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Rams try to find answers for problems in red zone

Friday, September 16, 2005

ST. LOUIS -- Too much Jeff Wilkins meant not enough points for the St. Louis Rams in their opener. They know they have to get into the end zone a lot more often for this season to be a success.

In Sunday's 28-25 loss at San Francisco, the Rams' first four trips inside the 20 produced four field goals and they were held to minus-5 yards on 15 plays. That lack of early success caught up with them because the two late touchdowns they scored left them short.

"You're frustrated because you know the talent that we have on offense, and it's kind of mind-boggling wondering why we couldn't get it in the end zone that many times down there in the red zone," running back Steven Jackson said Thursday.

Marc Bulger completed 34 of a franchise-record 56 passes for 362 yards, the Rams outgained the 49ers 405-217 and had a whopping 89-41 advantage in plays. All of those stalled drives negated all the statistical success.

"Usually when you get field goals and you don't get touchdowns, it comes back to haunt you later in the game," offensive guard Adam Timmerman said. "Sure enough, it did. That just shows you that you really have to capitalize when you get that opportunity."

Suffice to say the red zone is a major point of emphasis in preparation for this week's game at Arizona. The Rams don't want to dig themselves an early-season 0-2 hole.

"It'll come back late in the season, you'll be looking at that game as one you should have won, and shoulda, woulda, coulda, and all that stuff," Timmerman said. "But you can't do anything about it, so you have to do something about it this week."

Bulger, who has all of those glossy statistics with a loss to show for it, said one week of subpar production was nothing to get worried about.

"We just have to get back to work," he said. "We have a lot of stuff in, it's a matter of making plays and putting the ball in the end zone.

"It's up to us to make the plays."

Torry Holt had 10 catches for 125 yards, but no touchdowns. Shaun McDonald and Kevin Curtis each had seven catches, with no scores. The Rams needed a lot more to overcome another awful game from special teams that, among other things, gave up an on-side kick and allowed a punt return for touchdown.

"For us to get in the red zone and not capitalize, it's disheartening," Holt said. "That's our job. This week, we want to give our offense the opportunity to score points."

Curtis said field goals are OK once in a while, but not all the time.

"I watched myself especially, there's a couple of plays I could have made," Curtis said. "Definitely it's frustrating, and I can't wait to get back on the field."

Timmerman thought the 49ers' 3-4 defense, instead of the NFL norm 4-3, might have thrown off the Rams for a while. The Rams didn't have much game tape on the San Francisco starters to go on.

This week's opponent, the Cardinals, run a 4-3 and have not made any major changes from last season.

"There's really no excuse for it but it would be better to just have more preparation," Timmerman said. "I think this week we at least have one game against their defense plus they have the same defensive coordinator as last year."

Noteworthy

* Offensive tackle Rex Tucker likely will be sidelined for at least a few weeks with a strained right calf muscle. Tucker said the leg gave way while he was blocking in the fourth quarter. It's expected that Blaine Saipaia will start at that spot and first-round pick Alex Barron will again be a game-day inactive, although coach Mike Martz said he's made considerable progress lately.

* Middle linebacker Chris Claiborne has a solution for the likely searing heat Sunday in Tempe, Ariz.: "Stay hydrated early. If you kick their butt early, you don't have to worry about it late."

* Jackson on whether he was stunned by the Game 1 loss: "You're disappointed but you have 15 more weeks to move on. That's what we intend to do, and we're going to start on Sunday."


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