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Being a Show-stopper is one tough task for Pats

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  • Being a Show-stopper is one tough task for Pats

    The St. Louis Rams, though downgraded to a "Really Good Show on Turf," still are expected to be a tall order for the battered and bruised Patriots on Sunday.

    01:00 AM EST on Thursday, November 4, 2004

    Journal Sports Writer

    FOXBORO -- It's said that the Rams' offensive plays are like snowflakes -- no two are ever the same. And when they string enough of those adorable little snowflakes together, a defense can find itself first snowblind and then buried.

    Is it still "The Greatest Show on Turf" (one of the all-time great team nicknames, by the way)? St. Louis quarterback Marc Bulger said the 2004 offensive edition of the Rams probably isn't. But he does believe they're at least "A Really Good Show on Turf."

    The Patriots, battered, bruised and bandaged (but also 6-1), have the chore of trying to stop "The Show" on Sunday. Stop it after St. Louis has had a week off to rest its bones and regroup after a stunning 31-14 loss to hopeless Miami. Stop it without the best cornerback in football the last seven seasons -- Ty Law -- and his secondary colleague Tyrone Poole. Stop it as the Rams look to rev it up and close the first half of their season on an uptick.

    Even with the Patriots' injuries (in addition to being without Law and Poole, Corey Dillon and David Givens are 50-50 to play), this is a Class A matchup. It's the first meeting between the teams since Super Bowl 36, which was a pretty exciting game. And Bill Belichick and Mike Martz are simply the best in the business on their respective sides of the ball.

    "Mike has as sophisticated and tough an offensive system to defend as anybody we ever played," Belichick said yesterday. "When I go into the (team) meeting today, (I) can't stand there and say, 'Here's two things we got to take care of.' There's going to be 82. And they mightdo 10 things that you didn't even talk about that you have to deal with."

    So good are the Rams, Belichick divulged that he lets Martz's system take him to school in the offseason.

    "Every year in the offseason, I watch them, study them, try to learn more about the passing game from them so I can implement certain aspects of it into our team. Our assistant coaches -- Josh (McDaniels, quarterbacks coach), Brian (Daboll, receivers coach) and Charlie (Weis, offensive coordinator) -- we spend time in the offseason watching them throw because, in all honesty, nobody throws it better."

    Some of the usual culprits are still with the Rams -- wide receivers Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce, running back Marshall Faulk and tackle Orlando Pace. But Bulger is new to the Patriots, and St. Louis also has added burly and versatile running back Stephen Jackson.

    The Patriots played the Rams twice in 2001. The first time, they blitzed a lot and beat up St. Louis but lost, 24-17. The second time, they laid back and hammered the Rams' receivers as they came off the line and when they caught the ball and ended up winning, 20-17.

    Which has Martz singing the same song as Belichick.

    "If you go into a game anticipating something you have seen before (and feel you can deal with it if it's different), you are going to be sorely mistaken," said the coach. "I know that there will be enough changeups and curveballs for us offensively. You have to stay on your toes. We don't have the luxury because we are not that good to feel like that. We don't have the same capabilities as we did then."

    But neither do the Patriots. As good a rookie as Randall Gay is (please note, on the touchdown pass to Plaxico Burress that Gay allowed Sunday, the Patriots foolishly rushed seven men, leaving Gay without help), if he is responsible for 12 points or fewer on Sunday, that should be acceptable. This is going from driver's ed to the Indy 500.

    The Rams, it's been said countless times, are a track team in shoulder pads.

    "We have always wanted to play fast and furious and try to keep (the opposing) defense on the field as much as possible and not let their defense set the tone of the game," added Martz.

    Bulger is no Kurt Warner. Warner -- who's now with the Giants -- wasn't really Warner after 2001. The unparalleled heights that offense hit that year and before haven't been reached since, which is part of the reason they're 4-3 now and went 7-9 last year. It's tough to keep playing at that level because synchronizing in all phases is necessary.

    Not that the Rams have even considered going conventional.

    "Mike keeps throwing logs on the pile," said Belichick. "He has 10 logs on the fire, then he drops a few more on."

    Martz will be looking to drop points on the Pats Sunday. As many as he can. Despite the mutual respect he and Belichick seem to have for each other, Martz won't weep for the Patriots if he gets a measure of minor payback for Feb. 3, 2001. It would be the kind of win for St. Louis that could put "The Show" back on the road to "Greatest" again.

