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Other Week 17 Game Recaps
ARI at INDBAL at CLEBUF at NYJCAR at ATLCHI at MINCIN at KCDEN at SDDET at PIT
HOU at SFMIA at NENO at TBNYG at OAKSEA at GBSTL at DALTEN at JAXWAS at PHI

Week 17 Game Recap: St. Louis Rams 20, Dallas Cowboys 10


What you need to know

St. Louis Rams

As was somewhat expected, this final game of the regular season featured plenty of mediocre performances on both sides of the ball by both teams. The Rams however managed to put together just enough offense and a stout enough defense to prevail with a rather meaningless victory.

Jamie Martin was given the start by the Rams and managed just north of five yards per attempt. His 19 for 32 performance for a paltry 158 yards surely did nothing to ensure heís status as part of the Rams future plans. Martin made a handful of good throws, particularly on back to back completions to Torry Holt in the second quarter. Overall, the Rams offense was far from inspiring, and Martin did little in this, the final game of the season.

As part of the passing game, Tory Holt managed to catch four balls for 40 yards, sending him to his sixth straight season of 1300+ yards, the first player in NFL history to achieve such a feat. Holt had three of his receptions in the first half, and one reception and one rush in the second half. Kevin Curtis caught all three balls thrown his way for 19 yards. Shaun McDonald and Isaac Bruce rounded out the production from the Ramsí receivers with two receptions for 14 yards and one reception for eight yards respectively.

Arlen Harris and Aveion Cason, once thought of as essential handcuffs for top-tier fantasy players like Marshall Faulk, each found a way in to the end zone for a rushing touchdown. The aforementioned Faulk received the start from the backfield but was largely ineffective, garnering a mere 34 yards on 13 touches.

The Rams defense played well enough to control much of the gameís tempo. Leonard Little and company found their way in to the Cowboys backfield consistently enough to rush Drew Bledsoe and stifle the Cowboys usually reliable rushing attack. Bledsoe was intercepted twice and fumbled once while facing constant pressure, making it difficult to get anything going. The Rams forced five Cowboys fumbles, recovering two.

Dallas Cowboys

The Cowboys had nothing to play for aside from pride after the Redskins clinched the final NFC playoff spot about an hour before the kickoff of the Cowboys game. Despite a solid start where Bledsoe was able to show plenty of zip on his passes, the Cowboys effort subsided leading to a rather bland display of Sunday night football. The Cowboys were unfocused, being flagged ten times for penalty and fumbling five times, losing two to go along with two interceptions.

Bledsoe, who at one time was considered a candidate for the Pro Bowl, performed poorly completing fewer than half of his passes for a paltry six yards per attempt with two interceptions against only one touchdown. Despite the poor statistical performance, Bledsoe showed he can still make all the necessary throws and his stat-line would have likely looked a bit better if not for a handful of drops by his receivers, including a toss to Terry Glenn that slipped through the normally sure-handed receiverís hands.

Julius Jones (15 for 35, two receptions for negative 11 yards) was bottled up the entire game and routinely found Rams in the backfield as he took the handoff. His longest run of 28 yards against 35 total rushing yards should tell the tale that there was not much room to run for Jones all evening.

The Cowboys receivers played fairly well all things considered with Keyshawn Johnson leading the way with 97 yards on five receptions. Jason Witten had the teamís only touchdown on a corner post pattern in the first half where Bledsoe put the ball in a spot where only Witten could catch it. Terry Glenn benefited from having the most targets on the team, ten, but managed to only catch two balls for 44 yards. Patrick Crayton had three receptions for 45 yards.


What you ought to know

QB Jamie Martin, Pass: 19 - 32 - 158 - 0 TD / 0 INT, Rush: 1 - -1 - 0

Martin has had games where heís shown much more than he did Sunday night. The Cowboys defense was steady but hardly great. However, Martin did not turn the ball over and despite having a low YPA and not throwing a touchdown, his completion percentage kept drives moving for the Rams and his game long 29 yard pass to Brandon Manumaleuna set up the Rams go-ahead score. Like most of the team, who will likely be guided by a new staff in 2006, Martinís job is likely open to evaluation.

RB Marshall Faulk, Rush: 11 - 25 - 0, Rec: 2 - 9 - 0 (4 targets)

Faulk started the game and had a few nice early moves, but ultimately, he was not able to make any headway and gave way to Cason and Harris as the game wore on.

RB Arlen Harris, Rush: 10 - 15 - 1, Rec: 2 - 22 - 0 (3 targets)

Harris pounded in a one yard touchdown to give the Rams the lead in the early part of the fourth quarter. Harris, who has moved between tailback and fullback at various points in his career, provided 22 valuable receiving yards for the Rams and helped spell Cason. The Rams 105 yards on the ground were not impressive, but the formula for Sundayís victory was in pressuring Drew Bledsoe and running, even at only two or three yards at a time.

RB Aveion Cason, Rush: 10 - 65 - 1, Rec: 1 - 11 - 0 (1 targets)

Cason had a steady performance with a long run of 14 yards and the first of the Rams two rushing touchdowns on a nice eight yard run. He was also able to garner 11 yards on his lone reception.

