Super Bowl loss not haunting Rams

Saturday, July 27, 2002

MACOMB, Ill. -- The St. Louis Rams' Super Bowl hangover is barely hanging on.

Players reported to training camp Friday motivated for a third trip to the big game in four years, but the pain from the 20-17 upset loss to the New England Patriots in February seems to have subsided. Kurt Warner said he was over the disappointment "for the most part," and so did most of his teammates.

"Whenever it's brought up, you always think about it and dwell on it a little bit," Warner said. "It's a missed opportunity. But it's a new season, a new year, and we've got new things we want to accomplish."

Offensive guard Tom Nutten has a unique way of dealing with the loss to the Patriots, who had been double-digit underdogs.

"In my mind, it never happened," Nutten said. "It was like a bad dream. After the Super Bowl, which never happened, you go home and you sit on it for a while, and after that you realize you've got to get ready for the next one."

The Rams, who have 20 of 22 starters returning, exuded a quiet confidence that they'll be back.

Looking ahead, not back

"Our guys are all veterans and they understand it, they know they can't carry last year into this year," defensive tackle Tyoka Jackson said. "That's what the NFL is all about, that's why teams go up and down, up and down.

"We're going to win 10-games plus every year because we know how to get rid of the last year."

The Rams were 14-2 last year and Warner, the NFL's MVP, believes the best is yet to come.

"We think we can be better than we were last year, and last year we felt were the best team in the NFL, although we didn't show it on Super Bowl Sunday," Warner said. "The defense to me looks better than it ever has just in the minicamps, and the offense is going to be as good as it's ever been."

Just to make sure, coach Mike Martz in his opening address to the team Friday night warned players to guard against complacency.

"When you have a veteran team, there's a tendency to take things for granted, let things become kind of automatic," Martz said. "No matter how much character and how tough you are and how much of a perfectionist, it's just the nature of everybody for things to become somewhat mundane."

Two-a-day workouts begin this morning at Western Illinois University.

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