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  • Rams take away good feeling

    By Jim Thomas
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Tuesday, Oct. 19 2004

    In three previous Monday night games against Tampa Bay under coach Mike Martz,
    the Rams were a combined minus-9 in takeaway-giveaway ratio.

    St. Louis coughed up the football 13 times in those three games - on nine
    interceptions and four lost fumbles - while coming up with only four takeaways.
    Little wonder, then, that the Rams lost all three contests.

    But on Monday at the Edward Jones Dome, Tampa Bay felt the Rams' pain. For a
    change, it was the Buccaneers who were charitable, committing four turnovers.
    And for the first time in five games against the Bucs, the "St. Louis" Rams
    ended the evening in the plus category in takeaway-giveaway ratio at plus 2.

    (The Rams were minus 1 in the 1999 season's NFC championship game but still
    defeated the Buccaneers 11-6.)

    Although the Rams moved the ball about as well as they have against Tampa in
    recent years, they probably would not have defeated the Buccaneers 28-21
    without the takeaways by their defense.

    "Turnovers are the name of the game," quarterback Marc Bulger said. "And for
    Arch (Adam Archuleta) to bail me out personally with the fumble recovery - that
    was huge. We had a lot of that last year, and it's nice that we are starting to
    get some more turnovers. We will win a lot of games if we can keep doing that."

    Bulger threw his only interception of the game midway through the third period.
    Linebacker Ian Gold's interception return of 31 yards allowed Tampa to take
    over at the St. Louis 15 with seven minutes 41 seconds left in the third
    quarter.

    But just when it looked like Tampa Bay was poised to break a 14-14 tie,
    Archuleta came up with the defensive play of the game. In wrestling Bucs
    running back Michael Pittman to the ground on a carry around left end,
    Archuleta stripped the ball away with his right hand. After tossing Pittman to
    the ground, Archuleta had the presence of mind to pick up the loose ball and
    race 93 yards for a touchdown.

    It was the Rams' first defensive touchdown since Game 13 of last season, a
    26-20 Monday night victory at Cleveland. It was the third-longest return of a
    recovered fumble in Rams history. Interestingly, each of the three longest
    returns were made by safeties.

    Toby Wright returned a fumble 98 yards at New Orleans in 1994, the Rams' last
    season in Los Angeles, and Keith Lyle returned a fumble 94 yards at Atlanta in
    2000.

    And now, Archuleta. For Archuleta, it was his second career touchdown. He
    returned a Kyle Boller fumble 45 yards for a TD last season against Baltimore.
    Monday's return against Tampa Bay should be a pick-me-up for Archuleta, who has
    struggled this season in large part because of back problems.

    "Adam needed to make a play like that to get him (going)," wide receiver Torry
    Holt said. "It was a tremendous confidence booster for him. He's going to be
    riding high for a while."

    Archuleta has a bulging disc in his lower back. As a result, the Rams started
    Rich Coady in his place against San Francisco and Seattle, with Archuleta
    coming in off the bench in the nickel package. With Archuleta's back feeling
    better, he returned to the starting lineup against Tampa Bay.

    "Talking to him before the game, this is the first time this year that he felt
    good," Martz said. "His back is much better. He said it's the best it's felt
    all year, and he played like it. He was terrific in the game."

    Cornerback Jerametrius Butler also wasn't too shabby. Butler helped keep the
    Bucs off the scoreboard twice in the fourth quarter. He recorded his second
    interception of the season - he has the Rams' only interceptions in '04 -
    picking off a Brian Griese pass in the end zone for a touchback with 5:42 to
    play.

    Then, on Tampa Bay's final possession of the game, he recovered a Tim Brown
    fumble that was forced by Aeneas Williams at the Rams' 15 with 26 seconds to
    play.

    "Aeneas did a good job stripping the ball," Butler said. It was the 14th forced
    fumble of Williams' career.

    That play made it three St. Louis takeaways once the Buccaneers' offense had
    reached the red zone. The other takeaway, a fumble recovery on the Tampa 5, set
    up St. Louis' second touchdown.

    After leading the league in takeaways in 2003, the Rams had a league-low two
    takeaways entering the Tampa Bay game.

