GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP)—The St. Louis Rams used to be the most stylish team in the NFL. Now they’re winning ugly—to the tune of a surprising 4-1 start.
The Rams staved off a fourth-quarter comeback attempt by Brett Favre on Sunday, walking away with a 23-20 victory at Lambeau Field after a big defensive play in the final minute.
“I don’t think anyone would have predicted it,” Rams quarterback Marc Bulger said.
What used to be the “Greatest Show on Turf” under former coach Mike Martz isn’t much of a show at all under new coach Scott Linehan. But so far, Linehan’s more conservative offensive approach is a hit.
“It’s still a learning process, but it’s working,” wide receiver Torry Holt said. “We’ve got enough pros on the offensive side of the football that understand we want to win. It’s not about the stats, the numbers you can put up on a weekly basis or what record chart you’re moving up. It’s about putting wins in the win column as the season goes.”
They might be lacking style points, but the Rams have won three straight close games.
“We’ve had some emotional rollercoaster-type games, and they are all like that in this league,” Linehan said. “Fortunately for us, we have been able to come out on the better end.”
The Rams made plenty of mistakes Sunday, including a few rare slip-ups by Bulger. But the Packers couldn’t make them pay until it was too late.
Favre was relatively quiet for three quarters before rallying the Packers for a fourth-quarter touchdown to rookie Greg Jennings that cut the Rams lead to three with 6:42 remaining.
Favre then got the ball back with 2:46 remaining, and drove the Packers to the Rams 11-yard line with 44 seconds left.
But Favre was pressured by defensive lineman Jimmy Kennedy, and Leonard Little poked the ball away from Favre. The ball bounced around before landing in the hands of Rams defensive back Jerametrius Butler.
Little, who needed three IVs after the game, was prodded to make a play on the sideline by defensive coordinator Jim Haslett earlier in the game. He finally did, but watched as the ball nearly was recovered by Packers offensive lineman Daryn Colledge.
“It rolled and it seemed like it took forever, like the ball was going in slow motion,” Little said. “I was just hoping that someone would jump on it, and hopefully it would be one of our guys, and it ended up being one of our guys.”
What looked like another dose of Favre magic instead became another loss for the Packers (1-4).
“This is not a lot of fun,” Favre said. “Losing is not a lot of fun. Not that it ever has been, but more so now.”
Bulger threw for two first-half touchdowns and extended his league-best interception-free streak to 214 attempts—thanks in large part to Packers cornerback Al Harris.
With the Rams leading 17-13 and driving late in the third quarter, Bulger threw Harris’ way at the Green Bay 14, an errant pass that hit Harris in the numbers. But instead of running 95 yards down a clear path for a go-ahead touchdown, Harris dropped the ball.
Would he have gone all the way?
“You never know,” Harris said.
Bulger seemed pretty certain.
“That would have been for 100 yards,” he said. “I never would have caught him.”
Packers coach Mike McCarthy said Harris’ drop was one of several chances the Packers had to make a play, but didn’t.
“You need to make those,” McCarthy said. “It was an opportunity for us.”
“You can’t worry about it,” Bulger said. “I’ve been fortunate. We’re not fumbling the ball, either.”
Favre was 22-of-39 for 220 yards and didn’t throw an interception either. After the game, he said he would be watching the team’s young players to see how they respond to a poor start.
“You’ve got to try to find positives in all these negatives,” Favre said. “I wonder, sometimes, what I’m doing here.”
The Packers did find one positive in third-string running back Noah Herron, who ran for 106 yards and a touchdown. Starter Ahman Green was inactive for the second straight week for the Packers with sore hamstrings, and second-string back Vernand Morency fumbled twice, losing one, in the Packers’ first two series of the game.
McCarthy said Packers offensive lineman Jason Spitz was taken to the hospital for tests after he was kicked in the stomach and left the game in the third quarter. All of Spitz’s tests came back normal and he returned to the stadium Sunday night, a Packers spokesman said. … Rams kicker Jeff Wilkins had three field goals, all in the second half. … Rams running back Steven Jackson had 98 yards on 23 carries.