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  • Rams try to get over big win

    By Jim Thomas Of the Post-Dispatch

    Sunday, Oct. 17 2004

    Never feel like you're out of a game - no matter what the circumstances at the
    time. That's something Mike Martz has stressed since he became head coach of
    the Rams in 2000.

    The Rams took those words to heart Oct. 10 in Seattle, staging one of the
    biggest comebacks in NFL history.

    "I was so proud of the way we played that game in every phase," Martz said.
    "Special teams, defense, offense. The coaches kept coaching hard."

    And the Rams erased a 17-point deficit in the last 5 1/2 minutes of regulation
    to defeat the Seahawks 33-27 in overtime.

    "And we'll enjoy that," Martz said.

    Just not right now. Martz enjoyed the plane ride back from Seattle, but by
    Monday morning, he was back watching tape and all business.

    On Wednesday he said Seattle "is done and over with. It doesn't have any
    bearing on this week."

    When the players returned to practice Thursday, the message was the same. Just
    like Martz doesn't want them to dwell on a tough loss, he doesn't want them
    dwelling on a big victory.

    "It's really the same thing," Martz said. "It goes both ways. This thing you
    put to bed. ... We're moving on. Just like a heartbreaking loss."

    In essence, Martz didn't want the Seattle victory to be a distraction. It might
    seem like a strange approach, but then again, maybe not.

    "I think it's really boosted morale," Martz said. "We want to keep that good
    feeling of winning. That confidence. But one game does not make a season. We've
    got the entire season left."

    Starting with tonight's "Monday Night Football" encounter with Tampa Bay at the
    Edward Jones Dome. "We've got to stay focused on Tampa Bay," Martz said in the
    days leading up to the game. "Otherwise you won't be at your best, and we
    certainly want to be at our best."

    The message seemed to sink in with the Rams players, although we won't know for
    sure until about 11 o'clock tonight.

    "If we're sitting here concerned about how great we played in the fourth
    quarter against Seattle, then we're not going to play well against Tampa Bay,"
    safety Adam Archuleta said. "So you look at it, you enjoy it. Pat yourself on
    the back, but then you've got to get back to work."

    Rather than dwelling on Seattle, why not build on it?

    "That's what we've been talking about in practice," defensive tackle Ryan
    Pickett said. "Let's build on this comeback. And on defense, let's go out and
    start the game and finish it like we did the second half of the Seattle game.
    Nobody's thinking about the win. But we're trying to build on to what we
    started last week. Wins like that slingshot a season."

    A victory tonight could slingshot the Rams to a 4-2 record while moving them
    into first place in the NFC West. That's because Seattle fell to 3-2 Sunday
    with a 30-20 loss at New England. If the Rams take care of business against the
    Bucs (1-4) tonight and next week at Miami (0-6), they will be 5-2 and in charge
    of the NFC West entering their bye week.

    "Well, that's our plan, regardless of who we're playing," Archuleta said. "We
    have to get some momentum going. We have to string some wins together.

    "Instead of playing good, playing bad, we need to start building on the
    positive things that we're doing. November's coming, and everybody knows that
    the games that you win in November and December are really going to determine
    what type of team you are."

    Looking past the Buccaneers because of their 1-4 record or their offensive woes
    wouldn't be wise. For one, the Bucs haven't lost to the Rams since the 1999
    season's NFC championship game. Tampa Bay is 3-0 against the Rams since then,
    with all of those games played on Monday night.

    For another, the Bucs remain tough to score on, even without longtime defensive
    mainstays Warren Sapp and John Lynch.

    "They're still a great defensive football team," defensive lineman Tyoka
    Jackson said. "In the past couple weeks, they've kind of been waiting for their
    offense to get it going, and they got it going last week. That's why they beat
    the Saints."

    The same New Orleans Saints who beat the Rams in overtime, 28-25, three weeks
    ago in St. Louis. The return of running back Michael Pittman after a three-week
    suspension has taken the Bucs' running game out of neutral. At quarterback,
    Brian Griese makes the Tampa passing game more dangerous - at least in the
    short term - than it would be with youngster Chris Simms under center.

