Faulk rushed for 128 yards on 22 carries to lead the St. Louis
Rams to a 17-10 victory over the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday.
Despite two knee operations in the last year, the 31-year-old
running back's steady play helped the Rams overcome three costly
turnovers that kept the game close.
Faulk, who has missed 11 games in the last two seasons, shared
time with Rams first-round pick Steven Jackson, but it was clear
who was getting most of the attention.
"He had an outstanding coming-out party," Jackson said. "And
I think he answered a lot of questions about his knee."
Smith, the NFL's career leading rusher, also had a resurgent
game, running for 87 yards on 16 carries, including an 11-yard
touchdown run that put the Cardinals ahead 10-9 in the final minute
of the third quarter. Smith, 35, was limited to only 256 yards last
year due to injuries.
"Emmitt is a great back, a guy that I idolize, a guy that gets
it done," Faulk said. "If you look at him out there you wonder,
'What's he doing playing?' He makes things happen."
Smith took no solace in his effectiveness because the Cardinals
"The way I see it, it wasn't that good of a game," Smith said.
"When you turn the ball over three times, there's no way that team
that turned the ball over should be winning the game."
Jackson also played well in his debut, shaking off a lost fumble
on his first career carry after a 14-yard gain. Jackson, the first
running back taken in the draft, finished with 50 yards on seven
"I don't have to play the whole game now and all the pressure
of the running game isn't on me," Faulk said. "It's kind of a
nice change-up when I come out to have him go in there."
The Rams beat the Cardinals for the fifth straight time and sent
Arizona to its 14th straight road loss, but did it the hard way.
Each of the turnovers came deep in Arizona territory, and they also
ran out of gas at the Arizona 10 and 4, settling for field goals by
Faulk's 39th career 100-yard game featured four gains of 10 or
more yards. After only 14 preseason carries for 38 yards to prepare
for his 11th season, Faulk signaled he was ready when he
jitterbugged for a 15-yard gain on his first carry. He has 11,341
yards rushing and passed O.J. Simpson for 13th place.
Faulk also scored on a 2-point conversion run to give the Rams a
seven-point cushion after Marc Bulger hit Isaac Bruce for an 8-yard
touchdown for the winning score with 14:27 to go. Bruce rolled the
last few yards into the end zone.
The touchdown came two plays after a 95-yard interception return
by James Darling was nullified by a defensive holding call on LeVar
Woods. The line had scrimmage had been the Arizona 13, although
Cardinals coach Dennis Green thought Woods' contact on intended
receiver Brandon Manumaleuna was legal.
"The contact took place within 5 yards so it's up to you guys
to recognize the interpretation of the rules," Green said.
"Inside of 5 yards you can pretty much do anything except an
The Rams outgained the Cardinals 229-134 in total offense in the
first half, but had only a pair of field goals to show for it. In
addition to Jackson's fumble, wide receiver Dane Looker fumbled
after a catch and Bulger was intercepted by Quentin Harris at the
Arizona's only other big play of the half was a 71-yard kickoff
return by Josh Scobey that set up a 22-yard field goal by Neil
Bulger, 19-4 as the Rams' starting quarterback, was 23-for-34
for 272 yards. His main target was Bruce, who caught nine catches
for 112 yards.
The Cardinals had no sacks against a rebuilt line led by tackle
Orlando Pace, who had only four practices to prepare for the opener
after agreeing to a one-year contract last Sunday.
McCown, beginning his first year as the Cardinals' starting
quarterback, was 18-for-29 for 181 yards.
Wilkins became the Rams' career leading scorer with 797
points, breaking a tie with Mike Lansford. He also hit his 13th
career field goal of 50 or more yards, extending his team record.
... Rams LB Pisa Tinoisamoa played most of the game after
dislocating his right shoulder early in the second quarter, but
Martz said he could miss a few weeks. ... Rams rookie DE Anthony
Hargrove sustained a mild concussion on the opening kickoff and
backup LB Trev Faulk tore a hamstring.