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Rams still a test (pats press)

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  • Rams still a test (pats press)

    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 they are very good at them.

    “When you walk into the meeting on Wednesday, you can’t stand up there in front of the team and say, ‘OK, here are the two things we have to take care of.’ There are 82 things and they might not do all of those and there could be 10 new things that you haven’t even talked about . . . ‘

    The Rams, though, feel they could be doing better.

    “You know, you want to be obviously like the Eagles are (and be) undefeated,” Bulger said. “But that’s not too realistic every year. We’re on top of our division. As long as we are in OK shape that if we can control our own destiny, which we can, then I think at the halfway point you can make a good run at it. But when you dig yourself a hole as we did two years ago (where) you’re 2-5 or 1-6, you’re really going to struggle.

    “I think we’re in good shape now. Obviously, we blew a couple of games that I don’t think we should have, but we can still salvage the season pretty well.”

    Martz says, though, he’s still watching the tape of the Super Bowl loss to try to pick up an edge. So yes, it is still relevant.

    “You know, I get so wrapped up in the last few years in where we are, until we went back and looked at that game in preparation for this game, just to look at some things, it brought back a lot of memories,” he said. “That was a terrific football game. It was just a tremendous game and they absolutely deserved to win . . .

    “We always go back and look at trends or tendencies on both sides of the ball and see the evolution, if there is anything, that (the Patriots) would go back and use. You just try to get a feel for an opponent and that is the last time we played them . . . “

    The Patriots won that game by physically manhandling a finesse, fast Ram team. That solution hasn’t caused Martz to change his plan: The Rams still feel they can be the Greatest Show on Turf, or, as someone joked with Bulger the other day, a “Really Good Show on Turf.”

    “We’ve always wanted to play “fast and furious”, so to speak, and try to keep the defense on the field as much as possible,” Martz said, “and not really let the defense ever set the tone of the game. That’s hard to do, you know, but you have to let things all hang out, so to speak, and we have the people to do that.”

    The Patriots, though, hope they can handle those people on Sunday.

    Keeping the Rams Nation Talking

Related Topics


  • 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, 05:21 PM
  • Undertaker #59
    Being a Show-stopper is one tough task for Pats
    by Undertaker #59
    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...
    -11-04-2004, 06:46 AM
  • RamWraith
    Haslett/Players October 22
    by RamWraith
    Rams Head Coach Jim Haslett

    October 22, 2008

    (Opening Remarks)

    “I would like to congratulate Coach Craig Collins from Timberland High School he is the coach of the week. Congratulations and good luck. Injury report real quick, (WR) Drew Bennett is probably out another couple weeks again with his foot. (DL) Adam Carriker didn’t practice today, he’ll be day-to-day. (CB) Tye Hill did some individual work. Obviously, you guys talked to (RB) Steven (Jackson), he’s day-to-day. (S) Todd Johnson’s out for the game and he’ll get re-evaluated on Monday. (T) Orlando Pace practiced and he’ll start. (RB) Antonio Pittman will practice and if Steven can’t go Antonio will be the starter. (WR) Derek Stanley did individual and he’ll be another one that will be day-to-day, we’ll decide what we’re going to do with him at the end of the week.”

    (On if S Eric Bassey will be taking on S Todd Johnson’s role)

    “Yes, we brought him up. He’ll be the third safety and also play Todd’s spot on almost all the special teams. We’re shuffling it around a little bit to put him in a little better position than Todd, but he basically replaces Todd.”

    (On if he has to see something from RB Steven Jackson or if he leaves the decision to play up to him)

    “A little bit of both. The game plan was to take today off. He worked inside with the strength coach, he’ll go out and do walk-through tomorrow and then we’ll see where he’s at on Friday. Hopefully, he’ll get a few reps in on Friday based on how he feels. We still have four days, so if he’s ready to go, he’s ready to go.”

    (On if it felt good to have T Orlando Pace back at practice today)

    “Yeah, it’s nice. I thought (T) Adam (Goldberg) did a nice job in his spot, so it makes you as a coach have some confidence that guys can step in and fulfill their role and do a good job. So, if for some reason (RB) Steven (Jackson) can’t go, then (RB) Antonio (Pittman) and (RB) Travis (Minor) and (RB) (Kenneth) Darby will fill in and we’ll be fine.”

    (On using DE James Hall inside since he’s never played that position before and how big of a challenge that is)

    “Well, we’ve been playing (him) some inside anyways. He’s never played any where but the right side. He’s never played left side, he’s never played inside, so it’s something new for an old dog, but the guy did a nice job. He’s feeling a little more comfortable with it every day and he had some power rushes inside, he did a good job. I think he feels a little bit better about it now. It helps when you get some success in there.”

    (On if it was sobering to watch the Patriots win 41-7 on Monday night)

    “Well, they played extremely well. You have to remember this team won a lot of games last year, they were undefeated all...
    -10-22-2008, 05:22 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, 04:05 AM
  • RamWraith
    Questions Abound as Rams Hit Halfway Point
    by RamWraith
    Monday, November 8, 2004

    By Nick Wagoner
    Staff Writer

    With eight games behind them, the Rams are exactly halfway through the season. Usually by this point of the year, pretty much every team in the league has a good idea where it stands. Usually.

    That is not the case this year, though, far from it. St. Louis stands 4-4 with a variety of surprising losses and shocking wins mixed in. Don’t feel too bad for the Rams, though. They are joined by just about every other team in the league. Heading into Week 10 (Monday night’s game not included), there are 21 teams in the league with records between 3-5 and 5-3 (Minnesota is 5-2 going into Monday night).

    That kind of parity has left many doors open for St. Louis. Sunday’s 40-22 loss to New England, though, was the latest setback for a team that has lost its past two games to arguably the league’s worst team (Miami) and best team (the Patriots).

    So, which team, exactly, is St. Louis? Are the Rams the team that came up with a dominating defensive performance and explosive offensive effort in a stunning fourth quarter comeback on the road against Seattle? Or is St. Louis the team that made mistake after mistake and got manhandled by a beaten-up New England team at home?

    The answers to those questions probably won’t be delivered for a few weeks, or maybe not until the end of the season, but for now, the Rams can reflect on why they struggled in a winnable game against the Patriots and where they can go from here.

    Rams coach Mike Martz said the first step to getting where the team wants to go is correcting the deluge of mistakes that plagued St. Louis on Sunday.

    “We have to eliminate errors,” Martz said. “We had a lot of mistakes and we have to do better in a lot of areas. There is just no excuse. There are a lot of things to say that are going to sound like an excuse and that is not where we are. We are still in position to contend for this division and that is all I care about. This was a really good football team that we just played, but you cannot make the mistakes we made and expect to win against a team like this. We are not that far along yet, but we have to get there fast.”

    The Patriots are, of course, an excellent football team. There is no shame in losing to a team that is the defending world champions and has won 22 of its past 23 games. There will be few people complaining this week about losing to a team as good as New England, but it was the way the Rams lost, that might linger.

    Three turnovers, 10 penalties and countless mental errors that don’t show up in a boxscore resulted in a tough to handle loss to the injury-depleted Patriots. Martz made it a point at his weekly Monday press conference to say that the necessary changes will be made.

    “We met today and obviously made some changes,” Martz said. “We understand what our...
    -11-09-2004, 02:18 PM