'Holy Buckets' - Martz forgets Faulk

Tuesday, January 22, 2002

ST. LOUIS -- The St. Louis Rams were up 28, the clock was winding down, and Kurt Warner had a sore back and sore ribs.

Yet he and Marshall Faulk were on the field to the finish in Sunday's playoff blowout over the Green Bay Packers. It's just the latest example of coach Mike Martz always, always, going for the jugular.

Martz criticized himself Monday for at least one of the moves he didn't make, saying that he meant to take Faulk out.

"Marshall shouldn't have been in there," Martz said. "That's a bonehead mistake on my part."

When he realized Faulk was still in the game, Martz said he exclaimed: "Holy buckets!"

But he had no regrets about Warner running the show all the way as the Rams (15-2) advanced to the NFC championship game for the second time in three years. Martz's justification: Quick throws off three-step drops and easy handoffs meant almost no risk of injury, so why make a change?

His biggest reason for leaving Warner in the game was a nod to the Rams' revamped defense, which had its biggest day in several seasons with six interceptions of Brett Favre and three touchdown returns. The defense was rated third in the NFL but was under-rated until this game.

"I'm going to tell you this: I did not want our defense back on the field after the job they were doing," Martz said.

Earlier in the season, Martz had other reasons for not emptying his bench.

He left everybody in to preserve a 35-0 shutout over the Lions in October.

When the Rams clinched the NFC West, he wanted them on the field at the end even though they beat the Colts 42-17.

His stars didn't want to sit down, and he wasn't going to make them.

The Rams beat their opponents by an average of 31-17 in the regular season. They also whipped the Dolphins by 32, the Lions by 35, the Panthers by 34 and the Falcons by 29.

That should have opened the door for backup quarterback Jamie Martin and backup running back Trung Canidate. Think again. Martin threw only three passes in the regular season and Canidate got most of his 441 yards rushing when he started two games while Faulk was out with a bruised knee.

Warner suffers mild injury

Warner suffered bruised ribs when he was hit by Vonnie Holliday after a 4-yard completion to Faulk in the fourth quarter. The quarterback was on his knees for several seconds, and the Rams called a timeout to give him a breather. He never left the game.

X-rays taken Monday didn't show any broken ribs. Rams players had Monday and Tuesday off, and the team said Warner will practice Wednesday when workouts resume.

It's the latest minor setback for Warner, who bruised vocal cords in the regular-season finale Jan. 6. He rested his voice for 10 days and wore a special face mask to protect the throat in Sunday's game.

He also missed practice one day last week because of the stomach flu.

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