    "I know you were all questioning that early in the year," Martz told reporters
    Tuesday. "We're not doing anything differently than we normally do. You just
    keep working at it. You can't be discouraged about those things.

    "It's something that we do every day in practice. I think you can see Aeneas on
    that last one, just reaching in and ripping the ball out. Adam did the same
    thing."

    There could be opportunities for more of the same Sunday at Miami, because the
    Dolphins lead the NFL with 17 giveaways. The Dolphins (0-6) have lost six
    fumbles, and Miami quarterbacks Jay Fiedler and A.J. Feeley have combined to
    throw a league-high 11 interceptions.

  • #2
    Re: Rams take away good feeling

    "I know you were all questioning that early in the year," Martz told reporters
    Tuesday. "We're not doing anything differently than we normally do. You just
    keep working at it. You can't be discouraged about those things.


    I guess if you do keep working on things, they do change....right Fargo?

    LOL

    Comment

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    • 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
    • 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
    • RamWraith
      Archuleta's Big Play Saves the Day
      by RamWraith
      Sunday, September 25, 2005

      By Nick Wagoner
      Senior Writer

      After a year that he would call his worst in the NFL because of some missed opportunities to make big plays, Adam Archuleta is starting to make a habit of making the biggest plays when the Rams need them the most.

      In other words, Archuleta is starting to look like the Archuleta that everyone in St. Louis knows he can be.

      One week after coming up with a sack to ice the Arizona game, Archuleta came up with an interception that he returned 85 yards for a touchdown. With St. Louis trailing 10-0 and the Titans on the verge of a 17-0 lead and potential blowout victory, Archuleta jumped Titans’ receiver Drew Bennett’s crossing route at the 15 and went untouched into the end zone.

      “Watching him come off the field it was like he got this ton of bricks off his back,” coach Mike Martz said. “Adam is back. He played very well today.”

      Archuleta tacked on six tackles and a pass defended in unofficial press box statistics, but none of those plays could compare to the interception for a touchdown.

      That 14-point swing turned into an avalanche of 24 unanswered points for the Rams and got a stagnant offense going.

      As Archuleta crossed the goal line, he flung the ball at the stands and hit a woman in the front row, who appeared to make a heck of a catch. The excitement of making a big play wasn’t just obvious in looking at Archuleta.

      All of his teammates appreciated the play, too. But Archuleta said this is the kind of thing he has come to expect from himself.

      “It meant a lot to me actually,” Archuleta said. “There was a couple times I can remember last year that a similar play came up and I didn’t make it. I took that as a hit to my pride. I want to be the guy to make those plays not miss them. That is huge for my confidence knowing I am going to make those plays.”

      Archuleta has gone on record calling last season his worst in the league, but he was hampered most of the year by a back injury that kept him from being able to touch his toes, let alone make big plays on the football field.

      The touchdown return was the first interception return of his career for a score and his third of his career. Archuleta has made a habit of giving himself a long way to run on the returns, following his 93-yard return of a fumble against Tampa Bay last season.

      But that is a trend that Archuleta certainly has no problem with.

      “On the next couple series, I definitely felt it,” Archuleta said. “I’m glad they didn’t try and attack me in those series, but I’ll take that (feeling) any day.”

      As for the whereabouts of the ball he fired into the stands, Archuleta wouldn’t mind having it back, but he doesn’t mind losing it.

      “That’s my gift to her I guess,” Archuleta said.

      And...
      -09-26-2005, 05:27 AM
    • RamWraith
      Archuleta provides highlights for Rams
      by RamWraith
      By Jim Thomas
      ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
      09/27/2005

      Tennessee quarterback Steve McNair undoubtedly would like to have the ball back that Adam Archuleta intercepted and returned for a game-changing touchdown Sunday in the Edward Jones Dome.

      So would Archuleta.

      "I threw it," Archuleta said. "I think somebody in the stands had it ... some lady, actually."

      That's exactly what happened after Archuleta reached the end zone following his 85-yard interception return. He threw it into the stands, providing an unexpected souvenir for a lucky spectator, who caught the ball.

      "That's my gift to her, I guess," Archuleta said. "I'd like to have it back."

      He may never get the football back. But at least he's got his game back following a subpar, injury-plagued 2004 season.

