Still Ram tough

January 29, 2002 10:06 AM
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St. Louis Rams head coach Mike Martz said the Patriots were the best team they had faced. That was nine weeks ago and New England hasn’t lost since.

However, the Rams won that day in Foxboro, 24-17. And, they did it by controlling the football over the last eight minutes to keep the New England offense on the sidelines.

Maybe that was the ultimate tribute to the St. Louis attack, often hailed for its Showtime explosiveness and not enough for grit.

Quarterback Kurt Warner threw for 401 yards and hit 30 of 42 passes in what was the best game of his brilliant three-year rise to superstardom in the National Football League.

The Rams were 8-1 when making the trek to New England and showed they can win outside the dome, on grass and in hostile AFC territory not normally seen.

In the playoffs, the offense has not been quite as potent as in the regular season, but the defense has been outstanding.

Stellar All-Pro defensive back Aeneas Williams will be a strong candidate for Super MVP honors with another game to match his two previous efforts this postseason.

Williams, who came over to the Rams from the former St. Louis Cardinals (now Arizona), has intercepted three passes in two games, returning two of those for touchdowns.

His theft of a Donovan McNabb pass in the final two minutes secured a 29-24 victory over Philadelphia in the NFC title game.

Faulk is pro football’s most dangerous player, both as a runner and receiver. He accounted for nearly 2,147 yards and 21 touchdowns during the regular season and added another 150 in the victory over the Eagles.

Warner has multiple weapons at his disposal, led by Torry Holt, who caught 81 passes for 1,363 yards and seven touchdowns in the regular season.

Placekicker Jeff Wilkins missed just six field goal tries, while linebacker London Fletcher led the much-improved defense with 119 tackles.

In the first matchup with New England, Faulk was held to 83 yards. The Rams were able to penetrate the Patriots secondary with seven different receivers catching passes. Issac Bruce led the way with 130 yards on seven receptions.

The Rams are a 14-point favorite to capture their second Super Bowl in three years. St. Louis beat Philadelphia last week in a rematch from the season-opening game.

It would be fitting to win the final game over New England the same way.

LEADING PLAYERS

K. Warner  

4,830 yds  

36 TD

M. Faulk,  

2,147 tot yds  

21 TD

T. Holt  

1,363 yds  

7 TD

J. Wilkins  

23/29 FG  

127 pts.

L. Fletcher  

119 Tackles  

 2 INT

A. Williams  

3 INT  

2 TD

  

(last 2 gms)