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Rams leave Tempe empty--MUST READ

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  • Rams leave Tempe empty--MUST READ

    By Jim Thomas
    Of the Post-Dispatch
    12/19/2004

    Arizona's Josh McCown fumbles the ball after a sack by Anthony Hargrove of the Rams (on the ground behind McCown). Leonard Little (91) recovered and returned the fumble for a touchdown.
    (Rick Hossman/AP)

    TEMPE, Ariz. - Even before the opening kickoff, the Rams knew the scores, understood the playoff picture, realized the opportunity that was at hand.

    "We knew Carolina lost," defensive end Leonard Little said. "We knew Seattle lost. We knew Philly won, but one of their major players (Terrell Owens) got hurt. We were aware of everything. Was that an incentive for us to go out there and win? Yes."

    So with just three hours of hard labor Sunday at Sun Devil Stadium, the Rams could move up from the No. 7 seed in the NFC - and out of the playoff picture - to the No. 4 seed and in.

    And with just two weeks remaining in the regular season. Many NFL players live for the opportunity to be in such a situation. But with so much at stake, the Rams responded with one of their worst efforts since the move to St. Louis in 1995.

    Playing against a 4-9 Arizona team that had lost four in a row, the Rams got outscored 31-7 and outgained 402 yards to 185. How in the world did that happen?

    "I don't know," offensive guard Adam Timmerman said.

    "There's no easy explanation," wide receiver Isaac Bruce said.

    "I wish I had a clue," defensive lineman Tyoka Jackson said.

    Well, coach Mike Martz had some thoughts on the subject, and those thoughts started and ended with stinging criticism of starting quarterback Chris Chandler.

    "I think everybody realized what was at stake," Martz said. "I'm sure that's why it hurts so much. Not just losing, but to lose it so decisively. It goes back to the inability to function at one position. You hold the whole team hostage."

    Martz was talking about the quarterback position. More specifically, Chandler at the quarterback position.

    "He made some bad decisions," Martz said. "You'd call plays, and the ball's going to the wrong guy completely. I have no idea what he was doing. He had to come out of there."

    Not even in the dark ages of Rams football, when the team went 22-42 from 1995 to 1998, had the team been as pathetic in an opening quarter as it was Sunday.

    Arizona outgained the Rams 108 yards to minus-20, and outscored them 10-0 in the opening quarter. And if you thought Chandler was shaky last week against Carolina, well, he took it to another level against the Big Red.

    In three series against the Cardinals, Chandler was one for six for 1 measly yard. He threw an interception on an out pattern in which Torry Holt slipped making his cut. And he was sacked twice, hanging on to the ball too long instead of just throwing it away.

    There were behind-the-scenes indications at Rams Park last week that Martz would have a short leash on Chandler - and that proved to be the case Sunday. After those three miserable series by Chandler, out trotted Jamie Martin.

    Martin had been out of football for more than 13 months before signing with the Rams Dec. 7. It was a drastic move, but a move Martz felt had to be made given Chandler's play.

    "It's tragic for this football team that that (quarterback) position could hold this whole football team hostage," Martz said.

    Martz was so upset with Chandler, he couldn't - or wouldn't - mention him by name.

    "You can't complete a screen to a wide receiver?" Martz said. "You throw it to the wrong guy. We're supposed to throw a hitch and we throw it to the wrong guy. We were just doing bizarre stuff."

    Martz felt that Chandler was free-lancing on offense, ignoring the progression of the reads that are an integral part of the system. But did the Rams give Chandler enough help in play- calling? After all, six of the seven plays Chandler participated in before getting yanked were pass plays - against the league's 30th-ranked run defense.

    But one of Chandler's passes was supposed to be a run, Martz said.

    "Some of the decisions, just weren't ... the play was very poor at that position," Martz said.


    After last week's debacle in Carolina, Chandler faced the music in terms of answering questions from the media. Not this time. He was out the door of the locker room before reporters entered - a fact that did not go unnoticed by some of his Rams teammates.

    When asked if Chandler seemed confused in the huddle or on the field, running back Marshall Faulk said: "I have no idea. You guys have to ask Chris that. Did you guys talk to Chris?"

    Faulk's locker stall at Sun Devil Stadium was just a few feet from Chandler's, so he knew Chandler made an early exit to the team bus.


    The Rams didn't get their initial first down of the game until Martin's first play - a 10-yard pass to Brandon Manumaleuna with 12:24 to go in the first half. All things considered, Martin wasn't bad, completing 16 of 31 passes for 188 yards.

