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  • Despite their 5-5 record, Rams can make playoffs

    By Jim Thomas
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Sunday, Nov. 28 2004

    GREEN BAY, Wis. - They manhandled San Francisco in the first half on Oct. 3.
    Staged a fourth-quarter comeback of historic proportions in Seattle on Oct. 10.
    Two weeks ago in the Seattle rematch, the Rams put on a first-quarter offensive
    display reminiscent of the Greatest Show on Turf.

    But in terms of dominance in 2004, that's about it for the Rams. It's been a
    season of one step forward, one backward, adding up to a well-deserved 5-5
    record.

    "We've been like a roller coaster this year," defensive tackle Ryan Pickett
    said. "We haven't had much consistency, and that's what we're trying to do now.
    We're trying to find our identity. We can't be up and down. We can't play when
    we feel like it."

    With six games remaining and a lot left to play for, can the Rams finally kick
    it in gear? Are they even capable of finding that gear?

    "I'm hoping it starts Monday night," wide receiver Torry Holt said Saturday.
    "I'm really tired of the talking, because it's the same thing each week. We're
    preparing well. We're doing this well. We're doing that well.

    "Then we get out in the game and we start well, and then we have some mishaps.
    Now is the time to shut up and put up. So I'm going to see how we respond on
    Monday."

    Despite all of the pratfalls and setbacks, the Rams would qualify as a
    wild-card team if the playoffs started today.

    "I've mentioned that to them," coach Mike Martz said. "That's the reality of
    the situation, and they have to appreciate that. We have control of our own
    destiny at this point. And that has to mean something to them."

    Granted, this probably isn't the year the Rams make it to the Super Bowl. But
    given all they've gone through - including several left guards, a few right
    tackles, too many safeties to count, and some disastrous special-teams play -
    simply making the playoffs for the fifth time in six seasons would be an
    accomplishment. And once you get in Paul Tagliabue's postseason pageant, who
    knows?

    "We're not happy with where we're at," quarterback Marc Bulger said. "That's
    pretty obvious."

    But, Bulger added, "We're not sitting here at 2-8. We're not where we need to
    be, but as bad as we've played, we're still in a position to make the
    playoffs."

    The NFL games on Thursday and Sunday only helped the Rams' postseason hopes.
    The New York Giants fell to 5-6 with a loss to Philadelphia. Tampa Bay, New
    Orleans, Arizona, Chicago and Detroit all fell to 4-7 with defeats.

    Most important, NFC West-leading Seattle fell to 6-5 after getting spanked by
    visiting Buffalo 38-9. So if the Rams can stretch their prime-time winning
    streak to nine games tonight in Green Bay, they will regain the lead in the
    West by virtue of the tiebreaker edge over Seattle. (Namely, going 2-0 this
    season against the Seahawks.)

    "We're still hanging on, that's the big thing," defensive end Leonard Little
    said. "It's a matter of just taking advantage of the opportunity and winning
    some of these games."

    Ten victories probably wins the NFC West. Nine victories probably gets a wild
    card. But are the Rams, losers of three of their last four contests, capable of
    a late-season roll?

    "I think the consistency we're looking for, we haven't had it," Bulger said.
    "We've been talking about it now for about a month. We need that full, complete
    game on both sides of the ball."

    Until they do that, the Rams will keep struggling. And of course, there are
    easier ways to reverse a slide than staring down Brett Favre on a chilly night
    at Lambeau Field.

    Winners of five in a row, Favre and the Packers (6-4) are rolling. They need a
    victory tonight to keep pace with Minnesota (7-4) in the NFC North.

    Today's forecast no longer calls for snow showers, as was the case a few days
    ago. Nonetheless, the temperature is expected to dip below freezing, which is
    Favre weather.

    When the temperature is 34 degrees or below at kickoff, Favre is 29-0 at home
    in the regular season - 36-1 if you include postseason play. The Rams,
    meanwhile, are 4-9 when the temperature is below 50 at kickoff since the move
    to St. Louis in 1995.

    Neither set of numbers bodes well for the Rams. Nor does the Lambeau mystique,
    although the Packers haven't been nearly as formidable there lately. Since the
    start of the 1992 season, Green Bay is 75-17 at home in the regular season, but
    it is only 7-6 since the start of '03, and only 2-3 this season.

