ST. LOUIS -- The Rams have this mindset that nobody, not even the blitz-crazy Philadelphia Eagles, can alter: They will throw often, they will throw deep and, they believe, they will not be stopped.
So while Philadelphia looks to send everyone but Ben Franklin after quarterback Kurt Warner in Sunday's NFC championship game, St. Louis won't back down and go conservative. Not even after Warner missed much of practice Thursday with cramps in his rib cage; coach Mike Martz said he "will be fine tomorrow (Friday)."
"We are clicking and pretty much on all cylinders," said Isaac Bruce, one of four wideouts who, along with All-Pro running back Marshall Faulk, will be Warner's main targets during the final step to the Super Bowl. "It's kind of hard to stop. I mean, you have to sometimes just step back in amazement and just look at the things that are happening.
"I'm not really saying that everything goes with ease, but when you sit back on Monday and watch film, it looks pretty easy what's happening and what we are doing."
What they are doing is averaging 32 points a game, although the defense has contributed five touchdowns this season. That defense also scored 21 points in the 45-17 rout of Green Bay last weekend.
Faulk, of course, is the most dynamic offensive weapon in the league, winner of three straight Offensive Player of the Year awards. But he also might be needed in blitz pickup more than usual against Philadelphia.
That means Bruce, Isaac Holt, Az Hakim and Ricky Proehl will be featured. Often.
And particularly if Pro Bowl cornerback Troy Vincent remains hobbled by a groin injury that has kept him from practicing.
So even though Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb expects his team to have fun Sunday, All-Pro safety Brian Dawkins wasn't so sure.
"Not when they hit you across the head with deep balls, it's not fun," Dawkins said with a chuckle. "But seriously, it is, because that's a challenge you want as a defense, with the speed that they have and the quarterback, where's he's putting the ball, you really have to be on top of your game. You have to be where you need to be every time.
"Everybody around the world knows that they are a big-play team. They want to get the big play, want to get two and three touchdowns in the first quarter and basically get you out of the game."
Yes, they do. And they are very good at it. This season, the Rams (15-2) outscored opponents 140-51 in the first quarter, 165-85 in the second.
They don't do it quietly, either. St. Louis gained more than 400 yards 10 times this season. It averaged 418 yards a game, 291 passing. There were 27 pass plays of at least 30 yards, and 14 runs of at least 20 yards.
"In this offense, you have to be able to play fast," said Holt, the No. 1 wide receiver statistically with 81 catches, 1,363 yards and seven touchdowns; Faulk led the team with 83 catches, nine for TDs. "I don't know if we are the fastest guys in the National Football League, if we run the fastest 40s or the fastest 100s, but I know one thing: We play fast, and that's always mind-boggling.
"When you watch film on us, you can't really judge the speed until you actually get out on the field and see how fast guys are playing, and how fast we're getting in and out of routes. I don't know if we're the fastest 100-meter team, but I know we sure play fast."
The Eagles, if Vincent is healthy, have a strong enough regular secondary (Bobby Taylor and Damon Moore also start) to stick with the Rams. But when Philadelphia (13-5) goes to its nickel and dime coverages - which it will do almost from the first snap as Martz deploys three or four wide receivers - there's going to be a mismatch somewhere.
That's what St. Louis does. It beats defenses with the depth of its attack, as well as the quickness.
"We just have to make sure we limit the yards that they get," Dawkins said. "You cannot just expect to go in and just shut off an opponent. That would be unrealistic ... we have to limit the yards, make sure we line up with them on the field instead of trying to rob a field goal or a touchdown.
"We just try to be physical as we can, try to put as much pressure as we can. Those guys are like a clock."
One that runs fast all the time.
© 2018. All Rights Reserved. | Contact Us