    But Martin couldn't get the Rams into the end zone, marking the first time since Dec. 1, 2002 - when Kurt Warner was playing with what turned out to be a broken hand against Philadelphia - that the Rams offense didn't score a touchdown.

    In a telling indication of the Rams' buzzard's luck, Holt fumbled on the Arizona 1-yard line trying to get into the end zone late in the third quarter after a 22-yard catch from Martin. Arizona recovered in the end zone for a touchback.

    "I saw it; I couldn't believe it," Little said.

    Little accounted for the Rams' lone touchdown when he scooped up a fumble by Arizona quarterback Josh McCown and raced 61 yards to the end zone with 7 seconds remaining in the first half. Rookie Anthony Hargrove forced the fumble with his first NFL sack.

    "I thought it was going to be a spark to get us going, but it never did happen," Little said.

    Nothing much happened for the Rams on Sunday. At least, nothing good.

    Now 6-8, the Rams are assured of their second non-winning season in three years. And it might only get worse, what with Philadelphia (13-1) and the New York Jets (10-4) next up.

  • #2
    Re: Rams leave Tempe empty--MUST READ

    Little accounted for the Rams' lone touchdown when he scooped up a fumble by Arizona quarterback Josh McCown and raced 61 yards to the end zone with 7 seconds remaining in the first half. Rookie Anthony Hargrove forced the fumble with his first NFL sack.

    "I thought it was going to be a spark to get us going, but it never did happen," Little said.
    It seemed like a spark to me too....but it was put out very quickly. :upset:
    sigpic

    Comment


    • #3
      Re: Rams leave Tempe empty--MUST READ

      If Chandler lasts into 2005 with this team, I'll be disappointed.

      Comment


      • #4
        Re: Rams leave Tempe empty--MUST READ

        I love it. It's all Chandler's fault.

        Comment


        • #5
          Re: Rams leave Tempe empty--MUST READ

          Originally posted by moklerman
          I love it. It's all Chandler's fault.
          Obviously that's not the case, but clearly Chandler is playing poor football, and perhaps with a different quarterback in Carolina, the Rams could have won.

          Comment


          • #6
            Re: Rams leave Tempe empty--MUST READ

            Obviously that's not the case, but clearly Chandler is playing poor football, and perhaps with a different quarterback in Carolina, the Rams could have won.
            We all know that Chandler performed poorly. Most of us assumed that would be the case when he signed on the dotted line. But for Martz to throw him under the bus like this is laughable. I've never seen this much finger pointing from a coach. Do you think Chandler wanted to play like that? Do you think that he's pleased that's how he's going to leave the game? For Martz to pile on him like that is just another in a long line of classless moves by Martz.

            Comment


            • #7
              Re: Rams leave Tempe empty--MUST READ

              It goes back to the inability to function at one position. You hold the whole team hostage."
              This is priceless. Is he talking about the Head Coaching position?

              Comment


              • #8
                Re: Rams leave Tempe empty--MUST READ

                Originally posted by moklerman
                But for Martz to throw him under the bus like this is laughable. I've never seen this much finger pointing from a coach.
                This is great. When Martz takes the blame himself and tries to keep it from his players, he gets people calling him out about it. Now that he's started to make players responsible for their playing and talks about it, he's got people calling him out. He's truly in a lose-lose situation in terms of where responsibility needs to go for these things.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Re: Rams leave Tempe empty--MUST READ

                  This is great. When Martz takes the blame himself and tries to keep it from his players, he gets people calling him out about it. Now that he's started to make players responsible for their playing and talks about it, he's got people calling him out. He's truly in a lose-lose situation in terms of where responsibility needs to go for these things.
                  Why can't he just keep his mouth shut when the reporters, slavering for "blame" come calling?

                  Yeah.. Chandler bit the big one. Who was the dunce who put him back in, didn't change a thing from a 6 INT game plan, and expects something different?

                  Madness defined: Doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result.

                  Maybe that's why he's "Mad Mike"? Eh?

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Re: Rams leave Tempe empty--MUST READ

                    Originally posted by atcchris
                    Why can't he just keep his mouth shut when the reporters, slavering for "blame" come calling?

                    Yeah.. Chandler bit the big one. Who was the dunce who put him back in, didn't change a thing from a 6 INT game plan, and expects something different?

                    Madness defined: Doing the same thing over and over expecting a different result.

