Rams give running game equal time in road win

Tuesday, October 5, 2004

ST. LOUIS -- For at least one game, the pass-happy Rams relied on the running game. But as far as coach Mike Martz was concerned, "fast and furious" still applied.

A week after coming under heavy criticism for a game plan that featured 49 passes and just 15 runs in a 28-25 overtime loss at home against New Orleans, Martz used the run early and often in a 24-14 win Sunday night at San Francisco, evening the Rams' record at 2-2.

Martz had defended his play-calling against the Saints by urging reporters to "get used to it," saying the Rams will continue to play "fast and furious." And despite rushing 36 times and passing 25 against the 49ers, he said that's exactly how the Rams played, on offense, defense and special teams.

"They came out fast and furious in all three phases, and that's what we ask them to do," he said.

The reliance on the run wasn't necessarily by design, but a reaction to the defense, Martz said.

"You stand on the sideline, you look out and they're playing a real soft cover 2, you start handing the ball off and you start rolling pretty good, and that's what kind of happened," Martz said.

Martz called 19 running plays and 18 passes in the first half, when St. Louis built a 24-0 lead that was never threatened. The Rams spent much of the second half running vanilla plays with Marshall Faulk and rookie Steven Jackson, apparently more content to keep the clock moving than to tack on more points.

Faulk had 121 yards on 23 carries and Jackson had 46 on 10 carries as St. Louis rolled up 174 yards on the ground. The balance seemed to help quarterback Marc Bulger, who was 17-of-25 for 186 yards, one touchdown and no interceptions for a season-best quarterback rating of 103.1.

The Rams had no turnovers and allowed no sacks, and Isaac Bruce had his fourth straight 100-yard receiving game.

St. Louis' defense, which failed to force a punt in the loss to New Orleans, shut out San Francisco (0-4) for three quarters.

St. Louis forced two turnovers, including a fumble by 49ers quarterback Tim Rattay deep in San Francisco territory that set up a touchdown. The Rams had no takeaways in the first three games.

"We're getting better," Martz said. "We've got a lot of room to go yet."

Noteworthy

* Bruce is the first receiver in NFL history to start a season with four-straight 100-yard games. Charley Hennigan of the Houston Oilers did it in 1963, in the old AFL.

* Safety Adam Archuletta continues to struggle with a bad back. He saw only limited play Sunday and is questionable for Sunday's game in Seattle. But his replacement, Rich Coady, was named the team's defensive player of the week with six tackles and a forced fumble.

* Other Rams players of the week were Faulk and Bruce on offense, and Trev Faulk, who had three tackles on kickoff returns and one on a punt return, on special teams.

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