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  • Rams win with something old, something new

    BY JEFF GORDON
    Post-Dispatch Online Sports Columnist
    12/05/2004

    The Rams got younger on offense when rookie running back Steven Jackson filled in for the hobbled Marshall Faulk on Sunday.

    And then they got older when grizzled Chris Chandler relieved quarterback Marc Bulger -- who suffered a separated right shoulder while absorbing a second-quarter sack

    The results were mixed, but the Rams were able to outlast the horrendous San Francisco ***** 16-6 in a mistake-filled mess at The Ed.

    Jackson’s powerful running (26 carries, 119 yards) allowed the Rams, now 6-6, to defeat their no-longer-formidable rivals. Jackson ran hard between the tackles and also accelerated impressively to get outside and up the field.

    Chandler, 36, threw a touchdown pass to Torry Holt -- but also threw one interception, lost a fumble and nearly had two other passes picked off.

    At times, Chandler operated effectively in the offense . . . and at times he looked like a rusty veteran many years past his athletic prime.

    He didn’t have much more luck in scoring territory than Bulger did, so Jeff Wilkins had to kick three field goals -- two from 52 yards out -- to make certain the Rams won this game.

    Defensively, the Rams punished the battered ***** (now 1-11!) with a variety of blitzes and stunts that prevented them from mounting a consistent passing or rushing attack.


    THE GOOD


    * Rams defensive spokesman Tyoka Jackson dumped quarterback Tim Rattay for the game’s first sack on the game’s third play.


    * Steven Jackson got the Rams offense rolling in the right direction by gaining 32 yards on his first five carries.


    * Bulger used his feet to get out of trouble on a third-and-two play, then earned the first down with a nine-yard scramble. That led to a 29-yard Wilkins field goal and an immediate 3-0 lead.


    * Linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa swatted a Rattay pass on a critical third-down play later in the first quarter, forcing the Niners to settle for a game-tying field goal.


    * Jackson proved nimble in the open field as well, scampering 21 yards with a second-quarter swing pass from Chandler.


    * Torry Holt adjusted to a badly underthrown Chandler bomb on the next play, coming back to get a 40-yard completion. Two plays later, Chandler threw a perfect TD strike to Holt to push the Rams' lead to 10-3.


    * Tinoisamoa and Leonard Little poured in to disrupt another Niners third-down passing play and force San Francisco to kick the ball away again.


    * Say, was that linebacker Tommy Polley in the ***** backfield, dumping running back Terry Jackson for an eight-yard loss? That forced the Niners to kick the ball away again.


    * Isaac Bruce prevented another Tony Parrish interception in the end zone with some blatant offensive pass interference late in the first half. Now THAT was a veteran move.

    As a result, Wilkins got an opportunity to pound a 52-yard field goal to push their halftime lead to 13-3.


    * Say, was that was linebacker Robert Thomas who jacked Kevan Barlow on third-and-three run in the third quarter? Has he ever come close to hitting somebody that hard?


    * Little got after Rattay for another sack, this time in the third quarter, forcing the Niners to punt the ball away again.


    * With the ***** attempting to march in for the game-tying field goal in the fourth quarter, cornerback Jerametrius Butler sat on a slant pattern and picked off Rattay at the Rams 7. Whew!


    * Wilkins struck again, blasting a 52-yard field goal in the fourth quarter to push the Rams' lead to 16-6. Ah, the joys of kicking in a dome . . .


    * Say, was that Damione Lewis that actually SACKED A QUARTERBACK, dumping Rattay for a nine-yard loss in the fourth quarter?


    * Two players later, Jackson earned another sack to force the Niners to punt -- and essentially concede defeat in the game.


    THE BAD


    * On the Niners’ second possession, they went over the top of the Rams' defense for a 52-yard strike to Brandon Lloyd. That bomb moved San Francisco into position for an early game-tying field goal.


    * On the Rams' second kickoff return, they managed to earn not one but two penalties while attempting to block. Now THAT is true incompetence on special teams. This time around, Brandon Manumaleuna and Robert Thomas were the guilty parties.

    The Rams have been working since July. Now the Christmas season is upon us. How can they keep making these mistakes?


    * Not only did Williams fail to protect Bulger from a first quarter sack, he fell on him, too. Bulger’s shoulder separation forced Chandler to scrape off the cobwebs and jump into the fray.


    THE UGLY


    * With the Rams moving into scoring position, Chandler tried to force a post-pattern pass to Holt. Parrish read it all the way, however, and won the battle for the football.


