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Martz puts emphasis on playing with attitude

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  • Martz puts emphasis on playing with attitude

    By Jim Thomas
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Saturday, Nov. 13 2004

    Mike Martz began the week in a frenzy, and never really calmed down. He is at
    his wits' end over the current state of the 2004 Rams and is trying shock
    therapy to revive his team's fortunes.

    "I've never seen him like this," wide receiver Torry Holt said. "I hate to see
    him like this, because that tells us we ain't getting things done. But it shows
    me that he does care how we perform as a football team, and where we are as a
    football team.

    "So hopefully, we can go out there and give him a performance to kind of cool
    him down."

    Martz's tense, at times abrupt, and at times surly interchanges with the media
    weren't for show this week. The players got a similar - even stronger - message
    behind closed doors. He's tired of mistakes. He's tired of counting on players
    who aren't delivering. He's tired of missed blocks and half-hearted tackles.

    "After that meeting, it was a little quiet around here," Holt said. "Guys were
    a little more focused. Guys were a little more quick in their steps. If that's
    what it takes for us to get back on the winning edge, then I'm all for it."

    Which meeting? Monday's?

    "Every day, actually," Holt said, laughing.

    There is no time like the present, because if ever a season boiled down to one
    game, it's Sunday for the Rams. Seattle comes to the Edward Jones Dome in first
    place in the NFC West with a 5-3 record. The Rams are 4-4.

    Both teams would be 5-4 if the Rams win, but by virtue of their comeback
    victory Oct. 10 in Seattle, the Rams would have the tiebreaker edge. In
    essence, they'd have the lead in the NFC West.

    And what if the Rams lose? They would be 4-5 with four of their next five games
    on the road. Seattle would be 6-3 with their next three games at home against
    Miami (1-8), Buffalo (3-5) and Dallas (3-5). In short, that's not a pleasant
    possibility for the Rams, even with seven games remaining in the unpredictable

    "With all the problems we've had, we're sitting in a situation where if we can
    win one game right now, then we'll be OK," defensive lineman Tyoka Jackson

    "We've been pretty fortunate in that respect," quarterback Marc Bulger said.
    "We are not playing our best right now, but we are still in halfway decent
    shape in this division. We could've built a nice lead, but we didn't. But
    playing as bad as we have, and knowing that we could be tied for first place
    after this game, is a saving factor."

    But even Bulger concedes it's a dire outlook if the Rams lose Sunday.

    "Giving Seattle more momentum, it'd be tough to catch 'em, I think, if we don't
    start playing better this week," Bulger said.

    After squandering a 27-10 late in the fourth quarter, Seattle lost that Oct. 10
    contest to the Rams 33-27 in overtime. For the Seahawks, it was a colossal
    collapse. For the Rams, it was a rally of epic proportions - the second-biggest
    comeback in the final 6 minutes of a game in NFL history.

    With that in mind, the Seahawks have been in full "Remember the Alamo" mode
    this week.

    Not unlike the Oct. 10 matchup, they view this as a statement game - an
    opportunity to signal a changing of the guard in the NFC West. Seattle wide
    receiver Darrell Jackson likened the Rams-Seahawks rivalry to Florida-Florida
    State. Former Rams defensive end Grant Wistrom - now with Seattle - recalled
    that the Rams never liked the Seahawks very much.

    So make no mistake, the Rams are expecting Seattle to be focused and intense on

    "They're definitely going to be ready to come in here and play, especially
    after we went and stole that win up in their place," said Rams wide receiver
    Shaun McDonald.

    It was McDonald who caught the game-winning 52-yard touchdown pass in Seattle,
    as Bulger calmly threw over a seven-man Seahawks blitz in OT.

    But given the crisis atmosphere at Rams Park, underscored dramatically by live
    tackling periods in practice Wednesday, the Rams haven't had much time to dwell
    on their budding rivalry with Seattle.

    In a sense, even the division race is secondary to Martz given the way his
    football team has played the last two times out. He just wants his team to play
    better. To play with an attitude. To play fast, physical football.

    "I'm not happy with how we're playing, period, regardless of a division race or
    anything else," Martz said. "There's no excuses. We have just got to play this
    game in a real physical state of mind."

    He has drilled home that point all week, in every session with the media - and
    most important - in every speech to the team.

    "There's a time and place for everything," wide receiver Isaac Bruce said.
    "Now's the time.

