Marshall law

Walter Payton did plenty of special things at Soldier Field. <P> If Marshall Faulk has his way, he'll be doing the same against Payton's old team.

The Rams' All-Pro running back hasn't had the typical Marshall Faulk season, after missing five games because of knee surgery and a hand injury. But Faulk returned last week to St. Louis' lineup and had two touchdowns in a 33-22 victory over the Baltimore Ravens.

Faulk could be mentioned in the same breath as Payton today when the surging Rams (6-3) take on the slumping Bears (3-6). Faulk (123 career touchdowns) needs just two touchdowns to tie Payton (125) for sixth on the NFL's all-time list. Faulk needs only three scores to tie Jim Brown (126) for fifth on the list.

"We understand how things work in this league and you can't overlook nobody," Faulk said. "I know we faced Chicago the last two years and they played us tough.

"I think we're up for the challenge of playing on the road. If you're going to be in this business and you plan on going to the playoffs and hanging around late in the season, you've got to win on the road."

Faulk showed some rust last week with 20 carries for just 48 yards against the Ravens. Because he's missed five games, Faulk has only 62 carries for 162 yards and three TDs, and 15 catches for 72 yards.

"I thought he was a little tentative in the first half, but I thought the second half was Marshall, he averaged close to 5 yards per carry," Rams coach Mike Martz said. "I think his confidence has been restored in his mind, and I think that's a major factor."

If anything could help the Bears against the 2000 Super Bowl champs, it's the fact that the Rams are just 1-3 on the road this season. Chicago is 3-1 at Soldier Field, despite an 0-5 mark on the road.

Faulk, who needs just 116 rushing yards to pass Ricky Watters for 13th on the NFL's all-time list, has 10,559 career rushing yards. He's also just 21receiving yards from Ronnie Harmon (6,076) for second place on the NFL's all-time list of receiving yards for running backs.

"We're going to have to score points. And Marshall Faulk, as we know, is a great football player and has been for a number of years in this league," Bears coach Dick Jauron said. "It's important for us to try and do whatever we can to try to slow them down offensively because he's not the only Pro Bowl-type player in their offensive scheme."

As if defending Faulk wasn't enough, the Bears will have to deal with two of the game's best wide receivers in Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce. Holt currently leads the NFL in receptions (66) and yards (1,016), and is second in TD catches (9).

Bruce (45 catches, 705 yards) might be even more talented, but defenses have been geared at trying to take the franchise's leading receiver away.

The Bears can't get into a shootout with anybody these days, and with an offense that ranks dead last in the NFL, it could be a scary matchup. The Rams are seventh in the league in total offense, but first in the NFC in passing offense. St. Louis is averaging 27.3 points a game, while Chicago is putting up just 16.8.

"We'd love to stay out of a (shootout)," Jauron said. "History says that they score a lot of points. We've got to plan on scoring some points and we'll do everything we can to stop them from scoring, but we've got to certainly score more than 10 points as we did last week to stay in this football game."


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