Rams dominate Packers with ordinary game from FaulkPosted: Sunday January 20, 2002 7:53 PM
Updated: Sunday January 20, 2002 9:19 PM
The first player in NFL history with four consecutive 2,000-yard seasons, Faulk enjoyed watching the Rams' defense take center stage Sunday with an NFL playoff-record six interceptions of Brett Favre and three touchdown returns.
"It's always fun watching them play," Faulk said of the defense. "I just think that it takes games like this to really recognize as a unit how good they are and how good some players are."
He had two major plays, a 38-yard carry that set up St. Louis' second touchdown of the game in the second quarter and a 7-yard touchdown run that made it 31-10 in the third quarter.
Faulk, The Associated Press NFL Offensive Player of the Year the last three seasons, finished with 129 total yards, partly with the help of yards gained during mop-up time.
After averaging 134 yards during the regular season and carrying the Rams' offense the last five games, Faulk ran for 82 yards on 16 carries and caught six passes for 47 yards.
"I don't think they came out and just said, 'Oh well, let's just let him have fun,'" Faulk said.
Still, it was a step up from his first six playoff games when Faulk totaled 147 yards with a pedestrian 2.4-yard average and 23 catches for 284 yards. He had three touchdowns the first six games.
In the 1999 playoffs, the Rams beat Minnesota 49-37 without much from Faulk, who had 11 carries for 21 yards. He wasn't much of a factor in the NFC Championship Game against Tampa Bay, getting 44 yards on 17 carries.
In the Rams' Super Bowl victory against Tennessee, he had 17 yards on 10 carries.
And in St. Louis' wild-card playoff loss at New Orleans last season, he had 24 yards on 14 carries.
The Rams' best offense Sunday was their opportunistic defense, which has eight new starters and improved from 23rd in the league last year to third this season. St. Louis had five defensive touchdowns in the regular season.
"In all my years of coaching, I don't know if I've ever seen a defensive effort like that," Rams head coach Mike Martz said. "It's truly remarkable."
Aeneas Williams, who returned two interceptions for scores in the regular season, had a 29-yard return for the game's first score. Williams made it two scores in the fourth quarter with a 32-yard return.
"He's one of the best I've faced; I wouldn't say he is the best," Favre said. "I faced Deion Sanders before. At least I'll throw at Aeneas; doesn't mean I'll be successful. If I could help it, I wouldn't throw at Deion Sanders."
Rookie linebacker Tommy Polley had a 34-yard return in the third quarter.
"We have such a great offenses that our defense, we get a chance to go in the house when no one's watching and we're out the house with all the goods before they realize what happened," Williams said.
Isaac Bruce, who's going to the Pro Bowl along with Faulk, was even more of a non-factor with one catch for 19 yards. Bruce said it had nothing to do with the Packers' plan to stop him.
"They didn't take me away," Bruce said. "I was open pretty much all night. We won, so no big deal."
"We did some of the things that were necessary to move the ball down the field," Faulk said. "We didn't have a typical game like we're used to, but when you get in games like that and your D is playing as good as they're playing you just don't want to put them in bad situations."
Warner had back spasms early in the game, perhaps related to his bout with stomach flu a few days ago, and said his back was stiff throughout the game.
He also said the Rams' offense could worry about field position because the defense was playing so well. St. Louis finished with 292 total yards, lower than any game in the regular season -- its lowest total during the season was 315 yards in a 15-14 victory against the New York Giants.
"I just told myself, 'Just check it down,'" Warner said. "We'll get what we can get, because our defense was playing so awesome."