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  • Road show will impact Rams' fate

    By Jim Thomas
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Monday, Nov. 15 2004

    The Rams will be home for the holidays, closing the regular season with games
    against Philadelphia (Dec. 27) and the New York Jets (Jan. 2).

    But if they are to make the playoffs for the fifth time in six seasons, they
    must get something done on the road, ASAP. That's because the only time the
    Rams play in the Edward Jones Dome until after Christmas is Dec. 5, against San

    Sunday's game at Ralph Wilson Stadium in suburban Buffalo begins a string of
    four road games in five contests for the Rams - a stretch that will largely
    make or break their playoff chances.

    "It's a dangerous thing to talk about," Rams coach Mike Martz said. "I think
    the more you talk about it, the more the players get the idea that you don't
    think you can win on the road."

    In other words, the more Martz talks about the difficulties of winning on the
    road, the more the players are prone to start thinking about ... how tough it
    is to win on the road.

    "You just prepare and go play," Martz said. "That's what we did in Seattle and
    San Francisco. And you just don't pay much attention to it."

    The Rams are 2-2 on the road this year, with the victories coming in October in
    Seattle and San Francisco.

    "You know Seattle was probably as loud a crowd as we've ever played in front
    of," Martz said. "And we handled it very well."

    Well, at least they did after falling behind 24-7 at halftime. The Rams rallied
    for a 33-27 overtime triumph.

    "I think the younger players will take their lead off our veterans," Martz
    said. "I think they know how to respond. We talk to them about the environment
    that they'll walk into, and then put it to rest."

    No "St. Louis" Rams playoff team has finished a regular season with a losing
    road record:

    Last season's NFC West championship team went 4-4 away from home.

    The '99 Super Bowl championship team, and the 2000 wild- card squad,
    finished 5-3 on the road.

    The '01 Super Bowl runner-up became only the sixth team since the
    1970 AFL-NFL merger to go unbeaten on the road. Not only was that Rams team 8-0
    away from home, it won those contests by an average of 14.6 points a game.

    "There's a significant number of (2001) players still on this team," Martz
    said. "Last year, I think we turned the corner when we went on the road and
    beat Chicago, particularly Pittsburgh, and Arizona in some really tight

    But can the Rams turn the corner this season?

    It takes a certain amount of focus and mental toughness to deal with hostile
    crowd noise, relatively unfamiliar settings, the general wear-and-tear of
    travel and - for a dome team such as the Rams - the weather.

    "If those kinds of things bother a football team, then that's the toughness
    that we're trying to work into," Martz said. "I guess the confidence and the
    attitude that has been lacking in the last few weeks has to be re-established.
    And I think when you're confident and you have a great attitude ... then you
    don't pay any attention to that stuff."

    Since their move to St. Louis in 1995, the Rams are 4-9 in games where the
    temperature was below 50 degrees at kickoff. Two of those four victories came
    last season at Chicago (48 degrees), and at Cleveland (35 degrees).

    Weather could be a factor Sunday at Buffalo; Nov. 29 at Green Bay (a Monday
    night game); and Dec. 12 at Carolina. However, the Sunday forecast for Buffalo
    isn't bad, calling for a high temperature of 52 with a 30 percent chance of

    Weather shouldn't be a problem in the last of the Rams' remaining road games -
    a Dec. 19 contest vs. Arizona. But the Cardinals usually play pretty well at
    home - they're 3-1 in Tempe so far this season. Similarly, Buffalo is 3-2 at
    home, despite an overall mark of 3-6.

    Conversely, Carolina is winless at home (0-4), and the Packers aren't nearly as
    tough at Lambeau Field (2-3) as they've been in the past.

    One other thing to keep in mind as the shopping days dwindle to Christmas:
    While the Rams are trying to get things done on the road, NFC West rival
    Seattle will be playing five of its final seven games at home. The Seahawks
    have won 11 of their past 12 there, dating to late in the 2002 season. The only
    loss in those 12 games was that overtime setback to the Rams on Oct. 10.

    If nothing else, Sunday's 23-12 home victory over the Seahawks has given the
    Rams renewed hope.

