Here Come the Rams NFC West Champions

The playoff picture is now being defined. And the surprising teams in the beginning of the season now seem to be playing catch-up. One such team is the Seattle Seahawks. Every season, at least one team comes out of nowhere to become the league's poster team. This season was to be made for the Seahawks.

Here Come the Rams NFC West Champions
By Rams Nation's Oscar F Lopez

But tough luck and road woes has it's way of changing things at the worst possible moment. On Sunday at the Edward Jones Dome in St. Louis, tough luck came in the form of the St. Louis Rams with a 27-22 victory by the home team. And the NFC west crown to boot.

Winning consecutive Super Bowls never has been easy, but now it seems harder than ever. From day one, the 2002 season for the Rams was an ugly dream. Coming into this season the predictions were clear. A healthy Faulk and Warner and the Rams would regain their status as playoff contenders for the Super Bowl run. Well, the Rams have a healthy Faulk and Marc Bulger and an 10-3 record.

Coming into the contest versus their new arch rivals the Seattle Seahawks. The Rams' Marc Bulger who finished 20 of 32 for 236 yards needed to prove that he was good enough to beat the team that has haunted his perfect record so far. The Seahawks coming in had Bulger's number. And how fitting it would be to spoil the perfect Dome record.

But while the Seahawks are a lot of fun to watch. With the likes of quarterback Matt Hasselbeck,running back Shaun Alexander, and wide receiver Koren Robinson, and a much improved defense, there playoff hopes depended on winning road games.

Early in the contest the Seahawks made it clear that this was going to be a shootout. On the first Rams drive near the endzone, Orlando Huff sacked Marc Bulger for a safety and giving the Seahawks the 2-0 lead. On the second drive for the Rams. Marc Bulger began his push for a quick score 7-2. Taking the Rams from the Rams 13 yard line by connecting with Dane Looker for 12 yards, Isaac Bruce 25 yards, Mike Furrey for 13, and resulting in a five yard touchdown run by Marshall Faulk. Marshall Faulk ended the contest with 28 carries for 85 yards. For the Seahawks on this drive they helped the Rams with a total of 25 penalties.

Matt Hasselbeck who finished the contest 21 of 37 for 246 yards responded with an interception by Travis Fisher for 9 yards on the return. Marc Bulger once again responded by going 3 plays for 24 yards with Torry Holt with a six yard gain. Then capped it off with an eighteen yard touchdown to Isaac Bruce. 14-2 Rams.

The mighty Seahawks would respond in the second quarter with a touchdown of their own. Matt Hasselbeck took his team on a three minute drive with the help of Darrell Jackson, Itula Mili, and Shaun Alexander for a 9 yard Darrell Jackson score to cut the lead to 14-9. Jackson would finish the day 6 receptions for 99 yards and the touchdown.

The Rams would strike back once more after Arlen Harris gave the Rams good field position at the Rams 40 yard line. Marc Bulger went to work with some quick passes to Cam Cleeland 10 yards, Mike Furrey two yards, Marshall Faulk five yards, and a Torry Holt 40 yard touchdown on third and eleven from the Seattle 40 yard line. Torry had to come back a little under good coverage to catch the ball. Rams 21-9.

Given the large lead before the half, one would assume game over. But with 3:07 left.Marc Bulger was intercepted by Randall Godfrey for 7 yards and placing the Seahawks on the Rams 36. Thus allowing Matt Hasselbeck the opportunity to create some more chances. Hasselbeck went 8 plays for 23 yards in a 1:49 to have Josh Brown punch in a 31 yard field goal. Rams 21-12.

Defensively for the Rams Adam Archuleta, Travis Fisher, and Grant Wistrom contributed to the containment of Hasselbeck and Alexander. Grant Wistrom after the game commented on the last couple outings,"I'd appreciate a blowout every now and then." But a win he will take stating,"We'll take them anyway we can get them."

As for the Seahawks, a back judge was the minimal factor between tough luck or road win. Bobby Engrams fourth quarter hail mary was not to be. Running a deep enzone pattern in the final drive with the Rams leading 27-22, Bobby Engram's tripping over back judge Steed was a heart breaker. Matt Hasselbeck said,"It's just a real bad break for us."

For the Rams, Isaac Bruce went down with an ankle sprain in the second quarter. But he will play versus the Bengals next week stating," I don't miss games." With the win the Rams are NFC west champions. And improve their record to 11-3. The Rams have now won 13 in a row at home and are now 7-0 on the season. And Marc Bulger's perfect home record is safe.

With this win the Rams are hoping Miami takes care of the Eagles on Monday Night. Thus giving the Rams the chance for home field advantage. Next week will not be any easier, Marvin Lewis and the Bengals are no more laughing stocks. They will be looking to play spoiler and maintain their playoff hopes alive as well. A must win for both teams' playoff positioning. Let's hope the defense can contain the new and improved Cincinnati wrecking crew.


The Field Goal@cs.com

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