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Rams Are Zeroing In

Bulger passes for 352 yards and St. Louis defense dominates Atlanta during 36-0 victory.

October 14, 2003|From Associated Press

ST. LOUIS — Like a good veteran, Aeneas Williams knows how to follow instructions.

He couldn't have done a better job Monday night in sparking the St. Louis Rams' 36-0 rout of the Atlanta Falcons. Williams forced two early turnovers, Travis Fisher returned an interception 74 yards for a touchdown, and Larry Little tackled T.J. Duckett in the end zone for a safety. Atlanta managed only 209 yards in St. Louis' first shutout in two years and the Rams' first home shutout since 1993, when they played in Anaheim.

"That was the emphasis tonight." Williams said after his 52nd interception, second among active players to Oakland's Rod Woodson. "In our meetings, coach Lovie [Smith] would start yelling, 'Interceptions, interceptions.' Even when I would go home, I'd open my refrigerator and hear coach Lovie saying, 'Interceptions, interceptions,' and have to close it right away."

Williams, playing free safety this year for the first time after a stellar career as a cornerback, picked off Doug Johnson's ill-advised first-quarter pass in the end zone. Then he knocked the ball free from Atlanta tight end Alge Crumpler and recovered the fumble in the second quarter.

Both turnovers set up long drives for points as St. Louis took a 10-0 halftime lead.

Marc Bulger threw for 352 yards and two touchdowns and ran for another touchdown, and Lamar Gordon -- making his second start in place of the injured Marshall Faulk -- had a career-high 92 yards rushing.

But it was the defense that drew the most praise.

"Give credit to the defense," said Torry Holt, who had 11 receptions for 161 yards and two touchdowns. "A goose egg!"

In a span of four plays in the third quarter, the Rams (3-2) had three sacks.

They never allowed Atlanta, ranked 27th in total offense, to threaten to get Coach Dan Reeves his 200th victory. The Falcons (1-5) have lost five in a row and desperately need Michael Vick to return from a broken right leg he suffered in an exhibition game. Johnson made several critical mistakes.

"We're just struggling right now in all areas," Reeves said. "I don't know that one person can make that much difference."

Bulger appreciated the easy night.

"I really didn't feel like I played an NFL game tonight," Bulger said. "I hardly got hit. I thought we were going to get 40 or 50."

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