Rams flounder; Bulger questions effort

Monday, December 4, 2006
The Rams' Steven Jackson (39) bobbled a pass, which was intercepted by the Cardinals' David Macklin in the second half of Sunday's game in St. Louis. (SARAH CONARD ~ Associated Press)

ST. LOUIS -- The normally soft-spoken Marc Bulger had to speak up: St. Louis had just lost to the Arizona Cardinals at home, and the Rams' mistakes Sunday made it "obvious" that some of his teammates are no longer committed.

"I know there's some guys in here who don't care," Bulger said in a 34-20 loss to Arizona on Sunday.

Prized by his coaches for his calm demeanor, the quarterback kept his voice down and didn't single out anyone after the Rams were whistled for a season-high 126 yards in penalties. But he said the way the Rams (5-7) have been repeating mistakes throughout the season made it "obvious" that some players had given up on the team.

"There's more than one guy in this locker room that could care less that we're losing, or thinks it's OK to make mistakes."

Marcel Shipp scored three touchdowns, Edgerrin James had 115 yards rushing and Matt Leinart won for the second time in seven pro starts for Arizona (3-9), which made the most of the Rams' mistakes to win for the first time on the road all season.

"I think we're getting better every week," Leinart said.

James' 50th career 100-yard rushing games came against the NFL's worst team against the run. It's Arizona's first 100-yard game in more than two seasons since Emmitt Smith got 106 against the Seahawks on Oct. 24, 2004.

"It was a normal thing for me for a while," James said. "But when you get here, you see it is a big thing."

Bulger threw for 314 yards and two touchdowns, but also had three interceptions to add to woes that contributed to a sixth loss in seven games for the Rams (5-7). Bulger has three touchdown passes and six interceptions the last four games, although one came on a desperation heave on the game's final play.

Bulger absolved players at the skill positions, naming Steven Jackson and wide receivers Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce as others who take losing hard.

"I'm not pointing finger at certain people because I certainly didn't play perfect and I haven't been playing perfect," Bulger said. "But like I said, I care. What bugs me is that there are some guys who don't care."

St. Louis ended a five-game losing streak last week with a win over the 49ers. Offensive coordinator Greg Olson took over play-calling from head coach Scott Linehan but couldn't conjure any more scoring from the new arrangement after falling behind early.

Linehan said it's far too early to think about getting younger players experience for next season.

"You can make the playoffs in this league at 8-8," Linehan said. "Our season is not over. No way are we approaching it that way."

Two of the 10 calls against the Rams led to scores by Arizona (3-9) on the next play. Larry Fitzgerald caught an 11-yard touchdown pass one play after a 34-yard pass interference on Fakhir Brown in the second quarter, and Shipp scored on a 6-yard run one play after Corey Chavous' interference penalty meant a 27-yard gain for the Cardinals.

A third crucial penalty, a defensive holding call on Leonard Little, wiped out Ron Bartell's interception in the end zone early in the fourth quarter to help the Cardinals put the game away. Shipp, who entered the game with only 6 yards on three carries, scored his third touchdown on a 9-yard run four plays later for a 31-13 lead.

The touchdowns were Shipp's first since 2002, when he was Arizona's feature back. James, who had 94 yards in the first meeting against the Rams in the third week of the season, didn't mind Shipp finishing off drives.

"I had an opportunity to go in, and I said, 'No, let Shipp go in,"' James said, "because they've been so supportive of me in practice and everything."

The Cardinals nearly matched the Rams in penalties, getting whistled 11 times for 107 yards. None of them came at a significant cost.

Leinart was 15-for-24 for 186 yards and one touchdown.

Holt had seven catches for 115 yards and a 15-yard touchdown reception, his first score in six games since a three-TD, 154-yard effort against the Seahawks on Oct. 15. But he dropped a certain 83-yard touchdown pass in the second quarter after splitting two defenders.

The margin could have been larger except two Arizona drives stalled at the 1 and 5, forcing Neil Rackers' chip-shot field goals.

Noteworthy

* James also topped 10,000 yards rushing for his career. He has 10,036 yards and ranks 19th on the career rushing list.

* Bruce had five catches for 75 yards and has 867 career receptions, moving out of a tie with Jimmy Smith for seventh on the career list, and topped 13,000 receiving yards.

* Leinart was sacked once for a total of four the last four games, after absorbing 12 sacks his first four games.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: