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Bulger, Rams Keep Heads in Game

September 15, 2003|From Associated Press

ST. LOUIS — Marc Bulger kept the St. Louis Ram quarterback controversy alive.

Kurt Warner's backup shook off two first-half turnovers, throwing for two touchdowns and keeping his cool on the last drive of a 27-24 overtime win over the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday. Jeff Wilkins kicked a 28-yard field goal with 13 minutes left in the extra period.

Coach Mike Martz wouldn't say whether Bulger or Warner, who suffered a concussion in the opener, would be the starter next week at Seattle.

"This is a time to celebrate a win and feel good," Martz said. "We'll deal with that on Monday."

Martz couldn't hold back on praise for Bulger, who completed 25 of 36 passes for 236 yards and two touchdowns -- including 15 of 17 for 155 yards after halftime. Bulger was 6-1 as the Ram starter last year while Warner was 0-6.

"That, ladies and gentlemen, is a big league quarterback," Martz said.

Warner, who relayed the plays from the sideline, also got caught up in the excitement.

"When your teammates are out there battling and you win a game like this, you can't help but enjoy every minute," Warner said. "Do I wish I was out there? Sure, I do."

Bulger wasn't sure what this game meant for his future, and said it wasn't any kind of statement game.

"I didn't state anything, I'm just happy we won," Bulger said. "That's up to Coach Martz -- he's the head coach."

The Rams (1-1) have won eight of nine against the 49ers (1-1), the defending NFC West champions.

The 49ers didn't go quietly, forcing the extra period on Jeff Garcia's 13-yard touchdown pass to Terrell Owens with 19 seconds left. The score capped an 85-yard, 11-play march and came from two players who had sustained mild concussions in the first half.

"If the doctor says he can go back in, he can go back in," Coach Dennis Erickson said of Garcia.

San Francisco got a last chance to win it when Arnaz Battle recovered Jeff Chandler's onside kick at midfield with 13 seconds to go. The 49ers still had one timeout, but they ran out of time on Garcia's 29-yard pass to Cedrick Wilson to the Ram 26.

The Ram defense hemmed in Wilson so the clock would run out on a play that started with nine seconds to go, enough that the 49ers felt they'd have time for a field-goal attempt.

"It's something you hope comes down to common sense," Garcia said. "Obviously, everybody knew the situation at that point."

Ram rookie return man Arlen Harris muffed a punt return at the St. Louis 11 that led to the 49ers' first touchdown. Harris atoned with a 46-yard return on the overtime kickoff to the Ram 48.

A 15-yard facemask penalty on 49er linebacker Jeff Ulbrich gave the Rams the ball at the 49er 36. Bulger and Marshall Faulk did the rest, hooking up on a 22-yard screen pass to the 10.

Wilkins ended it on the next play.

Bulger lost two fumbles in the first half, giving Ram quarterbacks a total of eight in the first two games but played a solid second half as St. Louis emphasized more running.

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