The St. Louis Rams looked like anything but the defending NFC West champions for the first 51…
The way the game started, who's to blame for turning off the T.V. and giving up on the Rams? Watching the Seahawks eat up 76 yards in 10 plays on their opening drive. Then the Rams went three and out on two incomplete passes following a solid five-yard gain by Marshall Faulk.
The Rams defense showed some composure as they forced a field goal after four straight first downs converted by the Seahawks after a Ken Lucas interception. The Rams came back with a touchdown, which was counteracted by a 24-yard touchdown completion to Seahawks tight end Jerramy Stevens on the following drive.
The first half didn't seem so bad, holding the Seahawks to 17 points despite two interceptions. That is, until Matt Hasselbeck completed a 56-yard touchdown pass to Darrell Jackson with just 53 seconds left in the half, apparently shrinking the Rams hopes.
On the first drive of the second half, coach Mike Martz seemed to realize his success with last week's game plan, running the ball as many times as in the entire first half. That drive may have ended in a punt, but it put a thought in the Seahawks' defense that the Rams had not given up on the run.
The Rams defense then forced the Seahawks to punt after a 41-yard dash up the middle by Shaun Alexander. After 11 straight Rams passing plays, the Seahawks stopped them and forced a 39-yard field goal.
The few viewers who stayed in their seats through the third quarter probably tuned out after Bulger's third interception that led to another field goal by Josh Brown.
After a short gain by Steven Jackson on second down, Bulger completed a 24-yard pass to Shaun McDonald setting up an 8-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Manumaleuna. That drive ended with just less than six minutes left in the game.
Again the Rams defense showed they could stop the run, forcing a three-and-out. The Rams then got a taste of good special teams play with a 39-yard punt return by McDonald, putting the ball on the Seahawks 41-yard line. Then in 7 seconds of game play, the Rams put themselves within a field goal on a 41-yard completion to the speedy Kevin Curtis.
On the Seahawks ensuing possession the Rams got an understanding of how bad clock management could define a game. After a first-down completion to Koren Robinson, the Seahawks could have brought the game clock under 30 seconds. Instead, Mike Holmgren caught Martz fever and passed on two out of three plays, including a first-down incompletion. That gave Martz and Bulger 64 seconds to pick apart the talented Seahawks secondary and allowed Jeff Wilkins enough room to tie the game. Of course, they did that.
Winning the coin toss in overtime, the Rams looked a little shaky when Marshall Faulk had his second drop of the second half. But then Bulger stunned everyone who watched faithfully when he perfectly hit Shaun McDonald in stride for the game-winning 52-yard touchdown pass.
Yes, Bulger does need to work on his long throws.
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