    * Jimmy Kennedy finally got a quarterback -– but he took a personal foul penalty on a third-down play with 4 minutes 15 seconds left in the first half. Instead of punting out of their own end zone, the ***** got a badly needed first down.


    * Who could have guessed that Chandler would spit up a sack fumble? Well, your cyber-correspondent shouted out the prediction in the auxiliary press box and it came true.

    Niners defensive end John Engelberger lost the race to Chandler late in the third quarter -– he got there second -– but his hit forced a fumble that teammate Jamie Winborn recovered.

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  • Nick
    Rams' bullpen does the job
    by Nick
    Rams' bullpen does the job
    By Jim Thomas
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Sunday, Dec. 05 2004

    Chris Chandler has seen Marc Bulger go down - and go down hard - on more than
    one occasion this season. But this time, Bulger was slumped over, holding his
    shoulder.

    "And then he started running off the field, waving," Chandler said.

    Waving for Chandler to take over. Like clockwork, you can count on Chandler at
    quarterback for the Rams once every 10 years. He played in 10 games for the Los
    Angeles Rams in 1994. On Sunday he made his St. Louis Rams debut at quarterback
    when Bulger went down with a sprained right shoulder late in the first quarter.

    The Rams got just enough passing from Chandler, with plenty of runs sprinkled
    in from rookie Steven Jackson, to sweep the season series from rival San
    Francisco with a grinding 16-6 victory at the Edward Jones Dome.

    There weren't many points, or style points, for that matter. The offensive
    showing was a far cry from the "Greatest Show on Turf." Sunday's point total
    was the lowest for the Rams in a victory since a 15-14 bloodletting over the
    New York Giants in 2001.

    Nonetheless, a victory it was, something the Rams had accomplished only once
    since mid- October.

    "There's winning and there's death," defensive lineman Tyoka Jackson said. "And
    we won today. So come check with me next week."

    The Rams have been doing a lot of "dying" lately, losing four of their previous
    five games. But Sunday's victory evened their season record at 6-6, gave them a
    5-0 mark in the NFC West and kept their sagging division and playoff hopes
    alive.

    "We needed it," safety Adam Archuleta said. "We needed a win. We needed the
    defense to play well. We needed a confidence booster back there.

    "We've got to get some momentum. We've got four more games. We're still there.
    The season is far from over."

    Chandler threw for 216 yards and a touchdown. Jackson, replacing the injured
    Marshall Faulk, rushed for 119 yards. Wide receiver Torry Holt had a
    season-high 10 receptions for a season-high 160 yards.

    Holt scored the only touchdown of the game on a 22-yard reception from Chandler
    with 9 minutes 29 seconds to play in the first half. Just two plays earlier,
    Holt hauled in a grossly underthrown Chandler lob for 40 yards.

    "On that deep ball, Torry's so fast," Chandler said. "You have to release it
    and throw it far, early. When I was getting ready to throw it, he was only 15,
    18 yards down field."

    So Chandler kind of hesitated on his follow-through....
    -12-05-2004, 10:34 PM
  • RamWraith
    Chandler and Rams have game to forget
    by RamWraith
    By Jeff Gordon
    Post-Dispatch Online Sports Columnist
    12/12/2004
    Rams coach Mike Martz was determined to play “fast and furious” offensive football Sunday. He held nothing back with his ambitious game plan.

    Mad Mike apparently forgot that ancient Chris Chandler was running his attack in place of injured quarterback Marc Bulger. He was also on the road, matched up against a strong, well-coached, highly motivated defensive team.

    He didn’t have top running backs Marshall Faulk and Steven Jackson. He also had greenhorn right tackle Blaine Saipaia matched against Panthers elite pass rusher Julius Peppers.

    So the results were predictable -- the creaking Chandler threw six--SIX!--interceptions as the Rams lost 20-7 at Carolina.

    The Panthers knocked the Rams, 6-7, out of the NFC West lead while enhancing their own wild-card playoff hopes. (Seattle regained the NFC West lead with a spirited 27-23 victory at Minnesota.)

    Along the way, the Rams also lost defensive end Leonard Little, linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa and cornerback Travis Fisher, their defensive catalysts, for significant stretches due to illness and injury.

    The injury-riddled Rams competed hard in this game. But they just didn’t have enough to beat the resurgent Panthers on the road, not with the unfortunate Chandler running the show.

    We hate to say “we told you so” about Chandler, but, hey, we told you so. Martz should have hired a contemporary quarterback to back up Bulger this season.


