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  • Big-play Rams beat Bucs

    Big-play Rams beat Bucs


    BY JEFF GORDON
    Post-Dispatch Online Sports Columnist
    Monday, Oct. 18 2004

    Ah, big plays.

    The Rams made them on offense and defense while dispatching the Tampa Bay
    Buccaneers 28-21 on Monday Night Football.

    Sure, they gave up some yards to the mediocre Brian Griese-led Buccaneers
    offense. That was a bit disconcerting. And Rams quarterback Marc Bulger
    suffered a couple of costly turnovers.

    But defensive end Leonard Little recovered a fumble that set up one touchdown;
    safety Adam Archuleta forced a Buccaneers fumble and returned it for a
    touchdown; cornerback Jerametrius Butler intercepted a pass in his end zone;
    on the final Buccaneers drive, safety Aeneas Williams stripped receiver Tim
    Brown of the ball and Butler recovered it.

    And, oh yeah, Bulger went up top on a couple of touchdown passes to Torry Holt.

    So the Rams built on last Sunday’s comeback win at Seattle with a solid
    home-field performance on the big stage.

    At 4-2, the Rams lead the NFC West. The hapless Miami Dolphins are up next.

    Just think, things looked so bleak just a few weeks ago . . .


    THE GOOD


    * The Rams come out throwing to Marshall Faulk and handing the ball to Steven
    Jackson. There is nothing wrong with using two feature backs at once,
    especially when they have those skills.


    * Talk about timing and touch! Bulger led Holt beautifully on a 52-yard
    touchdown pass; when Holt made his last move and turned for the ball, there it
    was. In a nanosecond, the Rams led 7-0.


    * Back off Holt and he’ll catch a little curl pass, then beat you with a move
    for a 23-yard gain. And Tampa Bay is supposed to have a GOOD secondary.


    * On their second defensive series, the Rams stuffed Michael Pittman twice to
    force a three-and-out. That was more like it.


    * Hello, Mr. Little! After getting a little eager and jumping offsides, he
    pounced on a Griese fumble to give the Rams the ball at the Tampa Bay 5. That
    was a HUGE moment in the game.


    * We loved coach Mike Martz’s decision to take his shot on fourth and goal
    from inside the Tampa Bay 1. Faulk muscled the ball over the goal line with a
    nice second effort and the Rams tied the game at 14.


    * With the Buccaneers poised to take the lead in the third quarter, Archuleta
    pried the ball away from Pittman, then got up with the ball and ran 93 yards
    for an enormous defensive touchdown.

    Suddenly the Rams led 21-14.


    * On a third-and-14 play, a screen pass to Jackson went for 28 yards as he
    showed his moves, acceleration and power in one flourish.


    * How about Bulger’s 36-yard touchdown pass to Holt? That was a quality deep
    throw into the end zone on an aggressive third-and-four play.


    * Yes, that was Erik Flowers benefiting from a blitz to tunnel in for a
    fourth-quarter sack on Griese.


    * Another blitz – this time safety Rich Coady went flying in on Griese –
    forced an incompletion. Then the Rams dropped eight men back into coverage and
    cornerback Jerametrius Butler picked off Griese in the end zone to help seal
    this victory.

    * Receiver Kevin Curtis showed his speed after catching a pass, Then, he
    showed it again on an end-around run. He and shifty Shaun McDonald had a big
    impact once again as Air Martz diversified.


    THE BAD


    * Just when you had reason to believe in the Rams' special teams, the kickoff
    coverage squad allowed Torrie Cox to bust a 59-yard return. That sent the
    Buccaneers rolling toward a game-tying touchdown, scored by Mike Alstott
    walking in from a yard out.


    * The Rams knew the Buccaneers would come after Bulger, so they didn’t want to
    allow a possession-ending 12-yard sack just as they were closing in on scoring
    position again.


    * On third-and-five from midfield, the Rams cannot allow Griese to hit a
    44-yard pass play to Michael Clayton. Since when is this kid Randy Moss?


    * That set up a five-yard TD pass to running back Pittman, which gave the
    previously punchless Buccaneers a 14-7 lead early in the second quarter.


    * Another third-and-long situation, another Buccaneers sack of Bulger to kill
    a Rams possession . . . the protection schemes must be better.


    * Cornerback DeJuan Groce wishes he had held onto a should-be interception
    near the goal line five minutes into the second quarter. Fortunately,
    Buccaneers kicker Martin Gramatica took him off the hook by blowing the ensuing
    field goal attempt.


    * Tight end Brandon Manumaleuna negated a key run with a holding penalty . . .
    that’s the sort of mistake the Rams cannot have while trying to play catch up.


    * Why would Jeff Wilkins put a kickoff out of bounds in the last two minutes
    of a half? Tampa Bay got started at its 40 as a result, which put them a few
    passes away from scoring territory.

