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THE NFL / 1996

Only 26,519 See Rams Stumble Past Falcons

December 16, 1996|From Associated Press

ATLANTA — Seven interceptions. Seven fumbles. A sideline argument between teammates thrown in for good measure.

If there was ever a game that deserved two losers, it was Sunday's Ineptitude Bowl between St. Louis and Atlanta.

Rookie Eddie Kennison caught five passes for 226 yards, including three long touchdowns, and the Rams made a bid Sunday to save Coach Rich Brooks' job with a 34-27 victory over the Falcons.

Aside from Kennison's performance, the game was played at a level befitting two of the NFL's worst teams. St. Louis quarterback Tony Banks fumbled four times and threw an interception, and the Rams needed an end-zone interception by Keith Lyle on the last play of the game to preserve the victory.

"We certainly did not make it easy," Brooks said. "We had an opportunity to put them away on two or three different occasions, and that's something we haven't learned to do. We let them back in with our mistakes."

And Brooks, whose team committed four of the game's 11 turnovers, was the winning coach. Imagine how Atlanta's June Jones felt after his team dropped to 3-12 before only 26,519--the team's smallest crowd since 1989.

"We had a chance to win the game at the end," Jones said. "Everybody is frustrated."

St. Louis (5-10), completing a season sweep of the Falcons, jumped to a 24-3 lead in the first half and held on despite Banks' four fumbles, which give him 21 for the season. That broke the NFL record for most fumbles in a year (18), a mark that had been shared by Dave Krieg and Warren Moon.

St. Louis had five fumbles in all, losing three, and the Falcons chipped in with two fumbles.

Banks compensated for his miscues by completing 11 of 16 passes for 304 yards--an average of 27.6 yards per completion. Kennison had touchdown catches of 72 and 77 yards in the first half and a 41-yarder with 7:09 left in the game, pushing the Rams to a 34-20 lead.

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