NEW ORLEANS — The Rams celebrated Monday night's 20-17 win over the Super Bowl champion Chicago Bears by flying directly here after the game to begin what promises to be a week of curfew-breaking, Bayou-beating, kazoo-blowing madness.
The thought is that if the Rams are still standing Sunday, they'll line up to play the New Orleans Saints at the Superdome.
" . . . Ah, excuse me, is this the French Quarter or the first quarter? . . . "
Ram Coach John Robinson's move to bring his team to New Orleans instead of taking them home may have raised a few eyebrows, given the very thought of letting 50-some pro football players roam the streets for five days and nights before a game.
Of course, one of the reasons Robinson made the move was to quell the stereotype that pro football players, given the time and opportunity, would tear a city like New Orleans in two.
"Most of the people that I've known that have gone to New Orleans have always come back," Robinson said. "It's unfair to assume the temptation and that they're going out to do evil."
Robinson said he expects his team to have fun this week. There will be no curfews for players until Friday. But he also expects them to be ready to play Sunday.
"I think it can work to your advantage, if you have the kind of team I have," Robinson said
"I think I understand my team. And I have a clear view of the exhaustion of travel. Look at the teams that travel two weeks in a row. Check them out."
As if anything the Rams might do on Bourbon Street could be worse.
Robinson said that bringing his team home through two time zones after a Monday night game and back through two time zones three days later would be far more detrimental to the health of his team.
"In case this became a controversial thing, here are the reasons," Robinson said. "We would have gotten home (from Chicago) at 5 a.m. The players' normal day off would have been shot. We'd be considerably behind and Friday we would have had to turn around and leave."
The Rams will keep the same workout schedule this week, though they'll be practicing daily in the Superdome in preparation for Sunday's game against the 4-5 Saints. Nothing will change except the scenery.
"If we win, it will be no issue," Robinson said.
But if they lose?
Despite some ugly-looking passing numbers by Steve Dils (6 for 25, 137 yards), Robinson raved again Tuesday about the performance of the quarterback against the Bears and said that Dils would most likely get the start again this week against the Saints.
"Dils played a fine game," Robinson said. "You can look at 6 for 25 as being horrible or look at his effect on the game. It was very instrumental. We were trying to push them up the field. We didn't expect him to hit a high number of passes. We didn't expect to drop as many as we did, either."
In Dils' defense, he threw three passes to Henry Ellard that were catchable, one that bounced off Ellard's chest in the second quarter.
Another long pass, perfectly thrown, was stripped from Ellard's arms by Bear cornerback Mike Richardson.
On the Rams' winning drive, Dils, on first down at the Bear 40, threw deep to Ellard, who was streaking into the end zone. Ellard was forced to look back over his head for the pass, which made for a difficult chance, but the ball hit him in the hands.
Ellard, who only recently returned after an 89-day holdout, obviously is not yet the same receiver he was a season ago.
Ron Brown, the other wide receiver, had one drop and on another chance he quit running after Dils had read a Bear blitz and thrown the ball deep to a wide open Brown.
And, yes, Robinson was even talking about the quality of some of those incompletions, how the mere threat of the deep pass made the Bears think twice about stacking everyone on the line to stop Dickerson.
And when Dils finally connected with Brown for a 65-yard touchdown pass in the third quarter, it proved that completed passes can be effective also.
Dils is 3-0 as a starter this year, but the Rams continue to rank dead last in the NFL in passing.
But 3-0 and a win over the Bears will probably be enough to keep backup--yes, it's now safe to say--Steve Bartkowski on the bench for the third straight week.
Robinson said he had no serious thoughts about throwing Bartkowski and his sore right knee in against a tenacious Bear defense.
The Rams are averaging 164 yards a game rushing and 131 passing. . . . Eric Dickerson, who rushed for 111 yards in 29 carries Monday night, leads the NFL in rushing with 1,141 yards. That's 261 more than New York Giant back Joe Morris, who's second. . . . Tight end Tony Hunter, who has a shin injury, and defensive end Gary Jeter, who has an injured hamstring, both missed the Chicago game but are expected back at practice this week.