    "I know we haven't played as well as we wanted to," safety Rich Coady said.
    "But if we get this thing rolling, and continue to play better every week, and
    we play our best defensive football at the end of the year, and get that
    snowball effect going, I think the sky's the limit for our team."

    That's a lot of ifs. But stranger things have happened.

Related Topics


  • RamWraith
    Rams are ready to take show on the road
    by RamWraith
    By Jim Thomas
    St. Louis Post-Dispatch

    SAN FRANCISCO -- As they trot out of the tunnel Sunday at creaky Monster Park, the Rams will be greeted by hundreds - perhaps even a few thousand - Rams fans.

    Some still sport team gear in the franchise's pre-2000 colors. Some even have shirts and hats that read: "Los Angeles Rams." Some still make the trek up the Pacific Coast from southern California every year to cheer on their transplanted franchise.

    Cornerback Travis Fisher calls it the West Coast Branch of Rams Nation.

    "There's a lot of fans over on that side," Fisher says.

    Meaning, "on that side" of the country. But even in the best of times for Rams teams, those fans quickly get drowned out by ***** loyalists in a stadium that seats more than 69,000.

    These may be the worst of times for the Niners, but triumphs here remain few and far between for the Rams. Dating to the 1991 season, the Rams have won only four times in San Francisco - in 14 tries.

    "It's hard to win on the road," wide receiver Isaac Bruce said.

    Particularly on opening day.

    "When you go into someone else's stadium, you're going to hear rockets, you'll probably see some B52s flying over your head," Bruce said. "And everyone in the stands is just rowdy from start to finish. From pregame till the end of the game. It's special."

    If the Rams can start off well on the road, this season can be special. But there's been nothing special about the Rams away from the Edward Jones Dome in recent seasons.

    On Sunday, the Rams will try to end a string of five straight regular-season losses on the road. Since the start of the 2002 season, the Rams are 8-18 on the road - a figure that includes playoff games.

    In comparison, since the start of the 2002 season, the Rams are 20-5 at the dome - a figure that also includes regular- season and postseason games.

    "The book says you're not supposed to win more than half your games on the road," defensive lineman Tyoka Jackson said. "And you try to win all your home games. But that's not the way we look at it. We want to win every single game we play.

    "Obviously, it doesn't always work out that way. But that's what you're trying to do. Road games are huge, because it helps to build confidence for your team."

    If so, the Rams have plenty of early opportunities for confidence building. Beginning with Sunday's season opener in San Francisco, three of the Rams' first four contests are on the road.

    And for only the seventh time in the 68-year history of the franchise, the Rams open with back-to-back road games. (San Francisco is followed with another NFC West road game, Sept. 18 at Arizona.)

    "Yeah, two...
    -09-10-2005, 06:44 PM
  • MauiRam
    Rams have shot at rare three-peat ..
    by MauiRam
    BY JIM THOMAS Wednesday, December 8, 2010 12:25 am

    For more than a calendar year, the Rams had no success on the road. Zero. Zilch. Couldn't buy a road victory. That all changed in Denver two Sundays ago, and again at Arizona this past Sunday.

    "Two weeks ago, at that point, we were winless on the road," running back Steven Jackson said. "So for us to get two wins on the road back-to-back weeks, it shows that this team responds to challenge."

    The challenge this week is about as big as it gets, with yet another road game against the New Orleans Saints, 9-3 this season and defending Super Bowl champs.

    "We have another huge game, and it's going to be rowdier in New Orleans," Jackson said following the Rams' 19-6 victory over the Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. "We have to get ready for this. As games approach, and each and every week as we continue to be successful, games are going to get bigger. And I think this team is starting to understand that. We've just got to continue to execute and play together."

    If the Rams can pull off an upset in the Louisiana Superdome and that's a huge "if" they also would pull off a "3-peat" of historic proportions. They would become only the third team in the 73-year history of the Rams' franchise to win road games in three consecutive weeks.

    The Rams have had some successful road teams, most notably the 2001 NFC championship squad that went 8-0 on the road that season. But that team never played away games in three successive weeks. The best they did was back-to-back road victories twice.

    The current league policy, according to Rams executive vice president of football operations Kevin Demoff, is to have teams play as many as three consecutive road games only about once every eight years.