    Fortunately for him, Gramatica blew another field goal attempt and the game was
    tied at halftime.


    THE UGLY


    * McDonald busted an 82-yard punt return, a rare electrifying moment for
    special teams . . . and of course, it was nullified by an illegal block penalty
    called on Dwight Anderson. So the Rams were backed up deep in their own zone
    instead.


    * Throwing off his back foot, Bulger threw an interception directly to
    Buccaneers linebacker Ian Gold dropping back into coverage in the third
    quarter. Gold returned it to the Rams 16 to put Tampa Bay in scoring position.


    * Right tackle Grant Williams got dusted by defensive end Greg Spires for
    another sack, but on this third-quarter breakdown Spires also stripped Bulger
    of the ball.

    Cohort Anthony McFarland recovered the ball and the Buccaneers punched the ball
    into the end zone moments later on a bootleg pass to tight end Will Heller that
    baffled Archuleta. Just like that, the game was tied 21-21.

    __________________________________________________________
    Keeping the Rams Nation Talking

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  • RamWraith
    Big plays spark Rams
    by RamWraith
    By Jim Thomas
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Tuesday, Oct. 19 2004

    Things started out oh so easy Monday for the Rams, with a fast and furious
    lightning bolt of a touchdown pass to Torry Holt less than three minutes into
    the game.

    But, hey, the opponent was the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. And Rams fans know what
    that means. It has been a slugfest and a struggle against the Bucs ever since
    the teams met in the 1999 season's NFC title game. That epic struggle went to
    the Rams 11-6.

    Since then, the Bucs have turned into Mike Martz's personnel Monday night
    nemesis. Tampa won Monday nighters against the Rams in 2000, 2001 and 2002.

    But not this time. With some long-distance dialing by Marc Bulger to Holt,
    Marshall Faulk's 100th NFL rushing touchdown and takeaways by the defense, the
    Rams finally have defeated the wicked witch of the Southeast.

    Holt's second touchdown catch of the day, a 36-yard reception with 10 minutes
    46 seconds to play, snapped a 21-21 tie. The 28-21 victory was the third in a
    row for St. Louis, boosted the Rams' record to 4-2 and moved them into sole
    possession of first place in the NFC West ahead of Seattle (3-2).

    "There was never any doubt - shoot," a drained Martz said. "What a great
    performance by the defense. They made plays when they had to make plays just
    like last week."

    The St. Louis defense spent much of the night helping Michael Clayton's rookie
    of the year candidacy at wide receiver for Tampa Bay. (Clayton finished with
    eight catches for 142 yards). And Rams linebackers and safeties couldn't cover
    a Buccaneers tight end to save their lives.

    But the Rams defense came up with four turnovers - it had only two all season
    entering the contest.

    A fumble recovery by Leonard Little at the Tampa 5 set up Faulk's 100th TD - a
    1-yard run on fourth and goal late in the second quarter.

    Safety Adam Archuleta, back in the starting lineup for the first time in three
    weeks, forced a Michael Pittman fumble. Archuleta picked the ball up and
    scooted down the sideline for a 93-yard TD midway through the third quarter. It
    was the third-longest return of a fumble recovery in Rams history and gave them
    a 21-14 lead.

    After Holt's second TD catch gave the Rams that 28-21 lead, cornerback
    Jerametrius Butler snuffed out a Bucs scoring drive with a leaping interception
    in the end zone with 5:42 to play. The pass was intended for - who else? -
    Clayton.

    Butler also recovered a fumble by Tim Brown at the St. Louis 12 with just 26
    seconds to play, with Rams safety Aeneas Williams forcing the fumble. A replay
    booth review of the play...
    -10-19-2004, 01:13 PM
  • RamDez
    Fumbled Away -Buc Press
    by RamDez
    Fumbled Away

    By ROY CUMMINGS [email protected]
    Published: Oct 19, 2004
    ST. LOUIS - They had you believing, didn't they? For nearly four full quarters Monday night they had you believing the way baseball fans in Houston and Boston are believing today.



    That's what the Bucs did Monday night. They instilled belief in their legions of followers. For nearly four full quarters, they had you believing that this once lost season would not only live on, but also live on with a purpose.

    Now, there's no telling where the Bucs will go. Or who will lead them there.

    Before Tim Brown's fumble with 26 seconds left brought an end to what proved to be a 28-21 Rams victory at the Edward Jones Center, Brian Griese looked like he had pushed Chris Simms back down the depth chart.

    He had resurrected an offense that has struggled all season long to find the end zone, putting on a dazzling show of his own in a building that houses what has become known as the Greatest Show on Turf.

    It was an offensive high wire act in which rookie receiver Michael Clayton ran up more than 100 yards in receptions for the first time in his career but still couldn't outshine Rams receiver Torry Holt.

