Rams crush Falcons behind Bulger, Holt, defense

Updated: October 14, 2003, 3:21 AM ET

JERSEY CITY, New Jersey - Playing on Monday night brings out the best in the St. Louis Rams' defense.

Led by safety Aeneas Williams, the Rams spoiled the return of the Atlanta Falcons to the prime-time spotlight with a 36-0 rout.

Williams forced two early turnovers, Marc Bulger passed for 352 yards and two touchdowns and ran for another score as St. Louis (3-2) remained one game behind first-place Seattle in the NFC West. It was the Rams' first shutout since blanking Detroit, 35-0, on October 8, 2001 - another Monday night appearance.

"A shutout is so difficult to do in the National Football League," St. Louis coach Mike Martz said. "The progress of this defense has really been amazing."

The Rams' last home shutout came in 1993, when the franchise played in Los Angeles.

"We knew that we had not had a shutout in the dome," Rams defensive end Grant Wistrom said. "It was just nice to go out and finish the game, play a complete four quarters and come away with the goose egg."

Playing on "Monday Night Football" for the first time in four years, Atlanta committed four turnovers, including an interception that was returned 74 yards by cornerback Travis Fisher for a touchdown that capped the scoring.

With injured quarterback Michael Vick watching from the sidelines, the Falcons (1-5) managed just 209 total yards and nine first downs while the Rams piled up 496 yards and 26 first downs.

Bulger completed 23-of-34 passes for 352 yards with two harmless interceptions. He also gave St. Louis a 10-0 lead late in the second quarter with a three-yard keeper that came 10 plays after Williams forced and recovered a fumble.

Williams also intercepted Doug Johnson in the end zone to set up Jeff Wilkins' 28-yard field goal late in the first quarter.

Bulger hit Torry Holt with touchdown passes of 21 yards in the third quarter and 14 yards in the final period.

"We're a football team that's trying to put together some wins and to continue to do the things that we have done in the past," said Holt, who had 11 catches for 161 yards.

Atlanta's offensive struggles were highlighted in the third quarter, when T.J. Duckett tried to run off tackle but was trapped in the end zone by Wistrom for the Falcons' fourth safety of the season. The NFL record is five.

"I don't have much to say," Atlanta coach Dan Reeves said. "We got beat in all areas. There's no question they were the better team."

Sunday's action saw the Kansas City Chiefs and Carolina Panthers remain undefeated.

Trent Green passed for 400 yards and three touchdowns, including a 51-yarder to Eddie Kennison in overtime, as the Chiefs (6-0) rallied from a 17-point fourth-quarter deficit and defeated the Green Bay Packers, 40-34.

The Panthers (5-0) knocked the Indianapolis Colts from the ranks of the unbeaten with a 23-20 overtime win. The idle Minnesota Vikings (5-0) are the NFL's only other unbeaten team.

This story is from ESPN.com's automated news wire. Wire index