Rams Suddenly Smiling with Hope

Former Vikings safety Corey Chavous needs his Rams to beat the Vikings to have a chance at the playoffs, but the mood in St. Louis is much more positive than it was three weeks ago.

Strong safety Corey Chavous summarized succinctly the mood of the Rams after they remained alive for a playoff spot with a 37-31 overtime win over the Redskins Sunday.

"We fought our way back," Chavous said. "A couple of weeks ago we were 5-8 and pretty much dead to rights. Anytime you're in the NFC this season you've got a shot and we never stopped believing that. Now it comes down to one Sunday and we'll see what happens."

Aside from the victory, the Rams remained in the hunt because Atlanta and the Giants lost, to fall to 7-8. Green Bay and Carolina are also 7-8. But the Rams have to have a lot of things happen to be able to play in January.

In addition to winning in Minnesota Sunday, Carolina has to lose in New Orleans, the Giants must lose to Washington and Atlanta must lose to Philadelphia for the Rams to have a chance.

But anything is possible in the NFC, and after going through a streak of losing seven of eight games, the Rams are just glad to be breathing.

Said coach Scott Linehan after the win over Washington, "I was really proud to be a part of this. This football team had to keep plugging away and fighting. If that wasn't a test of character and playing ... It just showed that our team's will to win was at a high for this year.

"We're improving. Is it too late or whatever? I don't know, we'll figure that out. We're alive and still in the hunt."

Said quarterback Marc Bulger after passing for 388 yards and four touchdowns, "It feels good. We had to keep our end of the bargain and win. And we needed a little help (in other games). We need a lot more help, obviously. But the only thing we can control is going to Minnesota and winning."

Running back Steven Jackson emphasized why he was selected to the Pro Bowl with a monster game that saw him rush 33 times for 150 yards and catch six passes for 102 yards. He became the first player in franchise history to have at least 100 yards running and receiving in the same game, and his 88 receptions this season broke Marshall Faulk's record of 87. He currently has 2,168 yards from scrimmage.

"Unbelievable," Linehan said of Jackson. "I'm not familiar with all the statistical numbers. He's had a dominant year. With a better record, people would be talking about him with some of the others ... he's having an MVP-type season. He is one of those guys you can go through when you need it."

Jackson just wanted to talk about his offensive line afterward.

"They did a great job and I share all my accomplishments with them," Jackson said. As for going past 2,000 yards, he said, "That means a lot, especially to do it not being banged up. We had to grind for everything we got. Everyone on the field was tired. We just had to go out and will our way through it."

What about the playoffs?

"We've got to be a winner to get in," Jackson said. "I don't even care about scenarios. If we win and get in, we end on a bright spot to grow from. If we do get it, it shows that guys didn't pack it in."


  • There were incredible ebbs and flows in the win over Washington, and numerous critical plays. But there was perhaps none more important than a fumble by Redskins running back Ladell Betts late in the fourth quarter.

    RB Steven Jackson was stopped on a third-and-1 play from the Rams' 27-yard line with 2:40 left in regulation and the score tied at 31. Matt Turk punted for just 36 yards and Washington started at its own 37-yard line.

    Betts ran for 14 yards on first down, the broke through the right side of the Rams' defense. But safety Oshiomogho Atogwe came up from behind and punched the ball out of Betts' hands at the 24-yard line. S Corey Chavous recovered at the 13-yard line with 2:02 left in the fourth quarter.

    "The play of the game is not my touchdown," Jackson said. "The play of the game was Atogwe getting the ball out. He gave me a chance to go back out on the field and help put this team on top."

    Said Atogwe, "I'd like to say that one play doesn't win a game and one play never loses a game. This win was a team effort. I might have made a play that gave the offense the ball back, but we still have to go down and score. Steven Jackson had a great game, Shaun McDonald had a great return, and the O-line was blocking. This was definitely a team effort and I was just a part of that team and did my job on the play and helped us get the win."

  • Entering Sunday's game against Washington, the Rams had scored only two touchdowns from outside the red zone all season: one by WR Torry Holt and one by RB Steven Jackson.

    Against the Redskins, the Rams had three, with two by Jackson. What was surprising was that the other was contributed by rookie TE Dominique Byrd, who scored on a 27-yard pass. It was Byrd's first reception of his career.

    "I knew they were going to call it," Byrd said of the play. "T. Holt and the coaches were telling me all week, ‘Be patient, because the corners are going to bite on what Torry's doing.' I broke open and my eyes got real big."

    Byrd caught the ball with coverage by Sean Taylor and broke a tackle to run the final 13 yards to the end zone.

    "I've been waiting for my opportunity," Byrd said. "And I just wanted to make sure that when it came, I was ready to do something big."

  • RB Stephen Davis scored on a shovel pass against Washington Sunday, his first touchdown with the Rams this season.

  • WR Torry Holt will likely fall short of extending his streak of seasons with at least 1,300 receiving yards. Holt would need 202 yards against Minnesota Sunday. Still, Holt is going to the Pro Bowl, and currently has 84 catches for 1,098 yards.

  • WR Isaac Bruce's touchdown Sunday was the 80th of his career. He passed Harold Carmichael and tied Charley Taylor for 18th place on the NFL all-time list.

  • RT Alex Barron had a false start in the fourth quarter Sunday against the Redskins, his league-leading 12th of the season.

  • RG Adam Timmerman was active against the Redskins, one week after his streak of 184 consecutive regular-season games was stopped because of injured ribs. Timmerman played briefly in the game when RG Richie Incognito was shaken up in the fourth quarter.

  • Viking Update Top Stories