    "When you start thinking about mystique and all that kind of stuff, you
    probably ought to play someplace else," Martz said. "Every stadium in the NFL's
    got something special to it. Lambeau's a special place, but we're not playing
    the mystique, or the name. We're playing the Packers."

    And that should be more than enough to keep the Rams busy tonight.

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    Despite their 5-5 record, Rams can make playoffs
    by Guest
    Despite their 5-5 record, Rams can make playoffs
    By Jim Thomas
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    11/28/2004

    GREEN BAY, Wis. - They manhandled San Francisco in the first half on Oct. 3. Staged a fourth-quarter comeback of historic proportions in Seattle on Oct. 10. Two weeks ago in the Seattle rematch, the Rams put on a first-quarter offensive display reminiscent of the Greatest Show on Turf.

    But in terms of dominance in 2004, that's about it for the Rams. It's been a season of one step forward, one backward, adding up to a well-deserved 5-5 record.

    "We've been like a roller coaster this year," defensive tackle Ryan Pickett said. "We haven't had much consistency, and that's what we're trying to do now. We're trying to find our identity. We can't be up and down. We can't play when we feel like it."

    With six games remaining and a lot left to play for, can the Rams finally kick it in gear? Are they even capable of finding that gear?

    "I'm hoping it starts Monday night," wide receiver Torry Holt said Saturday. "I'm really tired of the talking, because it's the same thing each week. We're preparing well. We're doing this well. We're doing that well.

    "Then we get out in the game and we start well, and then we have some mishaps. Now is the time to shut up and put up. So I'm going to see how we respond on Monday."

    Despite all of the pratfalls and setbacks, the Rams would qualify as a wild-card team if the playoffs started today.

    "I've mentioned that to them," coach Mike Martz said. "That's the reality of the situation, and they have to appreciate that. We have control of our own destiny at this point. And that has to mean something to them."

    Granted, this probably isn't the year the Rams make it to the Super Bowl. But given all they've gone through - including several left guards, a few right tackles, too many safeties to count, and some disastrous special-teams play - simply making the playoffs for the fifth time in six seasons would be an accomplishment. And once you get in Paul Tagliabue's postseason pageant, who knows?

    "We're not happy with where we're at," quarterback Marc Bulger said. "That's pretty obvious."

    But, Bulger added, "We're not sitting here at 2-8. We're not where we need to be, but as bad as we've played, we're still in a position to make the playoffs."

    The NFL games on Thursday and Sunday only helped the Rams' postseason hopes. The New York Giants fell to 5-6 with a loss to Philadelphia. Tampa Bay, New Orleans, Arizona, Chicago and Detroit all fell to 4-7 with defeats.

    Most important, NFC West-leading Seattle fell to 6-5 after getting spanked by visiting Buffalo 38-9. So if the Rams can stretch their prime-time winning streak to nine...
    -11-28-2004, 11:22 PM
  • DJRamFan
    [Packers] Packers timing it just right
    by DJRamFan
    Green Bay has won five straight since it flopped in its last appearance on 'Monday Night Football'


    By Todd McMahon
    News-Chronicle
    There was a time, not long ago, when a general consensus had formed that the Green Bay Packers' time was all but up in the 2004 season.

    They left a national TV audience equal parts flabbergasted and appalled the evening of Oct. 11. The Tennessee Titans stormed Lambeau Field and battered the Packers into submission by way of a 48-27 defeat, the most points ever surrendered by the home team at its sacred stadium.

    Like that, the two-time reigning NFC North champions had sunk to the unfathomable low of being at the bottom of the division with a 1-4 record spun out of a four-game losing streak.

    That was the last time the Packers had a co-starring role on ABC's "Monday Night Football." My, how the times have changed in the seven weeks leading up to their return engagement - and there's more to it than the network's catching flak for one of its desperate housewives baring herself to Philadelphia star receiver Terrell Owens in a recent pregame locker-room spoof.

    At 8 tonight, the coast-to-coast TV audience will be introduced to a Green Bay team that has taken on a new, albeit familiar identity. All the Packers have been doing since bombing in their last "MNF" episode is win.

    They put a five-game winning streak on the line against St. Louis (5-5) at Lambeau Field. At stake for the 6-4 Packers is maintaining a hold on the NFC North lead, a concept that seemed a pipe dream in the wake of the debacle against the Titans.