  • #2
    Re: Being a Show-stopper is one tough task for Pats

    they're 4-3 now and went 7-9 last year
    Try 12-4 last year. :ramlogo:

    Adm. William "Bull" Halsey


    • #3
      Re: Being a Show-stopper is one tough task for Pats

      "Every year in the offseason, I watch them, study them, try to learn more about the passing game from them so I can implement certain aspects of it into our team. Our assistant coaches -- Josh (McDaniels, quarterbacks coach), Brian (Daboll, receivers coach) and Charlie (Weis, offensive coordinator) -- we spend time in the offseason watching them throw because, in all honesty, nobody throws it better."
      ummm, I'm scared. I think their coach is smarter than ours.


      • #4
        Re: Being a Show-stopper is one tough task for Pats

        Originally posted by sbramfan
        ummm, I'm scared. I think their coach is smarter than ours.
        We'll see. I think the coaching dual will be a major factor in who wins this game. IMO Martz has made great strides this year in his overall coaching abilities and if he continues to pull the right strings, he can one-up Belichick and we can win the game.


        • #5
          Re: Being a Show-stopper is one tough task for Pats

          Bulger is no Kurt Warner
          But he doesn't have to be. When we are clicking on all cylinders (which includes play-calling), a good QB becomes a great QB.
          The second time, they laid back and hammered the Rams' receivers as they came off the line and when they caught the ball
          Translation: They surgerically grafted their hands to the jerseys of Holt and Bruce. But hey, who am I to complain about officiating?
          The more things change, the more they stay the same.


          Related Topics


          • RamDez
            Rams still a test (pats press)
            by RamDez
            By TOM KING, Telegraph Staff
            [email protected]

            Published: Saturday, Nov. 6, 2004

            FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – It was a moment the New England Patriots will always savor – their first Super Bowl win three years ago in New Orleans, coming at the expense of the St. Louis Rams.

            How much does that game have to do with Sunday’s rematch in St. Louis?

            Absolutely nothing. Or at least that’s what the participants say.

            “I think two-thirds of our roster has turned over since then,” Rams coach Mike Martz said. “So you have different varying strengths in terms of your roster on both sides of the ball and on special teams, and we try to take advantage of whatever it is and try to compensate for the other areas that we feel we’re a little weak in.

            “It changes your emphasis. At that point, we were a really good offense and really solid, good defense. We had those guys together for a number of years and there was a great deal of confidence. The roster has changed so much, we have so many new faces and it is totally different for us now. You go in a different direction with wherever your personnel takes you.”

            Some might think the Rams haven’t gone in the right direction since, missing the playoffs the following year and losing in the divisional round last year. Things have certainly changed, with Marc Bulger their new quarterback, as Kurt Warner moved on to the New York Giants.

            But one thing remains the same – St. Louis is still the Greatest Show on Turf, one that Patriots Bill Belichick says he has watched very closely over the years – the ultimate compliment.

            “They’re a team that every year in the off-season, I watch them,” Belichick said. “I study them. I try to learn more about the passing game from them so that I can implement certain aspects of it into our team. Our assistant coaches, Brian (Daboll), Josh (McDaniels) and Charlie (Weis), we spend time in the off-season watching them throw the ball, because in all honestly, nobody throws it better.”

            Yet the Rams are only 4-3 and lost to Miami two weeks ago on the road before having a bye week. They rank fifth in the league, though, in passing offense, with Bulger throwing to receivers like Issac Bruce, Torry Hault, Shaun McDonald and Dane Looker. Of course, Marshall Faulk, a longtime Patriot nemesis, albeit one they manhandled in the Super Bowl, has rushed for 465 yards and caught 28 passes for 216. Rookie running back Steven Jackson is also averaging 5.7 yards a carry.

            What’s a defense – especially one that will be without its starting corners, Ty Law and Tyrone Poole – to do?

            “Mike Martz has as sophisticated and as tough of an offensive system to defend as anybody we have ever played,” Belichick said. “They have a lot of different personnel groups. They have a lot of different formations. They have a lot of different plays and they have good players and...
            -11-07-2004, 02:59 AM
          • RamDez
            Pats try to avoid another collapse (pats press)
            by RamDez

            By ERIC McHUGH
            The Patriot Ledger

            You might recall the last time the New England Patriots tangled with the St. Louis Rams.

            OK, who are we kidding? The images of Super Bowl XXXVI are seared into your memory - Ty Law returning an interception 47 yards for a touchdown; David Patten elevating in the end zone for a TD catch just before halftime; and Adam Vinatieri splitting the uprights at the final gun.

            Since the winners get to write history, what often gets overlooked from that 20-17 victory is the fourth quarter, when the Patriots nearly staged the greatest choke job in Super Bowl history by blowing a 17-3 lead.

            St. Louis' ‘‘Greatest Show on Turf'' offense, dormant for the first 45 minutes, erupted late. Partly that was because it was tough to keep Kurt Warner and company down for too long. Partly it was because the Patriots' offense went AWOL in the second half, leaving the tiring New England defense no time to catch its breath.

