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Archive for Tuesday, October 3, 2000

Can anyone catch Rams this year?

October 3, 2000

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There's a little stirring these days among those gents from the 1972 Dolphins. Not a lot yet. The St. Louis Rams are 5-0 and have 11 games plus the playoffs to go to match Miami's record as the only unbeaten team of the Super Bowl era.

But consider that the Rams, who have lots of credibility this year after winning the Super Bowl last season, went into Sunday's game with San Diego averaging 40 points a game and upped that average to 43 by scoring 57 against the Chargers.

"I've never seen anything like that," said Jim Harbaugh, the San Diego quarterback who's seen a lot in 14 NFL seasons. "They score so fast their defense is right back on the field."

That's one reason the other team scores, too, which may finally be St. Louis' downfall.

In their first two games, against Denver and Seattle, the Rams had to score on the final drive to win 41-36 and 37-34. On Sunday, the Chargers put up 31 points and 384 yards.

But the Rams, of course, did nothing more than gain 614 yards, and Kurt Warner's quarterback rating was perfect: 158.3, the highest a quarterback can get. He played just 21/2 quarters and threw for 390 yards.

Warner has now thrown for 1,947 yards in five games, or 389.4 per game. That computes 6,230 for the season, or 1,146 more than Dan Marino's record of 5,084, set 16 seasons ago.

But enough numbers.

Let's see how to scare the '72 Dolphins.

Start with the defense, the alleged flaw.

It's improved since the Denver and Seattle games as Kevin Carter's play improved and it should be getting defensive tackle D'Marco Farr back fairly soon. A lot of the points, such as San Diego's, are garbage points allowed by a defense that loosens up after the blowout is complete.

Then there's the schedule.

The Rams have the same edge San Francisco had for most of the '90s no one in the NFC West scares anyone. No one but the Rams, in fact, is over .500, meaning St. Louis will probably clinch the division by mid-November.

But ...

The schedule is a lot tougher coming off a Super Bowl victory than it was last year, coming off 4-12.

On the other hand, look out for history repeating itself.

Two years ago, Denver started 13-0 and was primed to head for Miami for a Monday night showdown that would determine if the Broncos could match the 1972 Dolphins. On the way, they had to stop at the Meadowlands to face the mediocre Giants, a whistle stop so to speak.

The Giants won 20-16, the folks in Miami celebrated and all the hoopla in south Florida ended.

This year, the Rams could start 9-0. On Nov. 12, eight days before the Washington game, they go to the Meadowlands to face the Giants, who are at about the same level as the 1998 team.

Any predictions?

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