    "We know how it feels to be 1-4. That feels pretty bad. We've been through that, and we don't want to go back there," said right guard Marco Rivera.

    No turning, or looking, back is precisely the outlook head coach Mike Sherman drilled into his players' heads Wednesday morning. It was his first meeting with the team since addressing it late last Sunday night, following its gritty 16-13 comeback win at Houston in another prime-time game.

    He paralleled what transpired in those four quarters to how the Packers' season has unfolded to date.

    A 13-3 deficit through a dismal three quarters mirrored their 1-4 start in the win-loss ledger. "In that game, things weren't looking very good," Sherman reflected.

    Lo and behold, the Packers caught fire in the final 15 minutes to score 13 unanswered points, pulling out the victory on Ryan Longwell's 46-yard field goal as time expired. A microcosm of how they've rallied in the past month and a half to string together the five wins.

    "The guys hung together throughout the game; they believed in themselves," Sherman continued with the analogy. "You're down 13-3 going into the fourth quarter, and guys battled back. I thought...
    -11-29-2004, 02:21 PM
  • DJRamFan
    [Packers] Packers relish Rams' visit
    by DJRamFan
    By ARNIE STAPLETON
    AP Sports Writer
    GREEN BAY, Wis. - The Green Bay Packers finally have the St. Louis Rams right where they want them: at Lambeau Field, on grass, in freezing weather.

    Forgive Brett Favre if he's not jumping for joy.

    "Well, I would much rather play them here than at their place. We haven't had much success at their place, and there's no guarantee that we will here," Favre said. "I think it's going to be a very difficult game. Either way. Here or there."

    That might be, but he tied an NFL playoff record by throwing six interceptions at St. Louis 22 months ago, then broke his right thumb there last year.

    The desperate Rams (5-5), who have lost three of four games, face the surging Packers (6-4), winners of five straight, on Monday night in a crucial game for two teams hoping to display some playoff pedigree in the jumbled NFC.

    The Packers are banged up in both backfields, which might very well negate any home-field advantage _ something that sure was missing the last time they played at home on a Monday night, a 48-27 loss to the Tennessee Titans on Oct. 11.

    "We'd like to erase that memory with a special Monday night performance and get rid of some of those ghosts we have from earlier in the season," Packers defensive end Aaron Kampman said.

    The problems with the Rams go back to Jan. 20, 2002, when Favre threw those half-dozen interceptions in a 28-point playoff loss.

    In October 2003, Favre broke his right thumb in a loss at St. Louis. Because he decided to play the rest of the season with a splint instead of having season-ending surgery, he kept alive his consecutive starts streak, which will reach 200 in the regular season Monday night, 219 counting the playoffs.

    Few teams have had Favre's number like the Rams, who capitalized on 12 Packers turnovers to outscore Green Bay 79-41 in their last two meetings.

    So the Packers have been looking forward to this night ever since the schedule came out.

    "They're a different team, as everyone knows, indoors," safety Darren Sharper said. "The fact that we have them at home hopefully will play into our favor. But we're just happy to see them because they put a whooping on us last year and we'd like to get a little payback."

    Payback? Guard Mark Tauscher is thinking more along the lines of a setback.

    "You can't do anything about what happened last year, or the year before," he said. "But we can give them a big setback and knock them off here and really give ourselves a big boost because anytime you struggle against somebody and then you get over that hump, that's big emotionally."

    Just like back in the 1990s, when the Packers lost seven straight to the Dallas Cowboys, three times in the playoffs...
    -11-29-2004, 02:21 PM
  • RamWraith
    Still a long way to go for 3-1 Rams
    by RamWraith
    By Jim Thomas
    ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
    Sunday, Oct. 08 2006

    GREEN BAY, WIS. — There is a part of the Rams' psyche that takes great pride in
    the team's 3-1 start and its share of first place in the NFC West.

    "No one outside of this place was expecting that out of us, so it's a good
    feeling right now," tight end Joe Klopfenstein said.

    "Everyone had us finishing third or fourth in our division, stuff like that,"
    defensive end Leonard Little added.

    But then reality, and common sense, kicks in.

