One quarter into the season...

But what do you expect? This is the NFL, where again this year, no one seems invincible. Except, so far, the St. Louis Rams, who at 4-0 after a quarter-season stand alone as the last of the unbeatens. But that's not really a surprise for St. Louis at this juncture of a season.

Starting with their 1999 Super Bowl XXXIV-championship year, the Rams have completed the first quarter of every schedule with a perfect record. They began 1999 at 3-0 and 2000 at 4-0. No team in the NFL comes close to matching that first-quarter perfection the past three years (1999: New England, 4-0; Dallas, 3-0; 2000: NY Jets, 4-0; Minnesota, 3-0).

Of course, a season a quarter does not make – especially in the unpredictable NFL, where the "norm" is no norm. "We know we're in a special place in time," said Rams head coach MIKE MARTZ after his team's 35-0 win Monday night over Detroit. "We try not to make a big deal of it. We're trying to make this thing last as long as we can, because it's so much fun."

The test for the Rams to hold on to their unbeaten streak in Week 5 will be the visiting 2000 NFC-champion New York Giants, who themselves have been almost perfect this season (3-1). It will be a matchup of opposites – the laser-show offense of the Rams against a Giants team that wins without histrionics. Or "The Greatest Show on Earth" against, according to JASON SEHORN, the "We're-Not-The-Greatest-Show-On-Earth." The Giants' cornerback, coming off a two-interception (one for a TD) game against Washington, says it's not how you win, just that you win. "We're not really concerned about the flash and dash," Sehorn says. "That's one of the reasons why people have a lot of knocks on us. We're not ‘The Greatest Show on Earth.' We don't do all the fun things for the viewers. But we still win."

The Rams don't seem to know any way but the "fun" way. They've got the top offense in the NFC (402.0 yards per game) and top passing game in the NFL (298.5). There's NFL passing leader KURT WARNER (115.0, with a 16-0 regular- and postseason home record), who Martz says conjures up offensive twists even the coach doesn't dream up. Warner throws to speed-demon wide receivers ISAAC BRUCE, AZ-ZAHIR HAKIM and TORRY HOLT. Or he hands off to NFL scrimmage-yards leader MARSHALL FAULK or uses him as a safety valve out of the backfield to throw to.

 "They just can run faster than everybody and throw the ball further than most people," says Sehorn, who slides into a "nickel" back position in the slot when rookie cornerback WILL PETERSON joins fellow rookie CB WILL ALLEN when offenses go to a three-receiver package. The thing with the Rams (who topped the Giants 38-24 in 2000) is that they've added a speedy, aggressive defense to their "fun" offense. With eight new starters, St. Louis ranks 10th in the NFL in defense after finishing 23rd last year.


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