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  • Looker tries to adjust to reduced playing time

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

    Dane Looker was one of the Rams' feel-good stories of 2003, emerging from deep
    on the depth chart to claim the No. 3 job at wide receiver.

    After catching 47 passes for 495 yards and three touchdowns, he seemed poised
    to have a long and prosperous future in the Mike Martz offense. But midway
    through the 2004 season, the sequel hasn't gone as planned.

    Looker, 28, saw his playing time shrink markedly a few games into the season.
    Then, he got hurt. On Sunday, he will miss his second consecutive game since
    suffering an ankle sprain Oct. 24 against Miami.

    Looker's ankle will improve. His playing time may not.

    "I kind of expected" a reduced role, Looker said. "When you draft two talented
    guys like that, you definitely want to give them an opportunity to get in there
    and see what they can do."

    That was a reference to 2003 draft picks Shaun McDonald and Kevin Curtis.

    "Both of them have made big plays for us this year," Looker said. "You look at
    the (Oct. 10) Seattle game - they both stepped up and made huge plays."

    Curtis and McDonald both caught TD passes against the Seahawks that day, with
    McDonald's the game winner in overtime. Looker had a big catch of his own that
    day, a 16-yard reception that set up Wilkins' tying field goal to send the game
    into overtime.

    But Looker also has dropped a few passes, which may have opened the door for
    Curtis and McDonald.

    "It is frustrating to not be able to play as much as you would like to play,"
    Looker said. "But if I just sit here and complain about it, and don't go out
    there and give my all, then I'm not doing anything for the team or myself.

    "I think Coach Martz knows I belong. I don't think it's a thing where he
    believes that I'm not up to the challenge of playing that position."

    Because of the ankle injury, it won't be this week against Looker's hometown
    team, the Seahawks. He hopes to return Nov. 21 against Buffalo.

    How it looked
    to the Seahawks

    Defensive back Tod McBride had a bird's-eye view of the Rams' dramatic 33-27
    overtime victory over the Seahawks last month in Seattle. From the Seahawks'
    bench.

    McBride, who signed with St. Louis on Oct. 27, was playing for Seattle at the
    time. He was one of the Seahawks' pregame inactives that day, and he watched
    the game in street clothes on the Seattle sideline.

    "The Rams showed a lot of heart that day," McBride said. "Seattle went into
    halftime thinking, I guess, the game was won. Obviously, the Rams had something
    else in mind. They kept fighting till the end. Perseverance pays off, and they
    made it happen. They got the W.

    "In this league, once you have that kind of cushion, you're really not supposed
    to lose."

    The Rams trailed 24-7 at the half and rallied from a 27-10 deficit in the final
    6 minutes of the fourth quarter.

    "In Seattle, the fans that day by halftime kind of figured it was going to be a
    win," McBride said. "A lot of the fans had started leaving by the third
    quarter, figuring, 'OK, I saw what I needed to see. I'll see the rest of the
    highlights on Sports Center, and make the game next week.' But those that did
    leave, I'm sure they were shocked to find out."

    McBride made his Rams debut last week against New England on special teams but
    is listed as questionable this week with a strained hamstring.

    The little picture

    Watching game tape of the comeback in Seattle might have boosted the Rams'
    sagging spirits during the week. But that's easier said than done, given the
    way the Rams study game film.

    "We watch cut-ups," quarterback Marc Bulger said. "We'll watch third-and-long
    (plays). We'll watch first and 10. You'll be in the fourth quarter one minute;
    you'll be in the first quarter another minute. And you could be in the year
    2000 a couple plays later. So it's kind of tough to get back into that game."

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  • DJRamFan
    [Seahawks] Rams' comeback still in Hawks' heads
    by DJRamFan
    Seattle has struggled ever since St. Louis' Oct. 10 miracle rally

    By CLARE FARNSWORTH
    SEATTLE POST-INTELLIGENCER REPORTER

    KIRKLAND -- They are 11 minutes that will live in infamy.

    With 7 minutes, 47 seconds remaining in a Week 5 game against the St. Louis Rams at Qwest Field, the Seahawks were a couple of guffaws from completing a laugher. Up 27-10, the Seahawks' No. 1-ranked defense had the Rams backed into a third-and-13 corner at their own 31-yard line.

