'Not going to miss that one'
Warner expects to play in return visit to New Orleans
ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Kurt Warner should be back for the St. Louis Rams' improbable playoff drive.
Warner sustained a concussion and missed all but one series in the second half Sunday in the Rams' 26-21 victory against New Orleans. But after a trip to the hospital for a CT scan he was able to return in time to take the team flight home, and on Monday all that was left was a bit of a headache.
Team doctors gave Warner the thumbs-up for the return trip to New Orleans for Saturday's wild-card game -- the third game in six weeks against the Saints -- after a morning checkup. Head coach Mike Martz said Warner, last season's NFL and Super Bowl MVP, would start and added that his name probably wouldn't even show up on the injury report.
"He's fine," Martz said. "They did all the tests on him. He had a little bit of a headache this morning, but he was just upstairs to look at the game [film]."
Before making the trip to the hospital, Martz said Warner tried to talk himself back into the game. But Warner also talked about being 'fuzzy' mentally and complained about numbness in his tongue or mouth, symptoms of a concussion.
"Kurt being Kurt, he was convinced he was fine," Martz said. "But all the symptoms he told the doctors, they were very emphatic about Kurt not playing."
After the game, Warner was confident he'd return.
"No doubt about it, I'm not going to miss that one," Warner told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. "That's what it's all about."
Warner believes he was injured on a pass play in the first quarter. But Martz, after reviewing game tape Monday, couldn't pick out the play.
Players were ecstatic about their good fortune Sunday. Minutes after they finished off the Saints, Chicago knocked Detroit out of the playoff picture on Paul Edinger's 54-yard field goal with two seconds to go.
"The whole Chicago Bears team can come to my house for dinner tonight," defensive tackle D'Marco Farr said. "I'll put Edinger at the head of the table."
"It's necessity that brings out your best," defensive end Kevin Carter said. "It certainly did today."
Martz had calmed down considerably by late Monday afternoon, although he opened his news conference with a cheery "Merry Christmas."
"Like I told you last week, we were going to approach this thing as if we thought Chicago would win," Martz said. "We just had to take care of business, that was our approach."
Now that they're in, the confidence is back. The Rams are a 5 1/2-point favorite Saturday at New Orleans. If they make it to the second round they would play at the New York Giants, whom they beat 38-24 on the road. And they played well offensively in a 38-35 loss at Tampa Bay in Game 15.
In fact, they've played four of the five other NFC entries since Nov. 12, also beating Minnesota at home. The lone exception is Philadelphia.
"Shoot, it's up for grabs," Martz said. "Anybody can win this thing in the NFC. It's an evenly matched conference."
Players got Monday and Tuesday off to rest for the rematch against the Saints only six days later. The player the short work week might be toughest on is Marshall Faulk, who had 220 yards on 32 carries and caught seven passes for 41 yards, scoring three touchdowns to set an NFL record with 26.
"Anytime you touch the ball that much it's hard to bounce back physically," Martz said. "I talked to him last night and he said he felt really good."
He was encouraged by a maligned defense that held the Saints to a season-low 242 yards. New Orleans didn't score an offensive touchdown until the fourth quarter and the Rams bottled up rookie quarterback Aaron Brooks.
"If they can reach some consistency, they'll be the reason why we win," Martz said. "Yesterday, they probably were the major reason."
Martz said kickoff returner Tony Horne, who missed the last five games with a foot injury, should return for the playoffs. Horne is averaging 24.2 yards, including a 103-yard touchdown in Game 6 against Atlanta, and led the NFL with a 29.7-yard average and two scoring returns last year.