WR Torry Holt, Rush: 1 - 2 - 0, Rec: 4 - 40 - 0 (9 targets)

The bulk of Torry Holtís receiving yardage came on two back-to-back receptions in the second quarter that pushed him past the 1300 yard plateau on the season. In both instances, Holt was open in the middle of the field and Martin found him for drive extending first downs. Holt only had a single, short reception in the second half as well as a rush for four yards. The Cowboys seemed unwilling to allow Holt to get free down the sidelines, minimizing his affect as the game went on.

WR Kevin Curtis, Rec: 3 - 19 - 0 (3 targets)

To watch the game, it is surprising that Curtis and McDonald only had a total of five receptions. They caught all five balls thrown their way and while the gains were modest, they provided needed outlets for Martin.

WR Shaun McDonald, Rec: 2 - 14 - 0 (2 targets)

To watch the game, it is surprising that Curtis and McDonald only had a total of five receptions. They caught all five balls thrown their way and while the gains were modest, they provided needed outlets for Martin.

WR Isaac Bruce, Rec: 1 - 8 - 0 (5 targets)

Bruce had a single reception on five targets and never really seemed to be in the game. Whether Martin was looking for Torry Holt or his receivers out of the backfield, Bruceís targets seemed to be afterthoughts and were not always catchable passes.

TE Brandon Manumaleuna, Rec: 2 - 25 - 0 (3 targets)

Manumaleuna had the long reception for the Rams of 29 yards that led to the teamís decisive score. He was allowed to get free down the middle of the field for the large pickup in Cowboys territory. His other reception was a screen pass that resulted in four lost yards.

TE Madison Hedgecock, Rec: 2 - 10 - 0 (3 targets)

Hedgecock contributed two timely receptions out of the Rams' backfield, leading to eight team receptions from the backs for 52 yards.

PK Jeff Wilkins 2 - 4 FG, 2 - 2 XP, 8 points

Wilkins clanked his first attempt off the left upright in the early stages of the game. After that, he went two of three on field goals and made both extra points to help the Rams win.

STL Rush Defense

The Rams' rush defense bottled up Julius Jones on all but one run and neutralized the Cowboy rushing attack from beginning to end. When the Cowboys needed to grind out a few yards on the ground, the Rams were unwilling to help them out.

STL Pass Defense

The Rams' pass defense applied pressure to Drew Bledsoe on most every snap, forcing him to lose a fumble and throw two interceptions. They sacked Bledsoe a total of four times and hit him again and again.


QB Drew Bledsoe, Pass: 18 - 39 - 242 - 1 TD / 2 INT

Bledsoe actually threw the ball well. However, he was under constant pressure and his receivers dropped a handful of passes that could have led to solid gains. While Bledsoe may be getting a little older and heís certainly as immobile as ever, he can still throw every pass in the book.

RB Julius Jones, Rush: 15 - 35 - 0, Rec: 2 - -11 - 0 (2 targets)

Barber and Jones produced an abysmal 53 yards on 21 carries. Jones game long of 28 yards means that on 20 other carries, Barber and Jones could produce only 25 yards. Their receiving numbers were hardly any better, as the duo caught four balls for six net yards.

RB Marion Barber III, Rush: 6 - 18 - 0, Rec: 2 - 17 - 0 (3 targets)

Barber and Jones produced an abysmal 53 yards on 21 carries. Jones game long of 28 yards means that on 20 other carries, Barber and Jones could produce only 25 yards. Their receiving numbers were hardly any better, as the duo caught four balls for six net yards.

RB Tyson Thompson

Thompson did not receive a carry or have a reception in Sundayís game.

WR Keyshawn Johnson, Rec: 5 - 97 - 0 (9 targets)

Johnson was steady in catching five passes for almost 20 yards each, but he did lose a fumble and failed to find the end zone. Johnson was open most often in the second half, but at that point, the Cowboys appeared to lack the fire necessary to put together two scoring drives to possibly win the game.

WR Patrick Crayton, Rec: 3 - 45 - 0 (6 targets)

Crayton had two receptions on the Cowboys second quarter drive for a field goal, including a nice 22 yard reception in to Rams territory to garner a first down.

WR Terry Glenn, Rec: 2 - 44 - 0 (10 targets)

Glenn dropped a few catchable balls and appeared unfocused, particularly in the second half.

TE Jason Witten, Rec: 4 - 50 - 1 (8 targets)

Wittenís best reception of the game was for the Cowboysí lone touchdown, where he slipped behind two defenders and managed to get two feet down in the back of the end zone before knocking over a Salvation Army display. This catch showed why Witten is better than most receiving tight ends in the NFL as he displayed speed, footwork, and body control in bringing in the lone highlight of the night for Dallas.

PK Shaun Suisham 1 - 2 FG, 1 - 1 XP, 4 points

Suisham was resigned mid-week and hit one of two field goals and one extra point. The Cowboys will certainly look for a new kicker in the offseason.

DAL Rush Defense

Dallas allowed the Rams three backs to garner over 100 yards and while most of the runs were of the short variety, Dallas appeared helpless to slow down the constant rushing of the Rams.

DAL Pass Defense

The Cowboys pass defense limited Jamie Martinís ability to throw the ball downfield, but they did not manage any big plays and allowed the Rams to sustain drives with timely passes.




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