Work in Sports
ST. LOUIS (Ticker) -- Kurt Warner threw for 288 yards and three touchdowns in his first NFL start to lead the St. Louis Rams to a 27-10 victory over the Baltimore Ravens, spoiling the debut of coach Brian Billick.
Warner, who became the Rams No. 1 quarterback when Trent Green tore ligaments in his knee in a preseason game, completed 26-of-42 passes as St. Louis (1-0) won its season opener for the fifth time in six years. He is the first Ram quarterback to throw for three scores in a game since Tony Banks on December 7, 1997 against New Orleans.
"It's a 16-round fight. We won round one," said St. Louis coach Dick Vermeil. "The positive side was of course Kurt Warner. I'm very proud of him, he's a great kid. It's so exciting to see a guy come up from just nowhere. You talk about from nowhere and stick with it and stay with it. All the persistence through the Arena League and the World League. Today he was very, very poised."
The 28-year-old Warner, who had stints in the Arena Football League and NFL Europe, played in just one game for the Rams last year in a season-ending loss to San Francisco and completed 4-of-11 passes for 39 yards.
"It feels great, it's good to go out and get a win," Warner said. "After the game I went and told (my teammates) thanks for sticking with me. It's been a long couple of weeks. We all knew (Green) was going to have a great season, but (my teammates) stayed behind me and gave me all the confidence. I told them I'm going to continue getting better."
Scott Mitchell was just 17-of-40 for 188 yards and a TD for Baltimore (0-1). Mitchell threw a 28-yard touchdown pass to rookie Brandon Stokley, but was intercepted twice.
"You're all going to blame Scott for a lot of things that aren't Scott's fault," said Billick. "There's a lot going on around him, whether it's protection or routes from the skill level we have outside. I won't know his overall play until I see the film. There are some things structurally that we need to do better, but he's not the only one."
Marshall Faulk, who along with Green were St. Louis' two big off-season acquisitions, rushed 19 times for 54 yards and caught seven passes for 72 yards.
"We've been saying we are a pretty decent team and today we looked like it," Faulk said. "The defense gave us an opportunity and we got into the game. With our offense you never know where the ball is going to go. At times I misread something and at times our offensive line was out of sync, but we will get better."
Rookie Torry Holt, the sixth overall pick in the draft, had three receptions for 36 yards, including a 20-yard touchdown that gave St. Louis a 27-10 advantage with 2:40 left in the game.
The Rams outgained the Ravens, 350-223, and had a 23-13 advantage in first downs. St. Louis committed 11 penalties for 106 yards.
"As the head coach you have the responsibilty to be both happy and critical and I think we can play better than that," Vermeil said. "We had too many penalties, but at the same time I want to give them credit. We could not block their down four efficiently enough to run the ball."
Jeff Wilkins kicked a 36-yard field goal to give the Rams a 3-0 lead just over six minutes into the game. Wilkins also had a 51-yard field 6:04 into the fourth quarter to increase the lead to 20-10.
Todd Lyght intercepted Mitchell and lateraled to Taje Allen, who ran 36 yards to set up Warner's first touchdown, a six-yard pass to tight end Roland Williams to give the Rams a 10-0 lead 92 seconds into the second quarter.
Matt Stover's 25-yard field goal pulled the Ravens within 10-3 with six minutes left in the second. But the Rams answered with a 12-play, 82-yard drive to take a 17-3 lead when Warner found Isaac Bruce in the back of the end zone for a two-yard TD 33 seconds before halftime.