    Before the Seahawks knew what had blindsided them, the Rams ran off 17 points to tie the score in regulation and then scored on the sixth play in overtime to win 33-27.

    Five weeks later in St. Louis, the Rams held the Seahawks without a touchdown in winning a rematch.

    Has the futility of those games, especially that October loss in Seattle, allowed the Rams to take up residence in the Seahawks' psyche?

    "Definitely," Rams defensive end Anthony Hargrove told reporters in St. Louis yesterday. "They've put on a good game, but we've still come away with victories."

    The Seahawks get another shot at redemption Saturday, when they host the Rams once again in the first round of the NFL playoffs.

    That colossal collapse -- or combustive comeback, depending on which side of the field you were on that October day -- is getting a lot of play this week, for the obvious reason.

    After that game, the Seahawks never were the same team that started 3-0.



    "Heck, I could tell you that we've blocked it out of our minds," coach Mike Holmgren said this week. "But that would be dishonest. You play a game like that, and if you lose a game like that ... I'm not sure I'll ever forget that game."

    The Rams, meanwhile, have relied on the resiliency they flaunted that day several times during the dozen games that followed.

    "We've used that a lot this year any time we've faced adversity," quarterback Marc Bulger said in a telephone interview. "A couple weeks ago, we were 6-8 and we knew we had to win our last two. We reflected back to that final quarter of the Seattle game a lot just because of the hole we were in, and knowing we could dig ourselves out."

    For those who have forgotten, or simply couldn't bear to watch, here's how the excavation process went:


    Bulger completed a 20-yard pass to Isaac Bruce on that third-and-13 play, which became a 35-yard gain to the Seahawks 34 when defensive tackle Rocky Bernard was penalized for a blow to the facemask of the Rams quarterback.


    One more third-down conversion, this time a 24-yard pass to Shaun McDonald, set up Bulger's 8-yard touchdown pass to tight end Brandon Manumaleuna that pulled the Rams to within 27-17 with 5:34 left in regulation.
    ...
    -01-06-2005, 03:34 PM
  • Nick
    Seahawks looking for redemption against Rams
    by Nick
    Seahawks looking for redemption against Rams
    By TIM KORTE
    AP SPORTS WRITER

    SEATTLE -- It was the game that has defined the season for the Seattle Seahawks - a collapse that's been questioned, dissected and rehashed since mid-October.

    Perhaps the most infamous 11 minutes in franchise history.

    "When all of us are done playing, we'll still remember it as one of the most embarrassing games we've ever played," cornerback Ken Lucas said. "You never forget a game like that."

    The St. Louis Rams rallied for a 33-27 win Oct. 10, erasing a 17-point deficit with 8:47 to play and scoring less than 3 minutes into overtime. With an almost unbelievable turn of events, they stunned the Seahawks.

    "Given the time that was left, the perfect chain of events had to take place for the Rams to have a chance," Seattle coach Mike Holmgren said.

    That's exactly what happened, but Seattle gets another shot this weekend.

    The Rams - who also beat the Seahawks 23-12 in St. Louis a few weeks later - return for Saturday's wild-card playoff, revisiting the site of their hallmark victory during a frustrating season.

    "We've used that a lot this year, any time we've faced some adversity," Rams quarterback Marc Bulger said. "A couple of weeks ago, we were 6-8 and we knew we had to win our last two. We reflected back to that final quarter in Seattle."

    What a quarter it was.

    Seattle led 27-10 after Josh Brown's 34-yard field goal with 8:47 to go. St. Louis made it 27-17 on Brandon Manumaleuna's circus catch with 5:43 on the clock, then Kevin Curtis caught a 41-yard TD pass to make it 27-24 with 3:37 remaining.

    St. Louis got the ball again, leading to a 36-yard field goal by Jeff Wilkins with 13 seconds left. On the sixth play from scrimmage in overtime, Bulger read an all-out blitz and flipped a 52-yard TD pass to Shaun McDonald.

    "Unbelievable feeling. It was one of those great feelings in sports," St. Louis safety Adam Archuleta said.

    "What it comes down to is you've got guys making plays," Rams coach Mike Martz explained. "There's nothing magical about what we were doing. The thing you talk about with these guys is attitude and never giving in to anything."

    How did it look from Seattle's side? Let's just say there were some really unfortunate events.

