St. Louis Bringing the "Bob 'N Weave" out of mothballs brought out the best in the St. Louis Rams.
The swagger was back for the defending Super Bowl champions, who ended a three-game losing streak in sometimes brazen fashion in a 40-29 victory over the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday. Marshall Faulk scored a team-record four touchdowns rushing and the Rams, who also had lost three in a row at home, celebrated their first two touchdowns with the banned dance.
They also signaled their own first downs and spun the ball after big plays.
"It's real fun seeing the guys do the Bob 'N Weave," quarterback Kurt Warner said. "That's what we're all about, showing emotion. We knew we had to break it out."
Vikings coach Dennis Green is co-chairman of the NFL's competition committee, and he was behind the league crackdown on celebration dances this season. In the days before the game, several Rams said they wouldn't mind paying a fine.
"It has nothing to do with Dennis Green," said wide receiver Torry Holt, who invented the dance last year as a rookie and marked its return with nine catches for 172 yards. "It didn't matter who we were playing, we were going to do it."
Green said he had no reaction to the Rams' celebrations.
The Rams (9-5) opened the game with an 80-yard scoring drive capped by Faulk's 1-yard run, and seven Rams did the Bob 'N Weave.
On the second TD, another 1-yard run by Faulk, six players participated. The third time, wide receiver Isaac Bruce called a halt to the celebrating after another bunch of players convened in the end zone.
Faulk's touchdowns gave him a league-leading and career-high 19, and they were his first visits to the end zone in three games. After a couple of quiet weeks following his return from arthroscopic knee surgery, he had 135 yards rushing on 25 carries, topping 1,000 yards for the fourth straight season, and 43 yards on six receptions.
"The energy was good, my leg felt good, I felt good," Faulk said.
Ravens 24, Chargers 3
Baltimore Baltimore brushed aside bumbling San Diego to earn their venerable owner Art Modell a long overdue trip to the playoffs. Trent Dilfer threw two touchdown passes and the Ravens took advantage of five turnovers to beat the Chargers, clinching a playoff berth for the first time. Eagles 35, Browns 24
Cleveland Donovan McNabb passed for a career-high 390 yards and four touchdowns as Philadelphia clinched a playoff spot for the first time since 1996. The visiting Eagles (10-5) kept up their startling turnaround under coach Andy Reid from a 5-11 season in 1999. McNabb threw two TD passes to Torrance Small in the first half and added two more scoring tosses to Charles Johnson in the third quarter.
Titans 35, Bengals 3
Nashville, Tenn. Steve McNair, who barely practiced last week because of a sprained knee, threw three touchdown passes as the defending AFC champions earned a return trip to the postseason. Eddie George caught a pair of TD passes and ran for another score.
Cowboys 32, Redskins 13
Irving, Texas A coaching change didn't help the underachieving Redskins (7-7), who couldn't stop Dallas (5-9) even after Troy Aikman left with his 10th career concussion. Aikman departed midway through the first quarter following a flying tackle by rookie linebacker LaVar Arrington. Emmitt Smith ran for 150 yards and a touchdown, went over 15,000 yards rushing for his career only Walter Payton and Barry Sanders had done it and beyond 1,000 yards rushing for the 10th straight year. Dallas won its seventh straight against Washington and ran for 242 yards. The visiting 'Skins played their first game under coach Terry Robiskie.
Denver Rookie Mike Anderson ran for 131 yards and scored two second-half touchdowns, leading the Broncos (10-4) to their sixth straight victory. The host Broncos, who beat Seattle 38-31 just two weeks ago, have gotten 577 yards rushing from Anderson in the last three games. Jon Kitna threw three touchdown passes for Seattle (5-9).
Saints 31, 49ers 27
San Francisco Terry Allen scored on a 1-yard run with 46 seconds left as the Saints clinched just their sixth winning season in the last 34 years. New Orleans (9-5) trailed 27-17 with six minutes to play, but Aaron Brooks led the Saints on two late scoring drives to keep their NFC West title hopes alive. New Orleans also weathered 49ers quarterback Jeff Garcia, who passed for 305 yards and two touchdowns.
Giants 30, Steelers 10
East Rutherford, N.J. Kerry Collins passed for 333 yards and two touchdowns as New York moved closer to a playoff spot. Amani Toomer caught nine passes for 136 yards and a touchdown. The NFC East leaders (10-4) won their third in a row since coach Jim Fassel guaranteed the Giants would make the postseason for the first time since 1997. Pittsburgh (7-7) began the day with slim playoff hopes, and saw them fade further as the Giants shut down Kordell Stewart and Jerome Bettis.
Miami Tampa Bay prevented Miami from clinching a playoff spot, intercepting Jay Fielder four times and forcing him to fumble. Martin Gramatica made a tiebreaking 46-yard field goal with 8:12 left. The Buccaneers (9-5) won in the rain and on the road and stayed in the middle of the NFC wild-card race.
Jaguars 44, Cards 10
Jacksonville, Fla. Fred Taylor broke his team record for yards rushing in a season as Jacksonville won its fourth in a row, routing visiting Arizona. Taylor ran for 137 yards, topping the 100-yard mark for the eighth straight game.
Packers 26, Lions 13
Green Bay, Wis. Ahman Green scored two late touchdowns and Brett Favre won once again in frosty weather. Favre improved to 26-0 at home in temperatures 34 or below. It was 25 with a wind chill of 5 at Green Bay.
Bears 24, Patriots 17
Chicago Shane Matthews completed a team-record 15 passes and Chicago won at Solider Field.
Raiders 31, Jets 7
Oakland, Calif. The Raiders (11-3) scored on Rich Gannon's passes to Tim Brown and Andre Rison, Tyrone Wheatley's 1-yard run and Eric Allen's interception return on a deflected pass.