    "We're .500 right now, in the middle of the season. I feel like if guys can't
    realize and see what's ahead of us as far as being able to be in first place
    after this game, they don't need to be here."

    But what about the younger players, who need to be brought up to speed on what
    it takes to compete in the NFL week in and week out?

    "I feel like eight weeks is long enough for anybody," Bruce said. "Even the
    rookies stop being rookies after eight weeks in this league. You expect them to
    do a lot more things.

    "There's no room for babies. Guys have to grow up, and not stop growing. We all
    have to grow. Even the older guys, we have to be accountable. That should be
    the word for the week - accountability. And taking ownership on what your job
    is around here."

    If they do that, they just might take ownership of the NFC West on Sunday.

Related Topics


  • RamDez
    Rams want to show Seattle who is boss
    by RamDez
    Rams want to show Seattle who is boss
    By Jim Thomas

    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Leonard Little (above) says the Rams have been looking forward to the kind of test the Seattle Seahawks present.
    (Chris Lee/P-D)

    SEATTLE - Almost since the first preseason magazines hit the newsstands in June and July, the Seattle Seahawks have been portrayed as the team to beat in the NFC West and an up-and-coming power in the NFC.

    "There's been a lot of talk that they're going to overtake the NFC West, and that the Rams are fading," Rams wide receiver Torry Holt said. "It doesn't bother me none."

    Holt, in fact, agrees with that assessment. To a point.

    "They are an up-and-coming team in the National Football League," he said. "But we won 12 games (last season). We still are the champs of the NFC West. And until somebody dethrones us, then that's the way we're going to carry ourselves."

    And one last thing.

    "You still have to play," Holt said. "No matter what's being said in the papers and the magazines, we still have to go out there and strap it on. And they have to beat us, and we have to beat them."

    So the NFC West sorting process begins in earnest Sunday afternoon at Qwest Field. A victory by Seattle, which is coming of its bye week, puts the Seahawks at 4-0 for the first time in franchise history. It also puts the Seahawks three games up on the loss side against the Rams.

    But a Rams victory puts them at 3-2, and Seattle at 3-1 with the Seahawks traveling to New England on Oct. 17. A loss doesn't eliminate the Rams, but a victory means the division race is on.

    "This one will tell a lot about who's got early control of the division," Rams defensive captain Tyoka Jackson said. "The season's not over after this game, but. ..."

    As for all the Seattle hype?

    "Well, we heard the same thing last year, so what does that mean?" Jackson asked. "It means absolutely nothing, it's just talk. The game's played on the field. ... If we go out and play Rams football, it doesn't really matter."

    In their two victories this season, "Rams football" has meant a mix of running and passing on offense, zero sacks allowed by Rams blockers, and stingy defense.

    In their two losses, the Rams have been pass-happy on offense, allowed five sacks in both contests, and been overly generous on defense.

    There's no doubt Rams players like the more balanced approach on offense. They've been dropping hints whenever asked about the importance of the running game, as if they're almost hoping the head coach is listening.

    "To be balanced is great," offensive tackle Grant
    -10-10-2004, 02:13 AM
  • RamWraith
    First Things First
    by RamWraith
    Saturday, October 8, 2005

    By Nick Wagoner
    Senior Writer

    All week the questions asked of the Rams have been the same and repeated almost ad nauseum.

    Do you consider Seattle a rival? Do you have a psychological edge because of the three wins against the Seahawks a year ago? What do you remember most about those games from a season ago?

    But come Sunday’s noon meeting at the Edward Jones Dome, there is only one thing that matters to any of the Rams, regardless of which team lines up on the other side.

    “Right now we’re in the mindset that we need to win a ballgame,” receiver Torry Holt said. “As far as all that psychological and physical edge and all that stuff, we haven’t really given too much thought about that…This is an opportunity for us to win a ballgame against a division opponent at home. The guys understand how critical this is, how critical this game is.”

    Any thoughts of rivalries or bitterness toward the Seahawks notwithstanding, this game is about as important as a game taking place in the fifth week of the regular season can be.

    Like last season, it appears that Seattle and St. Louis are going to fight it out until the last week for the NFC West Division crown. Both teams enter Sunday’s game with records of 2-2, sitting atop the division with Arizona and San Francisco at 1-3. The winner will emerge with sole possession of first place in the division, some momentum for the following week and an edge for a possible tiebreaker at the end of the season.

