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  • Big plays spark Rams

    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? -

    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 - which occurs with less than 2 minutes to go in
    either half rather than the coach's challenge - upheld the original call that
    the ball came loose before Brown's knee hit the turf. That was much to the
    chagrin of Tampa coach Jon Gruden, who gave referee Larry Nemmers an earful at
    midfield after the game.

    Martz was so pleased with those four turnovers that he decided to award the
    entire defensive unit a game ball.

    "No matter what else happens, that's a great day on defense," Martz said. "You
    score and set up a score from the 5-yard line - that's a good day's work by
    anybody's evaluation."

    The turnovers have been a long time coming for the defense.

    "Everybody knows the more turnovers you get, the better chance you have to win
    the football game," Archuleta said. "They haven't been coming to us early in
    the season, but we are still working on those little things in practice, and
    keep trying to get those turnovers."

    For the first time all season, the Rams won the opening coin toss. They made
    the most of it, scoring on the pass from Bulger to Holt just five plays into
    the game. Holt juked the Tampa cornerback with an inside fake, and then split
    both Bucs safeties on a post route. It was his third TD of the season, but his
    first since the New Orleans game Sept. 26.

    The play electrified the sellout crowd at the Edward Jones Dome. But Tampa Bay
    seemed determined to take the fun out of the evening for the Rams, and
    dominated much of the first half.

    The Bucs got right to work after that Holt TD, with Torrie Cox returning the
    ensuing kickoff 59 yards to the Rams 43. It took a hustling tackle by kicker
    Jeff Wilkins to save a touchdown - a tackle that resulted in a tweaked left
    ankle for Wilkins.

    Wilkins' efforts didn't keep the Bucs out of the end zone, however. En route to
    a nine-for-nine passing start, quarterback Brian Griese completed passes to
    Clayton of 19 and 9 yards to get the ball to the Rams 15. Four plays later,
    Mike Alstott was in the end zone with a 1-yard run off left tackle, tying the
    score at 7-7 with 9:14 remaining in the first quarter.

    With Griese throwing to Clayton almost at will, the Bucs took a 14-7 lead early
    in the second quarter. The big play came on third and 5 from the 50, when
    Clayton ran right by defensive back DeJuan Groce at the Rams 45 and then caught
    a Griese pass for a 44-yard gain to the St. Louis 6.

    The touchdown came on third and goal from the 5. Griese absorbed a hammer shot
    from Little but still managed to complete a TD pass to Pittman, despite close
    coverage by Archuleta.

    Later in the quarter, the Rams finally had something good happen on special
    teams when Dwight Anderson downed a Sean Landeta punt on the Bucs' 4. Tampa
    faced a third and 7 from its 7 when a botched snapped by center John Wade fell
    to the Dome carpet and was recovered by Little on the Tampa 5 with 3:12 left in
    the half.

    It took four running plays - three by Faulk and one by Steven Jackson - but the
    Rams got into the end zone on a fourth-and-goal play from the 1. Despite being
    hit by Bucs defensive end Dewayne White just inside the 2, Faulk muscled his
    way into the end zone with the ball crossing the line in Faulk's outstretched

  • #2
    Re: Big plays spark Rams

    This game looked like one of several games from last season. Offense playing pretty good, and the defense bending butnot breaking, and coming up with some key turnovers.


    Related Topics


    • RamDez
      Big-play Rams beat Bucs
      by RamDez
      Big-play Rams beat Bucs

      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.

      -10-19-2004, 02:51 AM
    • 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
    • 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
      Bucs defense steps up, shuts down Rams
      by RamWraith
      By Fred Goodall
      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
    • RamWraith
      Bucs offense falls just short in loss to Rams
      by RamWraith
      By Jeremy Rutherford
      Of the Post-Dispatch
      Tuesday, Oct. 19 2004

      It wasn't Steve Young and Jerry Rice out there Monday night, but the Tampa Bay
      duo of Brian Griese (No. 8) and Michael Clayton (No. 80) looked pretty sharp in
      the Bucs' 28-21 loss to the Rams.

      Griese, making his first start at quarterback for the Buccaneers, completed 27
      of 40 passes for 286 yards and two touchdowns. Clayton, the Bucs' heralded
      rookie receiver, hauled in eight catches for 142 yards.

      That anemic Tampa Bay offense that Buccaneers fans have watched all season
      played its most productive game. The 21 points and three offensive touchdowns
      were the most in six games for the Bucs (1-5).

      "We're not chopped liver," Tampa Bay coach Jon Gruden said. "We're going to be
      better. I think the last three weeks we've played better offensively. It's just
      too bad that we don't get more out of our drives."

      Tampa Bay, which came into the game with the No. 25-ranked offense in the NFL,
      totaled 332 yards against the Rams.

      But the Bucs' undoing was two missed field goals by Martin Gramatica - from 35
      and 48 yards - and a costly fumble by Michael Pittman that resulted in the
      Rams' go-ahead touchdown.

      Adam Archuleta returned it 93 yards for a 21-14 Rams' lead.

      "We can't turn the ball over like that," said Griese, who completed his first
      nine passes Monday. "I thought we had a chance even at the end of the game."

      Griese threw an ill-advised interception in the end zone with 5 minutes 42
      seconds left in the game with the Rams leading by the final margin.

      Otherwise, the Bucs were a lot more effective than anyone anticipated.

      Griese played in relief of Chris Simms (shoulder) last week. He completed 16 of
      19 passes in a 20-17 win over New Orleans. His nine-for-nine start Monday gave
      him a stretch of 25 completions on 28 attempts.

      "He runs around, he makes plays, he made some great audibles, threw some timely
      beautiful passes on third down," Gruden said. "I don't know what I don't like
      (about Griese), that's a better question."

      And what's not to like about Clayton, who caught four of Griese's first nine
      balls, one for 44 yards. That set up a 5-yard touchdown pass to Pittman, giving
      the Bucs' a 14-7 lead.

      Clayton is "going to be a great player in this league," Gruden said. "He
      ignited us and made some big plays and was special."

      The Bucs thought they had made another big play at the end of the game. A long
      pass to receiver Tim Brown that set up the offense deep in Rams territory was
      ruled a fumble by...
      -10-19-2004, 01:13 PM