Instead, Martz let his young quarterback play through an awful performance, leaving two-time MVP Kurt Warner on the sideline as the defense led the way in a 33-22 victory over the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday night.
"Marc slugged it out pretty good," Martz said. "It did cross my mind, but Marc needs to go through this. They all go through that, and Marc's no different from anybody else."
The Rams forced seven turnovers and knocked rookie quarterback Kyle Boller out of the game. That performance covered up for a suddenly incompetent offense that had been ranked No. 1 in the NFL.
St. Louis also had four turnovers, two by punt returner DeJuan Groce, and went almost two quarters without a first down during one stretch.
Bulger was 13-for-26 for 110 yards with two interceptions and no touchdowns in easily his worst game in 15 career starts.
"I certainly am in charge of the offense and I wasn't in rhythm tonight, but the defense was outstanding," Bulger said. "There's no excuse for how I played."
The 11 total turnovers were the most in an NFL game this season.
The Rams (6-3) managed just 121 total yards, well below their league-leading average of 374.5, and had only seven first downs. They had seven straight three-and-outs on offense and had zero yards total offense in the second quarter.
"That team is deservedly the No. 1 offense in the league," Ravens coach Brian Billick said. "Our defense gave them nothing. Nothing. And that's encouraging."
Marshall Faulk was contained after missing five games with a broken left hand and injured right knee. Faulk had just 48 yards on 20 carries, but had two short touchdown runs.
"We just couldn't get anything going there," Martz said. "I need to look and see what happened."
Instead, it was the defense that made all the big plays in leading the Rams to their 11th straight victory at home. Jamal Lewis, the NFL's leading rusher, had 111 yards on 27 carries for his seventh 100-yard game, but also lost two fumbles. One came deep in Rams territory and another led to Jeff Wilkins' 48-yard field goal that put the Rams ahead 30-22 with 5:25 to play.
Adam Archuleta stripped Boller and returned the fumble 45 yards for a second-quarter touchdown. Jerametrius Butler had his first two career interceptions and Tommy Polley's pickoff of Ravens backup Chris Redman led to another fourth-quarter field goal. Brian Young recovered three fumbles.
Special teams provided another big play with a 44-yard punt return by Dane Looker to the Ravens 1. Looker picked up a ball that was rolling back into Baltimore territory. The return set up Faulk's second touchdown.
"We're really going to have to get focused this week and for the rest of the season," tight end Todd Heap said. "We can't play like that anymore."
The Ravens (5-4) made it into Rams territory seven times in the first half, outgaining St. Louis 206-38, but trailed 21-19. It got a lot worse after Boller was lost with a sprained left knee at the end of the half.
The team scheduled an MRI exam for Boller on Monday.
"I'm definitely worried," Boller said. "Any time you get an injury like this, especially with a knee, you want to make sure it's going to be all right."
Lewis ran for 23 and 20 yards on his first two carries against a banged-up defense minus linemen Leonard Little (pectoral muscle) and Damione Lewis (ankle), then totaled 68 yards on the next 25 carries. Lewis also fumbled away a scoring opportunity after Ray Lewis got an interception for the third straight game.
Baltimore took possession at the Rams 15, 20, 33, 45 and 34 on five consecutive possessions, but was held to Matt Stover's two field goals and Boller's 1-yard pass to tackle Jonathan Ogden with 1:19 left in the half.
Redman, who had thrown one pass this season, was 7-for-12 for 58 yards with two interceptions.
- Rams WR Torry Holt reached 1,000 yards for the fourth straight season with a 24-yard catch on St. Louis' first drive but finished with only three catches for 38 yards, his lowest output of the season.
- Ogden scored his second career touchdown on his 1-yard grab in the second quarter. The other one also was a 1-yard catch on Dec. 1, 1996, his rookie year, against the Steelers.
- The Rams are 17-5 vs. the AFC since 1998 season.
- The Ravens lost for only the fifth time in 26 games under Billick when they have a 100-yard rusher.
The Associated Press News Service
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