    THE GOOD

    * Defensive end Bryce Fisher sacked Panthers quarterback Jake Delhomme for a 10-yard loss on the Rams’ first defensive play.

    * Chandler’s highlight of the game late in the first quarter, when he launched a 75-yard touchdown pass to Torry Holt to cut Carolina’s lead to 14-7.

    * Fisher raced in to score his second sack of the game on the first play of the second quarter.

    * With a crunching hit on a third-down pass to Muhsin Muhammad, safety Antuan Edwards broke up the play and forced the Panthers to settle for a second-quarter field goal.

    * Running back Arlen Harris managed to bust some moves on his 22-yard pass reception.

    * Cornerback Jerametrius Butler broke up a would-be touchdown to Muhammad in the finals of the first half, playing the fade route perfectly.

    * Harris did a nice job running the ball in the third quarter, breaking runs of nine, 14 and six yards to FINALLY established a ground game.

    * The Rams defense, in turn, stuffed Delhomme on a fourth-and-inches quarterback sneak to turn the ball back over on downs. Give linebacker Robert Thomas much of the credit for thwarting that play.

    * Butler made a nifty interception, his fifth of the season, to keep the Rams alive in fourth quarter. It’s too bad the Rams had no offense...
    -12-13-2004, 05:37 AM
  • Nick
    Rams put one in victory column
    by Nick
    Rams put one in victory column
    By Jim Thomas
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Saturday, Aug. 28 2004

    For a week, at least, Rams Nation can exhale.

    On Friday at Edward Jones Dome, the pass-blocking was much improved against
    Washington. So was the defense. And despite some erratic throws by Marc Bulger
    - so erratic that he drew a smattering of boos from the home crowd - he left
    with a 98.6 passer rating after tossing a touchdown pass to Torry Holt.

    Exhibition or not, it added up to a much-improved performance by the Rams after
    Monday night's debacle in Kansas City, and a much-needed 28-3 victory over the
    Redskins by the previously winless Rams.

    "This is the team that we see every day in practice," coach Mike Martz said. "I
    know there's a lot of panic and everything - but this is the team that we see
    every day."

    Perhaps it was in homage to Don Coryell, the offensive legend whom Martz
    studied and idealized as a player and young coach in California. Coryell was
    honored before the game, and in "Air" Coryell style, the Rams aired it out
    Friday against the Redskins, throwing 22 times in the first half.

    "I wanted to get some receivers involved, and I wanted to get Marc going a
    little bit," Martz said. "He missed a couple throws early in the game, and then
    settled down and had a real nice drive."

    Bulger completed six of 12 passes for 78 yards before giving way to Chris
    Chandler midway through the second quarter. Chandler, in his best outing of the
    exhibition season, completed nine of 15 attempts for 190 yards. His passer
    rating was identical to Bulger's (98.6).

    Many of those passes were deep shots - and none deeper than the 58-yard
    completion from Chandler to Holt late in the second quarter. Holt beat Fred
    Smoot on the post pattern, getting dragged down at the 1. Chandler, 38, scored
    on a quarterback sneak on the next play, giving the Rams a 14-3 lead with 3
    minutes 47 seconds to play in the first half.

    "Torry ran a great route," Chandler said. "The safety held on the inside
    (leaving the middle open), and Torry just outran everybody."

    Chandler also completed a 35-yard touchdown pass to Shaun McDonald late in the
    third quarter.

    "He showed why he's been in the league so long and why he's stuck around,"
    McDonald said. "He still has it after all these years."

    Things started out slowly for the Rams, on both sides of the ball. Washington
    took the opening kickoff and marched 62 yards for a field goal. At this point
    in the proceedings the Rams had been outscored 30-10 in the first half this...
    -08-27-2004, 10:46 PM
  • RamWraith
    Gordo-Good, Bad and Ugly
    by RamWraith
    BY JEFF GORDON
    Post-Dispatch Online Sports Columnist
    Friday, Aug. 27 2004

    Geez, what a difference four days make.

    The Rams relocated their urgency Friday night. Coach Mike Martz stormed up and
    down the sidelines, ripping off his headset, dogging officials, riding the
    game's emotional ebb and flow.

    His players answered his call for more inspired play. The Rams looked nothing
    like the disorganized, disinterested team that rolled over in a 24-7 loss four
    days ago in Kansas City.