                    Maybe that's why he's "Mad Mike"? Eh?
                    I definitely agree with you about the gameplan, but the second he stops talking, people will be *****ing about him not saying anything. It's the endless cycle. He's damned if he does, damned if he doesn't. Let's not pretend it's anything different.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Re: Rams leave Tempe empty--MUST READ

                      I disagree. All he has to do is add "we" to whatever he's talking about. Coach speak is not that difficult. "We" weren't ready today. "We didn't do what needed to be done. Etc., etc.

                      You have to look at what's actually being said by Martz not just seperate it into two categories. You're loading the question that way. When he was "taking the blame" did it really seem like that's what he was doing? It sure seemed like he was ultimately defending his decisions rather than taking blame. As always, Martz's choice of words is poor at best. Let's not pretend it's anything different.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Re: Rams leave Tempe empty--MUST READ

                        When Martz made comments like "I didn't have such and such ready," or "That was my call," it sounded as if he wastaking the blame, yes. I'm sorry, but there are many recorded instances of Martz stepping in the line of fire. Let's not pretend it's anything different, no matter how much you may want to spin it.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Re: Rams leave Tempe empty--MUST READ

                          no matter how much you may want to spin it.
                          I don't think I'm the one who's "spinning". When you say that he's damned if he does and damned if he doesn't and then propose that "everyone" will think this or that, it sure sounds like fast talking to me.

                          I'm giving my opinion on what I think, based on what's happened. Instead of looking at only a single quote to establish my opinion of what I think Martz's motivations are or were, I'm looking at everything combined. When you look at his track record, Martz has proven to be self serving in my opinion.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            Re: Rams leave Tempe empty--MUST READ

                            Originally posted by moklerman
                            Instead of looking at only a single quote to establish my opinion of what I think Martz's motivations are or were, I'm looking at everything combined.
                            Which is why I find it so incomprehensible that someone claiming to look at all of Martz's quotes would not recognize the many instances where he's shifted blame to himself over his players. But it would seem that's an opinion we'll just have to differ on.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              Re: Rams leave Tempe empty--MUST READ

                              Which is why I find it so incomprehensible that someone claiming to look at all of Martz's quotes would not recognize the many instances where he's shifted blame to himself over his players.
                              I recognize that he said those things, I just question his motives for saying them. Taken at face value, yes, he has defended his players. But when he says things like he called a very bad game and all those interceptions weren't Bulger's fault, I have to question "why" he's saying it. In those instances he was trying to deflect criticism of Bulger. Ultimately, justifying his decision to start Bulger. So, while taking blame for the onfield mistakes, he's actually defending his player decision. That's just a generalized recap of one of the many instances from 2003. Just a disclaimer to avoid any possible criticism for not spending hours in research when I'm just trying to make a point, not argue grammar or exact wording.

                              If you look at it logically, and view the big picture, it's plain as day.

                              Comment

                              Related Topics

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                              • 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, 06:35 AM
                              • Nick
                                Words can't do justice to describe QB's ineptitude
                                by Nick
                                Words can't do justice to describe QB's ineptitude
                                By Bryan Burwell
                                Of the Post-Dispatch
                                Sunday, Dec. 19 2004

                                TEMPE, Ariz. - Before we get to the really heavy lifting in the wreckage of
                                this disastrous Rams season, let's shove some of the light debris out of the
                                way first.

                                Cut Chris Chandler right now.

                                Don't waste another day or another ounce of aggravation on someone who clearly
                                doesn't care enough about his job to prepare properly to help his team win. The
                                Rams' postseason hopes have all but disintegrated in the span of the two weeks,
                                and in the aftermath of another catastrophic defeat that has his fingerprints
                                all over it, Chandler is the easiest (though clearly not the only) culprit to
                                identify.

                                Somehow, after 17 years in the National Football League, the 39-year-old
                                Chandler has mysteriously forgotten how to play quarterback, as evidenced by
                                his pitiful display in Sunday's 31-7 loss to the Arizona Cardinals. One week
                                after playing one of the worst games I've ever seen a proven, veteran NFL
                                quarterback play (six interceptions and three sacks in a 20-7 loss to
                                Carolina), Chandler outdid himself against the Cardinals.

                                I cannot overstate how bad this guy stunk up half-empty Sun Devil Stadium. In
                                only one spectacularly abysmal quarter of play, Chandler completed one of six
                                passes for 1 lousy yard, was sacked twice, threw an interception and had a 0.0
                                passer rating. By the time Mike Martz yanked him at the end of the first
                                quarter, the Rams had already fallen behind 10-0 and had been outgained in
                                total offensive yards 108 to minus-20.

                                Here's how his day went out here in the Arizona desert, and too bad it wasn't a
                                mirage.