    Holt proved to be the hero in this one, catching two touchdown passes including the game-winner, a 36-yard catch that came after he slipped behind Bucs nickelback Mario Edwards near the end zone.

    ``I want to tip my hat to Tampa,'' Holt said afterward. ``It's fun playing these guys; they challenge you on every single play.''

    The Bucs challenged the Rams, but in the end it was mistakes that once again cost the Bucs, who turned the ball over four times in dropping to 1-5.

    There was Brown's fumble at the end of a 21-yard pass play that put them within easy striking distance of the goal line.

    There was center John Wade's fumble of a snap to Griese at the Bucs 5 that the Rams quickly turned into a touchdown.

    There was Jerametrius Butler's interception of a Griese pass on the next-to-last offensive drive of the night for Tampa Bay.

    There was Adam Archuleta's 93-yard return for a touchdown of a Michael Pittman fumble midway through the fourth quarter.

    And there was kicker Martin Gramatica's misses of field goal tries of 35 and 48 yards in the first half.

    ``We missed two field goals and fumbled in the red zone twice,'' Bucs coach Jon Gruden said. ``I'm fully responsible for this mess, with all these turnovers; we might be the best 1-5 team in history. We did it to ourselves.''

    The mistakes rendered meaningless not only another solid effort by Griese, who completed 27 of 40 passes for 286 yards and two touchdowns, but also one of the best efforts of the season by the Bucs defensive front four.

    That unit got four sacks, including two by Greg...
    -10-19-2004, 02:51 AM
  • RamWraith
    Bucs defense steps up, shuts down Rams
    by RamWraith
    By Fred Goodall
    AP SPORTS WRITER
    Sunday, Sep. 23 2007

    TAMPA, Fla. (AP) -- The Tampa Bay Buccaneers continued to build a new identity
    on defense, leaving the winless St. Louis Rams to answer more questions about
    another puzzling performance on offense.

    Hard-hitting safety Jermaine Phillips and reserve cornerback Phillip
    Buchanon intercepted passes as the revamped Bucs throttled Marc Bulger and
    routed the sputtering, injury-riddled Rams 24-3 on Sunday.

    "Obviously giving up three points is a tremendous feat in pro football, but
    we're expecting a lot more from them," Tampa Bay coach Jon Gruden said.

    "Nothing's good enough yet on defense, and we're going to hold the standards
    where they belong here. Until we get some quick three-and-outs and we start
    scoring on defense, we're going to be asking for a lot more."

    The Bucs won the Super Bowl five seasons ago and had one of the NFL's
    stingiest defenses for nearly a decade before slipping to the middle of the
    pack statistically during Tampa Bay's 4-12 finish in 2006.

    The unit is still led by Derrick Brooks and Ronde Barber. But there are five
    new starters and several young reserves like Buchanon -- a former first-round
    pick given up on by two other teams -- being counted on, too.

    Seldom-used running back Earnest Graham entered the game in the fourth
    quarter and scored on runs of 8 and 28 yards for Tampa Bay (2-1). Carnell
    "Cadillac" Williams rushed for a 7-yard touchdown in the third quarter, and
    Matt Bryant kicked a short field goal in a brief but intense rainstorm to give
    the Bucs a 3-0 lead at the half.

    St. Louis (0-3) remained winless despite finally getting Steven Jackson
    involved in an offense that's suddenly found it difficult to score points. The
    fourth-year running back had 115 yards on 30 carries and caught four passes for
    18 yards.

    "The score doesn't indicate it, but we were right there," Rams coach Scott
    Linehan said.

    "Missed opportunities again. I know it sounds like a broken record, the idea
    is not to miss them, and we're working at it. ... We're not seeing any
    dividends of our hard work yet."

    The Bucs followed up a strong defensive performance in a lopsided victory
    over New Orleans with an even more impressive outing, limiting Bulger to 116
    yards passing and holding Pro Bowl receiver Torry Holt to less than 100 yards
    receiving for the first time in five meetings between the teams.

    Bulger, who never really tested the Bucs secondary with deep passes, was
    17-for-26 and was intercepted three times. Holt finished with five receptions
    for 63 yards after averaging nearly nine catches...
    -09-23-2007, 07:23 PM
  • RamDez
    Don't blame the defense for loss - Buc press
    by RamDez
    Don't blame the defense for loss
    Four turnovers and two missed field goals by Gramatica lead to Bucs' downfall.

    By ROGER MILLS, Times Staff Writer
    Published October 19, 2004


    ST. LOUIS - On a surface where the feet seem to move an extra five miles per hour, against a team that seems to enjoy making the explosive plays, simple miscues can hurt.

    Really, really hurt.