            Nearly three years have come and gone between that game and Sunday's belated ‘‘rematch'' at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis (4:15 p.m., Ch. 4). There is one carryover, though - should the Patriots' defenders' tongues be dragging on the carpet again, disaster will likely follow.

            As you no doubt have heard, the Patriots' secondary is in shambles with starting cornerbacks Ty Law (broken foot) and Tyrone Poole (knee) sidelined. That puts a high priority on limiting the exposure of their backups (some combination of Asante Samuel, Randall Gay and Eugene Wilson) to the Rams' high-octane offense.

            The Patriots' offense could be a huge help there, but only if it doesn't duplicate last week's effort in Pittsburgh when Tom Brady's guys held the ball for just 17 minutes, committed four turnovers, and - in a decisive four-possession stretch in the first half - ran only eight plays, none of which generated a first down.

            The Patriots' B team defensive backs can't give up any big plays if they're lounging on the sidelines, so hogging the ball instead of handing it right back to the Rams becomes imperative.

            ‘‘We are going to do everything we can to try to give our defense some help in terms of trying to stay on the field,'' vowed Brady, who accounted for three turnovers (two INTs and a fumble) in the 34-20 loss to the Steelers that snapped the Patriots' record 21-game winning streak. ‘‘... You don't want to go three-and-out and turn the ball over against (the Rams). You want to be able to control the clock.''

            That sounds like a plea for Corey Dillon to get healthy. The Patriots' leading rusher, who sat out the Pittsburgh loss with a thigh injury, could be the New England secondary's best friend on Sunday, especially with No. 1 receiver David Givens (knee/questionable) joining the usual WR suspects (Deion Branch and Troy Brown) on the injury report.

            In the good news department,...
            -11-07-2004, 03:03 AM
          • RamWraith
            Stuck in the middle
            by RamWraith
            Rams can light it up, but they're not super
            By John Powers, Globe Staff | November 5, 2004

            The last time we saw the guys in the horned helmets, they were standing numbly in Nawlins while their star-spangled rivals carried Adam Vinatieri off the Superdome floor. The Patriots have earned another set of championship rings since then and strung together a 21-game winning streak. And the St. Louis Rams have gone on a jolting carnival ride that still hasn't quite leveled off.

            Since they lost to New England on the final play of Super Bowl XXXVI 2 1/2 years ago, the Rams have gone 7-9 (after starting 0-5) and 12-4, losing to Carolina (remember them?) in double overtime in the playoffs. Now, they're 4-3 and coming off an embarrassing loss to the league's worst team.

            So, whatever happened to the "Greatest Show On Turf"?

            "I don't know what you would call us now, but we are still pretty good on offense," said Marc Bulger, who'll be calling signals for his shoulder-padded track team when St. Louis hosts the Patriots Sunday afternoon.

            The Rams now may be merely "The Really Good Show," as Bulger acknowledges, but they still have enough flash and dash to dazzle a banged-up New England secondary. "St. Louis is explosive whenever you play them," said Patriots coach Bill Belichick. "First week or 10th week."

            The Rams can also be implosive, having given up 34 points to Atlanta, 28 to New Orleans, 27 to Seattle, and a shocking 31 to a Miami bunch that has averaged barely a dozen a game. Which is why the Rams aren't talking about any Patriotic payback this weekend. They're just trying to stay on top of the NFC West and make the playoffs.

            "Payback really isn't an issue with me," said Rams coach Mike Martz. "We are just trying to keep our head above water, so I just don't look at it like that. If we were better, then maybe I would consider that."

            The Rams are in transition now, somewhere between where they were three years ago and where they'd like to be again. "We are trying to get back there," said Martz. "We are not there. We are a fairly good team. I think we will eventually be a real good team, but we are a ways away from being there."

            Two games -- the crazy victory over the Seahawks and the inexplicable loss to the Dolphins -- tell the tale of a team betwixt.

            St. Louis, trailing, 27-10, at Seattle with fewer than six minutes to play, coolly ran off 23 points, tying the game with eight seconds left in regulation and winning in overtime on a 52-yard pass from Bulger to Shaun McDonald. "That really sums up how explosive they are," said Belichick, "and how many points they can score in a hurry."

            The Rams can also give up a lot in a hurry -- 17 in the fourth quarter to the Dolphins, who...
            -11-05-2004, 04:21 PM
          • RamDez
            Super Bowl reunion for Rams, Patriots
            by RamDez
            Franchises haven't met since New England's upset

            The Associated Press

            ST. LOUIS - The last time the St. Louis Rams and New England Patriots played, everything was at stake.