                                Three and out.

                                Three and out.

                                Interception.

                                Three and out.

                                Benched.

                                He was beyond bad. He was flat-out incompetent, and maybe worse than that.
                                Incompetence, as bad as it might be, is at least excusable. But indifference is
                                an unpardonable transgression. You expect a rookie to play incompetently. You
                                might even expect a free agent, walking in cold off the street, to be clueless.
                                But who could expect a 17-year veteran who has been to two Pro Bowls, won an
                                NFC championship and played in the scorching heat of a Super Bowl, to play
                                without a clue, and with so little passion?
                                Chandler was not only bad, he was calling passes when he was supposed to be
                                calling a running plays. He was throwing to the wrong receivers. He was
                                floating balls like they were filled with helium. And when he wasn't doing
                                that, he was showing all the mobility of an oak tree, feet deeply rooted in the
                                ground and unable to move...
                                -12-20-2004, 01:17 AM
                              • RamWraith
                                Words can't do justice to describe QB's ineptitude
                                by RamWraith
                                By Bryan Burwell
                                Of the Post-Dispatch
                                12/19/2004

                                Cut Chris Chandler right now.

                                Don't waste another day or another ounce of aggravation on someone who clearly doesn't care enough about his job to prepare properly to help his team win. The Rams' postseason hopes have all but disintegrated in the span of the two weeks, and in the aftermath of another catastrophic defeat that has his fingerprints all over it, Chandler is the easiest (though clearly not the only) culprit to identify.

                                Somehow, after 17 years in the National Football League, the 39-year-old Chandler has mysteriously forgotten how to play quarterback, as evidenced by his pitiful display in Sunday's 31-7 loss to the Arizona Cardinals. One week after playing one of the worst games I've ever seen a proven, veteran NFL quarterback play (six interceptions and three sacks in a 20-7 loss to Carolina), Chandler outdid himself against the Cardinals.

                                I cannot overstate how bad this guy stunk up half-empty Sun Devil Stadium. In only one spectacularly abysmal quarter of play, Chandler completed one of six passes for 1 lousy yard, was sacked twice, threw an interception and had a 0.0 passer rating. By the time Mike Martz yanked him at the end of the first quarter, the Rams had already fallen behind 10-0 and had been outgained in total offensive yards 108 to minus-20.

                                Here's how his day went out here in the Arizona desert, and too bad it wasn't a mirage.

                                Three and out.

                                Three and out.

                                Interception.

                                Three and out.

                                Benched.

                                He was beyond bad. He was flat-out incompetent, and maybe worse than that. Incompetence, as bad as it might be, is at least excusable. But indifference is an unpardonable transgression. You expect a rookie to play incompetently. You might even expect a free agent, walking in cold off the street, to be clueless. But who could expect a 17-year veteran who has been to two Pro Bowls, won an NFC championship and played in the scorching heat of a Super Bowl, to play without a clue, and with so little passion?

                                Chandler was not only bad, he was calling passes when he was supposed to be calling a running plays. He was throwing to the wrong receivers. He was floating balls like they were filled with helium. And when he wasn't doing that, he was showing all the mobility of an oak tree, feet deeply rooted in the ground and unable to move out of the way of the various blitzes the Cards were throwing at him.

                                How does this happen? Was Chandler so traumatized from last week's bad experience that he was paralyzed with fear this week? Was he sleeping in meetings and didn't know the game plan? Was the wireless microphone in his helmet picking up shortwave signals from Sri Lanka? Did his dog eat his playbook?

                                "Guys, I don't know," said a seething Mike Martz in the head coach's...
                                -12-20-2004, 03:22 PM
                              • RamWraith
                                Chandler throws on a running play
                                by RamWraith
                                NFL.com wire reports



                                TEMPE, Ariz. (Dec. 19, 2004) -- The NFC West is so bad that a team with a losing record could win it -- even the Arizona Cardinals.

                                The St. Louis Rams had a chance to take control of the league's worst division, but they fell flat in a 31-7 loss to the Cardinals.

                                Josh McCown threw for two touchdowns and ran for two more and the Cardinals snapped a four-game losing streak.

                                McCown, starting his second game since being benched for three, went 22-of-34 for 287 yards with no interceptions. He had TD passes of 8 and 4 yards to Larry Fitzgerald, and scoring runs of 1 and 9 yards.

                                A victory would have moved the Rams into a tie with Seattle atop the division, since St. Louis holds the tiebreaker with two wins over the Seahawks. Instead, the Rams fell to 6-8, just one game ahead of the Cardinals (5-9), who improbably are still alive.

