|Monday, October 8, 2001|
Rams didn't need the Marshall plan
By Marc Connolly
ABC Sports Online
PONTIAC, Mich. -- It's hard coming up with the proper adjectives to describe the Rams' high-octane offense this year.
Perhaps the best way to properly showcase just how powerful and dominant Mike Martz's multi-faceted offense is compared to some of the other systems in the NFL this season is to look at one number from Monday night's 35-0 victory over Detroit at the Silverdome.
Marshall Faulk, the reigning league MVP, rushed only 14 times for 71 yards. And 69 of those yards came in the second half after the Rams had already been staked to a 21-0 lead over the winless Lions. That's not to say that Faulk didn't contribute, as he led the squad with nine catches for 80 yards and rushed for a late touchdown, but his usual running exploits out of the one-back offensive set weren't needed as much as usual.
"They were sitting back playing zone coverages that we thought they would play and we thought we could throw the ball and be effective by throwing it every snap," said quarterback Kurt Warner, who threw for 291 yards and three touchdowns on 29-for-37 passing.
"We tried to run it and got some pressure early on," he said.
So they threw. And they threw, and threw some more.
In one series in the first quarter, the 1999 MVP threw 10 straight times as the Rams methodically drove 80 yards down the turf field they play so well on to score their first touchdown of the game.
Warner said that at one point, coach Martz even grabbed Warner on the sideline and said, "Hey, we may throw every down," when he saw Detroit sitting back in a loose zone against his offensive juggernaut. So instead of mixing up the pass with Faulk's runs, Martz called on Warner's arm when the game was still in doubt through the first three quarters. His running back often ran out of the slot and was dangerous. He just didn't have his usual 100-yard game on the ground.
"I'm not worried about stats and percentages," said the five-time Pro Bowler. "It's about winning games. That's what anybody remembers anyway."
He also seemed to take humor in how the Rams were able to throw at will on the Lions' secondary, utilizing five receivers for at least four receptions each.
"That's the beauty of the game," said Faulk. "We go out there and try to win, and do whatever it takes."
Faulk also went on to say that Warner is "on the money" right now and that his play, along with the defense's resurgence, has given the entire squad its swagger back from two seasons ago. Warner agrees.
"I feel I'm playing as efficient as I ever had," said Warner. "Not making mistakes, getting the ball to the open guy, moving the chains, taking a sack or throwing the ball away when I need to. Just playing very efficient, and using all the tools we have and the guys we have on offense."
There are the usual suspects in Torry Holt, Isaac Bruce and Az-Zahir Hakim, but now he has added tight end Ernie Conwell (four catches for 22 yards and a TD) to the mix. Yet his most valuable receiver has and continues to be the same guy who has rushed for more than 1,000 yards in six of his seven seasons in the league. Now with 31 catches (team high) for 279 yards and two touchdowns, Faulk remains the league's most valuable player and is the most potent weapon in Martz's well-stocked cupboard.
Whether he's rushing the ball or not.
Marc Connolly is a senior writer for ABC Sports Online. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
|Kurt Warner has thrown seven TD passes in his last two games.|
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