Ballhog Rams win big
Monday, September 29, 2003
ST. LOUIS -- The Rams found the solution to becoming a dominant team again: playing the Arizona Cardinals.
The Rams held the ball for more than two-thirds of the game, getting good work from Lamar Gordon, and limited the Cardinals to 161 yards total offense in a 37-13 victory Sunday. That came a week after a one-point loss in Seattle in which they lost a 13-point fourth-quarter lead.
"I was a little concerned, but we practiced extremely well," coach Mike Martz said. "They were upset by what happened and they wanted to rectify that."
The Cardinals (1-3) were 0-for-8 on third down, the first time a team has been shut out on third down this year. The last time the Rams held an opponent to zero third-down conversions was Dec. 11, 1983, in a 21-7 loss to the Patriots when New England was 0-for-11.
"If you don't do things that you're capable of doing, you get your behind torn up like we did today," said Emmitt Smith, held to 25 yards in 12 carries and scored on a 1-yard run, his first TD as a Cardinal.
As Marshall Faulk nursed a broken hand that will sideline him four to six weeks, Gordon ran for 81 yards on 21 carries and scored the game's first touchdown in his first start of the season. Gordon capped the Rams' first drive with a 3-yard TD run.
"I was feeling it, getting in the groove, and the line was dominating," Gordon said. "We were having fun out there."
Marc Bulger threw two touchdown passes and ran for a third in his second start since replacing Kurt Warner, including a 7-yarder to Torry Holt that put the game away at 30-13 early in the fourth. He was 28-for-41 for 272 yards.
"We were able to run the ball and pretty much do what we wanted," Bulger said. "When you can dictate the game, that's huge."
The Rams (2-2) led 20-7 at halftime. Josh Scobey had a 100-yard kickoff return in the third quarter that briefly cut the deficit to 10 points, but the Cardinals couldn't keep the St. Louis offense off the field -- the Rams had an 83-36 advantage in plays and held the ball for 42:27.
St. Louis had four scoring drives that lasted more than 10 plays, and ate up more than eight minutes before Bulger's 2-yard run for the final touchdown.
"There's no way you're going to have a successful game against that offense or any offense playing that kind of defense," Cardinals coach Dave McGinnis said. "They converted third downs at will. We blitzed, they converted. We covered, they converted."
Jeff Blake was 10-for-17 for only 88 yards.
"We didn't have the ball enough to make anything happen," Blake said.
Rookie Anquan Boldin caught seven passes for 86 yards for Arizona, setting NFL records for most catches (30) and yards (464) in his first four career games.
Bulger scrambled before hitting Dane Looker on a 6-yard score near the end of the first quarter for a 14-0 lead, and Jeff Wilkins added field goals of 24 and 53 yards in the second. Bulger also had a 7-yard TD pass to Torry Holt that made it 30-13 in the fourth quarter.
Wilkins, who is 10-for-11 this season, added a 31-yarder in the third quarter for a 23-7 lead before missing on a 39-yarder late in the third.
Rams wide receiver Isaac Bruce caught four passes for 58 yards, and set the franchise career record for receiving yards. Bruce has 9,790 career yards in 10 seasons and previously had set franchise marks for receptions and receiving touchdowns.
Bruce was overshadowed on Sunday by Holt, who tied his career best with 12 catches for 133 yards.
Notes Gordon saw limited action in the fourth quarter due to a sprained left wrist. ... The Rams opened the game with touchdowns on their first two drives for the first time since Dec. 30, 2001, when they beat the Colts 42-17 -- also their last 40-point effort. They scored on seven straight possessions at home over a two-game period before Bulger's interception at the end of the half. ... Cardinals OG Leonard Davis missed his third game with a sprained ankle. ... Wilkins' 53-yard field goal was his longest since a 54-yarder against the Saints on Oct. 28, 2001. His career best is 57 yards against the Cardinals in 1998. ... Blake surpassed 20,000 yards passing in the second quarter. ... Holt has 19 career 100-yard receiving games, two this season.