Four interceptions and a lost fumble gave Rams coach Mike Martz every reason to pull Bulger in favor of Kurt Warner. He didn't, and Bulger directed scoring drives at the end of regulation and in overtime to lead the Rams to a 30-27 victory over the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday.
Jeff Wilkins tied it with a 22-yard field goal at the end of regulation, then won it with a 49-yarder with 10:22 left in overtime to give St. Louis its seventh victory in its last eight. The Rams (8-3) are alone in first in the NFC West..
"If I wasn't confident in Marc, he wouldn't have been out there at the end of the game -- end of story," Martz said. "If I was going to do anything I'd have done it in this game. This is the last time I'm going to say this: Marc Bulger IS our quarterback."
It was the second straight week Wilkins kicked a game-winner. His 31-yarder last week beat the Bears in Chicago 23-21.
Martz criticized the officiating after the game.
"There were some things that were obviously missed by this officiating crew," Martz said. "That seems to happen every week. Nonetheless, we were able to overcome it again. For about the fourth week in a row, we overcome that officating and still win."
Jeff Blake threw two second-half touchdown passes to rookie sensation Anquan Boldin and the Cardinals (3-8) rallied from a 14-point third-quarter deficit to take a 27-24 lead.
Bulger led the Rams on a 16-play, 82-yard drive to the Arizona 7 -- converting two third downs and one fourth down on passes to Torry Holt -- and Wilkins' 24-yard field goal tied it at 27 as regulation ended.
St. Louis took the ball in overtime, moving from its 14 to the Arizona 31. Bulger ran 18 yards on the drive, and threw 9 yards to Dane Looker to move into field-goal range.
"I can't apologize for how I play and throw," Bulger said. "I'm going to keep throwing it downfield regardless if I have 10 interceptions, until coach Martz tells me not to. That's just the way I play. I'm an aggressive player."
Boldin caught six passes for 123 yards to fall a yard shy of tying the NFL record for the quickest to 1,000 yards receiving by a rookie. He has 66 catches for 999 yards.
"If we would have got the ball in overtime, we would have went right down their throat and scored," he said.
After completing his first nine passes to give St. Louis a 14-0 lead, things turned sour for Bulger, who was 28-for-44 for 329 yards and a touchdown. Two of the interceptions were by Renaldo Hill, who returned the first 70 yards for a touchdown and set up the tying TD with the second.
Marshall Faulk ran for 100 yards and a touchdown, his second straight 100-yard game. Holt caught nine for 145 yards. Marcel Shipp rushed for 95 yards for Arizona.
"That one's painful, because in the bitter end, we couldn't get it done," Arizona coach Dave McGinnis said.
Bulger, who was sacked four times, fumbled when he was hit by Ronald McKinnon. Arizona's Kenny King recovered at the St. Louis 19 to set up Neil Rackers' 27-yard field goal for Arizona's only lead, 27-24 with 6:05 to play.
Coby Rinehart intercepted on St. Louis' next possession, but the Cardinals couldn't capitalize.
St. Louis, at the Arizona 7 with 40 seconds to play, could have taken a couple of shots at the end zone. Instead, Faulk took a direct snap for a 1-yard gain, then the Rams ran the clock down to four seconds before kicking the tying field goal.
The Rams led 24-10 after Travis Fisher's 55-yard interception return for a touchdown in the third quarter. But Blake connected with Boldin for touchdowns on Arizona's next two possessions.
Boldin broke two tackles on a 54-yard reception on the final play of the quarter, then caught a 3-yarder over the middle to tie it at 24. The second TD came after Hill went high over Isaac Bruce for the interception.
"He pulled my facemask," Bruce said. "He went through my facemask to my jersey. The referees didn't call it, but I'm not going to cry about it. I'm going to line up and keep playing."
- Emmitt Smith, out since Oct. 5 with a broken shoulder blade, practiced all week but didn't play for the Cardinals.
- Bulger has been intercepted 10 times in the last four games.
- Hill left the game for good with a sprained ankle with six minutes left.
- The Rams had a 26-15 edge in first downs.
- St. Louis has 32 turnovers this season, most in the NFL.
The Associated Press News Service
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