            In their heyday as the Greatest Show on Turf, the Rams were the oddsmakers’ two-touchdown favorite in the 2002 Super Bowl. They were one of the biggest favorites to fall, losing 20-17 on Adam Vinatieri’s 47-yard field goal as time expired.

            “I still remember just turning around and watching that ball sail through the uprights and all of that confetti falling in the wrong color,” defensive tackle Tyoka Jackson said. “That’s the memory I’ll think of always.”

            Not all of the Rams who were around then have that same depth of feeling. Wide receiver Isaac Bruce said there’s nothing special about facing the Patriots for the first time since then, He doesn’t even think about the game that could have solidified the Rams as one of the great offensive forces in league history.

            St. Louis won its first Super Bowl after the 1999 season and was attempting to win two championships in a three-year span — something the Patriots subsequently did.

            “I don’t hold any grudges,” Bruce said. “It’s spilled milk and the milk’s been cleaned up, so you just move on.”

            Now, the focus is more on the Patriots’ amazing record since then. New England (6-1) had won an NFL-record 18 straight games and 21 in a row counting the postseason before collapsing under the weight of four turnovers in a 34-20 loss to the Steelers last week.

            The loss was the Patriots’ first since Sept. 28, 2003 against the Redskins.

            Understandably, they’re more proud of accomplishing what the Rams couldn’t: those two Super Bowls wins.

            “We’ve always said that you’re defined in this league by championships, and not how many regular season games you win in a row,” linebacker Mike Vrabel said. “People always remember the champion, and that’s our goal every year.”

            The Rams (4-3) had known Bill Belichick was building something special earlier in the 2001 season when they won 24-17 at New England. After that game, coach Mike Martz referred to them as a Super Bowl-caliber team, and earlier in the game week he called Belichick a “Hall of Fame coach.”

            “I mean this sincerely when I tell you that he’s the standard we’re all trying to get to,” Martz said. “He may be as good as there’s ever been.”

            Belichick returns the favor, admitting he’s borrowed aspects of the Rams’ offense over the years.

            “Don’t get me wrong, we’re not the Rams — not even close,” Belichick said. “The things that we do, we’ve definitely studied a lot of what they’ve done, and used some of it as it applies to what we do.”

            To start a new streak, the Patriots will have to control an offense that while still greatly respected isn’t as dynamic as it used to be. The...
            -11-07-2004, 03:05 AM
          • RamWraith
            The cheaters (Pats) are crying about Martz and company
            by RamWraith
            Coaches in full bunker mentality: But facts back conspiracy theory
            By Michael Felger/ Patriots Insider
            Wednesday, September 8, 2004

            FOXBORO - The games are about to begin and the filters are on.

            That means Bill Belichick isn't about to discuss his true feelings about the NFL's new emphasis on illegal contact in the secondary. That means the coaches that brought the emphasis to the league's attention - namely St. Louis' Mike Martz and Indianapolis' Tony Dungy - aren't about to stand and be counted. That means Colts general manager Bill Polian isn't about to express his thoughts regarding the officiating in last season's AFC Championship Game.

            Dungy, as he did during a conference call, will point out he is no longer a member of the competition committee that formally ratified the emphasis - which, to put it kindly, is being obtuse. The NFL lists Dungy as the chairman of the coaches' subcommittee, although Dungy said his tenure has expired. Dungy will also fail to point out that Polian is a longstanding member of the competition committee on the executive level.

            To get everyone's true feelings, you need to go back in time. Polian, for instance, was so incensed by the officiating in the Pats' 24-14 title game win that he sent 20 plays to the league office for review. Three days later, he lashed out during an online chat. The following quote has certainly found its way into the Pats' locker room.

            ``There were seven total penalties called,'' Polian said. ``They were all penalties that occurred before the ball was snapped. . . . Those officials, in the second-most important game of the year, did not call one foul that occurred during the course of play. In the average game, there are 15.75 penalties. I will say this: (Tight end) Marcus Pollard was interfered with on third down on the last drive. He was interfered with on fourth down. Those are the facts. We did not get any memo saying they were throwing away the rule book. If that was the case, both teams should have been notified.''

            As a member of the competition committee, there's no disputing Polian was involved in pushing the new emphasis through the league. And there's also no disputing that Belichick fought against it during the owners' meetings in Palm Beach in March. In fact, Belichick blasted the new directive.

            One of Belichick's biggest problems was that the on-field officials in charge of making the call are typically lined up 25-30 yards off the line of scrimmage and therefore won't be able to accurately gauge whether contact comes at 5 yards (legal) or 6 yards (illegal).

            ``I don't really understand what we're trying to do,'' Belichick said during a coaches breakfast. ``We sat in there and watched all the film. All the coaches were in there. When you put the films on and they say, `Here's a violation,' OK, clearly...
            -09-08-2004, 05:04 PM