NFC West report card: Week 12
RAMS REPORT CARD: ST. LOUIS 33, HOUSTON 27 (OT) PASSING OFFENSE: B-plus -- Rookie QB Ryan Fitzpatrick made his season debut in relief of Jamie Martin and threw three touchdown passes, guiding the Rams back from a 24-3 halftime deficit. Fitzpatrick had a passer rating of 117.4, and 105 of his 310 yards came after an onside kick recovery late in the fourth quarter. Pass protection was again a problem, as Martin and Fitzpatrick were sacked a total of seven times. RUSHING OFFENSE: B -- RB Steven Jackson had 110 yards on 25 carries one week after being stuffed by the Cardinals. Jackson scored on a 1-yard run, two plays after it appeared he fumbled at the goal line, but officials ruled him down by contact. PASS DEFENSE: C -- A tale of two halves. In the first half, QB David Carr completed 13 of 17 passes for 171 yards and three touchdowns, and also rushed three times for 28 yards. His first-half passer rating was 147.3. In the second half, Carr did complete 12 of 17 passes, but for only 122 yards and no touchdowns, and he rushed once for 11 yards. CB Chris Johnson competed better in the second half, and the Rams improved on third down. In the first half, the Texans were 5-of-7 on third down. They were 2-of-6 in the second half. RUSH DEFENSE: B -- A run defense that had been gashed numerous times this season allowed just 88 yards on 26 carries by Texans running backs. Domanick Davis had 78 yards, but he needed 25 attempts to do it. SPECIAL TEAMS: A -- There was enough bad not to give this grade, but the excellence of PK Jeff Wilkins and his responsibility for the victory has to be recognized. In a span of about 30 seconds at the end of the fourth quarter and at the start of overtime, Wilkins hit an onside kick perfectly, made a 47-yard field goal to tie the game with four seconds remaining and then drilled the overtime kickoff into the end zone. The bad? An offside penalty by Chris Johnson on a first-half kickoff cost the Rams a fumble recovery and led to a Houston touchdown after a 40-yard return. The return game for the Rams was poor, as Terry Fair averaged 17.0 yards on four kickoff returns. But Wilkins overcame it all. COACHING: A -- Give idle coach Mike Martz an assist for this victory. Martz is as responsible as anyone for Fitzpatrick performing as he did. Interim coach Joe Vitt continues to preach individual responsibility, and while it took until the second half, perhaps the message is getting through. SEAHAWKS REPORT CARD: SEATTLE 24, NEW YORK GIANTS 21 (OT) PASSING OFFENSE: B-minus -- QB Matt Hasselbeck has had better days, but he did manage to put his team in position for the winning field goal in overtime. Hasselbeck's 38-yard pass to WR D.J. Hackett came out of the blue on a day when the Giants beat him up with sacks and other hits. WR Joe Jurevicius made huge plays against his former team. He caught eight passes for 137 yards and two touchdowns and gave Seattle an early lead with a leaping grab for a 35-yard TD. LT Walter Jones uncharacteristically had some problems in pass protection, and RT Sean Locklear needed help against DE Michael Strahan. RUSHING OFFENSE: C -- RB Shaun Alexander found little room to run against a Giants defense that was determined to shut down the NFL's leading rusher. Seattle likes to set up the run with the pass, but that wasn't easy because the Seahawks aren't the same team without injured WR Darrell Jackson. Good defenses take advantage of Jackson's absence by pressing the remaining receivers and loading up against the run. Alexander ran hard and made some clutch runs, including a 4-yard TD on fourth-and-inches. He set up another touchdown with a 20-yard run around the left side. PASS DEFENSE: D-plus -- DT Rocky Bernard collected another sack, giving him 8.5 for the season, but too often the Seahawks gave up key pass plays downfield. They roughed up Giants TE Jeremy Shockey but could not stop him from catching 10 passes for 127 yards and a touchdown. Seattle did force Giants QB Eli Manning into some poor throws, including one that SS Michael Boulware intercepted. The feeling was that a more experienced Manning would have turned a couple of those errant throws into big plays. RUSH DEFENSE: B-minus -- The final numbers look uglier than the reality. Giants RB Tiki Barber became the first Seattle opponent to top 100 yards this season. He finished with 151 yards on 26 carries. Barber had a 15-yard run to start the game and a 49-yarder in overtime. The Giants turned those 64 yards into zero points. Seattle definitely missed injured DT Marcus Tubbs. Without him, the Giants were productive enough in the run game to open up other opportunities. SPECIAL TEAMS: B -- K Josh Brown hit the winning 36-yard field goal in overtime after the Giants missed three times. That play was huge, but the Seahawks still allowed a 32-yard kickoff return in a clutch situation that demanded better. P Tom Rouen averaged 45.6 yards per punt with two of nine downed inside the 20. RB Josh Scobey averaged only 19.7 yards per kick return. COACHING: B -- Coach Mike Holmgren wisely called timeout during overtime when it appeared the replay official would not review a 10-yard pass to Shockey. The timeout gave the replay official time to change his mind. The reception was reversed upon review, and the Giants wound up missing a 54-yard field goal. The quick thinking helped Seattle win a game it probably should have lost. CARDINALS REPORT CARD: JACKSONVILLE 24, ARIZONA 17 PASSING OFFENSE: C -- Kurt Warner passed for 300 yards again, but most of that came after the team was down by two touchdowns. In the first half, the Cardinals had just 90 yards of total offense. RUSHING OFFENSE: C -- The Cardinals fell behind early and ran the ball just 16 times. The production was decent, but circumstances prevented the team from staying with it. PASS DEFENSE: C -- Jacksonville didn't get much production out of its passing game, but the Cardinals didn't make any big plays against it, either. No sacks and no interceptions. RUSH DEFENSE: C -- It was decent, but they gave up too many big runs, including two that went for touchdowns. SPECIAL TEAMS: F -- Neil Rackers missed his first field goal, and Jacksonville scored on a 91-yard kick return. COACHING: D -- The Cardinals hit double digits in penalties again, indicating a lack of discipline. Dennis Green shouldn't put up with players losing their cool and drawing personal fouls.
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