                                "We didn't see this coming," Rams wide receiver Torry Holt said. "If there was any game on the schedule that we felt confident about coming in and winning, it would be Arizona."

                                If Arizona wins its last two, and both Seattle and St. Louis go 0-2, the Cardinals would take the division title at 7-9.

                                "I'm surprised that a 5-9 team is in it, but I'm not surprised that it's this team," McCown said. "We have it in us. We have the talent, we have the capability to do this, it's just a consistency thing."

                                With quarterback Marc Bulger out with a shoulder injury, 39-year-old Chris Chandler lasted just one quarter for the Rams before he was replaced by Jamie Martin, who saw his first regular-season action in two years. He was signed by the Rams earlier this month when Bulger was injured.

                                St. Louis coach Mike Martz put much of the blame on Chandler, saying the veteran quarterback threw the ball on a run play on the first series and made other elementary mistakes.

                                "It's tragic for this football team, for that position to hold this whole football team hostage," Martz said, "but that's where we are."

                                Martz praised Martin's play, considering the circumstances, but said, "I just don't know what to call when you've got a guy in there that's never been in there."

                                The Rams' touchdown came on Leonard Little 's 61-yard fumble return with 7 seconds left in the first half.

                                "When you score 31 points, hold a team to seven points and basically no points against the offense -- and not in position to kick even field goals -- then you feel like you've done a very good job," Arizona coach Dennis Green said.

                                St. Louis' only serious offensive threat ended when Holt was hit by Ifeanyi Ohalete and fumbled as he was about to cross the goal line. Ohalete recovered in the end zone for a touchback.

                                ...
                                -12-20-2004, 04:48 AM
                              • RamWraith
                                On a day when the Rams need him, Chandler's an asset for the Panthers
                                by RamWraith
                                By Bernie Miklasz
                                Of the Post-Dispatch
                                Sunday, Dec. 12 2004

                                CHARLOTTE, N.C. - For some athletes, the legs are the first to go as the aging
                                process sets in. For Rams quarterback Chris Chandler, 39, apparently it's the
                                eyes. Chandler's vision seemed awfully blurred on Sunday in Carolina. He kept
                                throwing the football to the wrong team.

                                The Panthers intercepted Chandler six times in their 20-7 victory over the
                                visiting Rams.

                                Repeat: Six INTs . . .

                                "It kind of snowballed a little bit," Chandler said.

                                More like an avalanche.

                                Chandler needed glasses, or even a pair of binoculars, to distinguish the Rams
                                from the Panthers. The final tally was close; at least Rams receivers Torry
                                Holt and Isaac Bruce caught nine of Chandler's passes, or three more than
                                Carolina.

                                Six interceptions . . .

                                At Bank of America Stadium, Chandler was an ATM for the Carolina defense. When
                                in need, the Panthers just punched the digits 1 and 2 for a passcode - Chandler
                                wears No. 12 - and he'd spit out another interception. He was instant cash for
                                Carolina all day. Chandler was the gift that kept on giving during this blessed
                                holiday season.

                                Six interceptions . . .

                                This was Marc Bulger's finest day as a Rams quarterback. No, he has a bruised
                                shoulder and didn't play. But at least now some spoiled Rams fans should
                                realize Bulger isn't the worst QB in the history of Western Civilization, after
                                all.

                                Chandler's pick-six special was the worst performance by an old Rams
                                quarterback since Joe Namath finished his career with the 1977 Los Angeles
                                Rams. Namath could barely walk at the end, but at least he could see well
                                enough to establish, say, each team's colors.

                                Then again, Namath didn't have to play behind this particular Rams offensive
                                line. Chandler won't last long. This treatment of Chandler, the league's oldest
                                starting QB, might prompt a protest by the American Association of Retired
                                Persons (AARP) at Rams Park.

                                And gee, isn't it good that Mike Martz dumped Kurt Warner and signed Chris
                                Chandler to serve as the No. 2 quarterback? Martz grew tired of Warner's
                                turnovers and tendency to hold onto the ball for too long and take sacks. So he
                                cut Warner loose.

                                Warner experienced some bad days during his decline, but he never was picked
                                off six times in a game. Warner is a humble man, but who could blame him for
                                smiling a little when he hears about Chandler's by-interception-only party for
                                the Panthers? And if Kurt isn't laughing, Brenda probably is.

                                "I can take all the blame for this one," Chandler said.
                                ...
                                -12-13-2004, 06:34 AM
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