    Those simple reasons for winning make this game more important than anything that happened last year.

    “From season to season, game to game, nothing you have done the week before has any bearing on what you’re doing right now,” coach Mike Martz said. “That was a nice thing last year. It’s over. It’s long gone. We don’t even think about it or talk about it.”

    Unless of course, they are faced with a constant barrage of questions about it, such as this week. Sure, the Rams and Seahawks are fast becoming a big rival in the division, but that is mainly because neither the Cardinals nor the ***** have provided much competition in recent years.

    Last season, St. Louis and Seattle dueled into the final weeks before the division was decided, but it wasn’t like the two teams were exactly dominant. By the time the Seahawks had claimed the division, they were 9-7 and the Rams sneaked into the playoffs with an 8-8 record.

    Because the Rams and Seahawks have been the two best teams in a division that isn’t too deep, these meetings have added importance. If for no other reason, that’s why this is a rivalry that is beginning to boil over.

    “I know how people feel about the West Division, it’s either us or Seattle,” running back Steven Jackson said. “I think that in itself makes it a rivalry. Playing them three...
    -10-09-2005, 07:32 AM
  • Nick
    Feisty Rams' motto: "We're not done yet"
    by Nick
    Feisty Rams' motto: "We're not done yet"
    By Bryan Burwell
    Of the Post-Dispatch

    SEATTLE - At the end of this mind-blowing, uplifting, heart-pounding, totally delirious Sunday afternoon, the only thing left to do was to add a little insult to injury. So there was the normally placid Isaac Bruce, out there in the middle of the formerly raucous, but suddenly silent Qwest Field, gleefully assuming the surprising role of the audacious agitator.

    Mere moments after Shaun McDonald had raced into the end zone with the game-winning 52-yard touchdown catch and the Rams had completed this exhilarating 33-27 sudden-death victory over the Seattle Seahawks, Bruce went racing across the field, laughing and shouting like a man possessed. He held his blue-and-gold helmet high in the air, pumping it fast and furiously (ah, there goes that phrase again), until he reached the 10-yard line near Qwest Field's southern end zone seats.

    It was there that Bruce could look out and see all the bewildered faces of these stunned Seahawks players and fans. They held their heads in despair. They slumped in their seats in disbelief. They pounded the stadium walls in frustration, or just milled around like lifeless zombies.

    So Bruce knew exactly what he had to do. He defiantly pounded his helmet onto the ground like he was some daring explorer and this tomblike building and all he surveyed was his conquered land.

    "We're STILL the (NFC West) division champs!" Bruce screamed, thumping his chest, waving his fist and shouting to the heavens. "You ain't won NUTHIN' YET!"

    This was the message of the day - maybe even the message of the entire season. Don't bury the Rams just yet. Before anyone in the NFC West starts planning any funerals for the Rams, who have won three of the past five division titles, it would be strongly advised to kill them first. And as this improbable come-from-behind victory showed, deposing the Rams won't be all that easy.

    "This is the kind of victory that can be a springboard for us," said Tyoka Jackson, as the Rams defensive captain hobbled around the visitors' locker room with a strained hamstring. "This is the kind of victory that can start us on another one of those runs we've been known to have."

    For most of the day, the Rams had played like a team on the verge of being banished into that dark and ugly athletic netherworld where has-beens and deposed champions go to die. For most of the day, the Seahawks played like the pre-season Super Bowl favorites most of the football world had them pegged to be. The Seahawks had rolled to a dominating 27- 10 third-quarter lead, and appeared to be on their way to their fourth victory of the season without a defeat.

    By halftime, it sure did look like the Seahawks were ready to finally stake their claim...
    -10-11-2004, 12:12 AM
  • RamWraith
    Rams are fearless, and nearly peerless, in Seattle
    by RamWraith
    By Jim Thomas
    Of the Post-Dispatch

    Aeneas Williams' sarcastic gesture drives home the point to an already muted crowd after the Rams' improbable comeback win.
    (Gabriel B. Tait/P-D)

    The Rams' 33-27 overtime victory over Seattle was improbable, unexpected and - in the annals of NFL history - almost unprecedented.

    Only once in the 85 seasons of NFL football has a team rallied from a larger deficit with so little time remaining in a regular-season game.

    Interestingly, it happened just last season, when Indianapolis overcame a 21-point deficit in the final 6 minutes of regulation to defeat Tampa Bay 38-35 in overtime on Oct. 6, 2003.