      It's now two weeks in a row that Archuleta delivered a game-altering play from his strong safety position. His sack of Kurt Warner two Sundays ago in Arizona, on the last play from scrimmage, preserved a 17-12 Rams victory.

      This past Sunday, his 85-yard interception return early in the second quarter, was a huge momentum-changer in a game that was being dominated by the Titans to that point. Who knows what will happen the rest of the 2005 campaign, but Archuleta's play was the kind that can shape and define a season.

      "Oh, I think there's always that moment in a season like that where you can go back and point to something that was instrumental in kind of igniting things if you will," coach Mike Martz said. "Archuleta two weeks in a row now, makes the play to basically win the game. So he's been very instrumental in those kinds of things that you do build off."

      Playing 5 yards off the line of scrimmage, positioned basically like a linebacker in the dime defense, Archuleta had the job on the play against Tennessee of covering the first "crosser." Titans wide receiver Drew Bennett turned out to be that guy, running a crossing route from the opposite slot.

      As soon as Bennett arrived in his area, Archuleta picked him up in coverage. Because of outside pressure from defensive end Leonard Little, McNair had to step up in the pocket before delivering the ball. As a result, the throw was a little late when Archuleta swooped in, pounced on the ball, and started running.

      "I sat there and I watched him run," Martz said. "There's just no way anybody's going to catch him. He got in the end zone, and it was just a thrill to watch the enthusiasm, and I guess, the compassion for him that our players demonstrated down in the end zone. They were so excited for him. I was, too.

      "And just watching him come off the field, it's like he got this ton of bricks off his back. Adam's back."

      A year ago, Archuleta...
      -09-28-2005, 04:15 AM
    • RamDez
      Archuleta will be in lineup at strong safety Monday
      by RamDez
      Archuleta will be in lineup at strong safety Monday
      By Jim Thomas
      Of the Post-Dispatch
      Saturday, Oct. 16 2004

      A healthier back has put Adam Archuleta back in the starting lineup. After
      being reduced to duty in the Rams' nickel and dime packages the past two games,
      Archuleta will start at strong safety Monday night against Tampa Bay.

      "It's starting to get a little bit better," Archuleta said. "Hopefully, my goal
      is to get through the bye week and try to return 100 percent. But I'm feeling a
      lot better than I did."

      The Rams enter their bye week following an Oct. 24 game in Miami. Archuleta has
      a bulging disc in his lower back. So far, he has avoided injections to treat
      the injury and hopes to keep it that way.

      "We're trying not to go that route," Archuleta said. "If it gets worse, then
      that may be an option. But I would prefer not to. We're doing treatment, and
      just a lot of body work."

      Even with the reduced role the last two games, Archuleta still ranks second on
      the team with 46 tackles. He had eight tackles against both Seattle and San
      Francisco. Rich Coady, who started in Archuleta's place in those two games,
      goes back to his role as the Rams' fifth defensive back.

      When asked if the lighter workload on game day helped the past two Sundays,
      Archuleta said: "I don't think it makes really a big difference. I'm trying to
      take care of myself, and see the right people, and do the right rehab things,
      and that seems to help."

      Thomas sits

      The Rams may be regaining one defensive starter in Archuleta, but could be
      minus another - middle linebacker Robert Thomas - against the Bucs. Thomas
      watched in sweats during Saturday's practice, the last full workout of the week
      prior to Monday night.

      Thomas suffered a sprained ankle in Game 3 against New Orleans. Before the
      ***** and Seahawks games, Thomas had limited work early in the week but
      practiced at the end of the week, then played that Sunday. That wasn't the case
      this week.

      Thomas, who is fourth on the team with 36 tackles, was added to the team's
      official injury report Friday and listed as probable. Rookie Brandon Chillar
      would start at middle linebacker in Thomas's place.

      Bulger's shoulder shows improvement

      The Rams were concerned enough about quarterback Marc Bulger's throwing arm
      that he underwent an MRI earlier in the week. But the exam showed no structural
      damage. Bulger didn't miss any practice time.

      "It was bruised," Bulger said following Saturday afternoon's workout. "It was
      just a little weak. It's getting better each day. Monday it'll be 100 percent."
      ...
      -10-17-2004, 02:37 AM
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