FOXBORO, MA — The Patriots kept the game close despite three costly turnovers, but it would be the St. Louis Rams who will head home with a 24-17 victory. New England pulled within 7 with just under eight minutes remaining in the game, but the Rams went to Marshall Faulk, who kept the ball out of the Patriots hands for the final 7:37 of the contest.
New England quarterback Tom Brady struggled in the loss, completing 19-of-27 for 185-yards and one touchdown, but threw two interceptions, one of which came inside his own 18 yard line which helped set up St. Louis’ first touchdown. The Patriots offense struggled moving the football, scoring only one offensive touchdown against what was the NFL’s fourth-ranked defense heading into Sunday’s game.
Meanwhile, Rams quarterback Kurt Warner had a big evening, throwing for 401-yards and three touchdowns, and picking apart a New England defense that started out strong but looked to be fatigued as the game wore on. To make matters worse, the Patriots offense didn’t help keep them off the field. They managed only 13 first downs compared to St. Louis who moved the chains 26 times, and 19 of those first downs came in the air. The Rams gained an average of 6.8-yards per play and averaged 9.2 yards per completion when they threw the ball.
Needless to say, they had a tough time stopping them.
When it finally came time for head coach Mike Martz to run out the clock, he handed the ball off to Marshall Faulk who ran 20-times for 83-yards. Faulk carried the ball 6-times for 33-yards in the fourth quarter, and also had an 18-yard reception. Faulk sealed the game for his team following a 6-yard run on a 3rd-and-4 with just over two minutes left, and with New England being out of timeouts Martz decided not to run the score up any further and had Warner kneel down and run out the clock.
As a result, it ended up being a long night for New England who came into this game at 5-4 with many believing they had a good shot to beat one of the NFL’s elite. They held the St. Louis offense in check for much of the game and went into the locker room down only 14-10 at the half. But in the second half the Rams wore them down and eventually they pulled away sending a sold-out Foxboro Crowd home disappointed.
The Rams struck first following an interception by Tom Brady on a pass to Kevin Faulk that simply went off his hands and into the hands of Dexter McCLeon at the Patriot 18-yard line. Three plays later Warner fired a bullet to wide receiver Torry Holt in the end zone and St. Louis took a 7-0 lead.
But after New England punted, St. Louis made a critical mistake on a 3rd-and-7 play when Patriot cornerback Terrell Buckley picked off a pass and took off 52-yards for the touchdown, tying the game at 7-7.
On their next possession, Warner would be picked off again on his second play from scrimmage by linebacker Tedy Bruschi, who gave New England first down at the Rams 40-yard line. Adam Vinatieri would kick a 33-yard field goal and the Patriots increased their lead to 10-7 early in the second quarter.
New England caught a break after the Rams next drive ended in a missed field goal, and the Patriots drove from their own 32-yard line all the way to the St. Louis 4 on the strength of running back Antowain Smith. But when they tried to pound the ball in, Smith ran up the middle and was tackled onto a pile of people, but before he was apparently down he had the ball ripped away. St. Louis recovered and despite a challenge on the play by Bill Belichick, officials reviewed the play but the replay wasn’t conclusive enough to overturn the ruling that he wasn’t down.
The Rams took advantage of the turnover, turning around and driving 97-yards on 8 plays in just over a minute and a half which culminated in a 9-yard touchdown toss to Marshall Faulk, giving the Rams a 14-10 lead.
St. Louis added a field goal with 3:11 left in the third quarter, and then forced a three-and-out for Brady and the offense. They then put together another 11-yard drive that ended in a touchdown pass to James Hodgins, increasing the lead to 24-10 and making the game seem out of reach.
But Brady tried valiantly to get them back into it, taking them 65-yards on 5-plays and hitting David Patten on a 10-yard touchdown pass, cutting the lead to 24-17.
But unfortunately, it would be the last time Brady would step onto the football field.
The loss drops New England to 5-5 with New Orleans heading to Foxboro next Sunday. The Saints are coming off a big victory over the Colts and will most likely not be an easy opponent having been the only team to beat the Rams this season.
Posted Under: Uncategorized