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Rams Fumble Away a Big Opportunity

November 25, 2002|From Associated Press

LANDOVER, Md. — The St. Louis Rams were just a chip-shot field goal away from overtime when Kurt Warner lost the ball.

LaVar Arrington made the strip, and Daryl Gardener made the recovery at the 13. The Washington Redskins won, 20-17, Sunday, giving Coach Steve Spurrier an improbable victory based on defense, ball control and an error-free game from Danny Wuerffel.

"We would like to have had a little less drama, but we'll take the win any way we can," said Wuerffel, who completed 16 of 23 passes for 235 yards with no interceptions and no sacks.

Stephen Davis scored three touchdowns and ran for 88 yards in 31 carries. The Redskins (5-6), who had an 86-37 pass-run ratio in losing their previous two games, passed only 24 times and ran 39.

"Now we're in position to go to Dallas with a little bit of momentum," Spurrier said. "Hopefully we'll play a little better than we did today and get back into whatever playoff race there is."

The Rams are also 5-6, and their playoff hopes are just as faint as those of the Redskins.

Said Ram receiver Torry Holt: "It's a five-game season. We have to go 5-0."

The Rams had won five in a row to get from 0-5 to 5-5, and they were down, 20-10, in the fourth quarter before Warner helped bring them back.

The final drive started at the Ram 20 with 3:28 remaining. Using short passes and runs, Warner moved the team downfield until his fumble on first-and-goal at the six with 17 seconds remaining.

Ram Coach Mike Martz faulted himself for calling the wrong play.

"That's a shame to come back and play like that at the end and not win." Martz said. "I just made a bad call at the end."

Warner said he never saw Arrington coming.

"It's one of those where you kind of start to feel him and try to look for somebody," Warner said. "But not to the point where I thought he was coming free and had a clean shot at me."

The play spoiled Warner's return after missing five games because of a broken finger. He completed his first 15 passes and then lead a masterful touchdown drive -- going nine for 10 and connecting with Ricky Proehl for a five-yard touchdown to make it 20-17 with 6:08 remaining.

Warner was 34 for 49 for 301 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. "It doesn't matter how I did," he said. "We didn't win."

The Rams' five-game win streak came with Marc Bulger at quarterback. Bulger was listed as the third quarterback Sunday after he was unable to get a good grip on the ball in pregame warmups.

The Rams were also missing Marshall Faulk, who sat out his second consecutive game with foot and ankle injuries.

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