    "They're not the same team offensively that they were" a few weeks ago, Martz
    said. "And that is what I've told our football team. This (Tampa) football team
    will be very good on offense."

    And as usual, the Tampa Bay defense will not be intimidated by the sight of
    Marshall Faulk, Isaac Bruce, Torry Holt and friends.

    "I love matching up against those guys," Tampa linebacker Derrick Brooks told
    Bucs reporters earlier in the week. "It brings out the best in this defense."

Related Topics


  • DJRamFan
    [Bucs] Manic Monte
    by DJRamFan
    By ROY CUMMINGS [email protected]
    Published: Oct 17, 2004

    ST. LOUIS - Hang around Bucs defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin long enough and you get the feeling that if you could somehow tap into him, you'd discover an alternative energy source.
    Kiffin is the human equivalent of the silver ball in a pinball machine. He's not walking or even running through life; he's bouncing through it like the sheared end of a downed power line.

    ``You know how it is when you get so worked up that you can't even get the words out to speak? That's Monte,'' safety John Howell said. ``And he's like that all the time, every day.

    ``He's like that at practice, he's like that before games. He's like that when he's getting ready to turn on the tape machine for us to watch film in a meeting. He just eats, sleeps and breathes this stuff.''

    Kiffin definitely eats and breathes football. Whether he sleeps it or not is up for debate. After all, Kiffin doesn't sleep much, especially during weeks like the one leading into tonight's game at St. Louis.

    ``Around here, your motor is always running high,'' defensive backs coach Mike Tomlin said. ``But during weeks like this, when you're taking on the `Greatest Show on Turf,' it runs a little higher.

    ``It's only natural because it's always a playoff-like atmosphere when we face the Rams. You just can't help but get up a little more, so for Monte, it's a few more cups of coffee, a few more hours looking over tape each night.''

    The overtime and extra caffeine have paid dividends in the past. Since 1999, when the Rams' high-wire act first debuted, the Bucs have kept St. Louis from matching its gaudy average point output three times.

    Only three other teams - New Orleans, San Francisco and the New York Giants - can make that claim, but none of them have done it while twice playing on the Rams' turf, including once during an unforgettable playoff game.

    The date was Jan. 23, 2000. At stake was the opportunity to represent the NFC in Super Bowl XXXIV. Few gave the Bucs much of a chance. After all, the Rams had the homefield edge and all that offensive firepower.

    Through 16 regular-season games and one playoff game, they had produced an average of 33.8 points a game, never scoring any less than 21.

    Against Kiffin's defense, though, the Rams didn't reach the end zone until late in the fourth quarter and scored just 11 points - which was still enough to win the game.

    The victory, of course, launched the Rams toward their first Super Bowl title - they beat Tennessee, 23-16 - but it also launched a rivalry between the Bucs and Rams.

    During the years it has raged - this will be the fourth ``Monday Night Football'' meeting - it has been a classic matchup of offense vs. defense. ...
    -10-17-2004, 05:05 PM
  • 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
  • RamWraith
    Rams, Bucs No Strangers to Monday Night
    by RamWraith
    By Nick Wagoner
    Staff Writer

    In a season that thus far has seemed to reunite the Rams with former players and coaches, there has also been a rekindling of many popular rivalries. Aside from the usual division rivals, St. Louis has played former division rivals Atlanta and New Orleans.

    Now, the Rams are set to square off against another of their (former) rivals. Tampa Bay cruises into town for Monday Night Football at the Edward Jones Dome. This game might not have the history of the rivalry with San Francisco or the pure angst of the New Orleans’ battles, but it certainly has enough ingredients to make it a big game for both sides.

    St. Louis is riding an emotional high after an astonishing comeback against Seattle on Sunday. That win improved the Rams to 3-2 and put them in a good position to make it to the bye week with a three-game winning streak.

    Rams’ coach Mike Martz said the team can’t let an emotional win affect it any more than it could if the comeback had happened to the Rams.

    “It goes both ways,” Martz said. “This thing you put to bed, it’s over with,” Martz said. “We’re moving on. (It’s) just like a heartbreaking loss, you have got to really focus on this week, otherwise you won’t be at your best.”

