Jacksonville (4-2) at St. Louis (3-4)

Fair Currently: St. Louis, MO
Temp: 79° F
  • Game info: 1:00 pm EST Sun Oct 30, 2005
  • TV: CBS
Preview | Box Score | Recap

Mike Martz is not coaching for the remainder of the season, but the distractions surrounding his decision continue as the St. Louis Rams prepare for their game with the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Martz announced Monday he would not return to the team for the rest of the season to speed his recovery from a heart infection. The Rams had already played two games under interim coach Joe Vitt, but Martz was on his cell phone with his coordinators during Sunday’s 28-17 victory over the New Orleans Saints.

After first-half and halftime calls were accepted, Rams president John Shaw and football operations president Jay Zygmunt did not allow the second-half ones through, adding another chapter to the season-long feud between Martz and the front office.

“I was very, very angry to say the least,” Martz told radio station KSLG. “I don’t understand why that happened, what the whole thought process was. And if they had an issue with that, why didn’t they tell me ahead of time?”

The latest episode, coupled with a doctor’s recommendation to rest, convinced Martz to let Vitt completely run the team.

“I’ve got to divorce myself of this,” Martz said Monday. “I’d become a distraction for them. For me to have one foot in and one foot out is not fair to the organization.”

Vitt was able to overcome the absence of four starters in the win. The Rams were without quarterback Marc Bulger, wide receivers Isaac Bruce and Torry Holt and defensive end Leonard Little.

It’s unlikely Bulger, suffering from a sprained shoulder, will be able to return this week. Jamie Martin, who threw for 198 yards and had a key block on a 5-yard touchdown run by wide receiver Kevin Curtis, would again start if Bulger could not.

Curtis, who had four catches for 90 yards, will likely start again in place of Bruce. Holt, who is tied for the NFL lead with 44 receptions, is doubtful with a knee injury.

“We don’t care who’s playing,” Jaguars cornerback Rashean Mathis said Wednesday. “The satisfaction is winning, regardless of who’s on the field. We’re going play whoever shows up. That’s the one thing we cannot dictate in this game: who’s going to show up and play each and every week.”

Little took bereavement leave following the shooting death of his brother and may miss a second straight game.

“I talked to Leonard yesterday and Leonard’s struggling,” Vitt said Wednesday. “He’s grieving right now and our football team, everybody here, is lending our support to him.”

Nose tackle Damione Lewis, who was ejected in the first quarter Sunday after punching Saints center LeCharles Bentley, is still awaiting disciplinary action from the league.

The Jaguars had their bye week following a 23-17 overtime victory at Pittsburgh on Oct. 16. The Jaguars improved to 11-4 over the past two seasons in games decided by seven points or less, including a 3-1 mark in 2005.

“With this team, we always prepare for close games and expect it to be down to the wire,” said running back Fred Taylor. “And we like our chances against any team in the league when it comes down to the wire because we’re well conditioned and we’ve played in a lot of close ones.”

Jacksonville started 5-2 last year but failed to make the playoffs. This year, Jack Del Rio’s team must avoid looking ahead to a soft schedule that features only one remaining opponent with a winning record. The Jaguars have two games each against struggling division rivals Houston (0-7) and Tennessee (2-5) plus games with San Francisco (1-5), Arizona (2-4) and Cleveland (2-4).

“The difference between teams going 13-3 and 3-13 is probably about 30 plays all year,” Jaguars quarterback Byron Leftwich said. “There’s not a big difference between the good teams and what some people would call a bad team. There’s no such thing as a bad team in this league.”

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Team Stat Leaders

Passing Yards
Rushing Yards
Receiving Yards

Scoreboard

Week 8
  Sunday, Oct 30  
  Arizona
Dallas 13
34 Final
     
  Cleveland
Houston 16
19 Final
     
  Jacksonville
St. Louis 21
24 Final
     
  Minnesota
Carolina 13
38 Final
     
  Washington
NY Giants 0
36 Final
     
  Chicago
Detroit 19
13 Final
OT
     
  Green Bay
Cincinnati 14
21 Final
     
  Oakland
Tennessee 34
25 Final
     
  Miami
New Orleans 21
6 Final
     
  Kansas City
San Diego 20
28 Final
     
  Philadelphia
Denver 21
49 Final
     
  Tampa Bay
San Francisco 10
15 Final
     
  Buffalo
New England 16
21 Final
      Monday, Oct 31  
  Baltimore
Pittsburgh 19
20 Final