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  • Defense ignited the spark that put offense into orbit

    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
    chase.

    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
    grab.

    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."

    Griese is rewarded

    Tampa Bay coach Jon Gruden said Monday that veteran Brian Griese would start at
    quarterback Monday at the Edward Jones Dome. Chris Simms made his first NFL
    start Sunday vs. Arizona but suffered a sprained shoulder. In Simms' relief,
    Griese completed 16 of 19 passes for 194 yards and a touchdown in the Bucs'
    20-17 victory.

    "I can't really say in my years of coaching that I've seen a guy come in off
    the bench and play that well in a situation where we really needed him to do
    that," Gruden told reporters.

    Handing out kudos

    Rams players of the game were: Bulger (offense), linebacker Tommy Polley
    (defense) and Erik Flowers (special teams). ... With a Monday night game vs.
    Tampa Bay (1-4) up next on the heels of back-to-back trips to the West Coast,
    Martz is giving his players an extra day off: The next practice is scheduled
    for Thursday.

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  • RamWraith
    Defense Does its Part
    by RamWraith
    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...
    -10-12-2004, 05:20 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
    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...
    -10-10-2004, 08:32 PM
  • 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
    No miracle this time
    by Nick
    No miracle this time
    By Jim Thomas
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    Sunday, Nov. 13 2005

    SEATTLE — There was a moment in the fourth quarter, after the Rams
    had scratched their way back into the game, when Marshall Faulk turned to his
    teammates and said, "This looks real familiar."

    "And it did," said teammate Dane Looker. "When we got that touchdown, it put us
    down by eight. We felt we could get in position to make a run at it."

    They trailed by a modest 24-16 with seven minutes to play Sunday after a Marc
    Bulger touchdown pass to Torry Holt.

    For sure, the Rams had faced bigger deficits at Qwest Field than eight points.
    Last year, they were down 17 with less than six minutes to play, yet rallied to
    win 33-27 in overtime.

    "Maybe some guys that weren't on the team, Alex (Barron) and those guys,"
    Bulger said. "You've got to remind them that we've been in a lot worse
    situations than this. There's a lot of time; we can come back."

    Not this time. When the final chapter is written on how the West was won in
    2005, it will be duly noted that the Seattle Seahawks got the ball with seven
    minutes to play in the fourth quarter with that 24-16 lead. The Rams had all
    three timeouts remaining. Their task was clear: force Seattle to punt. Score a
    touchdown, and then tie the game with a 2-point conversion.

    Trouble was, the Rams didn't get the ball back until there was just 1:12 to
    play. By that time, they were out of timeouts and trailed 31-16. That's because
    Seattle basically won the NFC West with a time-consuming - and for St. Louis -
    spirit-draining drive that chewed up 69 yards and nearly six minutes of clock.

    On a day when he would finish with 165 rushing yards, Seattle wunderback Shaun
    Alexander carried nine times on that drive. Four times on the drive, the
    Seahawks were faced with third-down situations - and on all four they
    converted. Alexander the Great took care of the final conversion himself,
    racing 17 yards around left end on third and 1 to finish off the Rams with his
    third touchdown of the day.

    "On that drive, that's what was going on the whole game," defensive lineman
    Tyoka Jackson said.

    Namely, the Seahawks being able to get it done in critical situations ... and
    the Rams unable to do the same. As a result, it's all but a foregone conclusion
    that the Seahawks will repeat as NFC West champions after Sunday's 31-16
    victory over St. Louis.

    Seattle is 7-2, having swept the Rams for the first time since realignment
    placed the two franchises in the same division in 2002. The Rams are 4-5 and,
    in effect, are four games...
    -11-13-2005, 11:57 PM
  • Nick
    Rams Inside Slant
    by Nick
    Inside Slant

    The unit has been maligned throughout the early stages of the season. The rankings don't lie; the Rams' defense is at the bottom of the NFL in yardage allowed: 28th overall, 28th against the pass and 29th against the run.

    But it was the defense that kept the Rams in the game against Seattle, allowing the offense to hit some big plays and win in overtime. It was the defense, after being gashed for 306 yards at halftime, that allowed only 85 yards in the second half and just 44 after running back Shaun Alexander ran for 41 yards on Seattle's first play of the third quarter. Of those 44 yards, 14 were on a scramble by quarterback Matt Hasselbeck.

    "None of this is possible without the terrific effort by our defense in the second half," coach Mike Martz said. "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."

    Martz was referring to a Marc Bulger interception as the fourth quarter began. The Seahawks started on the Rams' 40-yard line but later were stopped at the 16, and a field goal gave them a 27-10 lead. From that point on, Seattle ran eight plays and gained 11 yards. The Rams never forced a takeaway, but they made plays when that had to.

    "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."

    "This team never gave up," defensive end Leonard 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."

    What has also been talked about is limiting big plays. It sounds insane to say the Rams defense actually didn't play that badly in the first half, but it's not far from the truth.

    Of the Seahawks' 306 yards on 44 plays in the first half, 165 yards came on just six plays. Do the math, and you see that Seattle gained just 141 yards on 38 plays in the rest of the half, or 3.7 yards per play.

    Taking it further, running back Shaun Alexander had 98 yards on 14 attempts at halftime, 65 coming on three attempts. Quarterback Matt Hasselbeck had passed for 188 yards on 15 completions, with 100 yards gained on three of those passes.

    For the game, Alexander rushed for 150 yards on 23 carries, and 95 were on three rushes. He averaged less than three yards a pop on his other 20 runs.

    But what happened in that game is nothing new. The Rams play a gap-control defense, and the problem of giving up big plays is nothing new for them. The only game where it hasn't been an issue was against...
    -10-14-2004, 05:03 PM
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