    And in a 28-21 loss to the Rams Monday night, the Bucs can point to a few crucial regretable moments as an explanation for the outcome.

    Statistics will show that the Rams scored tons of points and looked very much like the well-oiled machine that once was known as the Greatest Show on Turf. But the truth is, at least two of those touchdowns can't be hung on the Bucs defense.

    Ahead 14-7 late in the second quarter, the Bucs botched a punt return and started a drive on their own 4. But center John Wade's bad snap never got past his body and fell to the carpet and was swooped up by defensive end Leonard Little at the Bucs 5.

    "You can't turn the ball over like that," said Wade. "We turned it over a couple of times when the defense gave us opportunities."

    The Bucs defense did its best to hold off the Rams, who needed four tries to get the ball in for a 1-yard Marshall Faulk touchdown run.

    With the scores tied at 14, Bucs linebacker Ian Gold picked off Rams quarterback Marc Bulger and returned it 31 yards to give the Bucs a first down at the Rams 15.

    But another gigantic miscue was looming. On the next play, running back Michael Pittman broke for an eight yard run off the left side but fumbled at the Rams 7. Safety Adam Archuleta, who forced the fumble, scooped up the loose ball and sprinted down the field for a 93-yard return for a touchdown.

    That one couldn't be hung on the defense either, which kept coming up with turnovers.

    Down 21-14 in the third quarter, defensive end Greg Spires forced a fumble that was recovered by Anthony McFarland at the Rams 20. The Bucs took advantage of the turnover and scored seven plays later on a 1-yard touchdown catch by backup tight end Will Heller.

    But while the Bucs defense can't be blamed for either of those two scores, it'll shoulder full responsibility for the Rams first score, a 52-yard bomb from Bulger to Torry Holt in the first quarter, and a 46 yard connection between the same two Rams in the fourth quarter.

    Holt's long receptions were particularly devastating, considering the Bucs Cover 2 defensive scheme is specifically designed to prevent teams from completing deep passes.

    The timing didn't help either. Holt's second touchdown came only minutes after the Bucs drew even on Heller's touchdown reception.

    And then there's kicker Martin Gramatica.

    Gramatica, who struggled all last season, began this...
    -10-19-2004, 02:52 AM
  • RamWraith
    Role Reversal Wins for Rams
    by RamWraith
    Wednesday, October 20, 2004

    By Nick Wagoner
    Staff Writer

    Tampa Bay’s defense has been one of the league’s best for quite awhile. It has been able to stop the run, defend the pass and create turnovers seemingly at will.

    On Monday night, when the Buccaneers played the Rams, it was little surprise to see a defense doing all of those things. It was surprising, though, to see which team was doing the stopping and stealing the takeaways.

    Sure, Tampa Bay did its part defensively, holding St. Louis to 324 yards of offense and forcing a pair of turnovers. But it was the Rams defense that looked like the vintage Buccaneers.

    St. Louis entered the game with just two takeaways on the season and ranked toward the bottom of the league in total defense, but had the momentum of a thoroughly dominant performance in the second half a week ago against Seattle. In that half, the Rams held the Seahawks to just 85 yards.

    The mojo gained from that effort appeared to carry over to Monday night’s game, especially in redzone situations.

    “I can’t say enough about our defense,” Rams’ head coach Mike Martz said. “They had their backs to the wall throughout that game, and responded. They had three turnovers created in the redzone. Then, coming out, they create a turnover at the 5-yard line to set up a score. It just doesn’t get any better than that; (just) a terrific job defensively.”

    St. Louis finished Monday night’s game with four takeaways, double the output of what it had on the season going in. That low output of turnovers was cause for concern, especially coming a year after the Rams led the league in takeaways with 46.

    Martz said it wasn’t like St. Louis was trying to avoid getting takeaways; it was just one of those things that will take its own course.

    “We are not doing anything differently than we normally do,” Martz said. “It’s going to happen. You just keep working at it and you can’t get discouraged by it.”

    The Rams certainly weren’t discouraged by anything defensively Monday night. After falling behind 14-7 in the second quarter, St. Louis pinned the Buccaneers at their 4 with a perfect punt from Sean Landeta. Two plays and two penalties later, quarterback Brian Griese and center John Wade couldn’t make the exchange and defensive end Leonard Little recovered. So began an avalanche of takeaways that essentially won the game for St. Louis.

    That recovery at Tampa Bay’s 5 set up running back Marshall Faulk’s 1-yard touchdown plunge and tied it at 14. That takeaway was simply the precursor for the biggest play of the night.

    After quarterback Marc Bulger threw an interception to linebacker Ian Gold that was returned to the St. Louis 15, safety Adam Archuleta decided to make the defense go on the offensive.

    On first-and-10, Griese handed to running back...
    -10-21-2004, 04:03 AM
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