    Rocky Bernard was assessed a 15-yard penalty for hitting Bulger's face mask during a 20-yard completion on third-and-13. Shaun Alexander was stopped on third-and-1 to force one punt and Matt Hasselbeck was sacked for a 12-yard loss on third-and-5.

    The Rams earned that win, no doubt, but the Seahawks gave it away.

    "I probably needed to be humbled. I just want to say that I've learned my lesson,"...
    -01-07-2005, 12:26 PM
  • RamDez
    Colossal comeback haunts Seahawks
    by RamDez
    Colossal comeback haunts Seahawks
    By Jim Thomas
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Friday, Jan. 07 2005

    SEATTLE - Shaun McDonald had made his share of game-winning plays in high
    school and college. But not like this.

    "Not where I score, and the game's over," McDonald said. "That's something you
    dream of, and I'm glad I was part of that."

    Just five plays into overtime Oct. 10 at Qwest Field, the Rams faced a
    third-and-8 from their 48. The Seahawks sent seven pass rushers at Marc Bulger.
    Had center Andy McCollum not picked up a blitzing linebacker, Bulger probably
    gets plastered and the Rams lose. But McCollum picked him up.

    Meanwhile, McDonald saw the nickel back drop off him to rush the passer and
    adjusted his route accordingly. He ran a deep route right at - and right by -
    Seattle safety Terreal Bierria.

    "Marc put up a beautiful ball and I caught it in stride," McDonald said.

    McDonald's 52-yard touchdown catch meant sudden death for the Seahawks and
    sudden victory for the Rams. And it capped one of the biggest late-game
    comebacks in NFL history.

    McDonald remembers slamming the football against the stadium wall in the north
    end zone at Qwest and then getting pinned against that same wall by his
    delirious teammates. It was so much fun that McDonald was oblivious to the
    angry Seahawks fans in that end zone. But teammate Larry Turner wasn't.

    "I remember how (upset) the fans were," Turner said. "You could see the fans
    throwing (plastic) beer bottles, and ice cream cones. I just remember their
    whole crowd was thinking that they had the game won, and we just came back and
    surprised them."

    Boy, did they. After being dominated in the first half, the Rams still found
    themselves trailing 27-10 as the fourth quarter wound down. But a miraculous
    catch by tight end Brandon Manumaleuna with 5 minutes 34 seconds to play began
    the second-biggest comeback in league history in the final 6 minutes of a game.

    "I think (the pass) was for Isaac," Manumaleuna said Thursday. "But I got in
    the way of it. I didn't know (Bruce) was there until I saw the film. I just saw
    it in the air and went and grabbed it."

    With three Seahawks defenders in the area, no less.

    "Brandon's catch is the catch of the year by anybody's standards," coach Mike
    Martz said. "When Brandon made that catch, I don't think there was a guy on the
    sideline who had any doubt in their mind that somehow we'd figure out a way to
    win this thing. That was my feeling.

    "It was an amazing play. To me, that's probably right there with Isaac's Super
    Bowl catch, and Ricky Proehl's...
    -01-08-2005, 02:21 AM
  • RamWraith
    Anatomy of a Comeback
    by RamWraith
    Wednesday, January 5, 2005

    By Nick Wagoner
    Staff Writer

    In almost every great comeback in every major sport, the story is almost always the same. The situation, the result and especially the hero are usually the same.

    Take any great comeback the Denver Broncos ever had and quarterback John Elway was prominently involved. Same with San Francisco and Joe Montana and ditto for Dan Marino and the Dolphins.

    When the Rams found themselves down by 17 with 8:42 to go against Seattle on Oct. 10, any hope of a comeback appeared to rest squarely on the shoulders of the usual cast of characters. A long touchdown pass to receivers Isaac Bruce or Torry Holt or a scintillating play by running back Marshall Faulk would usually be in the offing.

    But the usual suspects were not the heroes, not on that day. Instead, young receivers Shaun McDonald and Kevin Curtis filled the roles of Bruce and Holt. Tight end Brandon Manumaleuna made the catch of his life. Quarterback Marc Bulger was the driving force, bouncing back from a rough three quarters and emerging as the kind of clutch player teams dream of having behind center.