    According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Rams' rally from a 27-10 deficit in Seattle was the second-largest comeback within the final 6 minutes of play in league history.

    Small wonder then, that Mike Martz rated it as one of the most meaningful victories he has been involved with as a coach.

    "I think it's obviously at the top of the list," Martz said. "Right there next to the '99 Super Bowl, I would think."

    Martz was offensive coordinator on that squad, which defeated Tennessee 23-16. The stakes weren't nearly as high Sunday at Qwest Field, but there was still a lot on the line against the Seahawks.

    "God forbid if we would've lost the game, it would've been tough to close on them," offensive guard Adam Timmerman said. "They'd have been 4-0; we'd have been 2-3 - down three games on people in your division."

    But as a result of Shaun McDonald's game-winning touchdown reception from Marc Bulger, the Rams (3-2) are just a half-game behind the Seahawks (3-1). And there's a good chance the Rams could be back on top of the NFC West by this time next week.

    That's because the Seahawks travel to New England next Sunday to play the defending Super Bowl champions. The Patriots are in the midst of a league-record 19-game winning streak.

    Meanwhile, the Rams play host to Tampa Bay (1-4) on Oct. 18 in a Monday night game at the Edward Jones Dome. After that game, the Rams travel to Miami - currently winless (0-5) and offensively impaired - on Oct. 24, then take their bye week.

    If the Rams take care of business against the Buccaneers and Dolphins, they should be 5-2 entering critical home games against New England (Nov. 7) and Seattle (Nov. 14). The picture would have been bleaker - much bleaker - had things ended differently Sunday.

    "This was such a thrill," Martz said. "To watch these guys. Just to be on the sideline and watch them - their attitude. How they responded to everything. How positive they stayed throughout the game, even in the first half."

    But as happy as he was about the Seattle game, Martz isn't ready to make any...
    -10-12-2004, 03:45 PM
  • RamWraith
    Rams, Hawks Rivalry Heating Up
    by RamWraith
    Wednesday, October 5, 2005

    By Nick Wagoner
    Senior Writer

    While the Seattle Seahawks were off winning the NFC West Division last year, something just didn’t quite feel right.

    Maybe it was that their 9-7 regular season record wasn’t as good as many thought it would be. Or maybe it was the lingering aftereffects of three straight losses to the team that they had been trying so desperately to dethrone.

    “We have been the team in NFC West for awhile and Seattle has made all the right moves to dethrone us,” receiver Torry Holt said. “They are supposed to be the new team on the block in the division.”

    And the Seahawks certainly were the new team in town last year, claiming the division for the first time since they joined with realignment in 2002. The Rams had worn that division crown more often than not other wise, winning it in 2003 and before Seattle joined in 2001 and 1999.

    Still, though the Seahawks were able to claim a divisional crown last year, the biggest obstacle that stood in their way, the Rams, certainly wasn’t moved out of the way. St. Louis defeated Seattle three times, including the most important game of all, an NFC Wild Card game at Qwest Field.

    But there was nary a game played in the NFL at all last year that was more memorable than what happened in Seattle on Oct. 10. The Rams trailed that game 27-10 with less than eight minutes to go.

    It appeared that the changing of the guard in the NFC West was happening on Qwest Field that day and there was nothing anyone could do about it. Seattle running back Shaun Alexander was running at will and the Rams couldn’t get much of anything going against the Seahawks’ defense.

    Then, out of nowhere, Seattle was struck by lightning, not once or twice, but three times. It started with tight end Brandon Manumaleuna’s unbelievable catch in traffic for and 8-yard touchdown. Kevin Curtis followed that with a quick-strike 41-yard touchdown grab down the middle of the field and Shaun McDonald capped it with the ultimate lightning bolt in the form of his game-winning 52-yard touchdown grab.

    “Some of the games we have had with them over the past couple of years have been some good battles,” center Andy McCollum said. “Obviously last year we went up there and anyone involved with it is going to remember that. I think that’s just it. When you have two teams battling for the division every year it turns out to be war out there.”

    But it didn’t used to be that way. In fact, the Seahawks at one time were considered the team most likely to be the perennial doormats in the NFC West. But then they began to start spending money on improving the team, signing high-priced free agent and committing to drafting well.

    Seattle also has apparently bought into the theory that if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em by signing defensive ends Grant Wistrom...
    -10-05-2005, 02:15 PM