Mike Martz was extremely concerned about the direction his team was headed after a lackluster performance last Sunday. The St. Louis Rams coach, though, has a bigger worry on his mind this week.
Martz continues to deal with health problems as the Rams get ready to meet the Seattle Seahawks for the first time since last season’s wild-card playoff game.
Martz was hospitalized last Friday with what doctors believed to be a sinus infection, but was released on Saturday and coached the Rams in their 44-24 loss to the New York Giants.
However, Martz said Wednesday the infection involves his heart and is getting worse. He missed practice Wednesday and Thursday, but returned on Friday and is expected to be on the sidelines for this game.
“He had a little twinkle in his eye,” defensive lineman Tyoka Jackson said. “I didn’t know what that was all about, but he looks better, sounds better, so I think he’s ready to roll on Sunday.
“We need to go out there and make sure he didn’t fight to get out of the hospital for nothing.”
Martz, 54, said doctors believe he has endocarditis, a bacterial infection of the heart’s inner lining or the heart valve. He has been undergoing a series of blood cultures to confirm that is the infection. If caught early, treatment is done through a series of antibiotics taken over a long period of time, Martz said.
Joe Vitt, the assistant head coach and linebackers coach, ran practice this week in Martz’s absence.
“It just takes a while to treat and get over it,” Martz said. “It’s so early now that there won’t be any issues from it. I’m very pleased about that.”
The Rams fell behind early against the Giants, and although they got a record-setting performance from quarterback Marc Bulger, were unable to come back.
Bulger completed 40 of a team-record 62 passes for 442 yards with two touchdowns, but he also threw three interceptions.
Martz said he didn’t watch the game film with his players, something the team normally does on Mondays.
“We’re going to move on. We’ve got to get ready for Seattle,” he said. “We just need to move on now and get back on track to where we were building and get there quickly and I think we can do that. And we’re not going to do that by going back and rehashing what happened here last week.
“It was an old-fashioned whipping that we took.”
Seattle came back late to tie Washington last Sunday before losing 20-17 in overtime. The Seahawks knotted the score at 17 with 1:23 left on a 6-yard TD pass from Matt Hasselbeck to Darrell Jackson, capping a 14-play, 91-yard drive.
The Seahawks were conservative on their final two offensive plays, running Shaun Alexander twice and gaining four yards. Josh Brown came on to attempt a possible game-winning field goal from 47 yards, but it hit the left upright on the last play of regulation.
Washington went on to win on rookie Nick Novak’s 39-yard field goal 5:31 into overtime.
“It’s so unfamiliar for me, not that I never miss, but I don’t get used to it by any means,” Brown said. “So this whole situation is weird for me, but we’re working our way through it.”
Seattle missed an opportunity to move alone into first place in the NFC West and jump a game ahead of the rival Rams. Now the Seahawks travel to St. Louis, where they have not won since joining the NFC in 2002.
Seattle lost all three games to the Rams last year, including a 27-20 first-round playoff defeat, and hasn’t won in St. Louis since 1997.
Both teams come into this contest with significant injuries that could hinder their passing games.
Bobby Engram cracked two ribs on Seattle’s first play of the game last Sunday, and Jackson’s sore right knee got worse as the game went on. Neither Engram nor Jackson will play Sunday as Joe Jurevicius and D.J. Hackett will start at wideout.
“Darrell had to go for a second opinion, so he’s in Florida,” Holmgren said. “And Bobby, he was getting treatment today and he can’t move very well.”
For the Rams, tight end Roland Williams will miss the rest of the season with a knee injury suffered last week. Wide receiver Isaac Bruce (hyperextended toe) and tight end Brandon Manumaleuna (strained knee) are both questionable for this game.