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ST. LOUIS 28, OAKLAND 13

Bulger Impressive in His First Game

October 14, 2002|From Associated Press

ST. LOUIS — One quick possession was all Marc Bulger needed Sunday to calm his nerves and give the St. Louis Rams a lead they'd never relinquish.

The third-string quarterback, who came into the league two years ago as an obscure sixth-round draft choice with New Orleans, threw three touchdown passes and ran for another in his first NFL action as the Rams won their first game of the season, 28-13, over the previously unbeaten Oakland Raiders.

"If you know you can play, you don't have to worry about it," Bugler said. "You'll get your chance."

Marshall Faulk, who was slowed by back spasms last week against the San Francisco 49ers, returned to form by running for a season-high 158 yards. His 32-yard run, which followed Damione Lewis' interception of Rich Gannon's pass, put the ball at the Oakland one with 11:20 left.

Bulger, who started in place of injured second-stringer Jamie Martin, scored on the next play to give the defending NFC champions (1-5) a 28-6 lead. The touchdown triggered thunderous cheers from a crowd that hadn't seen its team win a home game since Jan. 6.

Kurt Warner, out with a broken finger, was the first person to greet Bulger after the game.

"You can't say enough about a guy who comes in in such a big game and plays with such poise," Warner said. "He played the way he had to play to win this football game."

Bulger completed 14 of 21 passes for 186 yards and three touchdowns with no interceptions.

The Raiders (4-1), who entered the game leading the NFL at 40.5 points and 461.5 yards a game, had only two field goals and 229 yards through the first three quarters.

The dismal performance didn't stop Jerry Rice, who caught seven passes for 133 yards on his 40th birthday.

"That is amazing for a guy who has done it as long as he has," said Ram cornerback Dre' Bly. "For him to be 40 years old and still be out there playing every snap and not coming out of the game and just doing what's done since he's 23 is just unbelievable."

Rice caught a 53-yard pass on the game's first play, which actually led to a momentum-turning defensive stop by the Rams.

On fourth-and-one from the St. Louis three, Zack Crockett was stopped for no gain by linebacker Tommy Polley, who missed the previous two games with an injury.

Bulger guided the Rams 97 yards in nine plays. He completed a 17-yard pass to Isaac Bruce -- his first NFL pass -- then connected with Torry Holt for 50 yards. He found Bruce in the corner of the end zone for a seven-yard touchdown.

Oakland Coach Bill Callahan denied that the Raiders overlooked the Rams, or Bulger.

"He did get significant playing time in the preseason, and he understands the system," Callahan said. "I think they were intelligent with their approach. We were very diligent about how we prepared for this team. My hat's off to them."

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