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Tennessee at St. Louis

Once again, Rams 'D' bends but doesn't break vs. Titans

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports
  •  

ST. LOUIS -- The St. Louis Rams' needed a last-minute defensive stand for a victory over the Tennessee Titans, and Leonard Little flashed back -- not to his team's 2000 Super Bowl win, but to a fresh memory from seven days ago.

Marc Bulger threw three touchdown passes and the Rams survived a controversial replay ruling in the fourth quarter to hang on for a 31-27 win Sunday. Last week the Rams held off a down-to-the wire drive by the Arizona Cardinals to win by five points.

"I had thoughts of last week," Little said. "We played pretty good last week except for the last drive, and we knew if they got into the red zone they'd have a chance to throw it into the end zone.

"They never did get that far."

The Rams (2-1) won their only Super Bowl when Mike Jones' overtime-saving tackle of Kevin Dyson at the 1 preserved a 23-16 victory over Tennessee. In their first meeting since, the Titans drove to the St. Louis 23 in the final minute and had two shots at the end zone before running out of downs.

"I thought it was coming together, we did the things we had to do at the end," Titans coach Jeff Fisher said. "We had time, we just ran out of downs."

The Titans converted three turnovers into 17 points while the Rams scored on an 85-yard interception return from Adam Archuleta for a touchdown.

Torry Holt caught nine passes for 163 yards in the first three quarters and Kevin Curtis' 10-yard catch on the first play of the fourth quarter was the go-ahead score for the Rams.

Steve McNair was 24-of-39 for 261 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions for the Titans (1-2). It took Tennessee, which was leading 10-0 and appeared close to another score early in the second quarter, a long time to recover from Archuleta's return.

Bulger was 21-of-28 for 292 yards with an interception; he also fumbled three times, losing two. The third was recovered in the fourth quarter by first-round draft pick Alex Barron, who was making his pro debut.

The Titans, who made it to the Super Bowl in 2000 with the help of a questionable lateral known as the "Music City Miracle," cut the gap to four points on a similar play in the fourth quarter.

With the Rams leading 31-24, Bulger's swing pass to running back Steven Jackson appeared as though it might have gone forward before falling incomplete. But there was no whistle and Peter Sirmon scooped up the ball and returned it 41 yards to the Rams 29 with 10:26 left.

The Rams challenged the call and the St. Louis offense and Tennessee defense stayed on the field throughout the review process, an indication that the call would be overturned. But referee Tom White said there was inconclusive evidence and the play stood.

"I do that every day, that's what I do for a living," Bulger said. "That's a hot route. But it's neither here nor there now, we won and we don't have to go kill the ref."

The Titans said White did the right thing.

"Our people upstairs said it was clearly a lateral," Titans coach Jeff Fisher said. "You have to have an awful lot to overturn it, and I was right there and I felt like it was a lateral."

A third-down sack by Little forced a 39-yard field goal by Bironas that cut the Rams' lead to 31-27 with 6:02 to go.

Fans booed the officials at every opportunity the rest of the game.

The Titans outgained the Rams 111-5 in the first quarter and scored on a 16-yard pass from McNair to Ben Troupe and a 41-yard field goal set up by an interception by Tank Williams. Bulger said the Rams were confused at first by Tennessee's defense.

"Half is not enough protection, half is my fault and half is them just doing a good job," Bulger said. "I know it's 150 percent, but I'm a little tired now."

Archuleta's third career interception reversed the momentum. He jumped on a short route for Drew Bennett and had a wide open field for the 85-yard return that got the Rams on the board early in the second quarter.

Energized, the Rams added a 46-yard field goal by Jeff Wilkins and a 13-yard touchdown pass from Bulger to Marshall Faulk for a 17-10 halftime lead. They increased it on a 32-yarder from Bulger to Holt in the third quarter.

Notes

  • CBS reported Sunday that Titans RB Travis Henry would be suspended for four games Monday for violating the league's substance abuse policy. Henry had no yards on three carries and caught one pass for 16 yards.
  • The Rams are 14-1 against the AFC since 1998.
  • Rams WR Isaac Bruce missed the second half with turf toe but expects to be back next week.
  • Archuleta's interception was the third of his career and first since Dec. 21, 2003 against the Bengals.
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
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Leonard Little and the St. Louis defense preserve the win with a last-minute stand.
 
Leonard Little and the St. Louis defense preserve the win with a last-minute stand. (Getty Images)
 

 

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Sun. Sept. 25Final
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Scoring Summary
1ST QUARTER
TDBen Troupe, 16 Yd pass from Steve McNair (Rob Bironas kick is good), 6:21. Drive: 6 plays, 53 yards in 4:02.
FGRob Bironas 41 Yd, 4:01. Drive: 4 plays, 7 yards in 2:09.
2ND QUARTER
TDAdam Archuleta, 85 Yd interception return (Jeff Wilkins kick is good), 12:28.
FGJeff Wilkins 46 Yd, 7:55. Drive: 8 plays, 21 yards in 4:11.
TDMarshall Faulk, 13 Yd pass from Marc Bulger (Jeff Wilkins kick is good), 2:08. Drive: 5 plays, 61 yards in 2:10.
3RD QUARTER
TDTorry Holt, 32 Yd pass from Marc Bulger (Jeff Wilkins kick is good), 9:30. Drive: 6 plays, 89 yards in 3:27.
TDBrandon Jones, 4 Yd pass from Steve McNair (Rob Bironas kick is good), 3:22. Drive: 6 plays, 33 yards in 3:30.
TDAntwan Odom, 25 Yd fumble return (Rob Bironas kick is good), 2:37.
4TH QUARTER
TDKevin Curtis, 10 Yd pass from Marc Bulger (Jeff Wilkins kick is good), 14:54. Drive: 6 plays, 74 yards in 2:43.
FGRob Bironas 39 Yd, 6:02. Drive: 7 plays, 8 yards in 4:24.
Players of the Game

T. Holt
Rec 9
Yds 163
Avg 18.1
TD 1

D. Bennett
Rec 6
Yds 96
Avg 16.0
TD 0
 
Tennessee
PassingCP/ATYDSTDINT
S. McNair24/3926122
RushingATTYDSTDLG
C. Brown2083020
S. McNair1404
T. Henry3002
ReceivingRECYDSTDLG
D. Bennett696043
E. Kinney764018
B. Jones540112
B. Troupe222116
T. Calico118018
T. Henry116016
C. Brown2509
St. Louis
PassingCP/ATYDSTDINT
M. Bulger21/2829231
RushingATTYDSTDLG
M. Faulk650014
S. Jackson1248019
M. Bulger3304
ReceivingRECYDSTDLG
T. Holt9163132
K. Curtis556121
M. Faulk331113
D. Looker225013
I. Bruce111011
S. Jackson1606
Complete Player Stats
Other Games
KC 10 Final
DEN 30
NYG 23 Final
SD 45
NE 23 Final
PIT 20
ARI 12 Final
SEA 37
DAL 34 Final
SF 31
OAK 20 Final
PHI 23
JAC 26 Final
NYJ 20
NO 16 Final
MIN 33
CAR 24 Final
MIA 27
CLE 6 Final
IND 13
TB 17 Final
GB 16
CIN 24 Final
CHI 7
ATL 24 Final
BUF 16