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Late rally overcomes five turnovers

11/24/2003

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) -- Through good and bad, and there was plenty
of both, Marc Bulger is the St. Louis quarterback.

Question on the Rams: Despite the wins, how long does Martz stay with a struggling Bulger?
Bulger is probably a couple of bad series away from being replaced by Kurt Warner. Against the Cardinals he was responsible for five turnovers and those mistakes kept this game tighter than it should've been. Coach Martz is probably going to handle this situation differently than he has in the past. Instead of replacing Bulger in the middle of the game and having him stew on a bad play, he'll probably keep him in and replace him the next game.

Question on the Cardinals: Is Boldin the best young receiver you've seen this year?
Boldin is awesome! He's a player I enjoy watching because he makes the hustle plays, like going for the extra yards and making downfield blocks to spring his running back. He seems to have an excellent work ethic,which is coupled perfectly with his game-breaking ability.

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

Four interceptions and a lost fumble gave Rams coach Mike Martz
every reason to pull Bulger in favor of Kurt Warner. He didn't, and
Bulger directed scoring drives at the end of regulation and in
overtime to lead the Rams to a 30-27 victory over the Arizona
Cardinals on Sunday.

Jeff Wilkins tied it with a 22-yard field goal at the end of
regulation, then won it with a 49-yarder with 10:22 left in
overtime to give St. Louis its seventh victory in its last eight.
The Rams (8-3) are alone in first in the NFC West..

"If I wasn't confident in Marc, he wouldn't have been out there
at the end of the game -- end of story," Martz said. "If I was
going to do anything I'd have done it in this game. This is the
last time I'm going to say this: Marc Bulger IS our quarterback."

It was the second straight week Wilkins kicked a game-winner.
His 31-yarder last week beat the Bears in Chicago 23-21.

Martz criticized the officiating after the game.

"There were some things that were obviously missed by this
officiating crew," Martz said. "That seems to happen every week.
Nonetheless, we were able to overcome it again. For about the
fourth week in a row, we overcome that officating and still win."

Jeff Blake threw two second-half touchdown passes to rookie
sensation Anquan Boldin and the Cardinals (3-8) rallied from a
14-point third-quarter deficit to take a 27-24 lead.

Bulger led the Rams on a 16-play, 82-yard drive to the Arizona 7
-- converting two third downs and one fourth down on passes to Torry
Holt -- and Wilkins' 24-yard field goal tied it at 27 as regulation
ended.

St. Louis took the ball in overtime, moving from its 14 to the
Arizona 31. Bulger ran 18 yards on the drive, and threw 9 yards to
Dane Looker to move into field-goal range.

"I can't apologize for how I play and throw," Bulger said.
"I'm going to keep throwing it downfield regardless if I have 10
interceptions, until coach Martz tells me not to. That's just the
way I play. I'm an aggressive player."

Boldin caught six passes for 123 yards to fall a yard shy of
tying the NFL record for the quickest to 1,000 yards receiving by a
rookie. He has 66 catches for 999 yards.

"If we would have got the ball in overtime, we would have went
right down their throat and scored," he said.

After completing his first nine passes to give St. Louis a 14-0
lead, things turned sour for Bulger, who was 28-for-44 for 329
yards and a touchdown. Two of the interceptions were by Renaldo
Hill, who returned the first 70 yards for a touchdown and set up
the tying TD with the second.

Marshall Faulk ran for 100 yards and a touchdown, his second
straight 100-yard game. Holt caught nine for 145 yards. Marcel
Shipp rushed for 95 yards for Arizona.

"That one's painful, because in the bitter end, we couldn't get
it done," Arizona coach Dave McGinnis said.

Bulger, who was sacked four times, fumbled when he was hit by
Ronald McKinnon. Arizona's Kenny King recovered at the St. Louis 19
to set up Neil Rackers' 27-yard field goal for Arizona's only lead,
27-24 with 6:05 to play.

Coby Rinehart intercepted on St. Louis' next possession, but the
Cardinals couldn't capitalize.

St. Louis, at the Arizona 7 with 40 seconds to play, could have
taken a couple of shots at the end zone. Instead, Faulk took a
direct snap for a 1-yard gain, then the Rams ran the clock down to
four seconds before kicking the tying field goal.

The Rams led 24-10 after Travis Fisher's 55-yard interception
return for a touchdown in the third quarter. But Blake connected
with Boldin for touchdowns on Arizona's next two possessions.

Boldin broke two tackles on a 54-yard reception on the final
play of the quarter, then caught a 3-yarder over the middle to tie
it at 24. The second TD came after Hill went high over Isaac Bruce
for the interception.

"He pulled my facemask," Bruce said. "He went through my
facemask to my jersey. The referees didn't call it, but I'm not
going to cry about it. I'm going to line up and keep playing."<
^Notes: Emmitt Smith, out since Oct. 5 with a broken shoulder blade,
practiced all week but didn't play for the Cardinals. ... Bulger
has been intercepted 10 times in the last four games. ... Hill left
the game for good with a sprained ankle with six minutes left. ...
The Rams had a 26-15 edge in first downs. ... St. Louis has 32
turnovers this season, most in the NFL.