    They got decent blocking from their makeshift offensive line and sturdy effort
    from their starting front seven. The result: A thorough 28-3 preseason victory
    over the Washington Redskins at the Edward Jones Dome.

    Admittedly, the Redskins played an absolutely horrendous football game. But
    that's their problem. The citizens of Rams Nation wanted to see their team step
    forward -- and it did.

    Quarterback Marc Bulger threw some strangely off-target passes while playing
    his 1 ˝ quarters, but he marched the team, avoided turnovers and left the game
    with a 7-3 lead. His 98.6 quarterback rating told the story of his game.

    Back-up Chris Chandler took it from there and threw the ball around The Ed with
    great confidence and accuracy, completing nine of 15 passes for 190 yards. Dare
    we say he throws the long ball better than Bulger?

    Nah. But he did put on quite a display while proving he has a few miles left in
    his 900-year-old body.

    Rookie running back Steven Jackson put on a show as well, gaining 125 yards on
    25 carries and breaking many big runs with his unique combination of power and
    speed. Why, again, did he drop so low in the first round of the 2004 NFL Draft?

    All-Pro receiver Torry Holt reminded us that he is still Torry Holt, catching
    seven passes for 143 yards and a touchdown.


    THE GOOD

    * With Don Coryell in the house, Martz put a few sprinkles on his vanilla
    preseason offense. We liked the end-around pitch to receiver Isaac Bruce, who
    attempted to hit Holt downfield with a bomb. Alas, his long throw came up just
    a bit short.


    * Defensive end Bryce Fisher disrupted Rock Cartwright's second-and-10 sweep,
    then linebacker Pisa Tinoisamoa tackled Cartwright for a two-yard loss. That
    led to the first Redskins punt of the game.


    * Jackson's second carry of the game went for 18 yards off left tackle; the
    big kid showed his explosiveness while getting into the Redskins secondary.


    * Receiver Dane Looker absorbed massive punishment after going up to get a
    19-yard pass from Bulger – but he hung onto the ball. Nice.


    *...
    -08-28-2004, 05:52 AM
  • RamWraith
    Carolina intercepts Rams' playoff bid
    by RamWraith
    By Jim Thomas
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    Sunday, Dec. 12 2004

    CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Just when the Rams needed him most, Chris Chandler came up
    with probably the worst performance in his 17 NFL seasons.

    And no one felt worse than Chandler, who threw six - that's right, a half dozen
    - interceptions in the Rams' 20-7 loss to Carolina.

    "After everything I did good last week to help this team win (against San
    Francisco), I can take all the blame for this loss," Chandler said.

    When Carolina cornerback Ricky Manning Jr. gains more yards off Chandler passes
    than Isaac Bruce, you know it's a long day. But that's exactly what happened
    Sunday at Bank of America Stadium.

    Manning, a Rams nemesis last season in the playoffs, picked off two Chandler
    passes and returned them for 46 yards. Bruce had three catches for 27 yards.

    "Chris made some real poor 'judgment throws' where the ball didn't come out
    when it should," coach Mike Martz said. "On some of those things he was
    throwing the ball too quickly instead of letting the guy get into the hole."

    Martz theorized that some of that may have been because Chandler was reverting
    to old habits from past teams. The Rams ask their quarterbacks to approach
    things differently in terms of how they go through their reads.

    "A little bit," Chandler said. "But it's not anything that's too different. I
    had no answers. No excuses, either. It was just not good."

    The Rams entered the game in first place in the NFC West, holding the No. 4
    seed in the playoffs. But at 6-7, the Rams are now on the outside looking in.

    Seattle (7-6) took over the division lead by winning in Minnesota. And Carolina
    (6-7), with its fifth straight victory, now holds the sixth - and final -
    playoff spot. (It has the tiebreaker edge over the Rams because it defeated the
    Rams head to head.)

    But all that was on anybody's minds early Sunday evening were interceptions,
    not playoff scenarios. The six interceptions were a career high for the
    39-year-old Chandler - his previous high was four against San Diego, way back
    in 1990.

    Chandler's interception total tied for the second most in Rams franchise
    history, trailing the seven thrown by Bob Waterfield against Green Bay in 1958
    and Parker Hall against Green Bay in 1942.

    The tone was set on the Rams' opening possession. Facing a third and 3 on the
    Carolina 27, Chandler was flushed out of the pocket, had Dane Looker open over
    the middle for a first down, but overthrew him with Manning coming down with
    the interception.

    Two additional interceptions came on deflected...
    -12-13-2004, 05:35 AM
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