Kurt Warner's backup shook off two first-half turnovers, throwing for two touchdowns and keeping his cool on the final drive of a 27-24 overtime win over the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday. Jeff Wilkins kicked a 28-yard field goal with 13 minutes left in the extra period.
Coach Mike Martz wouldn't say whether Bulger or Warner, who had a concussion in the opener, would be the starter next week at Seattle.
"This is a time to celebrate a win and feel good," Martz said. "We'll deal with that on Monday."
Martz couldn't hold back on praise for Bulger, 25-for-36 for 236 yards and two touchdowns -- including 15-for-17 for 155 yards after halftime. Bulger was 6-1 as the Rams' starter last year while Warner was 0-6.
"That, ladies and gentlemen, is a big league quarterback," Martz said.
Warner, who relayed the plays from the sideline, also got caught up in the excitement.
"When your teammates are out there battling and you win a game like this, you can't help but enjoy every minute," Warner said. "Do I wish I was out there? Sure, I do."
Bulger wasn't sure what this game meant for his future, and said it wasn't any kind of statement game.
"I didn't state anything, I'm just happy we won," Bulger said. "That's up to coach Martz -- he's the head coach."
The Rams (1-1) have won eight of nine against the 49ers (1-1), the defending NFC West champions.
The 49ers didn't go quietly, forcing the extra period on Terrell Owens' 13-yard touchdown catch from Jeff Garcia with 19 seconds left. The score capped an 85-yard, 11-play march and came from players who sustained mild concussions in the first half.
"If the doctor says he can go back in, he can go back in," coach Dennis Erickson said of Garcia.
San Francisco got one last chance to win it when Arnaz Battle recovered Jeff Chandler's onside kick at midfield with 13 seconds to go. The 49ers still had one timeout, but they ran out of time on Garcia's 29-yard pass to Cedrick Wilson to the St. Louis 26.
The Rams' defense hemmed Wilson in so the clock would run out on a play that started with 9 seconds to go, enough that the 49ers felt they'd have time for a field goal attempt.
"It's something you hope comes down to common sense," Garcia said. "Obviously, everybody knew the situation at that point."
Rams rookie return man Arlen Harris also muffed a punt return at the St. Louis 11 that led to the 49ers' first touchdown. Harris atoned with a 46-yard return on the overtime kickoff to the Rams 48.
A 15-yard facemask penalty on 49ers linebacker Jeff Ulbrich gave the Rams the ball at the 49ers 36. Bulger and Marshall Faulk did the rest, hooking up on a 22-yard screen pass to the 10.
Wilkins ended it on the next play.
Bulger, who got the start after Warner sustained a concussion last week, lost two fumbles in the first half, giving Rams quarterbacks a total of eight the first two games, but played a solid second half as St. Louis emphasized more running.
Bulger threw an 11-yard touchdown pass to Torry Holt in the first quarter and had a 19-yarder to Dane Looker in the fourth, a play that gave the Rams a 21-17 lead.
Garcia and Owens both missed time in the first half after taking hard hits, but both returned to action in the second quarter. Garcia was 19-for-35 for 222 yards with an interception, and Owens caught five passes for 42 yards.
The Rams took their first lead at 14-10 midway through the third quarter on Faulk's 2-yard run.
The 49ers regained the lead on their next drive, capitalizing after Travis Fisher dropped a sure interception at the San Francisco 30. Kevan Barlow had a 3-yard gain on fourth-and-1, then scored on a 19-yard run two plays later.
The 49ers held the Rams to 67 yards, breaking down the protection with frequent blitzing, and taking advantage of three fumble recoveries for a 10-7 halftime lead. The Rams lost two fumbles deep in their territory and blew a scoring opportunity when Bulger was stripped on a sack at the 49ers 11.
That turnover set up Garcia's 16-yard TD pass to Tai Streets.
Bulger hit Holt with an 11-yard score in the first quarter and Chandler's 35-yard field goal put the 49ers ahead in the second quarter.
- Faulk had 90 yards rushing and receiving, passing Thurman Thomas for 10th place on the career list with 16,560 yards.
- The 49ers were whistled for 121 yards in penalties.
- Chandler, 5-for-5 on field goals last week, missed a 43-yarder in the second quarter.
- Harris averaged 30 yards on four kickoff returns.
The Associated Press News Service
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