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Canidate powers Rams' romp
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Trung Canidate quadrupled his rushing yardage for the season Sunday. The St. Louis Rams' confidence in him increased immeasurably.
Canidate scored twice and accounted for 232 yards in his first start replacing the injured Marshall Faulk, helping the Rams remain the NFL's only unbeaten team with a 34-14 victory over the New York Jets.
St. Louis is only the second NFL team to start three straight seasons with at least six victories. The 1929-31 Green Bay Packers had the only other such streak.
Canidate's breakthrough game ensure the Rams' latest 6-0 start.
"We felt pretty good about him based on what we see of him in practice, and when he was finally put in a position to contribute, we were elated with how it turned out," coach Mike Martz said.
"I wish I could tell you I knew he would do this, but I'd be lying if I did."
Canidate had just 14 carries for 47 yards this season after an injury-plagued rookie year in which he ran the ball just three times. He was filling in for Faulk, last season's Most Valuable Player who bruised his right knee a week ago and was inactive Sunday after saying he might be able to play against the Jets (3-3).
Canidate rushed for 195 yards on 23 carries and added three receptions for 37 yards. It was the most yards rushing for an NFL running back making his first start since Gerald Riggs had 202 for Atlanta in 1984, and Canidate clearly could have had more -- he didn't play the final 14 minutes.
"We just try to put points in the board as fast as we can," Canidate said of the Rams' philosophy with or without Faulk.
The quickest touchdown of the day came when Canidate broke a 7-7 tie with the second of St. Louis' three touchdowns in the second quarter.
He will never have an easier score in his career.
With the Rams on their own 44, wide receiver Az-Zahir Hakim, a high-school quarterback, took a handoff and was about to be tackled after a 12-yard gain when he pitched to Canidate near the sideline.
Canidate was in the clear for the final 44 yards and just trotted the last 10. He was going backward as he crossed the goal line, and because of the lateral, he wasn't even officially credited with a rushing attempt on the play.
"It's a normal option, where you keep a relationship with the pitch man and stay behind him," Canidate said.
The option play capped one of two 80-yard touchdown drives in the second quarter, and the Rams scored again 55 seconds later when Aeneas Williams intercepted a pass from Vinny Testaverde and returned it 42 yards, making it 21-7 with 2:16 left.
"Aeneas has four or five interceptions a week in practice, and we were wondering when he would get one in a game," Martz said.
It was the first interception this season for Testaverde, who tried to knock Williams out of bounds at the 5, but the defensive back shrugged off the hit and fell into the end zone.
"We played a pretty good first quarter, but we fell apart in the second and couldn't get rejuvenated," Jets coach Herman Edwards said. "They made some big plays."
A 22-yard reception by Torry Holt and a 29-yard run by Canidate on a third-and-1 play set up the Rams' first touchdown, a 15-yard pass from Kurt Warner to Hakim.
The Jets tied it 7-7 after a 50-yard kickoff return by Craig Yeast, with a 47-yard drive capped by Testaverde's 5-yard TD pass to Anthony Becht. The tight end scored again in the fourth quarter on a 7-yard pass from Chad Pennington.
The Rams ended any hope of a Jets comeback with a dominant third quarter, during which they outgained New York 166-8.
Jeff Wilkins kicked two field goals in the second half, and Candidate made it 31-7 with a 12-yard run in the third quarter after he took a direct snap in the shotgun formation.
NOTES: Testaverde was 9-for-13 for 74 yards passing before being replaced by Pennington in the fourth quarter. ... Warner finished 18-for-27 for 215 yards. ... The Rams recovered an onside kick after going ahead 31-7. Martz shrugged off suggestions that he was rubbing it in. ... Testaverde had thrown a personal-best 176 passes since his previous interception. The Jets went 247 plays and 17 quarters without a turnover. ... Jets DL Shane Burton strained his left calf in the first quarter and did not return. WR Wayne Chrebet took a blow to the head in the second quarter and did not return.