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Rams stumble out of the gate

September 24, 2007|Peter Yoon | Times Staff Writer

High hopes abound throughout NFL cities before the start of every season, and this year in St. Louis was no exception.

The Rams were returning Pro Bowl players at quarterback, running back and wide receiver, leading to visions of the return of "The Greatest Show on Turf," referring to the Marshall Faulk-Kurt Warner teams that annually scored more than 500 points a season during the early part of this decade.

But this year's version is stuck in the mud, and the Rams have become one of the biggest early-season disappointments.

St. Louis is 0-3 and averaging 10.7 points a game, which ranks 29th of 32 NFL teams. They are averaging 291.7 yards a game, which also ranks among the league's bottom 10.

"Very disappointing," Coach Scott Linehan said. "The frustrating part is that we haven't won a game yet. Part of winning is we have to score more points. There is no question we have to score a lot more points."

Running back Steven Jackson, touted as a potential league MVP after leading the league in total yards from scrimmage last year, has yet to score a touchdown. Quarterback Marc Bulger has two touchdown passes and three interceptions. Receiver Torry Holt's longest reception has been for 20 yards.

The biggest issue is converting in the red zone. The Rams have been inside their opponents' 20-yard line 11 times this season but have scored only three touchdowns in those trips. Injuries to the offensive line -- most notably All-Pro Orlando Pace -- have also impeded the Rams' offense.

"It's not from a lack of trying," Bulger said. "But trying only gets you so far, and maybe in high school and grade school it works, but in the NFL no one wants to hear about that. It's about productivity and no one is getting it done."

Scrutinize this

Donovan McNabb was greeted with boos from the home crowd, which was reacting to his comments on HBO's Real Sports in which he said black quarterbacks were subject to more scrutiny than white ones.

He turned them to cheers by completing 21 of 26 passes for 381 yards and four touchdowns in a 56-21 Philadelphia Eagles victory over the Detroit Lions.

McNabb spent a lot of time last week answering questions about his comments and came under heavy media criticism because of them.

"That wasn't even part of my mind-set," McNabb said when asked if the controversy inspired his play. "With everything that happened, with the whole HBO deal and the reactions and things of that nature, we still have to play football."

Catching on

McNabb wasn't the only Eagles player who had a big game.

Receiver Kevin Curtis had 11 catches for 221 yards and three touchdowns. The 221 yards were a career high and his 205 yards receiving in the first half tied for the most first-half receiving yards since 1991 -- the year such statistics became official.

Roy Williams of the Lions had 204 yards receiving, marking the first time in NFL history that two players passed the 200-yards receiving mark in the same game.

Lost his cool

Atlanta Falcons defensive back DeAngelo Hall let his temper get the best of him, and it cost the Falcons in a 27-20 loss to the Carolina Panthers.

Hall and Panthers receiver Steve Smith were engaged in a trash-talking battle almost the entire game. In the third quarter, with Atlanta leading, 17-10, Smith beat Hall deep, but Hall dragged him down for a 37-yard interference penalty.

On the next play, Hall gave Smith a shove to the chest, drawing a 15-yard personal foul, and on the same possession, he drew an unsportsmanlike penalty for continuing to jabber at Smith. The Panthers tied the score at 17-17, and later on the sideline, Hall and Coach Bobby Petrino had to be separated while arguing.

"I felt like I was on the bad end of the stick," Hall said.

Monday preview

The 2006 Rose Bowl reunion takes place tonight when Reggie Bush of the New Orleans Saints goes up against former USC teammate LenDale White and Texas foe Vince Young of the Tennessee Titans.

The Saints (0-2) are hoping their home opener will prod an offense that has averaged 12 points a game. The Titans (1-1) have won four consecutive road games.

Injury report

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