    A 27-10 deficit turned into a stunning 33-27 win. It was the type of win that can turn a season that could have been ruined by a devastating loss to New Orleans two weeks prior into another division championship season. And this time, the story wasn’t written about the guys you would expect.

    Rams’ coach Mike Martz said many of his lesser-known players got a lesson in how to win big games on that day.

    “There were a lot of young players that learned how to compete, and stay in it,” Martz said. “We had some players show up in this game that made plays to help us win this game. Guys like McDonald, Curtis, of course Brandon with his touchdown catch.”

    The lesson learned that day by guys who before the game were role players went beyond any that could be gleaned in a film room.

    Seattle kicker Josh Brown booted a 34-yard field goal with 8:47 to play to give the Seahawks a 27-10 lead. At that point, any chance of a comeback for St. Louis seemed to sink away into Puget Sound. Instead, the Rams erupted like Mount St. Helens.

    On their ensuing possession, the Rams moved 66 yards on eight plays in 3:08 capped by Manumaleuna’s spectacular 8-yard touchdown catch in traffic. Kicker Jeff Wilkins’ extra point made it 27-17 with 5:43 left. It was a small glimmer of hope, but it was enough of an opening for St. Louis to take momentum.

    The defense earned a three and out, setting up a Seattle punt. The Rams took over on Seattle’s 41 after McDonald’s 39-yard punt return. St. Louis then connected on the quickest of quick strikes. Bulger threw a perfect, arcing spiral over the top of the Seahawks’ secondary to a streaking Curtis for a 41-yard touchdown. The one-play drive took all of seven...
    -01-05-2005, 12:56 PM
  • RamDez
    McDonald makes his presence felt
    by RamDez
    McDonald makes his presence felt
    By Bill Coats
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    10/16/2004


    Although Sacramento Kings guard Mike Bibby, a former All-American at Arizona and the No. 2 overall selection in the 1998 NBA draft, is his cousin and confidant, Shaun McDonald figured out long ago that basketball wasn't his sport.

    "I quit in eighth grade," he explained. "I kind of knew I wasn't going to be too tall, so I had to give that dream up real fast."

    But McDonald is making a nice living as a professional athlete: He is in his second season as a wide receiver and punt returner with the Rams. Over the last two games, he has been a key factor in victories at San Francisco and Seattle.

    McDonald's first NFL touchdown reception, on a 6-yard pass from quarterback Marc Bulger, put the Rams up 14-0 in the first quarter against the ***** at Monster Park. Bibby attended the game, won by the Rams 24-14, but he missed the TD catch.

    "He got out of practice too late," McDonald said. "But it was great to see him."

    McDonald made three big plays Sunday, when the Rams rallied past the Seahawks 33-27 in overtime:

    His 24-yard catch, on a third-and-8 play, took the team to the 8-yard line. Bulger hit tight end Brandon Manumaleuna for a touchdown on the next play that cut Seattle's lead to 27-17 with 5 1/2 minutes left in the fourth quarter.

    Three plays later, McDonald lugged a punt 39 yards to the Seahawks 41-yard line. On the next snap, Bulger found wideout Kevin Curtis in the end zone, and it was 27-24 with 3:30 to go.

    On the first series after Jeff Wilkins' 36-yard field goal with 8 seconds remaining forced overtime, Bulger spotted McDonald sprinting down the right size on a "hot" read in reaction to a Seahawks blitz. The pass hit McDonald on the fingertips, and the 52-yard TD ended the proceedings.

    "Any time the ball's in the air, I think it's mine, I think I'm going to get it no matter what," he said. "The whole time, I was thinking, 'touchdown.' .. As a competitor, you want the game on the line and you want to be able to contribute to the play that wins it."

    McDonald, a fourth-round draft pick last year, is listed at 5 feet 10, but he acknowledged that he's at least an inch shorter. He said he weighs 180 pounds -but probably only after a heavy meal.

    "My whole life, people have been saying I'm too small to play football," said McDonald, a Phoenix native. "So it's something I'm used to. It doesn't really bother me anymore. I think it's about how big you play, and not about your size."

    At Arizona State, McDonald's 2,993 receiving yards fell just 126 short of John Jefferson's school record. But largely because of a thumb injury that limited him to eight games, McDonald's impact last year as a rookie
    ...
    -10-17-2004, 10:37 AM
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