Rams' 11 defensive starters going into the season hadn't been
    on the field together all year until Sunday.

    "It felt good; we're a good 'D,'" Tinoisamoa said. "But it is a bunch of guys
    coming back in. We've got to get used to playing with each other...
    -10-22-2007, 05:42 AM
  • evil disco man
    Gordon: The Good, The Bad, The Ugly
    by evil disco man

    Quick-strike Rams drop Seahawks

    By Jeff Gordon
    Online Sports Columnist

    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.


    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?


    * 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...
    -10-10-2004, 08:32 PM
  • RamWraith
    Defense ignited the spark that put offense into orbit
    by RamWraith
    By Bill Coats
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Monday, Oct. 11 2004

    Just up the road from rumbling Mount St. Helen's, the most spectacular eruption
    Sunday was ignited by the suddenly lava-hot Rams offense.

    It spewed 17 points in the final 5 1/2 minutes of the fourth period, then put a
    sudden halt to overtime with a 52-yard bomb from quarterback Marc Bulger to
    wide receiver Shaun McDonald. The 33-27 victory ended a 10-game Qwest Field
    winning streak for Seattle (3-1) and shoved the Rams (3-2) into the NFC West

    The fireworks - three Bulger TD passes and a Jeff Wilkins field goal that
    overturned a 17-point deficit - were dazzling. But a sturdy second half by the
    defense lit the fuse.

    "None of this is possible without the terrific effort by our defense in the
    second half," coach Mike Martz said Monday. "We throw an interception on the
    sideline, give them great field position, and we hold them to a field goal.
    That wins the game for us ... that clearly wins the game for us."

    Seattle took over at the Rams 40-yard line when cornerback Marcus Trufant
    picked off a pass aimed at McDonald on the third play of the fourth quarter.
    The Seahawks were stopped at the 16, and a 34-yard field goal by Josh Brown
    made it 27-10 with 8:42 to go.

    Thereafter, while Bulger and Co. were lighting up the scoreboard, the Seahawks
    mustered only 11 yards on eight plays, with just one first down, in regulation.
    They never touched the ball in OT.

    In the first half, Seattle rolled up 306 yards, averaging 6.9 yards on 44 plays
    and holding a time-of-possession advantage of 7:06. In the second half, the
    Seahawks managed a mere 85 yards, getting 3.8 yards on 22 plays, and the Rams
    had a possession edge of 6:52.

    "I think (the offense) let the defense down in the second half," said Seahawks
    running back Shaun Alexander, who collected 98 of his 150 rushing yards before
    the break. "They had to play almost the whole (half). ... You can't do that
    against a good team."

    Fighting to the end

    Even though he'd suffered a concussion that kept him on the sideline for much
    of the fourth quarter, wide receiver Isaac Bruce returned in overtime and was
    the first teammate to reach McDonald behind the end zone after his winning

    Later, Bruce celebrated at the other end of the field, much to the disgust of
    the Seahawks fans, one of whom tossed a beer bottle in his direction. "You
    can't just play the first three quarters and think it's over," Bruce said. "We
    pride ourselves in continuing to fight for 60 minutes with resolve."

    -10-12-2004, 05:20 AM
  • RamWraith
    It Doesn't Get Much Worse Than This
    by RamWraith
    By Howard Balzer
    Monday, September 22, 2008

    When a team has been outscored 116-29 in three games, including 38-0 in the first quarter, and been outgained 1,370-607, everyone has an opinion of what's wrong.

    The simple truth regarding this version of the St. Louis Rams is that virtually everything is wrong. It's difficult to find much that is right.

    So it is when players and coaches are asked for opinions, they reach for straws and probably don't know what to say. That's why you get answers such as these after another 24-point loss:

    Quarterback Marc Bulger: "There can be a lot of speculation that we’re not ready to play when we first come out. We just get our butts kicked at first. Teams have been playing better than us in the first quarter, but I don’t think it's lack of effort. I think it’s just execution because guys are pretty excited, all three games. We come out, I wouldn’t say flat, just not playing good football."

    Defensive tackle La'Roi Glover: "Our confidence is a little down."

    Linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa: "It’s tough to know exactly what the problems are. Clearly, there is an attitude thing going on. There is an attitude adjustment that is needed. You guys up in the press box can probably feel it too. Some might call it confidence; I call it attitude. I think the attitude has to be there and right now it isn’t.”

    Running back Steven Jackson: "We’re at the point now where we don’t know where to go or where to look to for direction."

    Stripped to its basics, football is a fairly simple game. Yes, playmakers are needed, but essentially, the team that blocks and tackles better will win. In reality, the Rams' blocking hasn't been as bad as perceived, and there has been marginal improvement from the offense in the first season of coordinator Al Saunders' system.

    However, this team needed the defense to help keep it in games, and on that account, they have failed miserably.

    Big plays against the defense have been epidemic in the first three games. Against Philadelphia, it was the pass defense that allowed 245 yards on five plays. In the first half of that game, Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb passed for 297 yards and 220 came on four plays.

    Yesterday, in Seattle, the Rams gave up seven running plays of 10 yards or more, with three of those for 29 or more and totaling 90 yards. Astoundingly, of the 407 yards the Seahawks gained on 67 plays, 203 (virtually half) came on just nine plays. Seattle rushed for 245 yards on 46 attempts, and 147 (60 percent) were accomplished on those seven runs. Think of that: On 39 attempts, Seattle rushed for only 98 yards. On the other seven, the Rams were gashed.

    Said a shell-shocked coach Scott Linehan, "We haven’t been able to stop the run or the big plays in the running game, which seems to...
    -09-22-2008, 02:24 PM