The Rams' unheralded unit, led by former Bucs assistant Lovie Smith, was the key to a 34-24 victory over the Green Bay Packers on Sunday. They stuffed Ahman Green, slowed Favre and forced four turnovers.
"I'm not saying that team's as good as Tampa yet," Favre said. "Are they as disciplined as Tampa yet? No, nobody is. Are they close? Yes, they are."
Marc Bulger threw three touchdown passes to raise his record at home to 9-0, and Isaac Bruce became the 18th player in NFL history to top 10,000 yards receiving for the Rams. But it was the defense that allowed St. Louis (4-2) to overcome Bulger's two interceptions and some second chances handed out by the Rams' special teams.
"A couple of turnovers, some tipped balls, but there's nothing you can do about that," Bulger said. "Our offensive line and the defense stole the show."
The game plan concentrated on controlling Green, not Favre.
Green entered with three straight 100-yard rushing games, totaling 433 yards in that span, then was held to a season-worst 35 yards on 20 carries. He broke free only once, on a 21-yard screen pass for a touchdown in the second quarter.
"Favre is going straight to the Hall of Fame as soon as he's done, and he's great," Rams defensive lineman Tyoka Jackson said. "But Green is the key to the whole deal, and we focused on that."
Green also fumbled for the second straight game, ending a drive at the Rams 29 late in the first half. His fumble in overtime last week led to a loss to the Chiefs.
"You've got one guy hanging on you and another guy comes in and pokes at the ball," Green said. "What can you do?"
The Packers ended up with 372 total yards, but 76 came on a touchdown run by Najeh Davenport with 1:48 to play.
"Our defense is pretty quick," defensive tackle Brian Young said. "We were able to fill the gaps when we needed to."
Favre threw two touchdown passes for Green Bay (3-4), but his effort at a comeback fizzled after a 1-yard TD toss to William Henderson pulled Green Bay to 21-17 in the third quarter.
Favre's career record in domes fell to 12-21. He went 23-of-32 for 268 yards with an interception, a big comedown after leading the Packers to an average of 36 points the previous three games.
"I am impressed not only with their scheme, but with the level of intensity," Favre said. "I thought they were a good team going into the game and that has not changed one bit."
The Rams' offense had problems, especially early, as Bulger looked indecisive at times.
Also, the Rams' special teams had 12 men on the field in the first half, handing the Packers a fourth-and-short that they converted en route to a touchdown. The Rams handed out another first down in the third quarter with an offsides penalty, and Jerametrius Butler was called for holding on the first two kickoff returns.
The Rams won without running back Lamar Gordon, who left in the first half with a left ankle injury, leaning instead on undrafted third stringer Arlen Harris. They did the job on defense without outside linebacker Tommy Polley, who left with a dislocated left elbow in the third quarter.
Torry Holt caught four passes for 67 yards and two TDs.
Bruce had nine catches for 129 yards, his second 100-yard game of the season. He topped 10,000 yards in the fourth quarter. Bulger and Dane Looker also hooked up on a 20-yard scoring play in the third quarter with Looker somehow tight-roping down the sideline the last 10 yards.
Both teams made a lot of mistakes in the first half, combining for five turnovers. The Rams did more things right as Bulger threw a pair of touchdown passes to Holt, and Harris added a 3-yard run for a 21-10 lead.
The Packers lost three fumbles, one each by Green and Davenport, and another when the ball hit up-back Al Harris on punt return coverage.
Bulger and Holt took advantage of that turnover on a 39-yard pass play for the game's first touchdown. Bulger again connected with Holt for a 9-yard slant pattern with 57 seconds to go, capping a 10-play drive.
- Rams SS Adam Archuleta was among the inactives with a sprained left ankle, but hopes to play next week.
- Holt has seven touchdown catches, tying his career best for a season with 10 games to go.
- Favre has thrown a touchdown pass in 16 straight games, six shy of the franchise record Cecil Isbell set in 1942. Favre's career best is 18 in a row from 1997-98.
The Associated Press News Service
Copyright 2003, The Associated Press, All Rights Reserved