    And the Rams last played three in a row on the road exactly eight years ago, losing at Washington 20-17 on Nov. 24, 2002, then losing 10-3 at Philadelphia on Dec. 1 and 49-10 at Kansas City on Dec. 8.

    Quarterback Kurt Warner suffered what turned out to be a broken hand in that Washington game, insisted he could play against Philadelphia but was very ineffective. That led to the first "Brenda-Gate" controversy, in which Brenda Warner Kurt's wife called a local all-sports radio station to complain about coach Mike Martz's handling of the injury.

    So far, this year's three-game road swing has gone much more smoothly, with the Rams surviving a fourth-quarter meltdown to hold off Denver 36-33 and then recording the workmanlike victory in Arizona.

    So have the Rams finally figured out how to handle this road thing?

    "I've said this from the beginning, I never thought there was really anything to figure out except you go play football between the white lines," coach...
    -12-08-2010, 09:58 AM
  • Nick
    Rejuvenated Rams return to Georgia
    by Nick
    Rejuvenated Rams return to Georgia
    By Jim Thomas
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Monday, Jan. 10 2005

    They are loose, refreshed and re-energized. Three weeks ago, when they were
    sitting at 6-8, most observers wouldn't have given a plug nickel for the Rams'
    chances of being in the NFL's version of the Elite Eight.

    But here they are, like the uninvited guest who refuses to leave the party,
    just two steps removed from the Super Bowl. As they say in Las Vegas, the Rams
    are playing with house money now.

    "We had those two must-win situations at the end of the regular season,"
    defensive end Leonard Little said. "Two teams we had to beat."

    And did beat. Doing so, and just getting into the playoffs, "was a lot of
    weight off our shoulders," Little said.

    Better late - extremely late - than never. Right?

    "We never doubted anything," tight end Cameron Cleeland said. "This team's been
    through turmoil. But look, (the Rams) have been to the playoffs - what? - four
    out of the last five years?"

    Actually, five of the past six seasons now.

    "We always belonged," Cleeland said. "We just knew it."

    Maybe so, but they did a good job of hiding it until after Christmas. You can
    call the victory over Philadelphia tainted, because the Eagles rested or pulled
    many of their starters. But it was still a victory.

    The regular-season finale with the New York Jets was an intense, playoff-like
    struggle. And, of course, Saturday's 27-20 victory over Seattle was
    an intense playoff struggle.

    "These guys are energized," coach Mike Martz said. "It's as if the season has
    just begun in their minds."

    The Rams' three consecutive victories matches their longest winning streak of
    the season. For what it's worth, that three-game streak is the second longest
    for any of the eight teams still in the hunt for the Lombardi Trophy.

    Pittsburgh in the AFC has won 10 straight. Granted, Philadelphia, Atlanta and
    Indianapolis rested many of their starters at the end of the regular season,
    contributing to losses. But in the Rams' case, there's something to be said for
    momentum, no matter how it got started.

    "For us right now, you just wouldn't want to have a (first-round) bye," Martz
    said. "In years past, with the experience that we had, we were at a high level
    going into the playoffs, and you kind of wanted to rest your guys a little bit.
    That's not the case now."

    We'll see if Martz feels the same way around 11:45 p.m. or so Eastern time
    Saturday in Atlanta, after the Rams' second-round...
    -01-10-2005, 11:34 PM
  • RamWraith
    by RamWraith
    By Jim Thomas

    Then: From 1999-2004, the Rams won 43 of 53 games at the Edward Jones Dome
    Now: Rams are winless at the dome this year and have lost 12 of their past 16

    Over a period of six seasons, from 1999 through their last playoff season 2004 the Rams won 43 of 53 home games.

    There was no tougher place to play in the National Football League. You could almost see defenders' knees buckle during pregame introductions as the Rams ran out to the guitar riffs of "Kashmir," the Led Zeppelin rock classic.

    They don't play that song any more at the Edward Jones Dome. The Rams don't win there any more either at least not lately. Since the middle of the 2005 season, the Rams have lost 12 of 16 home contests.

