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ST. LOUIS Rams taking advantage of bye week to prepare for New England


Published: Mon, November 1, 2004 @ 12:00 a.m.


The team has struggled to a 4-3 record, including a loss to Miami.
ST. LOUIS (AP) -- St. Louis Rams coach Mike Martz has made the most of bye weeks, in each of his four seasons emerging from them with a victory. This time, he's got his work cut out for him.
Nearly halfway through the season, the Rams (4-3) have been a team with two faces: potent in an overtime victory over Seattle after trailing 27-10 midway through the fourth quarter, inept two weeks later in a loss at previously winless Miami.
Now with some free time, Martz hopes to give his players rest, discover what kind of team he's got, salve its possibly bruised psyche and, perhaps most daunting, prepare for a home game on Nov. 7 against Super Bowl champion New England.
Need to fix things
"Obviously, we've got some things we need to fix," he said, figuring many of the issues can be remedied. "It wasn't a deal where we didn't play hard. We made some mistakes and got beat.
"We're all disappointed, we're all hurt. But we've got to take this as an opportunity" to learn and move on.
Quarterback Marc Bulger offered perspective after the Dolphins, at St. Louis' expense, became the last NFL team to win this season.
"You can't get too excited about wins, you can't get too down about losses," said Bulger, using the bye week to rest a shoulder he tweaked against the Dolphins. "If we worry about this, I think we will get embarrassed by New England."
Shown resilience
Amid their choppiness, the Rams have shown resilience, battling back from a 1-2 start with three straight wins that put them atop the NFC West, only to be surprised by a Miami team that, at 0-6, was off to its worst start in its 39-year history.
After that "very devastating, disappointing loss," Martz still stuck by his bye-week formula and gave his players the week off, ordering them back to the practice field Monday and giving them time and space to "calm down a little bit, get back physically."
"We can come back and kind of regroup on Monday and get going again," he said as someone who should know -- at 4-0 in games after a bye week, he's second only to Philadelphia's Andy Reid (6-0) among active coaches.
The off time, Martz says, "gives us a chance to sit down and look at some things, particularly any changes from a personnel standpoint that we feel like we need to make, anything we want to do differently on either side of the ball."
Played poorly against Miami
Against Miami, bright spots were few. The Dolphins, at times with trickery, scored four touchdowns, matching their total for the first six games. And though Miami entered with a league-high 17 turnovers, the Rams forced none.
St. Louis totaled 372 yards, but converted only two of 13 third-down situations. The Rams' lone turnover was costly, with Bulger intercepted in the end zone when they were threatening to tie the game in the third quarter.
"It's more about us than it is about the opponent," Martz shrugged.


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