St. Louis – The Rams once again staked their claim as the "king of the hill" in the NFC West on Sunday. The Rams came out fired up and passed the ball all over the field, throwing the ball on their first 13 offensive plays, beating Seattle 23-12.
One reason the Rams seemed more energized was because of some choice words from head coach Mike Martz during the week following the Rams' pathetic performance against the New England Patriots at home.
Insiders claimed that Martz was "tired of taking bullets" for underachieving players and then ordered full-contact scrimmages for Wednesday's practice, something that even the most old-school coaches have shied away from in recent years.
DE Leonard Little thought the message got through to the players.
"They (practices) were a lot more physical. (Coach Martz) wants this defense to be fast and physical, and we have been fast the last eight games, but we haven't been physical. So it's another way to bring that physical part out of us, and hopefully it carries over to the game."
Even though the Rams won the game, they still surrendered 206 yards rushing to the Seahawks. However, their red-zone defense was solid allowing the Seahawks only four field goals on six drives inside their 20.
The biggest loss of the day for the Rams was the loss of WR Torry Holt to a concussion. Holt went into the air to catch a slant and Seattle S Terreal Beirria leveled him with a shoulder to the helmet.
Martz said Holt had "everything but the little birds over his head" after taking the shot and Holt did not return in the game. Martz expects Holt to be available for next week's game against Buffalo.
Next Game: @ Buffalo, November 21st
San Francisco – The 49ers just cannot seem to find a way to win games when they are controlling them. Last week against the Seahawks, the Niners had momentum, the lead and Seattle pinned deep in their own end, but then collapsed and lost in a shootout, 42-27. Sunday, they dropped heartbreaker to fellow cellar-dwellers Carolina 37-27, after leading 17-0 late in the first half.
"We just totally self-destructed in the second half," coach Dennis Erickson said. "When we had a chance to win it, we didn't. Whether it's a penalty or a fumble or an interception, it's not just one thing. It's self-destruction in all areas."
For the second straight week QB Tim Rattay passed for a lot of yardage but he made some critical mistakes that led directly to Carolina points in the second half.
"Tim knows and I know that he made some pretty bad decisions, there's no question about that," Erickson said. "It was obvious."
On the day Rattay passed for 284 yards and one touchdown, but his four interceptions and one fumble were the key to the loss.
"Special teams and defense gave us opportunities," Rattay said. "For whatever reason, we let them hang around, and then I made some turnovers. I've got to learn from it. I can't do that."
Some good news came when DE Andre Carter returned from back surgery and while he didn't play many snaps and wasn't as explosive as he usually is he did share in the one sack the Niners had against the Panthers.
Next Game: @ Tampa Bay, November 21st
Arizona – After nine games the Cardinals are starting to show their fans what they will have to look forward to in seasons to come. Tough defense and a ball-control offense have led the Cardinals to a 4-5 record, equaling their total wins from 2003, including a 17-14 victory over the New York Giants on Sunday.
"I think we are a step closer to being a good team," head coach Dennis Green said following the game.
Once again the free-agent acquisition of DE Bertrand Berry paid dividends with his relentless pressure on Giants QB Kurt Warner.
"We've been able to develop a style of play here," Berry said, "and the fans really respond. That's what good teams do - they win at home."
Berry's intensity seems to have rubbed off on some of his defensive teammates.
"When a guy makes a play, then somebody else wants to make a play," DT Russell Davis said. "It gets contagious."
"I've learned so much from the guy, even off the field," rookie DT Darnell Dockett said. "He's a class guy and he plays hard. Every time I line up next to him I'm comfortable because I know that I'm going to be playing 110 (percent), because he's playing 110. If you're here, you know you can play football, but he teaches you how to be a better person."
The Cardinals have a tough road ahead of them, with games against the New York Jets and St. Louis at home and Detroit and Seattle on the road, but they have an outside shot at a .500 record which would be amazing considering what they had to work with personnel-wise heading into the season.
Next Game: @ Carolina, November 21st
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