By Rams Nation's Oscar F Lopez
Coach Mariucci must be given a pat on the back and a high five for a great game plan in the second half. Coming from the NFC west Coach Mariucci knows these Rams. And shutting down the Rams completely in the second half, was a job well done. For the Rams it was just ugly to get outplayed in the second half.
If one ever wanted to know how it felt to win a game against a caliber team like the St. Louis Rams, Joey Harrington showed us how on this Sunday, December 28, 2003, in front of Barry Sanders and 61,006 Lions fans. Joey Harrington with Coach Mariucci's direction upset the playoff bound Rams at home in the season ending match up. Harrington who finished with Kurt Warner like numbers, 26 of 36 for 238 yards and three touchdowns, utilized one former Ram, AZ Zahir Hakim to capitalize on the victory. Harrington with a career best 72.2 rating was elated with the win and commented stating afterwards,"For today, we were the best team in football and that feels good."
Hakim finished 5 for 58 yards and one touchdown. Hakim also contributed with a 35 yard long run to setup Casey Fitzsimmons midway through the third quarter for another Lions touchdown. Dre' Bly another former Ram also helped out with a forced fumble and a team high eight tackles to spark the Lions. Coach Mariucci's tenure thus far has equaled the home totals from the previous two seasons in the Motor City.
Coach Steve Mariucci was very excited to come away with a victory and an outstanding outing from both sides of the field. Offensively the Lions controlled the game clock. And defensively the Lions terrorized Bulger all day with pass rush blitzes. The combination of Barrett Green, Otis Smith, Earl Holmes, and Shaun Rogers all garnered sacks. Otis Smith's sack was the killer punch that sidelined Bulger and forced Kurt Warner to finish the game in the fourth quarter. Coach Mariucci was very pleased with his team's output and play and said,"Maybe this team deserves a win like this."The Lions end their season on a positive note and give Steve Mariucci something to build on for the next season.
As for the St. Louis Rams, the game plan was simple win and home field is yours. The hell with home field, we are already in the playoffs and have a bye. We'll show them how a first half is played. Oops they forgot to show up in the second half. And the coach could not find the solution to the math blitzes and schemes from the dreadful Lions.
How on god's green turf does a football team not show up in the second half of a pro match up, especially leading 20-10 before the half. Well, everybody the coach confirmed our worst fears. Coach Martz stated in his press conference after, " This team was not prepared and ultimately, that comes back on me." They were not prepared. NOT PREPARED!!! He was not prepared?
I have been critical in the past about the decisions made of one Rams coach Mike Martz. But to admit after the match up that it was his fault that his team laid down in the second half is just pathetic. That his play calling was not there today, and that he decided that it was best for Marc Bulger to be sidelined after taking dreadful sacks. And it was OK for the former concussion quarterback to come in and get his instead. Please how about yelling to the offensive line to step it up and protect.
Emotion drives this game. There was none on the Rams side of the field in the second half. The Rams with the loss snap a seven game road winning streak. To let a team like the dreadful Lions score 20 points in the first 5:31 of the second half to take the lead 30-20 was ugly to watch. Offensively know one played well enough to contribute or protect after the second half. Not even Marshall Faulk or Torry Holt.
As for Marc Bulger he was 18 of 31 for 170 yards and one touchdown and two fumbles. After the Otis Smith blitz hit, Bulger was sidelined by Coach Martz. He stated after,"I don't need a reason, nor do I complain." Concerning his bruised forearm in his non throwing arm. Kurt Warner was rusty and it showed. His first start since his bashing day against the Giants in week one that sidelined him with a concussion. Warner finished 4 of 11 for 23 yards and stated,"I was a little bit off."
Offensively the Rams played good for one quarter of football. That quarter was in the second quarter. The Rams compiled the only points for the day. Marshall Faulk was held to 35 yards, one touchdown, and 40 yards receiving overall not a great day. As for Torry Holt, he was 5 for 54 yards. He finishes a top the NFL receiving leaders with 1,696 and totaled 117 catches, only two shy of the franchise record. The one bright spot goes to Brandon Manumaleuna, who started the second quarter scoring and ended up 3 for 24 and one touchdown.
As for the defensive front. The Lions offense kept the Rams' play makers of Wistrom, Pickett, and Little shutdown. Grant Wistrom was one of the first to comment on the second half debacle. He stated,"That's a team that shouldn't be able to move the ball on us." He was commenting concerning the Lions as one of the worst offensive units in the NFC. He further added," We came out flat. And they stuffed it down our throats the entire game."
Coming at you as I end this weeks column. Is the fact that Coach Martz has consistently admitted to not preparing his team mentally on game day? He needs to yell, scream, and or kick some ass if needed to prevent his team from collapsing after a huge lead. This we will correct and be back is crap in my book. His coaching staff needs to be ready in two weeks and prepare this team for a hungry team coming off a playoff week. Because if this Rams team is rusty after a two week hiatus, then we not only have a controversy but a questionable mind set by the head coach.
Under Dick Vermeil's tenure, no Rams team was ugly. And now that Coach Martz has tasted defeat in the Super Bowl, one would assume he is hungry for another victory to prove his greatness as an offensive genius and a good overall head coach. Take my criticism of Coach Martz as me being very critical. I am a passionate diehard Rams fan, this madness must end soon. Or we will be watching someone else in Houston. LET"S GET READY MARTZ!!!! That will be the chant come the bye week versus whoever we face the Edward Jones Dome.
Any comments Email THEFIELDGOAL@CS.COM
The Field Goal