Reminded of the story after Sunday's game, Jauron downplayed what he'd done, and he downplayed the notion that his team has taken on his personality. "This team," he said, "has taken on its own personality. The players realize that no one is more important than anyone else in that locker room."
St. Louis Turnovers
Rams Dropping The Ball
Although everyone mouths the clich�, "No one can beat us but ourselves," the only team to which it truly applies this season is the Rams, whose two losses (by a total of 10 points) were the result of turnovers. In those defeats they turned the ball over a total of 14 times. In their nine wins—by an average of 18.3 points—they've turned the ball over 19 times. Their league-high 33 turnovers put them on pace to cough up the ball 48 times this season. The 1979 Steelers are the only Super Bowl champions to have led the league in turnovers (with 52). "We are at a critical point with the turnovers," Rams coach Mike Martz admitted last week. "They have to stop. Too many guys are playing too well for us to blow the season."
After the Rams turned the ball over six times in their Nov. 26 loss to the Bucs, Martz refused to blister his players. "You can destroy players and your team by haranguing them, and I refuse to do that," Martz says. "I addressed each player individually. Like with Az [Hakim], he feels every time he touches the ball, he's going to score. He has to accept that sometimes you've got to take a four-yard gain. We talked. I know he'll accept that now."
In Atlanta on Sunday, the Rams rolled over the Falcons 35-6. For only the second time this season they didn't turn the ball over. The other? It was a 42-10 win over the Dolphins on Sept. 30.
Have Game, Will Travel
Road Teams Right at Home
From 1990 through 2000 home teams won 59.2% of me time. This year home teams are 88-85, winning at a 50.9% rate. Lately road teams have even had an edge; in November visiting clubs were 35-25. The prevailing theories try to explain this trend by pointing to parity—what else?—and the ability of the road team to shut out distracting crowd noise.
"When you bring your team in for the third or fourth time to a place where it's typically difficult to play, it becomes easier," says Titans coach Jeff Fisher. Players now practice more using piped-in noise, so they're more accustomed to playing in raucous venues.
Parity's a bigger deal, Steelers coach Bill Cowher believes. "You don't have the dominant teams anymore, year in and year out," Cowher says, "so few teams build up a big winning edge on their home fields. I'm sure a lot of it is due to the constant change in the makeup of teams."
Here's another possibility: The new stadiums simply aren't as intimidating. In Washington, RFK Stadium was a pit; FedEx Field is antiseptic. When the crowd got raucous at Mile Hile in Denver, the ground shook; Broncos players are down on the minor edge that new Invesco Field gives them.