    "We're excited," quarterback Marc Bulger said. "But at the same time it's too
    early in the season. ... So we can't get complacent, or say we're a great
    football team. We're only 25-percent done (with the season), and we have the
    hard part of our schedule coming up. And it's not going to be easy this week
    either up in Green Bay."

    And why should it? Nothing has come easy for the Rams this season. All four
    contests have been one-possession games, with the trailing team at least in
    position to tie in the closing minutes.

    "Every team in the league right now has one or two plays that make a difference
    in the game," Bulger said. "There's no sure things every week in the NFL."

    The Rams are living proof. Conventional wisdom has held in only one of their
    games so far: holding serve at home last week against Detroit. They were
    expected to lose against Denver and Arizona, but won. Somehow, they found a way
    to lose, for the third straight time over two seasons, to the inferior San
    Francisco ***** in Week 2.

    "You don't want to get greedy and wish you were 4-0, but you watch the *****
    get killed every week. ... " Bulger said. "But we have been fortunate in a
    couple of situations."

    Yeah, like the back-to-back fumbled snaps by Bulger and Kurt Warner at Arizona.
    Or the pass interference call that was waved off last week against the Lions.
    So the Rams should be anything but complacent heading into Sunday's game
    against the 1-3 Packers.

    "They have a lot of weapons," defensive tackle La'Roi Glover said. "They have a
    pretty darn good scheme. They have a coach who knows kind of what we like to
    do. It's a situation where if you go up there sleeping, or you take them
    lightly, you'll get your head beat in. So we can't let that happen."

    The Packers have a Pro Bowl running back in Ahman Green, and a Pro Bowl wide
    receiver in Donald Driver. (Driver may not play due to injury.) And there's
    also the matter of the legendary quarterback (Brett Favre), and the legendary
    venue (Lambeau Field).

    ...
    -10-08-2006, 04:32 AM
  • RamWraith
    St. Louis Left with Plenty to Play For
    by RamWraith
    By Nick Wagoner
    Staff Writer

    By this time of the NFL season, the playoff picture usually begins to crystallize. It doesn’t necessarily become clear, but people generally have an idea of who is a contender and who isn’t.

    After St. Louis’ 45-17 loss to Green Bay at Lambeau Field on Monday night, the Rams seemed as lost as they have all season, falling to 5-6. It was their second consecutive blowout loss and left many wondering where they stand. Stunningly, there is still plenty left to play for.

    So much left, actually, that quarterback Marc Bulger is almost in disbelief.

    “It’s kind of funny, but I think we would still be in the playoffs right now,” Bulger said. “Whether that’s a good thing or not, who knows? If we can somehow fix some things and get on a roll, who knows what could happen in the playoffs.”

    Seattle lost 38-9 to Buffalo at home Sunday, falling to 6-5. That puts the Seahawks one game ahead of the Rams in the NFC West Division, but they must continue to stay ahead, because St. Louis owns all possible tiebreakers against them.

    As strange as it is with Seattle and St. Louis competing for the title of most consistently inconsistent, there is another important title still readily available to either: the NFC West.

    The only thing clear about the NFC is that just about every team still has a mathematical shot at making the playoffs. San Francisco at 1-10 and Washington at 3-8 seem to be the only teams that have little to no chance of making it to the postseason.

    Philadelphia has already clinched the NFC East Division with a 10-1 record. Atlanta is almost certain to clinch its playoff spot as early as next week with a 9-2 record. After those four teams have established where they stand that leaves one huge glut of teams vying for divisions and wild card spots alike.

    There are 12 teams between 7-4 and 4-7 left in the NFC, holding out hope of making it to the playoffs.

    Rams coach Mike Martz said he can’t worry about playoff scenarios with the team struggling as it is right now.

    “I’m not concerned about that at this point, I’m really not,” Martz said. “I’m concerned about how well we’re playing. Right now, that’s insignificant to even think about that. We have just got to get this team playing better. If we do that, then we can take the next step.”

    Getting better has to start soon, though. With five games left and four against opponents from the NFC, every game becomes more crucial. If it were to come down to it, and it is likely that there will be at least two teams with identical records come playoff time, record against NFC opponents is one of the main tiebreakers.

    That means if the Rams can beat (in order) San Francisco, Carolina, Arizona and Philadelphia, it could go a long way toward earning a playoff berth. St. Louis goes on the road for...
    -12-02-2004, 06:29 AM
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