- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
The frosting was pretty fancy, at that. Most of the huge crowd had started to leave the stadium when the Rams again lost possession to the Packers following the final Green Bay touchdown, and then they stood quietly at their seats or in the aisles watching as Gabriel brought the team out of the huddle, second and five. It is a mark of the confidence the Rams' young coach, George Allen, has in Gabriel that—with a whole season hanging in the balance—he allowed him to make his own play selection.
The obvious call was a drive into the line. The Rams, accordingly, lined up in a tight formation, both ends in close to the tackles. Casey was flanked a yard outside the Ram left end. Opposite him was Bob Jeter, with the Green Bay safeties a bit deeper in the end zone.
"My responsibility depends on what the end does," Jeter explained later. "I have to read run if he blocks, and he did block."
Casey hesitated a moment as Jeter came up to meet the simulated run, then sprinted hard to his left into the end zone, away from the safety, who had been immobilized by the fake run. Casey was yards in the open when he caught the pass.
The victory, as the millions who watched the game on TV already know only too well, sets up another supergame for the Rams this Sunday, against the Baltimore Colts. Although the Rams trail Baltimore by a full game, a win over the Colts will give them the Coastal Division championship. This is so because of a rule adopted this year for the express purpose of avoiding playoff games. In case of a tie in the final standings, the rule states, the club with the higher total of points in the two games played between the tying teams is the division champion. The Rams and the Colts tied 24-24 when they met last October in Baltimore, so whoever wins this week will be champion. A tie game, however, would leave the Rams half a game out.
The race in the Coastal Division now is the only one still to be decided. In St. Louis last weekend the Cleveland Browns effectively suppressed the dying gasps of the Cardinals to capture the Century Division title. Green Bay and the Dallas Cowboys had already finished first in their divisions, the Central and the Capitol.
Allen, who is now the Rams' most successful coach, conducted his usual post-game conference in a husky, shaky voice.
" Baltimore?" he asked softly, smiling. "I don't know about Baltimore. I'm going to drink a glass of milk and then I'm going to get dressed and have a slow glass of blackberry brandy and then I'll start to think about Baltimore."
If Allen seemed wary, he had a right to be. His team made several egregious errors in the Packer game before settling down. Allen hopes that the momentum gained from Saturday's victory will serve to make the Rams a calmer team against Baltimore, which they will need to be.