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Backup throws for 236 yards, 3 TDs

11/3/2003

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) -- Though Tim Rattay had a smashing debut as
an NFL starter, the San Francisco 49ers' defense was even more
impressive.

Just ask the St. Louis Rams, who had no luck stopping either of
them.

Question on the Rams: Were the Rams due for a rude awakening?
I'm not sure if they were due for a rude awakening, but they certainly played as if they were. This team was rolling smoothly and playing very good football until this week. They seemed to have severe difficulties stopping the 49ers from throwing the ball over the top and the Rams didn't do a good job making adjustments.

Question on the 49ers: How come the 49ers can't do this two weeks in a row?
Success in the NFL is all about consistency and the 49ers haven't exhibited it this season. Most teams take their cue from their best player and that's what the 49ers are doing. WR Terrell Owens, for all his talk, isn't the most consistent player. He's always been prone to dropping passes, but it was overlooked by his ability to make spectacular plays. This year there haven't been as many great plays from T.O. and he may be distracted by his contract situation.

Eric Allen played cornerback for 14 NFL seasons with the Eagles, Saints and Raiders.

Rattay passed for 236 yards and three touchdowns filling in for
Jeff Garcia, and Cedrick Wilson returned the opening kickoff 95
yards for a score in the 49ers' 30-10 victory over St. Louis on
Sunday.

For the third straight game at Candlestick Park, not much went
wrong for the 49ers -- even with Rattay filling in for Garcia, a
three-time Pro Bowler out with a sprained ankle.

San Francisco (4-5) flattened the Rams with five scoring drives
in the first 33 minutes, quickly putting away just the Niners'
second win in 10 games against their oldest rivals. St. Louis (5-3)
had its four-game winning streak snapped and fell out of first
place in the NFC West.

"They took it to us with the offense and the defense," Rams
coach Mike Martz said. "I'm upset with a lot of things in that
game. ... It's very disturbing. It takes the wind out of your
sails."

While San Francisco's defense dominated the first three
quarters, Rattay threw TD passes to Terrell Owens, Tai Streets and
rookie Brandon Lloyd. Garcia's longtime backup went 19-of-29,
leading an emphatic victory in the first significant playing time
of his career.

"For the first time out, he probably performed better than any
of us thought," coach Dennis Erickson said. "He's a real solid
player who doesn't make mistakes. He's been around here a while,
and he understands the offense."

Garcia, out with a sprained ankle, watched from the sideline as
the emergency third quarterback, cheering and patting his
teammates' helmets.

"You dream about throwing well, but you never know," Rattay
said. "The main thing is to win. Whether we handed the ball off 50
times or threw the ball, I wanted to win."

Garcia's streak of 61 consecutive starts ended, but the 49ers
didn't miss him at all, thanks to Rattay and a defense that seemed
to anticipate every important play.

As the 49ers never hesitate to declare, their defense was built
specifically to combat the Rams' downfield passing and team speed.

"We're faster than the Rams," 49ers defensive coordinator Jim
Mora said. "Our defense didn't used to be faster, and now it is.
That might sound cocky, but it's true. ... I mean no disrespect to
them. I love playing against those guys, but as a team, we have
more team speed now."

San Francisco beat St. Louis for just the second time since
1999, when Garcia won the 49ers' starting job.

"He made great decisions all day long," Garcia said of Rattay.
"He was making great reads at the line of scrimmage -- veteran-type
plays. It was great for the team to see Tim play and know that
there's another guy in this locker room that can lead this team."

Marc Bulger was 26-of-42 for 378 yards, but he also threw two
costly interceptions and fumbled as the Rams were doomed by a
pitifully slow start. Bulger passed for 181 yards in the fourth
quarter, after the game was far out of reach.

With Marshall Faulk in uniform, but not playing for the second
straight game, St. Louis sputtered on offense while falling behind
30-3 early in the third quarter.

"It's tough when we're down that much early, because we had to
get away from our run game," said Bulger, who was sacked five
times despite the absence of top San Francisco pass-rusher Andre
Carter. St. Louis had eight rushes for 9 yards.

"I'll take the blame. The quarterback has to put the ball into
the end zone, and we didn't do that today."

Torry Holt caught a 41-yard TD pass for the Rams' only
touchdown. Holt finished with 11 catches for 200 yards, just shy of
his career high.

Rattay's first appearance was delayed by Wilson, who slipped
past several Rams for his first career kickoff return touchdown.

It was redemption for his blunder in the Rams' overtime win over
the Niners in September. On the final play of regulation, Wilson
caught a short pass -- and instead of falling to the ground to set
up a potential game-winning field goal, Wilson kept running until
time expired.

Game notes
Wilson's TD kickoff return was the 49ers' first since Terry
Kirby did it on Nov. 16, 1997. ... S Tony Parrish and CB Mike Rumph
intercepted Bulger's passes. ... Martz on Faulk, who's nursing two
injuries: "If Marshall was fully ready to go, Marshall would tell
me that. He hasn't told me that. We're not going to put him in
harm's way. It's just not worth it."