Rams can't hand ball over to 49ers

Sunday, December 9, 2001

The Rams have shown time and again this season just how good they are when they don't turn the ball over.

And based on the rapid rise of the 49ers, it appears as if St. Louis can ill afford many giveaways when the 9-2 teams hook up today in one of the marquee matchups of the NFL season so far. On the line will be first place in the NFC West and a leg up on possible home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

St. Louis had a turnover-free performance last Sunday in Atlanta -- and the result was a 35-6 rout of a decent Falcons team that is battling for a playoff spot. Most other low turnover games for the Rams have also resulted in lopsided victories.

But by and large, turnover problems have plagued the Rams all season -- at least as much as anything can be plaguing a team that is 9-2.

St. Louis' talent level, however, seems to be so high that most people who follow the NFL for a living believe the only thing that can prevent the Rams' second Super Bowl victory in three years is the Rams themselves. Namely, those crushing turnovers --especially so many of them.

In their only two losses so far, the Rams have a total of 13 turnovers -- eight against New Orleans and five against Tampa Bay. And, unbelievably, they still almost won both games.

A mistake-filled performance today probably won't cut it against the 49ers, who are not only one of the NFL's biggest turnaround stories after going 6-10 last year but also gave the Rams all they wanted in Week 2 before falling 30-26.

Today's game should be a fun one to watch -- and even better for Rams fans if their team can keep from giving away the football.

Even though the Chicago Bulls rank as one of the NBA's worst teams, a former Ohio Valley Conference star has quickly made his mark with the struggling squad.

Austin Peay product Trenton Hassell, after being used sparingly early this year, has become a fixture in the Bulls' starting lineup over the past few weeks.

Hassell, who tormented SEMO plenty during his collegiate days, has reached double figures in several games since becoming a starter and, entering the weekend, he was the Bulls' fifth-leading scorer on the season with a 9.3 average while shooting an impressive 49 percent from the field.

Anybody who followed OVC basketball over the past few years could clearly see just how talented Hassell was so it's really no surprise that he has become one of the NBA's premier rookies on the way to what should be a long and productive career.

It was another banner Canadian Football League season for former SEMO star Kelvin "Earthquake" Anderson, who this year became the all-time leading rusher for the Calgary Stampeders.

For the sixth time in as many CFL campaigns, Anderson topped the 1,000-yard mark as he finished with 1,383 to rank second in the league.

And Anderson, who added 48 pass receptions, also recently helped lead the Stampeders to their second CFL championship in the past four seasons.

Area wrestling fans should clear their calendars Friday and Saturday. That's when the Cape Central Tiger Classic, annually one of the highlights of the season, will be held.

Marty Mishow is a sports writer for the Southeast Missourian

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