    Tampa Bay is coming off its first win of the season, beating New Orleans on Sunday to go to 1-4 on the year.

    The Buccaneers and Rams don’t have a long history, but in recent years, it has been a matchup of two elite teams usually squaring off in an important game.

    St. Louis holds the overall edge, with an 8-6 record against Tampa Bay, but the Buccaneers have won the past four regular season meetings. Despite all of that, the Rams won the teams’ biggest matchup in 1999. That game was for the NFC Championship and St. Louis prevailed 11-6 on receiver Ricky Proehl’s late touchdown catch. This is the fourth game between the teams on Monday Night Football since 2000.

    Martz said he loves games like this.

    “This is kind of why you coach and why you play, for games like this,” Martz said. “It’s good for the National Football League; I look forward to it.”

    INJURY REPORT: Cornerback Travis Fisher and defensive tackle Jimmy Kennedy are one step closer to making their return from injury. Fisher broke his forearm against Kansas City in the second preseason game on Aug. 23 and Kennedy broke his foot on Aug. 8.

    Both players began practicing again Thursday after spending the past few weeks starting to run again. Martz said they will be limited in activities and kept from contact, but will participate in some drills. Fisher and Kennedy are listed as out for the Tampa Bay game.

    Defensive end Tyoka Jackson, who injured his hamstring against Seattle on Sunday, is listed as doubtful, but could play Monday.

    Guard Chris Dishman (knee) linebacker Trev Faulk...
    -10-15-2004, 05:18 AM
  • RamDez
    Rams-Bucs: A history of intensity
    by RamDez
    Rams-Bucs: A history of intensity
    By Jim Thomas
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Saturday, Oct. 16 2004

    "I can say I hate these (Rams). . . . This is a team that I want to beat,
    and I don't even like watching them on TV. I mean, Devin Bush, I don't like.
    D'Marco Farr, I don't like. (London) Fletcher, I don't like. I can name the
    whole defense - I don't like them, and if they don't know it, they will by

    - Then Tampa Bay OG Frank Middleton, in December of 2000.

    * * *

    Ah, those were the days. Tampa Bay, with its bare-knuckle defense and its
    ugly-duckling offense. St. Louis, with its video-game offense and all the hype
    that came with being dubbed the Greatest Show on Turf.

    The contrast in styles made for a fascinating NFC championship game at the end
    of the 1999 season - a slugfest won by the Rams 11-6 on Ricky Proehl's dramatic
    "Catch for the Ages" late in the fourth quarter.

    That's where a white-hot rivalry was born.

    "It just kind of rode on from that game," Rams offensive guard Tom Nutten said.
    "They probably wanted to get some revenge from that particular game. . .and it
    just snowballed."

    Actually, the Bucs wanted revenge right after that game, with Middleton getting
    into a scuffle with Bush - then a Rams safety - outside the Rams locker room at
    what was then called the Trans World Dome. Punches were thrown, and police had
    to step in, but no charges were filed.

    "It was a very intense game," coach Mike Martz would recall later. "You look at
    tape, you can see it was a slugfest. It was a heavyweight fight."

    The ABC television network thought so, too. So much so, that for the next three
    seasons the Buccaneers and the Rams squared off annually on "Monday Night

    "They've always been really close games that always came down to the wire,"
    Nutten said. "The fans love it, and the media love it."

    And ABC still loves it. The teams didn't play in 2003, but with the Bucs back
    on the Rams' schedule in '04 - surprise! - here they are in St. Louis for
    another prime-time tussle this Monday night at the Edward Jones Dome.

    "We've had some battles," Rams offensive guard Adam Timmerman said. "We've
    battled them here, down there, I mean they've all been tight games. Just
    hard-fought games."

    With one common theme: Since that '99 NFC title game, the Bucs have won every

    On Dec. 18, 2000, just a couple of days after Middleton's outburst, Tampa
    surprisingly outscored the Rams 38-35 at Raymond James Stadium.
    Marshall Faulk scored four TDs, Torry Holt had 165 receiving...
    -10-17-2004, 02:34 AM
  • 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