    They are winless at home this season losing to Carolina, San Francisco, Arizona, and Cleveland. A loss Sunday against visiting Seattle would match the longest home losing streak for the Rams since the move to St. Louis in 1995. (Dick Vermeil's squad lost its last five home games of the '97 campaign.)

    No wonder the Rams have had trouble selling out the stadium lately. Of course, the Rams can begin to change all that, starting with Sunday's game against NFC West rival Seattle. A loss would eliminate the Rams from NFC West title consideration (though they would remain mathematically alive for a wild-card berth.)

    A win would extend Rams winning streak to three, no mean feat considering the team's franchise-worst 0-8 start. Just as importantly, it would be the first home victory for Rams fans since last Christmas Eve against Washington.

    "We definitely want to give that to them," linebacker Chris Draft said.

    In return, Draft is asking for a little help from the stands.

    "I asked the other day. I asked the fans for three false-start penalties," Draft said. "That means they've got to get loud. Seattle, you know, they've got their 12th Man. Last time we went there, they had Ichiro with a pink scarf on what was it, purple? getting the crowd up."

    Ichiro Suzuki, the Seattle Mariners' star outfielder, raised the "12th Man" flag at Qwest Field in pregame ceremonies, getting the crowd fired up for a 33-6 drubbing of the visiting Rams on Oct. 21.

    Draft doesn't want a "12th man" helping the Rams from the stands Sunday he wants about 65,000 men, women, and children.

    "If all St. Louis gets in that stadium, it's going to be deafening," Draft said. "I want three (false) starts. It can be more than that. But I want three false starts."

    Three or so Rams touchdowns wouldn't hurt either in a game that has met NFL sellout requirements, and will be televised locally (KTVI-Channel 2).

    "Home field is...
    -11-25-2007, 06:53 AM
  • RamDez
    Early road tests may well define season for Rams
    by RamDez
    Early road tests may well define season for Rams
    Team will spend three of the season's opening four weeks away from home
    The first two games of the 2005 season could have a big bearing on how the NFC West is either won or lost for the St. Louis Rams.
    The Rams open the season with two NFC West road games. They'll play the San Francisco ***** at 3:15 p.m. today at Monster Park.
    The Arizona Cardinals are on deck next Sunday at Sun Devil Stadium.
    "I don't remember the last time that a team has started off with two away games in their division, but that's what we've got," Rams tight end Roland Williams said. "Two away games is rare. We know what we are up against. We know we have some opponents that don't like us too much."
    The last time the Rams opened the season with two road games was 2001, when they went 8-0 on the road. They've never opened a season with two NFC West road games.
    The Rams will play three of their first four games on the road, a stretch that could make or break their entire season.
    "When you go into someone else's stadium, you are going to hear rockets, you'll probably see (fighter jets) flying over the top of your head, and everyone in the stands is just rowdy from start to finish," Rams wide receiver Isaac Bruce said. "We have to be really focused and realize that going on the road in this division, especially against the *****, we have to be technically sound in everything we do.
    "We can't turn the ball over and we have the mindset that no matter what happens we're going to keep playing hard."
    The Rams went 2-6 on the road last season with their two road wins coming against San Francisco and Arizona.
    Rams quarterback Marc Bulger said the key to winning on the road is staying calm in the first quarter, even if things don't go your way.
    "The other team is always fired up when you're on the road," Bulger said. "That's their comfort level. You just have to weather that initial quarter.
    "Even if we're down 17-0, that's what happened in Seattle last year, as long as we realize we're never out of it, we can come back."
    The Rams-***** rivalry still burns strong despite roster and coaching changes. ***** running back Kevan Barlow fanned the flames of that rivalry a little this week.
    "Me personally, I don't like the Rams. I can't stand them," Barlow told The Associated Press. "Last year, they embarrassed us. Our fans don't like them either. ... I believe the Rams are going to come in here, and they're going to sleep.
    "That's what a lot of teams are going to do against us. We're going to prove them wrong."
    First-year ***** coach Mike Nolan, whose father, Dick Nolan, went 2-13-1 against the Rams as the ***** head coach from 1968-75, has an appreciation for the rivalry.
    "Rivalry is an issue of respect,"...
    -09-11-2005, 07:31 AM